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Litter box training

Most cats learn to use litter trays quickly. Provide several litter trays in quiet areas around the house. You might need to try different types of litter as cats can prefer different substrates over others. Make sure the litter tray is easy to get in and out of and ensure it’s in a quiet area, cats like to have some privacy when toileting.

If your kitten goes to the toilet in the wrong place, it is best to display no reaction and ignore it. You should clean the area thoroughly with a non-ammonia based cleaning product (these can be found at your local veterinary clinic or animal supplies store) to take away the scent and reduce the likelihood of the cat using the same place again next time. Make sure your kitten has several litter trays in various quiet locations so she has plenty of choice for appropriate toileting areas. Also ensure the litter trays as far away from any eating or sleeping/playing areas and clean out litter trays frequently (cats don’t like to step over old litter that has already been used).

Old-fashioned responses such as ‘rubbing the cat’s nose in it’ or administering any form of punishment will not teach the cat anything; in fact it may actually delay the learning process. The cat may instead learn that going to the toilet in front of the owner is inappropriate and this can negatively affect the learning process.

It is very important to note that young kittens often do not have full control over their urination until they are a bit older. That is, urination is a developmental process, so very young kittens can make a mistake without being able to prevent or control it.

Watch for signs that your cat needs to go to the toilet

Sniffing the ground, meowing and dashing behind the sofa can be signs that your kitten needs to go to the toilet. Keep an eye out and gently divert your kitten to, or place him in, the litter tray and give him some privacy. Try not to stare too obviously, as he will find it easier if he feels he’s not being watched.

How long?

Many kittens will catch on quite quickly, and get it right most of the time. Others may need to be placed in the litter box several times a day for several days before they start to grasp the idea. Overall it may take up to four weeks to get a kitten fully and reliably litter box trained.

Make it easy

You can help your kitten by making sure the box is easy for a small animal to use, otherwise he or she may go somewhere that’s easier to access (such as a large pot plant). The litter box should be the only obvious place for the kitten to go.