Getting a new kitten is lots of fun and very sweet, but you need to do the mucky jobs too. That means teaching your kitten where to do his business. Starting early will set your kitten up for success.
We have compiled a comprehensive how-to list of things you can do to make litter training a breeze.
Tray Size Matters
Young kittens can feel quite intimidated by large litter trays, so start them off with a smaller size. These trays are shallower, making it easier for your kitten to step in and out without tripping or getting stuck.
As your kitten grows you can swap the tray for a larger size to accommodate them. Even if you have adult cats in the home, include one smaller-sized tray for your kitten during litter training.
Ideally, your litter tray should be one and a half times the length of your cat.
Give Me Privacy!
Nobody wants an audience to do their business and this includes cats. where you place your litter trays will have a direct impact on how successful your litter training is.
Litter trays need to be placed in quiet areas of the house with minimal food traffic. This includes the laundry room, downstairs toilet, garage, or conservatory.
Try not to have your litter tray in the kitchen or dining room as this is a contamination risk for your food and could make you sick.
While privacy is important, not all cats like to go in enclosed spaces. While you may prefer a covered litter tray, your cat may feel trapped and refuse to use it. Every cat is different. Try one closed tray and one open to working out your cat’s personal preference.
It is important to have at least two litter trays away from each other so your cat has the choice of where they want to go. You may notice that your outdoor cat will not toilet in your garden. They will also go elsewhere. This is the same for litter trays. Cats like to have a choice.
When it comes to choosing litter, the choices are endless. Gravel type litter, fine grain litter, wood chip, clumping or non-clumping? There is no straight answer here, just go with your gut. Try purchasing small bags of each type to see which litter your cat prefers.
When filling your litter trays, add no more than an inch of litter. It needs to be deep enough that your cat can dig and cover their eliminations, but not so deep that they fling litter everywhere.
Adult cats tend to prefer, sandy-type litters but if you have an indoor cat, you will want to choose the most absorbent litter types.
Introducing The Litter Tray
It is important to introduce your kitten to their litter tray so they know where to find them and get used to the new smells.
Pick your kitten up and gently place them into the litter tray. Give them a minute to have a sniff and praise them. They may even have a dig in the litter and some kittens will naturally wee.
Continue taking them to the litter tray after they eat, drink or wake from sleeping, as this is when they are most likely to need to toilet.
You can reward your kitten whenever they use the litter tray by giving them a little treat of their favourite biscuits or small pieces of chicken.
Do not scold your kitten for having accidents around the house. This will only make them fearful of toileting in the future, leading to more accidents. Simply clean up after them and continue rewarding them for using the litter tray.
Cleaning Your Litter Trays
It is important to keep your litter trays clean in order to prevent ammonia buildup, bacteria, and bad odours.
You should spot-check your litter trays daily and scoop out any messes. Add a little extra litter to maintain the depth. Once per week, you should empty the entire litter tray, throwing away the dirty litter.
Rinse the tray, clean it with a mild disinfectant and wipe it clean. Add a fresh layer of litter and replace the tray with its normal position. Cats tend to go straight into a litter tray after it has been cleaned, so keep your scoop ready.
What If Your Kitten Isn’t Getting It?
Some kittens take to litter training like a duck to water. Others seem to take forever to get the hang of it. If your kitten is struggling, there are a few things you can do.
Firstly, check that your litter trays are easily accessible and that your kitten is able to climb in and out without help.
If your litter tray is in a busy part of the house, try moving it to a quieter location and see how your kitten responds. They may be more comfortable having the litter tray away from the busyness of your daily routine.
Don’t tuck the litter trays right into a corner. Cats don’t like to feel confined or closed in and having a litter tray against two walls can make kittens feel uneasy.
If you have other cats, your kitten may feel intimidated using the same litter tray or your older cat may be territorial of their preferred toileting spot. Add an additional tray somewhere else in the house so your kitten has other options.
Try changing the litter type you are using. If you have a fine grain, trying switching to wood chip or a larger grain litter. If your litter tray is covered, remove the lid or vice versa. A little trial and error will eventually hit on a sweet spot and your kitten will be a litter tray pro in no time!