Cats don’t necessarily need to be trained to use the litter box the same way a dog or a child needs to be potty trained. It’s actually a natural born instinct for them to want to bury their waste in a soft, diggable material such as litter.
So most of the house training is already done for you! However, the litterbox should always be the best bathroom option available – otherwise you can run into problems.
But let’s start at the beginning.
Just because a cat naturally is driven to use the litterbox, that doesn’t mean you can’t litterbox train a stubborn cat or encourage appropriate behavior.
Whether dealing with a young kitten who hasn’t learned any bathroom habits, or an older cat who’s decided to stop using the litterbox – there are certainly things you can do to encourage faithful litterbox use.
The first thing I would do, especially when dealing with a kitten, is to have scheduled feeding times throughout the day. (this way, you will know when your kitten/cat is going to need to go to potty)
It’s much easier to predict when a kitten is going to start looking for a place to go potty, because they typically need to go anywhere from 5 – 25 minutes after eating.
With an older cat, bathroom time will be harder to predict but through careful and persistent observation you will be able to pick up on a pattern.
A young cat (4 months and younger) should eat 3-4 times a day. 5-15 minutes after your kitten is done eating, gently place him or her in the litter box.
If you see the kitten showing signs of wanting to go elsewhere (sniffing around, squatting) gently pick the kitten up and place him/her in the litter box. Yelling at or scolding a cat or kitten for inappropriate elimination will not help. In fact, it will simply make your cat fear you.
What’s more, if you scold your cat or kitten and then put them in the litterbox – this only worsens the problem as the cat starts to view the litterbox as a punishment.
This may also cause them to be afraid of going potty in front of you – which can cause them anxiety and stress, and also be a huge problem, so make sure you always make it a pleasant and happy experience for your cat or kitten to use the litter box.
During the early stages of training, I’d suggest rewarding appropriate litterbox use with loads of praise and a delicious treat.
On top of that, make sure the litterbox fits the cat.
What I mean by that is, a small kitten needs a shallow litterbox with short sides that he or she can actually climb into without help.
While at the same time, a large cat will get frustrated by a litterbox that isn’t big enough for scratching, digging or moving around in.
If you keep finding kitty surprises right next to the litterbox rather than inside it, your cat may actually be going potty inside the litterbox, but the waste doesn’t land where it’s supposed to because there isn’t enough room.
If you are still struggling with litterbox training your cat after following these suggestions, I invite you to visit www.secretsofcats.com to get more information about solving common cat behavior problems.