How to litter train a cat

By the time a kitten is old enough to come home they’re usually already house trained. If not, don’t worry. Cats are quick studies.

You will need:

  • a cat
  • a litter box
  • cat litter
  • dishwashing detergent
  • water
  • soap
  • and if things don’t go to plan, you may also need some white vinegar.

Step 1: Make sure you choose a litter box that’s right for your cat. Kittens and older cats prefer boxes with lower sides. Larger cats will need, you guessed it, larger boxes. Some cats don’t like sharing toilets, so if you have more than one cat you may need more than one litter box.

It helps to use the same litter as they’re already used to. If you want to change the type of litter it’s worth bringing some of their familiar litter home when you pick up your kitten and combine this with the new litter to start with.

Step 2: Set up the litter box. Until your cat is house trained it’s a good idea to keep them contained to one area of the house. The litter box should be easily accessible, but also semi-hidden so your cat has some privacy – and make sure it’s not too close to your cats food and water.

Step 3: After each feeding, gently place the cat in the litter box and gently scratch the cat’s front paws in the litter to show him that this is his bathroom.

Step 4: When your cat goes into or uses the litter box, praise him to reinforce the behaviour.

If mistakes occur simply pick up your cat and put him in the litter box – don’t discipline him. Clean up the mistake with a 50/50 mix of white vinegar and water to remove the odour, this will prevent the cat from returning to the same spot.

Step 5: Make sure the litter box is kept clean. You should remove solid waste every day and clean the entire litter box out with detergent and water once a week, or more often if it smells of urine. Always wash your hands after handling used litter.

Is your cat being stubborn?

  • If your cat hasn’t caught on after several days, try a different kind of litter. He may not like the texture of the one you’ve chosen.
  • Your kitten might have trouble if the sides of the litter box are too high. You can start off with a cut-down cardboard box or tray.
  • Try moving the litter box to a more secluded spot.
  • Leave a little pee or poop in the box so the smell will remind her what the box is for.

Once your cat has learnt how to use the litter box she should have this skill for life, so if she suddenly stops using the litter box, take your cat to the vet.