Cats are fastidious by nature and in my experience, require little work on the way of toilet training as most kittens are already litter trained by the time they come to their new home. Their mother plays a large role in this, training her kittens from an early age.
Starting on the right foot with your kitten is by far the best practice. Preventing bad habits from developing will save you both a lot of anxiety.
Encouraging litter box use
- Confine your new kitten: When your kitten comes home, keep him confined to just one or two rooms for a few days so he is not overwhelmed. Keeping the litter tray close by will help reinforce good toileting habits.
- Litter tray size: Provide your kitten with an appropriately sized litter tray. Start with a small tray with low sides which are easier for a kitten to climb in and out of.
- Location: Don’t place litter trays in either very high traffic areas or hard to find spots. Place the tray within eyesight of his bed, so he can easily find it when he wakes up. Never place food bowls close to your kitten’s food. They don’t like to toilet where they eat.
- Encouraging litter tray use: Immediately after your kitten has eaten or had a nap, place him in the litter tray to encourage him to use the toilet.
- Accidents: If your kitten does have an accident, do not punish him. This will have the opposite effect and will lead to further toileting issues down the track.
- Cleaning accidents: In the event of an accident, clean the area well with white vinegar. Don’t use ammonia-based products as they will encourage your kitten to go back to the same spot.
- Keep it clean: Make sure you clean out your kitten’s litter tray frequently. Read here for more information on cleaning litter trays.
Choosing the right litter for your kitten
It is recommended new pet owners stick to the litter their kitten was using before his adoption. If you would prefer to change to a different type of litter (for example from clay to crystals), do this gradually, over a few days by mixing in the new litter with the old.
There are several types of cat litter including clay, clumping, crystals and recycled wood/paper pellets. Avoid using clumping litter with kittens as some may eat it, leading to an intestinal blockage.
With a little forethought, litter training your kitten should be a relatively easy process for both you and the kitten. Avoiding common mistakes will go a long way.