How to Train a Cat to Use a Litter Box

How to Train a Cat to Use a Litter Box – The Ultimate Guide

Adopting a new cat is undoubtedly one of the most rewarding and enjoyable experiences in life.

And to spice things up, kittens are playful, soft, and utterly loyal to the ones they love.

But along with the excitement of owning a kitten come some minor problems like dealing with the occasional hairball or waking up at the dead of dawn to serve kibble.

For many cat owners, this is as bad as it gets, and unfortunately, it doesn’t end there as most people still have to deal with a feline that cannot and will not use the litter box.

Though your cat’s inability to use her litter box is understandably worrying, the good news is that this problem can be fixed with a few tips we will be showing you in today’s post.

And because most cats are naturally tidy with a natural instinct to bury their waste when done, this makes litter box training a walk in the park.

For cat owners with a kitten that needs some pointers on how to use the litter box effectively, you’re welcome to read further as we have put together some helpful tips you can explore to easily train your feline friend to use the litter box without a hassle.

But before then, let’s talk about some supplies you’ll need to effectively litter train your kitty.

Important supplies needed for litter box training

To give your kitty a good start when litter training, you’ll need a few supplies that will reinforce good bathroom habits.

Here, check out some of them:

Litter boxes: Whether you have one kitty or more, it’s always a good idea to have more litter boxes in your home than the number of cats that will be using them.

And if this is your first kitten, you’ll want to start with two.

To ensure your cat uses the provided litter boxes without any hassle, try to place the litter boxes in easy-to-access areas while offering privacy.

Keep in mind that if the litter boxes are too exposed, your cat might not feel safe enough to use the boxes.

Kitty litter: When it comes to kitty litter, you’ll find a lot of options, including inexpensive and non-clumping clay litters to high-end and eco-friendly litters made from quality materials like recycled newspapers, pellets, and wheat.

Even though most cats aren’t picky and will make do with almost any litter you provide, some cats are a bit extra and won’t use a litter if they don’t like the texture or smell.

To this end, you want to start your kitty off with a standard and unscented clumping litter.

And if you want to try something else, we suggest you experiment once your cat has completed her initial litter box training.

Treat and toys: When you observe that your fluffy friend is using the litter box correctly, feel free to reward her with some treats or a small portion of her favorite cat food.

Also, you can use praises and toys to help stir positive associations with using the litter box.

When should you start litter box training your kitten?

The first few weeks after birth is usually when most mother cats show their kittens how to eliminate and clean up afterwards.

During this period, our feline friends usually don’t need a litter box.

That said, you can begin litter training your kittens when they are around four weeks of age.

And you can kick things off by providing them with kitten-friendly litter boxes.

And just so you know, the 4th week is usually when most kittens start weaning.

If you adopt an adult cat, you can start litter box training the minute you bring her home.

And to get things right from the get-go, you’ll need the right cat potty training supplies, which shouldn’t be a problem with the myriad of options available on the market today.

Litter training your kitten: Steps to follow

If you have a kitten that just won’t use her litter box or is struggling to get things right, follow these steps to train your kitten to use her litter box correctly:

  • Introduce your kitten to the box as soon as she arrives. And to make sure she gets it right, place her in the litter box and allow her to sniff and examine her new litter box. Once you take her out, try not to change the litter box’s position to avoid confusing her.
  • Put your kitten in one of the provided litter boxes immediately after meals or waking up from a nap. And if you notice signs that suggest that she needs to go, which might look like crouching and sniffing towards a particular area, simply pick her up and place her in the litter box.
  • Whenever your kitten uses her litter box correctly, praise and reward her with her favorite treat or toy.
  • Do not punish or scold her for minor accidents. Doing that will only result in stress and anxiety, which may eventually aggravate the problem and make litter box training more difficult. Remember that our four-legged friends don’t always associate punishment with the problem in question, so scolding her will not help train her not to do it again in the future.

Litter training adult cats

Usually, adult cats will already know how to effectively use the litter box, so by the time they come to live with you; there won’t be so much to show them when it comes to litter box training.

Unfortunately, you may run into a litter box training challenge if the cat you adopted was formerly an outdoor cat.

Even at that, most cats have a natural instinct to help them learn quickly, so litter box training an older cat wouldn’t be much of a problem.

The only challenge you may encounter initially is getting them to use the litter box.

And if that’s the case, we suggest filling the litter box with outdoor soil to get her comfortable.

And as she gets used to going in the box, you can gradually replace the soil with cat litter to give her the chance to become acquainted with the new surface.

What to do if your cat won’t use the litter box

If your feline is having a torrid time with the litter box and doing her business outside the box, you can try the following tips to see if it solves the problem.

  • Carefully examine and evaluate the setup of the litter box. And just so you know, every cat has slightly different preferences. To this end, you want to make sure your cat’s litter boxes:
  • Are located in quiet spots
  • Are easily accessible
  • Are not being watched or guarded by other cats
  • Are not placed in hard to access areas
  • Consider changing the litter box or type of litter: If you notice that your cat isn’t using the litter box, chances are she doesn’t like the box. So, you may want to get a new box (either covered or uncovered or something with low sides) and have it installed nearby to see if your cat prefers another box.

On the flip side, you can keep using the same litter box and only change the litter type.

Doing both of these things will show you if the problem is the box or the litter you’re using.

  • If you notice that your cat suddenly stops using the litter box and instead chooses to do her business outside the box, she is likely tired of using a dirty litter box. And if that’s the case, you may need to scoop and replace the litter more often.
  • Consider using pheromone diffusers around your cat’s litter box. This will help relieve the stress your feline is feeling and make her more comfortable with her surroundings. When these diffusers are placed in rooms housing your cat’s litter box, they give your cat the feeling that they have marked their territory.
  • Visit your veterinarian for an extensive checkup for urinary tract infections, parasites, or other medical conditions that may be causing inappropriate elimination. While these conditions may be very rare with kittens, make sure you don’t overlook them, as they may just be the reason why your cat is refusing to use the litter box.

Note: If you’re having litter box problems and you don’t know what to do, speak with your veterinarian as he/she can help you troubleshoot your cat’s litter box issues.

That said, remember to be patient when litter box training, and that’s because training takes time.

With love, support and understanding, your kitten should master these habits sooner rather than later.

Cleaning and Maintenance

Taking care of your cat’s litter box is super important, especially if you want your cat to keep using the litter box without problems.

Doing this will not only help rid your home of the dreaded cat smell, but it will also make it more pleasing and convenient for your cat.

To ensure that your cat’s litter box is always clean, consider doing the following:

  • Scoop at least once or twice daily to remove your kitten’s deposit. Also, feel free to remove soiled litter as needed. This should be done when the litter stops controlling odor.
  • Before changing the litter, try to clean and disinfect the box. You can do this using mild soap and water. It’s important that you don’t use bleach, harsh chemicals, or commercial disinfectants that can harm your cat.
  • If your cat does her business outside the box, you can use an enzyme cleaner to clean the area thoroughly. Using this type of cleaner will help remove the smell, which might encourage your cat to keep doing her business in that spot.

How long does it take to litter train your cat?

For many cat owners, the thought of litter training their cat can have them pretty worked up.

Plus, many cat owners want to know exactly how long it would take for their cat to get used to the litter box.

While there is no specific time limit for your cat to learn how to use the litter box fully, experts suggest that litter training could take up to 4 to 5 weeks.

And because our feline friends have a natural instinct to eliminate their waste, litter training them wouldn’t be as stressful as you envisaged.

Plus, most kittens learn from observing their mother.

To this end, introducing your kitten to a litter box will take only a couple of days or a week as her natural instinct will come alive to speed up the process.

Frequently asked questions

Do you have to train a cat to use a litter box?

For many pet parents, an accident or two may have them utterly discouraged, but guess what?

Litter training isn’t as difficult as you think.

And for the most part, cats are naturally inclined to do their business in a litter box.

Unlike house training a dog, litter training doesn’t take so long.

As a matter of fact, a couple of weeks is enough for your cat to get used to the litter box.

Simply exercise some patience while litter training your cat.

Also, remember to take it one step at a time.

Where should I keep my cat’s litter box?

For many cat owners, the thought of where to place their cat’s litter box can have them disoriented.

But not to worry, we have some suggestions you can explore.

  • The bathroom is a great place to keep your cat’s litter box. And because it is usually quiet, warm, and offers a lot of privacy, it makes sense to keep your cat’s litter box here.
  • The living room is another great place to keep your cat’s litter box.
  • Other spots include laundry rooms and bedrooms.

Can cats find their litter box if you move it?

When it comes to litter boxes, it’s important that you don’t make sudden changes like moving the litter box from a place where it has been for a long time.

Remember that cats are very sensitive to sudden changes in their environment and may avoid the box altogether, which we are sure you wouldn’t like.


Now that you know everything needed to litter train your cat, you’re sure on your way to building a happy and harmonious relationship with your feline friend.

If you suspect any odd behavior that could trigger litter problems, please speak to your veterinarian for further assistance.

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