Toilet training tips for cats – Part 12

Training your kitten to use the litterbox instead of the floor/bed/bathtub/clothes is actually much easier than house-training a puppy. Why is this? Because cats actually prefer the litterbox. The problem comes in when a cat either doesn’t understand the concept of the litterbox, or is afraid of it, or is being stubborn.

When bringing home a kitten, there are a few essential items you should already have in place:

Food

Water

Toys

Treats

Litterbox

The placing of these things can also be important-if you put the food and water too close to the litterbox, the kitten will either be distracted by it, or will not want to “do it’s business” so close to where they eat. Try putting your cat’s food and water dishes in a corner in the kitchen, and the litterbox in a large bathroom/storage room/connected garage/basement/laundry room. Cats like their privacy.

Once your new kitty has had a chance to explore the surroundings, show them where the litterbox is. Chances are, they’ll use it the first time you put them in it. After that, they probably won’t for a while. You’ll be able to tell what their problem is with it.

If Kitty doesn’t understand the whole concept, make sure the litterbox is easily accessible to them. Give them treats when they do use it. Also, try occasionally scooping Kitty up and setting them in it-if they have to go, they’ll go. If not, try again later. Don’t be too severe in punishing your cat if they don’t catch on quickly, harsh punishments may frighten them into avoiding you and the litterbox. Just be patient with them, they’ll learn.

If the kitten appears to be afraid of the litterbox, determine the reason-is the litterbox a covered one? Try taking the top off for now. If they are still apprehensive, pet them and talk reassuringly while setting them gently into the box-but don’t force them to stay in it if they try to jump out, as this only adds to their worries and makes them think the litterbox is a punishment. You might even try feeding them a treat out of your hand while they are standing so confused in the litterbox. They will eventually begin to feel safe and realize that this is where the potty is.

When a cat is simply being stubborn and refusing to go in the litterbox, there could be several reasons for it. Take the time to figure it out.

1. The litterbox may need cleaned. Some cats will NOT go if their is evidence of previous use, even if it was by themselves. This is a bit of a pain, constantly scooping poop, but it’s better than shampooing the carpet!

2. Kitty might be mad at you. I know this sounds silly, but I’ve seen it happen. I used to live with a room-mate who had the sweetest tom-cat…except when she brought home another kitten. He was jealous of the new baby, and wouldn’t let my room-mate near him for weeks. In protest of the new arrival, he stopped using the litterbox. Eventually, my room-mate just bought another litterbox and it cured the problem (this also helps when an existing pet is very territorial.

If, after your cat has learned to always use the litterbox, they suddenly revert for no apparent reason, this could be a sign they are sick. If the problem stops within a day or so, there’s no reason to worry-cats catch little colds and stomach bugs just like people do, but usually they are fine. If the problem continues, take Kitty to the vet. It may just be that your cat needs to be wormed, but it could be more serious.

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