One advantage of owning a cat over a dog is that you do not have to go out to let your pet do his business. With a litter box, your pet cat can relieve himself indoors no matter what the season or weather is.
But if you are planning on adopting a kitten, you are probably wondering if you need to housetrain it like you would with a puppy.
How long will it take to potty train a kitten?
Potty training a kitten does not usually take too long as cats instinctively know how to eliminate on kitty litter and cover their feces with it.
Cats know instinctively how to bury their poop. A lot of people think that fastidiousness is the primary reason behind this behavior. Although that is partly true, there are other reasons behind this behavior.
For one, all felines, including the big cats, use their feces and urine to mark their territories. Dominant cats do not bury their poop while the submissive ones bury theirs to avoid conflicts. Additionally, felines bury their waste to avoid detection from other predators.
Although domestic cats do not have much to worry about when doing their business, their instinct to bury their poop still remains.
In a way, that means that you do not really have to train your kitten to bury his feces because of his instinct. Furthermore, mother cats teach their kittens how to use litter at around their first month of life. Kittens learn how to use the litter box by watching their moms.
That means that if you are adopting a kitten from a breeder, he probably knows how to use the litter box already.
How to potty train a kitten
However, there are some moms that are simply poor teachers. Or perhaps, you are adopting an abandoned kitten. In both scenarios, you will have to teach your new pet how to use the litter box.
1. Potty training essentials
Before bringing your new kitten home, there are a few things that you need to prepare specifically for his bathroom training.
First, it is a good idea to create a small space devoted to potty training. This area should contain his litter box, his food and water bowls, his bed, and a few toys.
Next, fill the litter box. Finding the right litter that your cat will use can be tricky and you might find yourself experimenting with different brands. But for starters, choose a litter that has a texture similar to beach sand. Be sure that it is unscented. Avoid buying clay litter as some kittens eat bits of this, potentially causing blockages.
It is also a good idea to buy an extra litter box that your cat can use when he does not want to go in the first one. As a rule of thumb, you should have one litter box plus one per cat.
2. Training your kitten
Start teaching your kitten how to use the litter box the moment you get him home, preferably during a quiet time when he will be more relaxed.
Put your kitten inside the box and scratch the surface of the litter. Initially, your cat might run away. That is just normal. Afterward, schedule her potty training during times when he will likely poop or pee. These include after waking up in the morning, eating, and playing.
Once your kitten knows the location of the litter box, you can leave him alone to do his business. Soon after, some kittens will no longer need further guidance and assistance from you. However, prepare for some mishaps during the initial period.
Avoid punishing your cat for potty accidents. This will only aggravate the situation. Worse, you will only scare your new pet.
The better approach would be to clean up the mess using an enzymatic cleaner that removes odors completely. After that, repeat the initial steps of his training.
Troubleshooting litter box issues
If your kitten still does not use his litter box, there are a few things that you should look into.
1. Buy the right litter box size
Your cat might not be using his litter box because it is either too big or too small for him.
Cats dislike feeling confined and a small litter box can discourage them from using it. If the litter box is too big, your kitten might have a difficult time hopping in and out of it.
Ideally, the litter box should be thrice the length of your pet, from his nose to his tail. Litter boxes with lower sides to facilitate ease of getting in and out.
As your kitten grows, you will need to replace his litter box with one that is fit for his age and size. Remember to buy one before he outgrows his litter box and refuses to use it.
2. Choosing a litter box type
Choosing which type of litter box to buy for your kitten can be tricky. Some kittens will readily use whatever litter box is available to them while others do not.
There are cats that prefer to use top entry litter boxes as these provide them some measure of privacy and comfort. However, these litter boxes tend to make odors linger, requiring daily cleanups. Additionally, there are some cats that do not like their vision to be obstructed because they feel vulnerable to attacks.
Self-cleaning litter boxes are ideal for busy households as they can eliminate the usual hassles associated with cleaning and maintaining a conventional litter box. However, some cats avoid using self-cleaning litter boxes because of the noise these generate.
3. Finding the right location for the litter box
Like people, cats prefer doing their business in complete quiet and privacy. As such, finding the right location for the litter box is essential.
Avoid placing the litter box in a high traffic area where people and other pets usually stay. Do not place the box in a location where there is equipment that can generate loud noises, like the laundry area.
If you have two or more cats in your home, be sure that there are exit points in the area. Cats dislike being ambushed after using the litter box.
If you have a dog in your home, it is a good idea to seal off the room from your canine pal with a baby gate. The baby gate should be high enough to prevent the dog from getting near the litter box but low enough to allow your cat to pass through from below.
Never place the litter box too near your cat’s food and water bowls. As fastidious creatures, cats dislike eliminating in areas near where they eat and drink.
4. Cleaning the litter box
If there is one hassle associated with keeping cats, that would be cleaning the litter box. Nonetheless, you need to do it, otherwise, your pet will completely avoid using it if he thinks that it is dirty.
Ideally, you should scoop fecal material from the litter at least once a day. As for the litter box itself, you need to clean it at least once a week.
To clean a litter box, you need to wash it thoroughly. However, avoid using detergents or disinfectants with strong odors. If your kitten has accidentally splashed urine or fecal material on the sides of the box, use an enzymatic cleaner to remove the scent. You can also try using bleach. Cats avoid using litter boxes if they still smell old poop or pee.
When your cat stops using the litter box
When your kitten begins to use the litter box consistently and then suddenly stops using it altogether, it can be a sign that a larger problem is at hand.
One of the things that you should look into is stress. Cats are easily stressed and they manifest these in a variety of ways, including litter box avoidance. Think of any massive change in your home that may have triggered this response.
Cats afflicted with medical problems may also abandon the use of a litter box. If you have eliminated stress as a possible reason for your pet’s unwanted toilet behavior, consider scheduling a visit to the vet to confirm if he has a medical or behavioral problem.
It is also possible that your cat is peeing outside the litter box because he is marking his territory. Intact cats do this even if they have been properly potty trained.
As your cat grows older, he may stop using the litter box due to mobility issues. Older felines often deal with stiffness and joint pain, making it difficult for them to climb inside the litter box. In this scenario, consider replacing your pet’s litter box with one that has lower side panels.
Potty training is essential for you and your kitten
Compared to house training a puppy, training a kitten to use the litter box is easier. However, you might face a few challenges, from finding the right type of litter box to encountering pee and poop accidents. But with patience, your feline pal will soon master how to use his litter box. How long it will take to fully train a cat will vary from one kitten to another.
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