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Litter Box Training a Cat

Category Cats
Training your cat to use a litter box is well worth the effort. Cats being cats, there can be set backs and varying levels of frustration along the way. This is a guide about litter box training a cat.
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By 6 found this helpful
February 15, 2007

We had a problem with one of our cats pooping around the litter box, but not in it. In fact, she really liked the bathroom rug. Our vet recommended we lay down foil in the places she was pooping, because they don't like the feel of foil on their paws. Well, we covered the entire space where she was going except for the litter box and a small path to it. It worked like a charm. Kept at it for a while, then slowly started removing the foil. If she started back to her little habit, we put the foil right back. This took a while, but Ms. Kitty finally got the message!

By Sarah from Hixson, TN

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Catherine Forman1 found this helpful
May 8, 2006

Keep in mind that kittens are a lot like toddlers who are potty training: sometimes it's just easier to wet the bed than to go find that bathroom.

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The first thing to do when training your kitty to use a litterbox is to have many many boxes available. I'd suggest using those disposable aluminum baking pans during your training period, they're easy enough to get rid of when you no longer need them!

Place multiple litterboxes through the house. One in each room, if you have to. Make sure the boxes are easily accessible for your cat or kitten. Every day, move the litterboxes a few inches towards the spot you have picked to be the permanent litterbox spot. Slowly remove the excess boxes until only a few remain. And keep in mind that you may need more than one litterbox if you have more than one cat!

During the training period, you will need to be vigilant and consistent. Keep an eye on your cat, especially if he heads for a spot where he has had an "accident" before. It's much better to stop him before he wets again than to clean up a new mess. Adding strange objects to the area, like balloons, can help deter your not-quite-potty-trained cat.

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Clean up any accident areas with an enzyme-based cleaner, like Nature's Miracle. This will help eliminate all traces of scent left behind, so your cat won't feel the need to try and cover it. Though if your cat keeps picking the same spot for his accidents, you may want to think about putting a litterbox there. If it's a room where you don't want a litterbox, block access to the room! A closed door can work wonders for keeping a room accident-free.

Above all, remember to be patient! Most kittens will outgrow that awkward "potty accident" stage and become litterbox professionals.

If your cat was using the litterbox and has suddenly stopped, look for what has changed.

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By 2 found this helpful
May 16, 2017

I have a large number of pet cats at our house. I have six adult cats and 14 kittens at the moment, and they are getting ready to be adopted. My adult cats use these huge plastic tubs filled with cedar shavings or pine shavings as litter boxes. However, when they are babies, I always use the normal kind of litter.

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I was at the store the other day, and I picked up this litterbox. It is a plastic litterbox with the litter already in it. It comes ready to use, and is $4.

The babies are all getting ready, in various stages, to use the litterbox and I am going to put this in there to teach them. I will, of course, have to watch and make sure they are not trying to ingest the litter. Some kittens do this, and it is good to watch for it.

I am including various pictures of the babies we have, they are so darling and they grow up and leave us so fast!

Have a wonderful spring and summer!

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

September 8, 20061 found this helpful

My cat had kittens and I need to know at what age do you start litter training an feeding regular food?

Darlene from PA

Answers

By Doggy (Guest Post)
September 11, 20060 found this helpful

MamaCat will usually litter train her kittens as soon as they are ready. Until then, she will clean up after them.

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Depending on the size of the litter (a large litter means start a little early) you can start to offer soft easily digestible foods in small amounts at about 5 weeks

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September 11, 20060 found this helpful

I wouldn't start regular food at least until they're 4-6 weeks old. Preferable the later, the better, in my opinion. As they get older, put food out for the mother. If they are ready to eat it, you'll notice them attempting to get at any food she leaves. That's when I start soaking dry food for the kittens.

I bought one of those small litter pans at Wal-marts when I had kittens, and put it in the room with them after they started walking around. They all tried to climb in and scratched around before actually using it. Some went on their own, others I had to put in the box a few times, but they all trained really fast. Just make sure the sides of the box aren't too high so they can get into it while they're small.

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By Carol in pa (Guest Post)
September 11, 20060 found this helpful

Cats instinctively know to use the litter box. I've never had to litter train one. There should be one litter box per cat. Some people say two litter boxes per cat, but that may be a bit much for you right now.. lol

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September 13, 20060 found this helpful

Mama cat will teach her kittens how to use a litter SO LONG AS THERE IS ONE AVAILABLE! I got a kitten once where the mother's litter box was in a basement and her kittens were on the second floor. She wasn't able to teach her kittens proper hygiene and I eventually had to find the kitten another home.

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September 13, 20060 found this helpful

YOU CAN START AS SOON AS THEY START VENTURING AWAY FROM MOMMA AND THIER SLEEPING QUARTERS. I'VE PLACED LITTER IN A CARDBOARD TOP OFF AN OFFICE PAPER BOX, BUT YOU COULD CUT ONE DOWN TO ABOUT 2" HIGH. NOT TO HIGH OR THEY WON'T VENTURE IN. THEY WILL TEACH THIERSELVES. HAVE FUN!!!

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By Bev (Guest Post)
September 23, 20060 found this helpful

Our kitten, adopted from Humane Society is about 5 weeks old. We put a litter box in separate room, but she does not seem to have any idea what to do with it. Altho I put her in it frequently and hold her front paws to do some digging.

She also eats very little, and when she does have a bowel movement, usually very loose, she does it in her bed. I have removed the bed.

What to do? No other cats.

Editor's Note: That's very young to be released from the animal shelter. Usually they will not release them until they are at the least 6 weeks old.

Here's a great link about caring for kittens:

http://www.kitt  _and_peeing.html

Susan

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By Danielle (Guest Post)
September 2, 20070 found this helpful

I think that using the card board top of the office paper box is a great idea. Thanks!

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By (Guest Post)
August 24, 20080 found this helpful

Informative site. Will use it more!
Thanks

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By TJ (Guest Post)
October 14, 20080 found this helpful

Help! I'm trying to get my new kitten to use the litter box, but she keeps eating the litter! What should I do?

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April 21, 20050 found this helpful

I have a male neutered cat that is 4 years old and given to me over a year ago. He had no vaccinations when we got him and he had diarreah. We had him on stomach medicine for 10 days and then got his shots.

He's a VERY sweet loving gentle fat cat! But he gets spells of diarreah that seem to clear up in time whether he has medicine or not, and now he is throwing up every day, usually just once. It's always right after he eats and no hairball subtsance is coming up. The food and water are out all day, but he chooses to eat once, sometimes twice a day and usually only drinks water once a day.

The biggest problem is that he would go poop outside the litterbox when he had diarreah. It was a huge mess and so I finally put down an old tablecloth and he pooped on that. He finally ventured off of that and started pooping all over the room where the litterbox was. Well, that room got stinky real quick. So I moved the box to my bathroom (tile floor).

He goes in the box almost all of the time now, but he kept going back to the old room and pooping on the floor. I sprinkled with cayenne pepper to deter him. He didn't care. I finally had to just keep the door shut. Every once in a while, I will leave the door open for the day and he will always go in there and poop again.

Now, he has decided he will urinate on my bathroom rug! So now I fold the rug and lay it on top of the box. Yesterday, he came into the playroom and urinated on that carpet. I simply do not understand! I have used all kinds of litter to see if he had a preference. I cannot afford to keep running to the vet every time he has a spell. He is declawed, so I cannot put him outside. How can I get a grown cat to continuously us the litter box?

suzi_homemaker01

Answers

By guest (Guest Post)
April 21, 20050 found this helpful

I would call my vet immediately and explain what is going on. Cats throwing up regularly is a cause for alarm. They can get very sick quickly. If they can't figure it out, ask your vet about food allergies. My trash dump kitty had constant stomach problems, but was only allergic to his food. My own vet didn't figure this out. I changed vets and changed cat food to Hill's Science Diet Sensitive Stomach and he got better almost immediately. For kitty or doggie diarrhea, I put them on liquids only for a day -- water and light clear organic chicken broth, which they love. I give them each live active culture yogurt. For some I have to smear on their little mouths or paws to get them to lick it off, because they don't like it. Others would eat it voluntarily.

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By Sarah_bellum (Guest Post)
April 22, 20050 found this helpful

We have a himilayan with a similar problem. He has polycystic kidney disease and he was peeing out of the box because of a kidney infection.

As for the loose stool, I changed his food until I found one that does not give him loose stool. Then the vet put him on renal food. This returned him to the same problem, so I now mix a little of his old food with the renal food and no more going outside the box!

I have found that if they have active bouts of stomach problems that if you give them rice mixed with hamburger instead of their food, it will help stop the dirrehea and bind them up, usually by the end of the day.

Sarah

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April 22, 20050 found this helpful

My cat started to throw up alot and it was due to not drinking enough. I now have to give him and his sister 1 can of food in the monring and 1 at night. Before I go to bed they get some dry, if they don't eat the canned they can't have the dry as I will wake up to clean up puke.
I have also put a small water bowl in my bathroom for them, they seem to drink out of that bowl the most. He was getting into the tub and demanding me to turn the water on for him but now I don't have too.

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By Nancy (Guest Post)
January 30, 20070 found this helpful

HELP ME AND "OSCAR" PLEEEASE! Anyone! My very handsome Kitty Kat, Oscar, is pooping outside his litter box, for about a month now, daily! It's so gross! I don't know what to do! He is very smart in all other ways! he is a Bombay Burmese. A year old. I live in a small Condo, and I don't have many places to put his litter. Any help is so helpful to me, and him!
Thanks so much! He is very healthy!

Nancy & "Oscar"

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By Kelly (Guest Post)
July 19, 20070 found this helpful

I find usually confining the cat in a room w/ only the litter box, water, and food (maybe a bathroom) is the best way to remind them that they need to use their potty. You keep the cat confined for week. Taking him or her out for an hour or two each day to love them and pet them. After a week with no accidents inside the small confined room, let them out and give them a test run. If they poop or pee anywhere but the box, stick them back in confinenment for another week. You should only try this 3 times, after that a trip to the vet might be in order to make sure there's no infections that are causing kitty to not use the box.

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By (Guest Post)
October 8, 20080 found this helpful

I have a two year old female who is fixed, who was well behaved even after my move into a new home. Then, one weekend she got outside for the first time and didn't come back for a few days. When she returned, things seemed normal enough, aside from the fleas, until she decided to poop in the living room. She repeated this the next day, then the day after she decided to pee in the same spot instead. Finally I locked her upstairs in my room with her litterbox and food and water. After three days, we let her run free again, at which point it only took one day to pass before she pooped in the same spot again. Now, she's upstairs, going on four days, and last night she decided to poop on the pillow that was being used by a sleeping someone! What the heck could be wrong with her?

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By 0 found this helpful
July 14, 2011

My kitten is doing his business on the carpet. He is 3 months old, and I have had him since he was 12 weeks old. When I got him, he was using the litter tray no problem, but I went away and he started messing on the floor. He still uses the litter tray sometimes. I have tried everything and am at the end of my tether. Please help. Thank you.

By Sarah C

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By 0 found this helpful
October 8, 2010

My sister just moved in this house with her beautiful long haired cat, Buddy. Buddy poops and pees in his litter box sometimes, and poops and pees in various other areas of the house (and furniture) other times. I keep the litter box cleaned out a couple times a day to no avail. Any suggestions for this smelly, nasty problem?

By Robyn Wae Hunter from Virginia Beach, VA

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By 0 found this helpful
January 4, 2012

The kitten has started frequently urinating on anything that is a box, basket, or storage like object. This includes the sofa, washing, ironing, food boxes, handbags, and blankets if they are folded a curtain way.

We thought when get got her we just needed to toilet train her which we spent months trying with no improvement just an increase in the behaviour. We then took her to the vet to see if it was a physical problem only to be told her bladder was fine, it was behavioural and not an uncommon cat problem.

I am also 4 months pregnant and with a sickness condition that is aggravated by this behaviour (resulting in myself being hospitalised). I will not risk my own health, that of my unborn child, and the other cat's health due to a kitten's bad behaviour. Is it better that she be re-homed by an experienced cat owner who has encountered the behaviour and knows how best to manage it?

We re-homed Marley from a tiny kitten when she was flea ridden and in poor health so we are pleased, if nothing else, to have given her a life and a chance to live in our home. We are sad to have come to this, but as stated above, the risk and damage to my home and health is something we can no longer manage. Our other cat has stopped eating and won't come in the house until the smell has gone and I'm worried she is going to run off.
If any one has any last ideas or advise please please help!

By Kymberz

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By 0 found this helpful
May 30, 2016

I have had an 8 week old kitten now for almost a week. He used the litter box the first few days and now he uses it and goes on the carpet. He knows he did because when I go to pick him up and take him to the litter box he runs from me. Someone please help I have tried everything.

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By 0 found this helpful
May 22, 2016

My cat gave birth last March to three Siamese kittens. They didn't use the litter box at the beginning, but now they use it but also pee on the furniture. I tried taking them to the litter box, but that did not work. They also would pee on a mat or something as they father does, but they also use our furniture. I don't know what to do.

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By 0 found this helpful
August 13, 2015

We recently got 2 kittens, they were born and raised inside and the woman said they were potty box trained. They are 3 months old. They do use the litter box, but keep urinating behind the toilet and pooping on the bathroom floor. We bought another potty box in hopes if they had their own that would fix the problem, but it seems to be getting worse. Is there something I can spray on my bathroom floor to prevent them from doing this? I think it may be just one of them, but I cannot tell. Please help! :)

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By 0 found this helpful
March 27, 2015

What do I do? My 7 week old kitten will not use the litter box. I have tried everything.

By Debbielynn R.

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February 8, 20150 found this helpful

I rescued a 4-5 month old kitten from a shelter last weekend.
He, Jackson, is delightful in every way except he is urinating anywhere he happens to be (usually while playing). He goes to his litter box to poop, but doesn't go there to urinate. He does not seem to have a particular place he likes to urinate. He has urinated in several rooms on different surfaces. I don't know for sure, but I think he was a stray before being put in the shelter. He was only in the shelter a week when I adopted him. Any advise would be greatly appreciated :)

By Cathy F

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November 4, 20140 found this helpful

I wanted to know at what age do you start litter box training a kitten? I think ours is about 6 weeks old. We found him in the bushes at about 4 days old. Anyhow, since we don't have another cat to show him how, what we are doing doesn't seem to be working. We bought the sandy litter, he didn't like that at all, so we moved to the pellet kind and he still doesn't seem to like it. The only time he will use the box, is when we get lucky enough to get him in there in time. We have used his "samples" in both boxes which doesn't seem to do much of anything for him either. Other than that, he will pee pretty much anywhere around the house and doesn't seem to prefer one spot over another.

By Judi

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By 0 found this helpful
March 3, 2012

My friend and I recently rescued a kitten that had been thrown over her fence. It turns out the kitten has radial paralysis and a break. The vet said he may need to amputate his front leg. How do I teach him to use a scratch tray when he will only have one front paw? Even though it had been mistreated and not looked after, he was so smoochy, that wouldn't have made a difference to me; I would have loved him anyway.

By Sharyl

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September 7, 20110 found this helpful

Why does my five-week-old litter of kittens (mom and kittens are kept in my bathroom) sometimes pee on the floor and sometimes in their litterbox?

By Julie E.

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August 1, 20110 found this helpful

I rescued a 3-4 week old kitten from a box in the parking lot in Walmart. I have been feeding him out of a syringe, because he is still to little to eat out of a bowl. I grew up with cats and kittens, but because there is no momma cat, I'm not quite sure how to litter train him. Other than that, he is a very healthy, very happy little guy. Please, any advice will help! Thank you!

By Careen

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By 0 found this helpful
May 16, 2011

I have an orphaned kitten that was around 4-5 days old when we found that she lived through a coyote attack. She is now 4 weeks old and ate her first "solid" food yesterday. Now I'm feeding her Special Kitty Select, soft, mushy food and some of her KMR from the bottle.

This is the third time in the last week that she had a bowel movement in her containment. It is still jelly-like and is a huge mess. Though I still stimulate her with a wet wipe to go before and after feedings, she's also figured out how to stimulate herself per-say by rubbing on her bedding to go pee. The tote I have her in is too small to put anything large with litter in it. I can't let her wander around the house and the messes only happen in the morning. Any advice?

By Heather79 from TX

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By 0 found this helpful
January 4, 2010

I'm trying to get my new kitten to use the litter box, but she keeps eating the litter. What should I do?

By Mel from West Palm Beach, FL

Answers

January 5, 20100 found this helpful

Congratulations on your new kitten! I would first change you brand of litter. Then you will probably need to limit the space your kitten has to run from the litter box. Cats are naturally clean animals and she will seek out the area to eliminate. As a last option, you could try bringing a "dirty" bit of litter from another cat's box to give the kitten the idea that this IS the appropriate place. :)

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By 0 found this helpful
May 20, 2008

How do you litter box train a kitten whose Momma wouldn't use one? Please help. The kitten used a box with reluctance a couple of times and the next time proceeded to use the floor. I put her in the box, she jumps out. I will not keep her if she doesn't get trained and I am already attached.

Laura from Wilson, NC

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May 20, 20080 found this helpful

If you haven't already, separate her from the mother cat so she doesn't get any reinforcement for "outside the box" thinking. Thoroughly clean any areas where mother cat has previously made deposits, using an enzyme cleaner designed for pet odors. Next, confine the kitten in as small a space as you can with the litter box, a bed, water, and food, and keep her there 24/7 -- visiting her frequently for petting, of course. (Preferably, this location will be the regular location of the litter box, so as to avoid confusing the kitten later by moving it.) Leave her there for a week, and then, if she is consistently using the box, begin gradually expanding her territory, a week at a time. If she reverts to using the floor, go back to step 1.

The logic behind this is that a cat won't urinate or defecate near its food or bed, and thus confining the kitten in a small space will motivate her to make her deposits in the box, where they are farthest away from what's important to her. Once the habit has developed, then letting her have more space should be safe.

Good luck!

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May 21, 20080 found this helpful

I agree with separating it from the mother. I had a kitten that did that once because the mother had no litter box to show them (she went outdoors) and I could never train him. He'd use it if it were nearby, otherwise he'd go wherever was handy. It's hard to break the training a mother gives them, so start now!

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