Here’s some good news for cat owners: House training a kitten is far easier than potty-training a puppy. Cats and kittens have a natural tendency to use the litter box.
Now the bad news: House training a cat comes with its own set of frustrating factors, which can lead to elimination problems later.
From a young age, cats have a strong instinct to void in sand or soil — any substance they can dig in and use to cover up their eliminations. Typically, cats dig to prepare a shallow hole, eliminate, and cover it. To encourage a kitten to use the litter box, place them gently and quietly into the box soon after each meal and when you see the cat is starting to squat. Avoid disturbing your kitty while they are in the litter box and never punish them for any reason when the cat is near the box — you don’t want your cat to have any aversions to the litter box or you’ll be finding little presents. If they do have an accident, place the mess in the box to help the kitten make the desired association.
There are four main factors to consider when setting up the feline toilet system: type of box, type of litter, location, and cleanliness.
Choosing a Litter Box
For a small kitten or elderly cat, use a low pan so they can easily crawl into the litter box. The bigger the cat, the bigger the box.
There are also covered boxes with charcoal-type filters to reduce odor, but beware! Odors trapped in a covered box may deter the cat from using it, so be sure to keep it clean even if you’re not offended by the odor. There are also motorized self-cleaning boxes. The best type of litter box is the one that your cat will use.
Choosing a Kitty Litter
When deciding on the type of litter, remember that a cat’s natural choice is sand or soil. It may be helpful to try two or three different types in several little boxes simultaneously to see which material your cat prefers. The best litter is the one your cat prefers.
Locating the Litter Box
For a kitten just learning, the litter box and your new pet should be confined to a small room. Later, the box can be placed elsewhere, but it should be a quiet location away from traffic as cats like their privacy and don’t want anyone sneaking up on them. The box also should not be placed by the food or water bowl. You should have at least one litter box per cat.
Keeping the Litter Box Clean
One more factor in litter-box training is cleanliness. Cats are generally very clean animals who avoid damp or foul-smelling places, so be sure to keep the box very clean or you may be cleaning your rugs. Once a cat stops using their litter box, it’s tough to get them back in it.