How to litter train a kitten

So, how to potty train a cat, huh? A kitten can generally learn to litter from their mother as it is in their nature to dig and bury after they go. A mother cat generally begins training her kitten as soon as she has weaned.

Your kitten is not using the litter box? Don’t panic, our guide will definitely help you!

So waiting for a couple of weeks before you welcome your kitten into your home, anywhere from 12 to 14 weeks will be better as this is the time when the mother cat will train her kitten. Your kitten should be given a chance to learn the basic skills from their mother and have some sibling time before they join your family.

Sometimes, however, the circumstances are different. If your kitten is an orphan and has been rescued by you at a very young age, you need to undergo some training to teach your kitten about littering. In this article, I am going to talk about various ways you can potty train your kitten easily and effectively.

Your kitten will learn to potty train in fairly quick time if you train them with care and patience. Now in this guide, I will add some tips which you can follow to train your adult cat as well. But you need to keep in mind that while the training methods are essentially similar for your cat and kitten, it will take a longer period and more patience if you plan to train your adult cat about using the litter box.

Step 1: Find a proper location for a litter box

You can make your life easier when it comes to potty training your cat or kitten by finding a proper location to settle your litter box. Here are some of the tips to help you get your cat’s approval.

  • Cats like to do their business in private. So you need to select a spot which is out of the flow of your household traffic. Don’t put your cat’s litter box among the hustle and bustle of your family time.
  • Cats like to concentrate when they litter so make sure your litter box is in a noise free zone. Put your litter box somewhere that is quiet and away from chatty humans and loud home appliances.
  • Your cat’s litter box should be in a reasonable distance away from your kitten’s food and water dishes as cats do not like to soil near their eating or sleeping areas. The opposite ends of the room are okay but don’t put them side by side.
  • Make sure to not place the litter box in an area that becomes inaccessible for your cat under any circumstance. If you place the litter box in the bathroom, make sure the door cannot swing shut on its own which will prevent the cat from getting to it.
  • If you got the cat recently, you need to realize that it may go into hiding for a few days so place the litter box closer to its hiding place, so it doesn’t forgo the potty training.
  • Once you have found your ideal spot for your cat’s litter box, stick with it. Moving the box from here to there might confuse your cat and hinder the potty training efforts.
  • If you have more than one cats or kittens, put several litter boxes in different locations of your house.

Picking the right litter box for your kitten or cat is equally important to make your training efforts work effectively and easily. Here are some tips on how you choose the perfect litter box for your cat or kitten.

Step2: Choose the right litter box

Litter boxes come in many sizes, shapes, and materials; and you need to choose wisely while looking for one for your cat or kitten. Here are some heads up in your venture to find the perfect one for your cat.

a) Litter box must be easy to clean

You need to always keep this point in mind. Any litter box that is easy to clean is at the top of the list in my litter box choices. While choosing a material, plastic is the most practical one. Plastic is easy to wipe down with a tissue. A simple design will also make it a less of a headache to make cleanups easy and quick. A covered litter box will be useful for you if your kitten or cat tends to have poor aim or sends litter flying in all directions. A clean litter box is must for your cat or kitten to use it as cats tend to avoid dirty places. Since you need to clean out your litter box on a daily basis, make sure you choose a practical one before making a commitment to a fancy one which looks good but is a huge pain to clean out.

b) Litter box should be the right size

The box should provide enough room so that your cat can find just the right place to do its business and then dig and bury to cover the resulting wet spots and droppings easily. But you need to make sure that your litter box’s sides are low enough for a small kitten or an older cat to climb in and out easily. Your cat will be more likely to use the litter box if it has easy access to it so finding the right size is essential if you wonder how to teach a kitten to use a litter box.

c) An unscented option is better

For your kitten’s first litter box, your best choice will be to choose a basic and unscented one, as some kittens tend to dislike scented litters and may refuse to use them. The litter box can be either a traditional one made with clay or a modern one with newer clumping types. The clumping type is made to be scooped out as it is used instead of being changed completely on a periodic basis.

To use your litter box properly, here is a step by step guide on how you do it.

Fill in the box with about three inches of regular clay litter with one or two inches of clumping litter. You need to make sure that the box is filled to this level so that your kitten or cat can always dig and paw.

Step 3: Feed at regular schedule

You need to accustom your cat or kitten with a regular feeding schedule to make sure that you can predict when your kitten needs to do the toilet business. Before you feed your kitten, make sure to play with it for about ten to fifteen minutes. Then give it the food, allow it to it for fifteen minutes and clean out the leftovers. After that, it is time for another gentle play session.

It will get easier this way. Call out to your kitten from the litter box. When the kitten gets to the litter box, scratch on it to make it interested.

Step 4: Praise your cat

Reward system and a positive association with the litter box are the keys when it comes to how to get a cat to use a litter box. Praise your cat in a gentle voice when they hop onto the litter box, even if it doesn’t need to go at that time. Encourage your cat to hope on the litter box so that it associates the litter box as a clean and great place to be. Once your cat has finished the business, stroke it and give it a treat and take the time to tell it how pleased you are with the behavior.

Step 5: Make a confined space

If your kitten is finding it hard to grasp the concept of a litter box, you might either have to confine your kitten inside a cage or a small room. The cage approach works the best in this case since if your kitten is confined in an area with just enough room for a bed, water, food and the litter box, they are bound to use the litter box. Your kitten may seem confused at first in this new setting, but you need to realize that cats have very strong instinct. They will quickly realize and grasp the concept of which space to use for what, in that confined setting.

Step 6: Clear out the litter box

However, if you are getting trouble to make your cat or kitten accustomed to the potty training techniques, there might be some problems with the litter box.

The most common reason for a cat or kitten’s reluctance to use a litter box is because it thinks the litter box is dirty. Your cat or kitten needs a litter box which is clean and always has fresh litter. Your cat will not be using the litter box if it smells of urine. When your cat soils in your dining room carpet or your kitchen floor, the area is immediately cleaned. This is the root cause of your cat’s erratic behavior. Given the choice of a regularly cleaned area and a litter box, the cat will naturally prefer the carpet or floor.

So the trick is to clean out your litter box every single day. The old litter must be thrown away and replaced with about 1 and a half inches of fresh litter. You also need to rinse the litter box thoroughly with clean water. Using a little vinegar or lemon juice with the water will help diminish the odor of cat’s urine.

Step 7: Always use the same litter type

It is better not to change a litter box that your cat is accustomed to, however, if you must change it, make sure you make the transition by starting with mixing a little of the new filler with the old ones and gradually increase the proportion of the new one. This is the best approach to change your litter type if you prefer changing to a new texture or scent.

Step 8: Use the reward system

Don’t let your cat run around the house until it has been properly potty trained, as it will give it free reign and will hinder the process of your efforts. If your kitten or cat is continually making mistakes, this will eventually become a habit. Scolding and then taking the cat to the litter box after it has already done the business will result in a negative association of punishment with the litter box. Punishment does not work with cats. You need to do it with prevention and praise your cat for getting it right.

Step 9: Do NOT punish your kitten

As I have mentioned before, punishing your cat for littering outside the box and on your sofa will create even more trouble in the long run. Moreover, if you shout at your cat for doing so and then take it to the litter box, it will associate the litter box as a negative thing and hide away from it. Cats are individuals and punishment doesn’t work with cats. Show care and patience instead.

Step 10: Don’t let her roam around

Before your cat is completely trained, when leaving the house, your cat or kitten should be confined in a single room. Provide your kitten with a bowl of water and a warm place to sleep and freshly cleaned litter box on the other side of the room. Until your cat or kitten has been completely undergone the potty training skill, your cat should have a regular feeding schedule so that it can develop a corresponding elimination schedule. We cannot stress this point enough. If you let your cat have free reign over the house, it will think that it is all right to litter anywhere.

Infographic: how to litter train a kitten

How to potty train a kitten

Most cats or kittens, when provided with a clean and well-filled litter box, will automatically gravitate toward the litter box rather than your floors. You can help your kitten get the hang of using a litter box easily by following the following steps.

Keep tag of the times when your kitten or cat needs to use the litter box. These include times right after they take a meal or wake up. This can also be right after you see your cat or kitten sniffing around or squatting down. At these times, you need to gently scoop up your cat or kitten and carry them to the litter box to instigate the proper place to go.

After your kitten is done, pet them and shower them with praise to install the rewarding process. This will make your cat or kitten more likely to understand the importance of using the litter box instead of your flower beds or kitchen floors.

Help your cat or kitten associate only pleasant experiences while using the litter box. Do not scold or say ‘No’ to your cat in harsh tones, or give any necessary medications when they are near the box. This will make sure that your kitten or cat understands that the litter box is a safe space and there is no threat of using it while they litter.

Now in the following article, I will talk about some litter box training techniques which will come in handy if you are potty training a very young aged kitten.

Stress is a #1 reason of a litter box failure

Sometimes you will see a change of behavior even after your cat’s been properly potty trained. If there are shifts in your household, it will take its toll on your cat as well. Cats happen to be individuals as human beings, and ongoing stressful events will lead to soiling around the house rather than the assigned litter box. Even the addition of a new family member is considered a crisis from the cat’s point of view and may make it anxious. An anxious cat might urinate outside the box.

Take the time to learn how to minimize its stress in such situations. You can create a sanctuary for your cat where you can bed it when you have a big party or use your power tools. While you leave on vacation, have the cat sitter come and feed the cat ahead of your departure so that it gets accustomed with the cat sitter. This way you can minimize your cat’s anxiety and make it familiarize with the stressful situation. This way your cat or kitten will get back to its routine.

Training the kittens under 3 weeks

If your kitten is at the age of less than 3 weeks, you need to help them urinate as the very young kittens are unable to perform the bodily functions on their own. Your kitten needs to be stimulated to go just after they are fed. Just wet a warm washcloth or paper towel and rub the genital area until your kitten urinates and defecates. It is important to do this procedure after your kitten is fed each time. This may seem unusual, but just like human babies, kittens are unable to go through their bodily functions at a very early age, so you should take over.

After your kitten is 4+ weeks old, the instinct to dig and bury will usually take over and the process above will not be necessary anymore.

At this point, you can introduce the litter box. Make sure to buy a litter box with a lower lip so that your little kitten can scramble over the box when they need to go. At first, you will have to put your kitten in the box a couple of times. Scratch the litter box as well. You need to do this immediately after your kitten is fed. You will see that your kitten will learn that the litter box is their toilet in no time.

Litter training the kittens in a multi-cat household

If you have more than one cat, it might become stressful for the older ones as well as the new one. Some cats become outcasts all together, and it is better to relocate it to another household. Ongoing stress in a household with multiple cats can make one or more cats spray or urinate outside the litter box as a way of marking the territory. If the presence of a new cat leads to the existing cat littering outside the litter box, you should confine the new one. Your priority should be the existing cat.

Another solution can be to place multiple litter boxes placed in separate spaces and creating more cat spaces with multiple levels such as scratching posts with hideout and lookouts, shelves, etc. Cats can be territorial with their private places, and unless they are kittens which were raised together sharing the same litter box, it is not a good idea for a new cat to share with the older one’s litter box.

All of the above-mentioned problems are fairly easy to address and can be taken care of with little patience and care. However, if the problems persist, you should consult your vet. Avoiding the litter box might be the trigger for a physical problem, such as a bladder infection or sometimes even something more serious such as feline urological syndrome.


Here you go. We have listed a dozen of useful tips and tricks to help your cat start using a litter box. Cats and kittens generally don’t take much time to get accustomed to using a litter box as it is in their instinct to dig and bury, so a little patience and enforcement is enough to help your pet learn the method.

Also, you are welcome to check this useful video on how to litter train your cat.

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