How to litter train your cat

Litter training your cat may sound like a difficult and daunting task, but by using the correct methods and giving your cat the correct guidance, you’ll have the whole thing mastered in no time.

It’s a cat’s natural instinct to go to the toilet outside, however they should adapt easily to using a litter tray, especially if they are taught from a young age.  We’ve put together a little guide on how to teach your cat to use the litter tray, and not your carpet.

Get to know your cat

First, you are going to need to familiarise yourself with your cat’s toilet habits.  This is especially important if you are a first-time cat owner, and is generally the same for all cats.  After eating or taking a nap are the most likely times that your cat will need to relive themselves.  During these times, it is a great opportunity to introduce your cat to their litter tray.  You may also find that your cat needs the toilet after a play session, so you could even try playing with them near their litter tray to help the process.

Give your cat some guidance

Once you have learned your cat’s general toilet schedule, you may need to show them how to use their litter tray.  This is a simple process that your cat should get used to quickly.  Every time you think your cat needs to relieve themselves, rather than just direct them to their litter tray you’ll need to pick them up and calmly place them in.  This will help your cat associate the need to eliminate, with the litter tray.  If your cat has recently had an accident outside of the litter tray, then this may also be a good opportunity to place them in the tray to strengthen that association. 

At this point you may also need to show your cat how to dig into the litter in order to bury what they have produced.  If they are not doing it automatically, you can try scooping some of the litter on top of their waste once they have finished to influence your cat’s behaviour.

Cats are generally quick learners with regards to litter training, so if you are persistent and consistent with your actions, you’ll see quick results.  However, don’t rush the process –patience is key.

A few things to remember:

Make sure you find a good spot for your litter tray.  It is important that the tray is located in an area that you cat is comfortable with.  This means somewhere where they won’t be disturbed or spooked and is convenient and easy for them to access, and away from their food and water bowls as they are naturally programmed to eliminate in a different area to where they eat.  If you fail to do any of these things, you may find your cat avoids using their litter tray.

Choose the right size litter tray.  If the tray is too small, you may find that your cat is uncomfortable using it.  Also, bear in mind that when training a kitten that they still have a lot of growing to do, so make sure that you choose a tray that they are going to grow into and potentially still be able to use as a fully grown cat if they had to.

Use the correct litter.  Clumping litter is the preferred choice for most cats because it is much easier for them to bury their waste and is a little softer on their paws.  It will also be easier for you to clean up afterwards too.  Unscented also is favoured by many cat owners and recommended by those in the know as due to their keen sense of smell, many cats can be put off by perfumed environments.

Use the correct amount of litter for your cat.  It is recommended that the litter is between 5-10cm deep, depending on what your cat is comfortable with.  Using too little may cause your cat to struggle when burying their waste, yet using too much will cause the litter to overflow or get knocked out of the tray by the cat, causing unnecessary mess.

Always keep the litter tray clean.  A soiled litter tray is the most common reason a cat will avoid using their litter tray, even if they have been trained for some time.  While leaving a small amount of waste in the tray to create scent will encourage use in the early stages, going forward you will need to make sure you are removing any waste regularly to keep the tray as fresh as possible for your cat.  Using a small scoop is an effective way to do this.  Try washing the tray in full at least once a week, avoiding any cleaning materials that may leave a strong smell as this will deter your cat from using it.

Don’t get mad at your cat!  Cats can be very sensitive, and getting angry at them will only make them scared of you and nervous in this situation, which could hinder you chances of successful toilet training.

For further information please call +44 (0) 844 800 3347.