How To Teach A Cat To Use The Litter Box

Cat in litter box

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There’s no way around it–when you adopt a new cat, you’re going to need to provide them with a litter box to use. Not only that, but you might have to teach your cat how to use that litter box.

It’s not exactly the most glamorous part of feline guardianship, but making sure your new kitty poops and pees inside the box is an important early challenge to master.

Here are the basics of teaching a cat to use the litter box.

Get A Suitable Litter Box And Litter

Cat in litter box

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First of all, you’re going to need to get a litter box that’s suitable for the size of your cat.

Make sure it’s not too small or too large, or else the cat is not going to be comfortable using it.

Also, if you have more than one cat, it’s usually advisable to have the same number of litter boxes as cats plus one more. So for two cats, ideally you’ll have three litter boxes.

There are many different types of litter out there on the market, including environmentally-friendly ones and odor-absorbing crystals. You can find CatTime’s guide to choosing the right cat litter here.

If you’re adopting a cat who already uses a litter box, it’s advisable to begin by using the same litter that they’re used to.

Introduce The Cat To The Litter Box

Cat sitting in litter box

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As soon as you can, introduce your cat to their new litter box. This can be as simple as placing the kitty inside the litter box.

Just be sure you don’t go on to move the location of the litter boxes afterwards. You want the cat to know where they’re meant to go.

You should also prompt your cat to use their litter box. After you’ve fed your cat, take them over to the box. You can also do this after they wake up from any naps.

The idea is to remind the cat that if they need to poop or pee, the litter box is their playground.

Use Positive Reinforcement And Don’t Yell

Kitten in litter box

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After your cat starts to use the litter box, feel free to let them know that they’re doing something right by giving them a few of their favorite treats.

If you find that your feline is slow to start using the litter box correctly–or is even showing an aversion to it–resist the urge to get angry or yell at the cat. This will only make them nervous and fearful.

Instead, persevere with the above tips. If things don’t seem like they are improving, consult with your vet about more specific issues like constantly peeing outside the box. Your cat may have a medical or behavioral issue that’s making things difficult, and your vet can help.

But have faith! Cats are naturally clean creatures and tend to appreciate a clean and tidy litter box just as much as their humans do.

Have you had any issues getting your cat to use the litter box? How did you train them to go potty in the right place? Tell us about it in the comments section below!