How to Litter Train Your Kitten

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If you’ve ever potty-trained a toddler, you know that the first step is getting them interested in the toilet. You set them on the training toilet at regular intervals, sometimes encouraging them to stay by talking, singing, or reading a book with them. When they go pee or poo, you celebrate and give praise. Litter training your kitten isn’t that different.

Getting Started: Encourage your kitten to use the litter box by picking them up gently and placing them in the litter box every so often. The best time to put them in the litter box is after they have eaten, or if they just woke up from one of their many kitten-naps. Eating stimulates kittens to poop, so it’s a good bet that you’ll have success.

Give Praise: If you notice your kitten crouching, sniffing around, or behaving like she needs to use the litter box, that’s a good time to pick her up and place her in it. Doing so reinforces that this is the proper place for her to go.

Remember to be Patient: After you put your kitten in the litter box, wait quietly and see what happens. Most kittens will start to dig with their front paws by instinct. If they start doing this – great! Don’t interfere! If your kitten doesn’t do anything, you can try taking their front paw gently and scratching the litter with it. Often that helps them get the idea. Some kittens will lie down – or even sleep – in a clean litter box while they’re getting the hang of things. Don’t worry, they won’t generally do this once they figure out what the box is for!

Give Some Privacy: Just like most humans, kittens generally prefer privacy when eliminating. Resist the urge to hover and stare at them, and by all means, don’t try to “help” or touch them while they use the litter box. Doing so is more likely to convince them to go elsewhere, where prying eyes and prodding hands won’t bother them.

Reinforce with Positivity: Feel free to wait nearby, and when your cat finishes his/her business, provide some praise, pets, and even a kitty treat. Associate the box with privacy and positive reinforcement.

One more Thing: Make sure your kitten can easily climb in and out of the litter box without help. If the sides of the box are too high, your little feline may not physically be able to climb them, will be frightened to jump up there, or be oblivious that anything above their fluffy heads exists. You can switch to a bigger, or higher-sided box later as your kitten grows, but make sure the new box will fit in the same location. Moving the litter box can cause a regression in litter box training.

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And special thanks to EASEL of Central New Jersey for sharing some of their kitten talent with us! If you’re nearby or would like to support their mission, check them out here:


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