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Cat Toilet Training

toilet training a catBy the time most kittens leave their mother and come to live with their new family they have already been toilet trained-making life easy for the new carer(s). Mother cats train their kitten's proper toileting habits, however, sometimes it will be necessary to train your new kitten or cat how to use the litter tray. This may be the result of the kitten being orphaned or taken away from his mother too early.

What you will need:

  • Litter tray
  • Cat litter
  • Litter scoop

Which type of litter tray?

This depends on the cat. If you are training a young kitten then a smallish tray with low sides is best to start off with. If you are training an older cat then a larger tray will be necessary. Cat trays come in an array of shapes and sizes. Some covered, some with a lip, making it harder for the litter to be kicked out, some built into furniture, self-cleaning. The choices are endless. With a kitten, I always prefer to use a small, basic litter tray with low sides that your kitten can easily climb in and out of.

Some types of cat litter:

  • Clay
  • Clumping
  • Crystals
  • Recycled paper

It is not advised that you use clumping litter with kittens.

How to toilet train your cat:

Confine your kitten to a small area such as the laundry. Cats are fastidiously clean and by nature, bury their urine and faeces. So, if you provide your cat with a litter tray, and some fresh, clean cat litter and no other possible places to go to the toilet such as a pot plant, then the chances are your cat will take to the litter tray immediately.

After a meal or a nap, pick up your kitten and place it in the litter tray. Take his paw and gently scratch the cat litter with it.

If you see your kitten sniffing and beginning to dig in a corner, immediately pick him up and place him in the litter tray, again gently take the paw and scratch the litter with it. When the cat follows through and eliminates in the litter tray, give lots of praise.

Where to place the litter tray:

Cats like privacy, so make sure you place the litter tray in a quiet and private spot. They also don't like toileting near their food bowls.

How many litter trays do I need?

The rule of thumb is one litter box per cat, plus one extra. So, if you have one cat, you will need two litter boxes, if you have two cats you will need three litter boxes etc. Some people get by with fewer litter boxes, but this is the general rule of thumb to go by.

How often should I clean the litter tray?

Cats are fastidiously clean animals, and it is of great importance to make sure their litter trays are scooped at least once a day and regularly changed. Failure to do so may result in your cat refusing to use the litter tray. Put yourself in your cat's shoes, would you like to use a filthy toilet?


Never punish a cat who has had an accident, this will not teach him to use the litter box, it will, however, teach him to fear you.

When cleaning up accidents, be careful which product you use. Anything with ammonia in it will encourage your cat to return to the spot. Enzymatic cleaners such as Bio-Zet (available in Australia) are safer to use. Pet shops and veterinarians will also be able to supply you with various products which not only clean up cat waste but also eliminate the smell too. If the smell isn't eliminated your cat will quite likely continue to return to the same spot.

Related articles:

How To Clean Litter Trays   Choosing The Right Cat Litter