For many cat or kitten owners, litter box training is a breeze; the cat is shown where the litter box is and they instinctively know what to do with a pile of “sand” like the one presented to them. There are almost always a few accidents, especially when training a new kitten, but for a number of cat owners, it really is that simple. Or rather, for a number of cats, it is that easy.
But for other cats and for a wide variety of reasons, it is not as easy as simply showing the cat or kitten where the litter box is located. There are many ways to address this.
When a new kitten is brought home, they are liable to have accidents because their mother has likely not had time or opportunity to show them how to appropriately use the litter box. For the first few weeks of life, kittens are stimulated by their mother’s tongue to produce their eliminations. After that, the maternal instinct is to teach the kittens to use the litter box.
She leads them to the litter box and she shows them how to scratch out an appropriate area, and when they finish, she teaches them to cover their eliminations for their own protection and for the sake of cleanliness when they return to the box at a later time.
Adult cats that are having difficulties with litter box training may have another issue that must be addressed first, such as a health problem or a behavioral issue.
A urinary tract infection or a problem with chronic bladder crystals can make urination extremely painful for cats, and as a result, they often associate that pain with the litter box and no longer wish to use it.
If they are sharing a litter box and do not care for the other cat in the home, they may urinate outside of the litter box because they do not want to use the same commode.
One Box Per Cat + One
Having more than one litter box is key when training an adult cat or kitten, especially if the household is home to multiple cats.
The rule to keep in mind is to consider the number of cats using the litter boxes and add one. Following that, a household with 3 cats should have a minimum of 4 litter boxes.
These should all be cleaned daily. Cats do not like to return to dirty places to do their business, and they do not like to smell other cats while they do so, as this can lead to them feeling threatened or unsafe in their own litter box.
Where to Place the Litter Box
The litter boxes in a home should be easily accessible, but they should be located in different areas of the home. These areas should be private and quiet, and decreased lighting can help cats feel more comfortable with using their litter box.
It is important not to put them in areas that could potentially result in the cat becoming afraid of the litter box. For example, placing the litter box near the washing machine or the furnace could result in a cat using the litter box and being frightened by a sudden noise from the machine. When this happens, they are unlikely to return to that area to use the litter box.
If Kitty Won’t Use the Box
Cats have instincts that drive them to dig and bury their eliminations, and provided with appropriate places to do this, they should do so naturally.
However, persistent problems with using the litter box should be discussed with a veterinarian, as there may be an underlying medical reason that is more complicated than a urinary tract infection, which is easily treated with antibiotics, something many veterinarians even offer in an injectable form that lasts for two weeks, so the cat does not need to be medicated at home.
A recent rise in toilet training cats has been seen, much to the concern of the veterinary world. Using litter that can be flushed down the toilet or toilet training a cat results in their eliminations being added to the water system of an area, which leads to the potential spreading of disease.
There are a number of parasites that cats can have without showing any signs of illness, and these are shed in their feces. Toilet training cats may sound like a great idea, but unfortunately there is a high risk of health repercussions.