In general, kittens are taught to use a litter box by their mothers. However, if a cat has lived outdoors, was taken from a mother at an early age, or just if something got mixed up along the way, that may not be the case. The smell of cat urine can be strong and difficult to get rid of if a cat does not use the litter box, so here are a few tips to help teach your kitten if they need a few extra lessons.
1. Prepare an area
Similar to crate training a dog, keep your kittens in a relatively small area except when actively engaged with them. Food, water, toys, a bed, and, of course, the litter box. After your kitten eats or drinks, place them in the litter box and offer praise if they use it correctly. You can even take their paw and teach them to cover up when they are finished. Kittens are quick learners, and once you notice them using the box on their own, they can be free to wander the house a bit more.
2. Keep the litter area private and clean
The general rule for litter boxes is there should be one more than the number of cats you own. This will allow cats to have an area that looks and smells like “theirs” when using the litter. Litter boxes should be in a relatively quiet and private place, so your kittens feel safe and secure when using them. Finally, clean as often as possible. Even with only one cat, you should only allow a couple days, at most, between scooping the litter and sweeping stray litter off the floor (buy a litter mat to make this step easier). You wouldn’t go three or four days without flushing your toilet, would you? Cats like to be clean, and a big part of that is clean litter.
3. Litter matters!
Try to avoid clay-based litter, as kittens sometimes eat weird things. Clay litter can be dangerous if much of it is ingested; it can cause blockages and other health issues. Also, avoid scented litter, as it can have chemicals in it that can irritate a kitten’s sensitive skin. Good litter will block the smell well enough on its own, especially if you are scooping regularly (see #2 above!)
Even if you are doing everything perfectly, accidents will happen (even with older cats). Cats like to go in the same spot, so if you notice a kitten is peeing on the floor, you need to clean it as quickly and thoroughly as possible. A heavy duty cleaner like Bio-nihilator can go a long way to making the litter training process run a little easier, and will keep your home smelling great while you teach your cute little kittens how to behave like a big cat.