A young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kittenA young Asian girl nuzzles noses with a tabby kitten
Barks & Mewsings

The Trupanion blog

How to Litter Train a Kitten

By: Kelli Rascoe

Your new kitten is learning, adapting, and growing in their new home. On top of that, a new kitten brings a whirlwind of change into your home. Naturally, as a cat owner, there may be several opportunities to learn with your feline friend. Whether you are a new or seasoned cat owner, learning the basics like how to litter train a kitten may come in handy when you have a new furry family member. We sat down with Trupanion veterinarian Dr. Caroline Wilde to learn about how to litter train a kitten and what to expect from your new best friend.

How to litter train a kitten and what to expect

Kitten care 101

Kittens are learning about their new home, discovering new items, and busy being adorable kittens! Consider kitten-proofing your home and take the time to interact and engage with your growing feline. For instance, the bond between you and your new cat may help training opportunities. Further, “litter training should begin as soon as you bring your kitten home,” says Wilde. Naturally, it might take some time for your kitten to understand the process.

A Siamese cat sits in a litter box

A step-by-step process to litter train a kitten

Litter training your new kitten may take time. Dr. Wilde breaks down the process of litter training for a seamless experience.

Consider the following:

  • Bring your kitten to the litter box as soon as you bring them home, and give them time to explore. Try not to change the location of the litter box once you have shown them where it is.
  • The number of litter boxes in the house should equal the number of cats plus one. For example - one kitten = two litter boxes
  • Place your kitten in the litter box after a meal or if it seems like they are looking for a place to go to the bathroom. Signs include sniffing or posturing as if they are about to go to the bathroom.
  • It is very important to always use positive reinforcement rather than negative reinforcement. For instance, try rewards for going in the correct place with pats and praise or treats. Also, never punish because of accidents.

Tips for litter training a kitten

Training a kitten takes time and patience. Also, it is helpful to have systems in place, but also be flexible if needed. For example, “make sure to scoop the litter box daily, and try out different locations for litter boxes. In addition, try different shapes, sizes, and covered vs. uncovered litter boxes,” states Wilde.

Further, whether you decide to spay and/or neuter your kitten might have an impact on your cat’s behavior later on. Wilde continues, “spaying and neutering your kitten can help prevent marking behavior.”

What happens if a kitten won’t use the litter box?

Accidents may happen with a new kitten in your home. Without a doubt, litter training a kitten is a step-by-step process that takes time. Because of this, it is important to notate any behaviors your new feline friend is exhibiting. Dr. Wilde breaks down some key factors to consider when you are litter training.

“If your kitten isn’t using the litter box, I would first try different litters or litter boxes, because cats of any age can be finicky regarding their restroom. Also, I would recommend trying different locations. Sometimes they have preferences as to the physical location, and sometimes they prefer a location with more privacy. In addition, if a kitten is repeatedly going in the same place, perhaps move the litter box to that location. Further, if there’s a sudden change in litter box habits, consult your veterinarian as that can be an indication of a serious medical issue.”

If you have any concerns during the litter training process, seek the medical expertise of your veterinarian. They can recommend the best course of action and advise a treatment plan personalized to your furry friend’s needs.

A multi-colored cat sits in front of a litter box

Litter train a kitten for the wellness of your feline friend

The ins and outs of litter training may vary and be a different experience with each cat you bring home. Alternatively, your kitten may adapt to litter training at its own pace, regardless of breed, size, or age. For this reason, by offering a variety of litter boxes, being pro-active in starting training, and seeking medical care when needed, your kitten will be litter trained in no time at all.

To learn more about kitten behavior, read When Do Kittens Calm Down? 

A dog and cat snuggle

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Welcome to the Trupanion blog. A place to celebrate pets, pet health and medical insurance for cats and dogs.

This blog is designed to be a community where pet owners can learn and share. The views expressed in each post are the opinion of the author and not necessarily endorsed by Trupanion. Always consult your veterinarian for professional advice.

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