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How To Litter Train A Cat

Litter training your kitten is great because it means you don’t have to worry about cleaning up any cat mess in your house. The other plus side is that you don’t come across it when weeding your beautiful flower beds.

In this section we will go through the steps you can take if your kitten or cat isn’t using their litter tray properly. A lot of kittens will be litter trained when you get them because they have learnt how to use a litter tray by watching their mother and siblings. If you haven’t already read our page on litter, litter trays and litter tray positioning then find it here.

A lovely little grey kitten using a blue plastic litter tray indoors
A lovely little grey kitten using a blue plastic litter tray indoors

It is a natural instinct for cats to sniff and bury their waste. Their waste contains pheromones which can be detected by other animals. In the wild, dominant cats may not bury their waste because they wish to mark their territory. Submissive cats will bury theirs so they aren’t seen to be competing for territory.

When kittens are very small (less than 4 weeks old) their mother will lick their bottom to stimulate urination and defecation. If you have rescued a very young kitten then you must replicate this by dabbing their bottom with a warm paper towel until they urinate and defecate.

A cute kitten learning how to use her litter tray
A cute kitten learning how to use her litter tray

When your kitten is more than 4 weeks old you can place them in the litter tray after eating. It is important that the litter tray is placed away from their food and in a quiet area.

You can dig the clean litter with your finger to try and encourage the kitten’s natural digging instincts but usually they will grasp this by themselves.

Observe your kitten and show them affection after they have used the litter tray correctly. Don’t talk or encourage the kitten when they are digging or defecating as this can make them anxious and discourage them from using the tray.

Tabby cat climbing into an enclosed cat litter box
Some kittens will prefer privacy, like with the enclosed Maya Cat Litter Box

Most cats and kittens will understand that the litter tray is their toilet fairly quickly but if they don’t there are a few things you can try:

  • Get a bigger litter tray

  • Remove or cover any large house plants that have enough soil to be used as a cat toilet

  • Change to a new type of litter

  • Place the litter tray in a quiet area of the house.

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