The Keys to Successful Litter Box Training
Many cats take to litter box training like Labrador Retrievers take to water, but sometimes a bit of trial and error is necessary for success. Whether it’s inordinate spraying or another kind of resistance, we understand the frustration surrounding a cat who’s ignoring the box.
To support your cat’s education, health, and general happiness, we offer a few strategies guaranteed to get your cat on track.
The Low Down
Fortunately for owners of indoor-only felines, cats are hardwired to dig and bury their waste. In the wild, dominant cats may leave their waste untouched in a display of power and control of territory. Other cats will cover up evidence of their presence to keep safe from predators.
On the Right Paw
Sometimes all it takes is a thoughtful and calm introduction to the litter box for a cat to feel safe and confident.
- It should be placed in a quiet spot away from any household traffic, and not too close to where your cat enjoys eating and drinking.
- The box shouldn’t be too small or too large (getting in and out unassisted is critical).
- At least 2 inches of litter should be spread out on the bottom.
Success in Litter Box Training
An effective strategy may include the consideration of any of these training tactics:
- Have one box per cat in your home, plus one more. The boxes should be placed throughout your home for easy access.
- Hooded designs can make your cat relax in relative privacy, but some cats avoid the feeling of being trapped. Try it both to know which your cat prefers.
- Self-cleaning boxes may scare your cat. Hold off until your cat demonstrates repeated success in a traditional litter box.
- Don’t change litter types or brands. This can upset your cat and cause resistance to litter box training. Stick to one brand and type of litter.
- Scoop litter once a day, or directly after your cat uses the box. Empty litter once a week, wash the box, and refill with new litter.
Show, Don’t Tell
Encourage your cat to investigate the box. Demonstrate how your cat is supposed to dig in the litter. Don’t worry about it if your cat hops out before eliminating. Try again. You might want to offer a regularly scheduled meal and then take your cat to his or her box. If the message isn’t received over time, please let us know.
When trying to control where your cat marks and defecates outside of the litter box, try these tips:
- Place sandpaper or an upside down carpet protector to dissuade your cat from marking in the same spot again.
- If your cat shows a preference for a particular area to mark, deny access with gates.
- Your cat will get the hint if you place his or her food bowls in or near the same place that was marked.
Spaying or neutering your cat can make a huge difference in litter box training. Also, if you notice that your cat is experiencing difficulty, it’s a good idea to rule out illness, such as a urinary tract infection.
Your cat may need a little extra time, patience, and encouragement. Whatever you do, please refrain from scolding or punishing your cat. There are solutions to every problem, and whether it’s litter box training or something else, our veterinarians and staff are always here to help. Good luck!