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How to teach a cat to use a litter tray?

Grey cat in a litter tray advice © Shutterstock

Although kittens are born with instinct, it will still be useful for you to teach them how to use a litter tray.

By Emilie Heyl

Although they know not to go to the toilet where they usually sleep, this won’t stop them from leaving you unpleasant surprises around the house.

How to teach your cat to use the litter tray

Note that even if you have an outdoors cat, you still need to teach them how to use a litter tray.

Firstly, don’t let your cat go outside for several weeks (their vaccines need to be up to date), it is always useful to have a cat that knows how to use a litter tray.

Choosing the box and the litter

It is better to choose a deep litter box, even if you think that your kitten will struggle to get into it. In fact, some cats may refuse to go to the toilet if they don’t feel safe in their litter tray.

The best thing is to opt for a cat litter-house with a swing door. As cats love to scrape the litter up so that it flies all over, an enclosed house is more hygienic for you and more comfortable for your cat.
As for the litter, it is better to use a thin one that doesn’t clump. Cats sometimes swallow the litter too, so it must not be toxic. Newspaper is also discouraged as the ink may be toxic. 

Cat in litter tray
Choosing the right litter box is crucial©Shutterstock

Choosing where to put the litter tray

Placing the litter box is as important as the choice of litter itself.

Put it somewhere out of the way in your house, and far enough from where your cat eats and sleeps.

Note that if you have several cats, you will need as many litter boxes as you have cats, all placed somewhere different!

Start the learning

The litterbox must be ready before your kitten arrives home for the first time.
When the kitten arrives, put them in their litter box. They may know immediately what it is for, but if not take the paws to mimic a scratching movement.
Afterwards, have your kitten return regularly to the litter tray, especially after each meal.

Kitten in litter tray
Start the learning early©Shutterstock

If you catch your kitten sniffing the floor or looking for some privacy, it is likely that they are about to do their business. This is the right time to take them to the litter tray.

If your cat has an accident, it doesn’t matter. Take the droppings and place them in the litter box to show them what to do.
Follow these tips, and your cat will be house trained in no time.