How To Litter Train A Kitten

By Sarah Jeanne Terry
Cat in litter box
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If you just got a new kitten, then congratulations are in order! You now have an adorable, cuddly, purring little ball of fur all to yourself, and we hope it fills your heart with joy. But unless you can get your new furry friend litter trained ASAP, it will also fill your house with an unwanted mess. But don't worry, if you follow these simple steps, you'll have your new kitten trained to use the litter box in no time.

Step 1: Choose the right litter box.

Cat litter box with scooping shovel
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Kittens are tiny, and they need to be able to get into their litter box. Make sure you pick a box with low enough sides that your kitten can climb in without a problem. Also, make sure the box is made of a non-absorbent material.

Step 2: Place your kitten's litter box in an easy-to-access area.

Baby Cat Urinating
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Don't expect your kitten to travel across your whole house to access their litter box. Instead, confine your new furball to a small section of your house where the litter box is, so it's always within reach. It's best to place the litter box in a corner so that your kitty feels confident that it can see everything while it's going to the bathroom. No one likes to get startled while peeing.

Step 3: Get your kitten familiar with its new litter box.

Kitten in a box
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At first, your kitten might not understand exactly what you want it to do in its new litter box, so you'll have to help them understand. Try to place your kitten in the litter box during times when it might want to go to the bathroom, like right after it wakes up from a nap or after eating.

Also, you want your kitten to dig around in the litter. Many kittens will do this on their own, but if your cat doesn't seem interested, try moving its paws in a digging motion in the litter to encourage it. Using a litter box is pretty instinctive for a cat.

Step 4: Keep the litter box clean, with one little exception.

Cleaning cat litter box. Hand is cleaning of cat litter box with green spatula. Toilet cat cleaning sand cat.
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Cats are naturally very tidy animals, so you don't want to turn them off from their litter box by making it an untidy place. However, since the goal is to teach your new feline friend that the litter box is where the mess goes, it doesn't hurt to leave a small piece of waste in the box to make sure they understand that.

Step 5: Don't punish your kitten for not using the litter box.

Sleepy pensive little tabby kitten
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If you punish your kitten, it will probably start to fear you, and that's not how you want to start out your relationship. Remember, using the litter box should be relatively instinctual for your kitty, so if it's not working, then there may be some changes you need to make.

Step 6: If none of this is working, try changing things up.

If you've been following these steps to the letter, and your cat still won't go in the litter box, then you may need to change things up. Perhaps your kitten doesn't like the litter you picked or the litter box isn't easy to get into. Maybe your feline would prefer the litter box to be in a different spot.

Step 7: Be patient.

Young tabby cat lying on green grass. White isolated background
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Your kitten is new to your house and pretty new to the world in general, so be patient. If you stay consistent with your kitty, you'll likely be rewarded with a litter trained cat. But big changes don't happen overnight. Don't assume because they got it right the first time, they'll get things right every time. But if you both work hard, we bet they'll be proudly trained sooner than you realize.

And once you and your kitty are on the same page, you can get down to the super important business of loving the fuzz of that little feline.