How to litter train a cat

Getting a new kitten is always exciting but becomes tiresome when you have to train it. Their cuteness stops exciting us when they start acting stubborn. Adopting an older cat is easy as they are already trained. Some kittens are also trained, but most of them require tweaking. Some older cats also require slight training when they move into a new house.

Training a cat to use the litter box is one of the toughest jobs. It requires a consistent effort as cats make a mess during potty training. You can expect urine everywhere in your house. Sometimes it is due to stress or anxiety, but mostly it is because the cat is untrained.

Here is how you should train your kitty:

Things you need before housetraining

Litter box

Choosing the right type of litter box is a difficult job. All cats have different inclinations. Some prefer covered litter boxes, some like open litter boxes, and some like gigantic litter boxes. It could vary depending on the size and breed of your cat. But as a general rule, get a larger litter box. A larger litter box is beneficial in the longer run. Also, get at least two litter boxes for your cat and place them at two different corners of your house. Do not change the location of litter boxes once you have shown them to your cat. Place the litter boxes somewhere quiet and peaceful. Do not place it where your cat usually eats or drinks. The litter boxes should be at an accessible place where your kitty gets privacy.


Choosing the right kind of litter makes a difference. Cats generally prefer clumping litter. It is also easier to clean the litter box with clumping litter. You can scoop the poop out without much effort. Sometimes cats fail to properly use a litter box because they don’t like the texture of the litter. Therefore, if your cat is unsatisfied, then change the type of litter. Fill two to four inches of the litter box with litter. Don’t overfill or underfill as it would make the cat uncomfortable. Underfilling is discomforting for cats as cats don’t get to bury their mess. Hence, always check the quantity of the litter.

Kitty treats

Treat your kitty with its favorite cat treat whenever it uses the litter box. Therefore, stock up on cat treats while training your cat.

Read more about positive reinforcement or reward training [ Add hyperlink: Why are you missing out on the most important aspect of kitten training?]

Steps to train your cat

Teach it

Most cats learn how to use a litter box from their moms. But if your kitten hasn’t, then you would have to teach it. Take your kitten to the litter box whenever it is about to go. Once your kitten is in the litter box, then wait for it to poop. After pooping, it wouldn’t burry the poop as it hasn’t learned this. You would have to teach it by digging and burying the poop. Do not force your cat by using its paw to dig in the litter. Little cats get scared when they such an attitude. Therefore, always use your finger to demonstrate this to your cat.

Note its poop pattern

Cats usually defecate after sleeping, playing, and eating. Therefore, note down when your kitten gets up and moves around. Note down when you feed your cat. Take your cat to the litter box as soon as it wakes up or eats or finishes a play session. Make your cat sit in the litter box till it finally defecates. You can also observe the behavior of your cat when it is about to go. Hence, take your cat to the litter box whenever you see that behavior again.


Stay near the litter box

Kittens are usually unaware of your house. Therefore, frequent trips to the litter box will help it get used to the location of the litter box. You can also play with your cat near the litter box. Do this after a heavy meal or whenever your cat wakes up. This is a much more natural way to help your cat use the litter box. Here you wouldn’t have to wait and push your cat to go to the litter box. You can simply just play around the litter box. Sit your cat in the litter box if you feel like it is about to go. Do this regularly, and your cat will learn the behavior. Your cat will automatically learn the steps after a few tries. Hence, playtime near the litter box is a secure method to get your cat to use the litter box.  

Maintain the litter box

Cats are very picky about where they defecate. Therefore, properly maintain the litter box. Clean it regularly. Avoid scented litter and clean the litter every day. Your cat won’t use the litter box if it is smelly and dirty. Here are the steps to maintain the litter box:

  1. Scoop the poop and liquid waste as soon as your cat defecates. You can also do this twice every day.
  2. Change the litter once every week.
  3. Wash the litter box with warm water and soap every week. Refill the litter box with a new litter after every wash.

Note: Do not wash the litter box with strong and scented soaps. Use a soap that wouldn’t harm your kitten.


Cats are tricky animals, but they can easily learn how to use a litter box. Every kitten learns it at its own pace. Some kittens learn in a few days while some take months. Moreover, some kittens have litter box issues due to underlying reasons or diseases. Therefore, check with your vet if you notice unusual behavior. Other than that, be patient, consistent, and calm while training your cat. Do not punish your cat when it makes a mess as it would scare the cat. Sometimes it causes an increase in litter box issues. Hence, treat your cat with kindness and cat treats. Give it a treat whenever it uses the litter box to encourage its behavior. The initial stage is going to be hard, but once you get through it, your life will be amazing.

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