If you recently adopted a new kitten or new cat, you’re probably wondering the best way to approach litterbox training. Being a new pet parent takes a lot of patience and know-how, and we’re happy to share these litterbox tips to help you on your journey as a new cat parent. We’re often asked for our advice about training your cat to use the litterbox here at Bayside Animal Hospital.

Cat Litterbox Training

three kittens playing in hay

Many kittens learn how to use the litterbox from their momma. Your new cat may only need you to show them the box’s location once or twice. Even if that is not the case, the kitten’s instinct to bury the evidence should work in your favor.

As soon as you have the cat litterboxes ready, place the newly adopted cat in one, and let them sniff and explore. Gently place the cat in the litterbox after meals, and anytime you see them crouching or sniffing. These are signs that it’s potty time.

Setting Your Kitten Up for Litterbox Success

black and white cat staring at you, half inside cardboard box

Reward your new kitten or cat when you see them using the litterbox. In the beginning, you may want to give them a small food reward after using it. Later, verbal praise will be enough. It shouldn’t take long to get your cat to understand that the litterbox is where you want them to go potty. Never scold the cat for having an accident around the house, especially during the litterbox training phase. It is unlikely that they will make the connection with the litterbox unless you catch them in the act.

If you do happen to catch them going potty outside the litterbox, quickly pick them up and place them in the litterbox as a correction for their behavior. Positivity and patience are kings in this situation. 

Litterbox Training an Older Cat

older grey cat resting on workout weight and looking at you

If you adopt an older cat that doesn’t already know how to use the litterbox, fill the box with soil to start. Outdoor and feral cats will appreciate this move. After your cat becomes used to the box, slowly begin replacing the soil with kitty litter. You will want to do this gradually over several days or weeks. The area will be smelly when you use soil, however, so you may want to consider using an essential oil diffuser near the soil-filled litterbox in the meantime. Choose pet-friendly essential oils in the diffuser until the box is switched to odor-absorbing cat litter.

How Many Litterboxes? And Where?

cat bed, litterbox, and scooper

You should have 1.5 boxes for every grown cat in your household. Having more than one litterbox ensures that your cat always has someplace to go if another cat is using one box, and some cats don’t like sharing their litterboxes. Another helpful tip is to have one cat litterbox per floor if you have multiple levels in your home. Following these litterbox tips will help your cat feel more comfortable using the litterbox and keep them from going potty in other places, like your shoes. 

Cleaning Litterboxes

cat litterbox cartoon

Scoop soiled litter out every day. You may need to replace some litter as you scoop out used litter. The box should always have about 2.5 inches of litter in it. As the litter stops controlling odors, replace it. When replacing the litter, wash and dry the box thoroughly to keep it as clean as you can.

The staff at Bayside Animal Hospital would love to meet your new cat and share more kitten training tips with you. Please set up an appointment with our expert team to get your new kitten in to see us. It is vital to start great veterinary care when you adopt a new pet, which will enable you to plan a life of health and happiness in the years to come.