Kitten Litter Tray Tips:
Although for most kittens using the litter tray comes fairly naturally, some kittens struggle to grasp the concept. Follow these steps to help your kitty master toilet etiquette.
Start small: utilise low sided-boxes to help your kitten getting in and out of the box. Another added benefit is this also allows your kitten to visualize the soft litter, encouraging your kitty to use the box. As your kitten gets bigger, you can gradually transition to a larger box. One way of doing this is to place the little box inside the larger box.
Simple: ensure your litter trays are in convenient, practical locations and are hard to miss. You want your litter trays to be really easy to find - remember your kitten may not have great bladder control just yet! Also make sure the boxes are accessible (ie. not blocked off by a closed door!) We also do not advise using boxes with lids (or covered trays).
Safe and secure: your kitten needs to feel safe and private. Keep trays away from noisy washing machines, nosey dogs or curious family members! In addition, ensure the box is not too close to his/her food and water bowls. Just like us, cats don’t want the bathroom right next to the dining area!
Soft substrate: softer, more scoopable substrates are preferred by kittens, this makes it comfortable for their feet and easier for them to dig (think a texture like sand). Initially it can be a good idea to steer clear of clay or crystal type litter. Ensure there is enough litter too, but remember though, this is not a substitute for not doing regular cleaning!
Starting out: it can be a great idea to confine your kitten to a smaller area of the house with easy access to the litter trays, like a bathroom (removing the mats). Especially if you are gone for long periods of time!
Several boxes for multi-cat households: As a minimum, ensure there is at least one litter tray per cat and then one additional
Steer clear of scolding: punishment is highly ineffective. Telling your kitten off and taking her/him to the litter box after they have had an accident teaches them negative association with their litter box! Instead look at ways you might be able to make it easier for your kitten next time; prevention and praise are far more effective techniques to utilise!
Setting up for success: Until your kitten is fully house-trained we recommend confining your kitten to a smaller area of the house initially with easy access to the litter trays, as this can facilitate training to begin with.
Scented Reminders: if you find a solid waste around the house, instead of discarding it in the toilet place it in the litter box so she/he will have a scented reminder of where it should be. Please note for adult cats we always need to keep the litter box conditions immaculate for our fastidious felines!
Schedule Reminders: kittens often need to go to the toilet after taking a nap, playing or eating. Frequently bring your kitten over to the box on a regular schedule while they are learning to perfect their toilet training. Another option is to gently encourage your kitten by scratching the litter and calling her/him to evoke her curiosity.
Stress reduction: Feliway diffuser spray is a pheromone spray that can help alleviate stress and anxiety in cats. The spray mimics the “feel good” pheromones that the queen (mum cat) produces, helping create a loving and comfortable home environment for your kitten. We recommend Feliway when introducing a kitten into your home, for all multi-cat households, anxious cats, for stressful situations (like travelling) and as an adjunctive to treating behavioural problems and anxiety.
Sexual Maturity: When a cat becomes sexually mature at around 5-6 months of age they may start to mark their territory around the home. Desexing may facilitate use of the litter tray!
Scooping: Just like us, cats like clean toilets! Twice daily litter cleaning is recommended to keep your cat happy. Removing soiled litter as often as you can is the best way to control odors, and will eliminate the need for you to rely heavily on air-fresheners, litter additives or covered boxes! Additionally, scooping out your cat’s litter will give you an opportunity to monitor your cat’s health. For example, you may notice unusually large or small urine clumps, diarrhea, constipation, blood in urine or black or mucousy stools. Additionally, regular scooping will allow you to become familiar what is normal for your kitty, detecting a change may indicate a medical condition.
Scrubbing: Use a mild dish detergent to clean your litter box to clean the tray daily and ensure you replace the tray with clean, fresh litter. Avoid using products with ammonia or citrus oil as this may act as a deterrent to your cat. A thin layer of baking soda placed at the bottom of the tray will help to absorb unpleasant odors without repelling your cat. Remember given the choice of a clean bath tub or a dirty litter box, the cat will naturally use the cleaner area. If you have not been cleaning the box and your cat has starting using the bath tub, two strategies which may help include:
1) place a clean litter tray inside the bath
2) fill the bath with 5-10cm water, and place a litter tray near by
Struggling??? Seek professional help.
Aversion to the litter box (especially in cats who were previously toilet trained) or changes in your cat’s behaviour, litter box habits or eating/drinking habits may indicate an underlying medical cause or behavioural problem. These red flags may warrant a veterinary visit.
For example, a cat with feline lower urinary tract disease may urinate on clothing, towels, mats around the house. Or issues with stools (for example loose consistency, flatulence etc.) may indicate disease associated with the gastrointestinal tract like inflammatory bowel disease, adverse food reaction or bacterial gastroenteritis. Stress and anxiety, especially in multi-cat house holds can manifest as house-soiling and spraying.