Litter Box Training

The general rule of thumb is one litter box per cat plus an extra box for insurance. The litter box should be easily accessible to your cat at all times.  

Here are some tips that will help ensure that your cat uses its litter box:

  • Remember to call our Behavior Helpline at 630-323-5637 for pet behavior advice.
    If you adopted a kitten, it is important to have a litter box on every floor level the kitten will have access to. If a kitten has a long way to navigate to a litter box, he may stop en-route and find a more convenient spot, such as behind your couch!
  • Select a type of litter box that is well-suited for your cat. Choose a litter box that your cat can easily turn around in, and that she can easily get in and out of.
  • Covered litter boxes are not recommended as they trap odors and may be unpleasant for your cat.
  • Place the litter box in a convenient location, but it must be private and quiet for the cat (a laundry room or hallway may be too noisy and busy). 
  • Keep the boxes away from heavy traffic areas and the cat’s feeding area. Be certain a shy cat can access the box without feeling threatened or exposed. 
  • Scoop away waste every day.  Cats are more likely to consistently use a litter box that is kept clean. Thoroughly clean the box once a month. Empty out all the litter, wash with dish soap and dry. 
  • When you first arrive home with your new cat, calmly place her in the litter box a few times to be sure she knows the location. Allowing the cat to watch you when you scoop the litter box has been reported to encourage the cat to jump in and use it. 
  • You may need to experiment with different types of litter until you find the one that is acceptable to your cat. 
  • Any accidents should be cleaned with an enzyme-based cleaner. 

Why Is My Cat Not Using The Litterbox?

You need to determine if the problem is inappropriate elimination or territorial marking. If your cat is marking, you will usually find the urine has been deposited on vertical surfaces, whereas inappropriate toileting is on horizontal surfaces. Each has different suggested remedies: 

  • For territorial marking (spraying), look into what has changed in your cat’s environment that may cause him or her to feel the need to assert a presence in an area. 
  • The cat may have a physiological or physical condition (illness). Any cat displaying inappropriate litter box habits should see your veterinarian right away to rule out infection or other medical issues. 
  • Possible reasons for inappropriate elimination: The cat has not learned the location of the litter box or forgets where it is if allowed too much house to roam. This is especially true for kittens. 
  • The cat may not like the brand of litter, so try some others simultaneously. Observe which one he selects. 
  • The litter box is not clean. Soiled areas should be removed DAILY. The entire pan should be emptied and washed at least once a month, replacing with fresh litter. 
  • The litter box has been disinfected with a strong smelling solution and needs to be rinsed thoroughly. Cats do not like strong smells. 
  • The cat is soiling an area previously used for elimination by another pet. Clean thoroughly with an enzyme-based cleaner. 
  • Place the food bowl on a previously soiled spot as this may deter the cat, or place another litter box on the spot. 
  • The location of the litter box may be unacceptable; try a new quiet area. 
  • Another pet may be keeping the cat away.
  • Another cat is using the litter box. Some cats will not share a litter box, especially at first. 
  • A child or pet is bothering the new cat while you are not there, causing fear-related elimination or the cat simply may be responding to stress and family and household changes.

Be Patient and Consistent. 
It can take a few weeks for a cat to settle—not much to ask for a new lifelong friend and companion. NEVER punish the cat for making a mistake. This may make the problem much worse. Patience and praise work far more quickly to solve any problems. 

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