How do I litter box train my cat?

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Answered by: Courtney, An Expert in the Cats 101 Category
Cats train themselves! You've heard it before, the major claim that clearly allows our feline friends to trump their rival canines in the great cat versus dog war. What if it isn't that easy? What happens when your precious Persian kitten or adopted adonis tomcat are mysteriously missing those instinctual abilities? If you’re wondering if all hope is lost, the answer is no. With a generous routine, clear understanding of issues that may be causing the problem, and some effort you can successfully train nearly any domestic cat to use the litter box.

As always the first step when confronting any behavioral problem in your pet is to ensure they are physically healthy. Believe it or not, there are a fair number of health issues that can contribute to cats eliminating outside of the litter box and thus it is worth it to consult with your vet. With a clean bill of health and a still untouched litter box the next step would be finding where your cat or kitten does love to go.

On occasion, simply moving the litter box to their preferred elimination area if feasible can solve such problems. If this step fails, then making their preferred areas as inhospitable to elimination as possible may also solve the issue. For example, if your cat or kitten eliminates on your clothes pile or only in a specific room, keeping your clothes in a hamper and removing their access to the room can be effective at swaying their stray interest.

If you have a brand new kitten — or perhaps have tried all other steps and none have worked — then there are a few additional tips to keep in mind. Male cats who are not neutered, as well as territorial females, are prone to marking their territory with urine. In this case it may well be worth it to neuter or spay a marking animal in order to stop or reduce the behavior.

Kittens should be placed in an enclosed area or room along with a single litter box, food and water when they first arrive at home. They should remain in that room at least until their litter box training has shown results. This often takes a single day. The cat’s access to only a limited space while attempting to train is often all you need to encourage a new cat or kitten where to eliminate.

Just as when house-training puppies, moving any stray waste to the desired area of elimination reinforces the idea in your pet. So move any accidents to the box!

Finally, the most important part when it comes to trying to litter box train your feline friend is cleanliness. Cats, like dogs, will continue to habitually eliminate in the same general area if given the option. The smell of previous accidents only reinforces their belief that spot is the right place. Therefore it is important to clean up all accidents completely, utilizing a product designed specifically to remove pet odors if possible.

By following these tips you, and likely your nose, will enjoy your lovely animal companion even more.

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