Cats have a strong instinct to bury their business in sand or soil which stems from their history of marking their territory using urine and faeces. However, unlike their dominant cousins, smaller cats bury their waste to ensure the bigger cats do not feel challenged. Domestic cats also bury their waste to establish their owners as the ‘dominant cat’.
Cats are very well known for their personal hygiene, and they are usually very easy to litter train. If kittens have spent enough time with their mother, they usually learn how to use the litter box from observing her. However, if you have adopted a young kitten, you can start litter training at four weeks old. All you have to do is follow five important steps as mentioned below.
Choose the right litter box
When picking a litter box, the key factor to remember is that it must grow with your cat. It should always be one and half times your cat’s length. A kitten will need a smaller box while an adult cat will require a full-size box. Many experts also recommend having one extra box for each cat, which means two boxes for one cat.
Get the right cat litter
Cats can be very picky about litter. Odour, a dusty litter box or litter that causes an unpleasant feel to their paws can be very disturbing. Make sure to pick litter that is highly absorbent, does not generate too much dust, and locks in odour like Catsan non-clumping cat litter. Non-clumping cat litter is also widely preferred as it does not stick to their fur.
Introduce the litter box
Once you bring your cat home, introduce it to the litter box and let it examine, sniff and paw at the litter. If your cat does not instinctively paw at the litter, use your fingers to demonstrate. Make sure to keep the litter box in a quiet place, away from distractions and try not to move the box around once your cat has seen it. Place your cat in the litter box after naps, meals and anytime it sniffs or crouches in a particular area.
Use rewards to reinforce the habit
Every time you notice your cat has used the litter box correctly, reward it with a treat to create a positive association with the activity. On the contrary, if your cat has not used the litter box, refrain from scolding or punishing as this can cause stress and lead to even more accidents.
Keep the litter box clean
For your cat to truly feel comfortable, it is necessary to keep the litter box extremely clean. Make sure to scoop out the solid waste daily and clean the litter tray with hot water and detergent on a weekly basis.
While these steps are mostly guaranteed to help litter train cats, it is important to note that cats are very picky. They might not adjust to using the litter box because of its size, shape, height, or even the type of litter. So, in some cases, it may take a lot of trial and error before finding a combination that suits your cat.