How To Litter Train Your Cat

Training your cat can be just as important as keeping it fed and healthy. Perhaps your cat is a little slow to learn or can't communicate with you that something's not right but either way, it's important your cat starts to learn good behavior from the moment they're welcomed into your home.

Litter training your cat can be the easiest thing in the world for one cat and then a nightmare for another, but there's a variety of reasons behind why your cat and their litter box have a love-hate relationship.


Let's begin with the size of your litter box, no cat is going to want to be stuffed into a toilet that as big as one toe, so you need to make sure that your cats toilet is at least as big as they are, in fact, the general rule for a feline of substantial size is to get a litter tray as long as one and a half of them. Say what!?

If you have a Maine Coon that's a BIG toilet! But that's how it works cat lovers, your cat doesn't want to stand on their waste while trying to cover it, but they don't want to be left hanging over the side either, so if you have a big kitty try finding larger storage tubs to use as a toilet rather than the smaller trays sold commercially.

A stressed-out kitty who doesn't fit in their box will be seen typically scratching around outside the box after they're done, or they could stop using the box completely, and that's when it becomes a problem.

Never become angry or aggressive towards your feline if they have an accident because it's usually not their fault. A stressed-out cat can't talk to you to tell you what's wrong, they can only do what is natural to them and you need to read their signs and act appropriately at their parental figure.

So your box size is perfect but you're still having trouble, now's the time you need to look for other reason they're feeling unable to poop properly.

If you have more than one cat this might now be your problem, because cats aren't like humans and don't enjoy sharing such a vulnerable and territorial place. Kittens don't mind as much but adults cats are picky creatures and often won't use a litter box that another cat has been in. 

The rule of thumb here is 1+1. In other words having one litter box per cat, plus one more. Make sure that they're spaced apart in different rooms or floors of the house so that each cat has their own space to use the bathroom with no one trying to enter their safe space.

Some cats get very territorial over litter trays and can resort to guarding the toilet so no other cat can use it, causing accidents. Having more trays about prevents this but if you see one of your cats displaying this behavior you'll need to watch them and make sure your other cats have access to litter throughout the day.



What type of litter you should choose depends on your cat, not you. It doesn't matter what's on sale, what comes in the biggest bag, or what you like the smell of best.

People sometimes forget that it is your cat's toilet and you should be using whatever you cat finds most comfortable. It might take a few tries for you find the type that your cat likes but once you find it, stick with it!

Cat's are creatures of habit and do not like change of routine or surroundings, including what you use for their toilet. If you really must change your cat's litter type try doing it gradually by mixing it in with their old litter so that they can get used to the feel/smell and gradually phase out the old litter. 

As for where to start if you've never owned a cat, most felines like the consistency of beach sand, garden soil, or anything fine-textured (such as clumping litter.).

They also tend to like unscented compared to scented however all cats are different and if your cat is having accidents, try putting out trays out with numerous types and you'll soon see which type they prefer.

Types of litter you might consider are:

  • Clumping Clay
  • Non-Clumping Clay
  • Silica Gel Crystals
  • Recycled Paper
  • Pine
  • Corn
  • Wheat
  • Walnut Shells
  • Grass

Typically fill your tray with around 1 1/2 - 2 inches of litter, enough for your kitty to actually dig in without just scraping the bottom too soon.You should be scooping out waste every day, and cleaning the whole tray out weekly, removing the dirty litter and washing the tray thoroughly to keep it clean, otherwise, your cat won't use it.

It needs to be kept clean by their standards, not yours. For some cats that might mean after one use, but usually, once a day is fine. You can rinse your tray with vinegar or lemon juice to help keep the smell of cat urine away, however, do not use ammonia, it will make the smell worse.



Just as it's important to keep the litter and box clean, you'll need to make sure any accidents your cat may have been cleaned up effectively, using an enzyme cleaner made to specifically target pet stains and not a normal cleaner.

Although it might look and smell clean to us, cats have a much superior sense of smell than humans do, and unless their messes are cleaned up properly they will still mark the smell and recognize that area to use as the toilet.

A cats litter box should be kept somewhere openly accessible to them but that is also quiet and discreet so that they have their privacy. It is important that the area isn't going to be cut off by a closed door or in a different building from where they, and you, normally spend time. If you have more than one building on your property where you cat likes to hang out it's best to have at least one litter box per building.

Also, keep the outside of the box clean of any little that may have been scooped out on accident, because if your cat smells their litters scent there they will mark it as part of the toilet, and that's a common way to have mistakes when your kitty goes next to the box, instead of in it!

The most important part of cleaning a litter tray for your cat is often the part people forget about most. Pregnancy and litter trays do NOT mix! This is very important and you should never clean out your cat's toilet box if you are pregnant. Cleaning up cat feces can expose you to a parasite that causes an infection called Toxoplasmosis and yes, it's a scary as it sounds.

Although the risk of contracting Toxoplasmosis is low it's never worth the risk, because contraction while pregnant or ever up to three months before conceiving a baby can lead to severe complications for your pregnancy such as congenital defects and damage to the baby, stillbirth, or even miscarriage, it could even be fatal to an adult as well, though very rarely.

No matter how small the level of risk is (an estimated 400-4000 cases of Congenital Toxoplasmosis occur in the USA alone every year.) it's still a risk for you and your baby so you should always get someone else to clean your cat's litter box for you daily, as well as remembering to thoroughly wash your hands every time you come into contact with cat faeces.



Your cat will always do their best to please you so if they aren't using their litter box there is always a reason behind it.

Investigate it thoroughly because sometimes the reasons aren't clear or straight to the point. Your cat might feel squashed in a too small box, dislike the type of litter, pushed out by another cat, or pressured in a place that too noisy for them.

If you've tried all of this and your kitty is still having accidents they could need retraining to use their litter box, or they may have something medically wrong such as a Urinary Tract Infection. If you think this may be the case take your cat to the vet as soon as possible to get checked out, and hopefully, that will be your problem is solved!

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