Have you recently given a home to a new kitten? There are lots of steps to consider when settling a new kitten into your household. Many of these have been covered in a previous Vet Help Direct article. In this article we will focus on how to toilet train your new arrival.
When you give a home to a kitten, you may find that he or she has already made some progress with learning how to use a litter tray. Cats are as a rule very clean animals. Kittens will usually learn how to use a litter tray from their mother at a young age. However, if this is not the case, you will need to give your kitten some help with learning this new skill. There’s lots you can do to help the learning process go successfully.
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The right environment
Setting up a calm environment, offering privacy and with a comfortable litter tray, will go some way to helping with toilet training. You want to make the litter tray the most appealing place in the house to use; hopefully avoiding other household locations becoming a toileting spot!
- The litter tray should be set up away from the place where your kitten eats and drinks. This is because they do not like to toilet near where they eat. If you have other cats in the house, ensure there are enough litter trays for one tray per cat, plus at least one spare. This should reduce any competition for the best toileting area!
- When choosing a litter tray, make sure the sides are not too high so your little kitty can get in and out of the tray easily. Some cats prefer a covered tray with a cat-flap style entrance, while others are happier with an open tray.
- If you know the type of cat litter your kitten was using at their previous home, it may be best to continue using the same type initially. This is to minimise the number of changes for your kitten to cope with when settling in. If you try one type and your kitten doesn’t seem to like it, after giving it a bit of time it may be worth trying a different brand as some cats prefer one type of litter substrate over another.
How to train your kitten to use the litter tray
A key step to successful toilet training is being observant of the signs that your kitten is ready to go. These can include scratching, sniffing the floor, vocalising or getting into a crouched position. If you notice any of these signs and suspect your kitten needs to use the litter tray, gently pick them up straight away and place them in the tray. It is also a good idea to give them opportunities to use the tray at certain times. For example after they have eaten or woken up from a sleep, or if you don’t think they’ve been in a while. It is very important to keep the litter tray clean by frequently removing soiled litter. Your kitten will try to avoid using the tray if it is dirty.
With young kittens who are still learning and have less bladder control than adult cats, it is inevitable that occasional accidents will happen. If this occurs, stay calm and place the kitten in the litter tray. Never use punishments after an accident, as this will create negative associations with toileting and cause much bigger problems. It is best to use a cleaning product that doesn’t contain ammonia for clearing up after an accident; as this reduces the likelihood that your kitten will want to use the same spot again. Suitable products are available from pet stores or your veterinary practice.
Most kittens will pick up toilet training really quickly and easily; so long as you provide the right environment, give them privacy and plenty of opportunities to use the litter tray. If you have concerns that your kitten is toileting in unsuitable places, or is struggling to go to the toilet at all, further intervention may be required. Some medical problems can cause inappropriate toileting behaviours, which require veterinary treatment to resolve. In this instance, contact your veterinary practice for advice.