Kittens typically learn how to use the litterbox during the first eight weeks of life. They’ll follow their mom into the box, and then instinct takes over to complete their training.
If anything disrupts that process, however, you may end up with a kitten that doesn’t know how to use the litterbox. Thankfully, you can take over in the training process and easily housebreak your kitten by following these steps.
Get the Right Housetraining Supplies
Housebreaking a kitten starts with getting the right supplies. Choose an uncovered, small kitty litterbox that’s easy for your kitten to hop in and out of.
Also, go with cat litter that’s unscented, sandy, and infused with charcoal to lock away odors. Skip the tray liners for now. The bag can get stuck on your kitten’s claws and deter them from using the box.
Don’t forget the scoop and treats. Keeping the litterbox clean is a must, as is rewarding your cat for a job well done.
Find the Right Spot for Each Litterbox
Cats need to have multiple quiet, disruption-free spaces to do their business. For the best results, set up one litterbox for each cat in the house, plus one extra, just in case.
Choose spots that are out of the way of foot traffic, like the laundry room, guest bedroom, or even a closet. Just be sure that you can always keep the door to each space open.
Introduce Your Kitten to the Litterboxes
You’ll now need to introduce your kitten to the litterbox. To do that, simply carry your kitten over to the box after they finish their meal or wake up from a nap.
Let them sniff around and see if they start to scratch the litter. If not, you can gently move their paw through the litter to help instinct kick in.
Use Treats to Reinforce Good Behavior
After each trip to the litterbox, you’ll want to give your kitten a treat. It doesn’t matter if they use the box at that time or not. Just give them praise for trying and offer a treat.
When your kitten finally uses the litterbox, jackpot them with multiple small treats all in a row. Slowly phase out the treats over time but be sure to offer them on occasion to reinforce using the litterbox.
Keep All the Litterboxes Clean and Tidy
After your kitten leaves the area, clean up their litterbox using the scoop. Take their waste out of the space to avoid confusing them with smells coming from a nearby garbage can.
Completely change the kitty litter once a week. Rinse out the litter pan but don’t thoroughly wash away the scent with soap for about a month.
Watch for Signs That It’s Time to Go
For the first couple of months, watch your kitten for signs that it’s time to go potty. They may sniff around or even scratch the floor.
When that happens, pick them up and take them to the litterbox. Offer gentle praise as they start scratching the litter instead and then provide a treat once they’re done.
Clean Up Accidents Without a Word
Accidents will happen no matter how vigilant you are. Never punish your kitten for having an accident. Just take your kitten to the litter box and then use an enzymatic cleaner to completely eliminate odors from the soiled surface.
With time, your kitten will learn how to use the litterbox and stop having accidents. The process can take a month or more. If you feel like you’re not getting anywhere, consider keeping your kitten confined in an extra bedroom with their litterboxes for a few days.
Once your kitten is housebroken, their training will last a lifetime. If any problems arise after that, it’s best to take your cat to the vet for a checkup before seeing if any changes to their litterbox setups could help.