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November 7, 2016

How to Litterbox Train Your New Kitten

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Training your kitten to use the litterbox is an essential part of raising a happy and healthy cat.  Our Atlanta cat sitters explain how to teach your kitten good litterbox habits, including a checklist of some supplies you’ll need.  

Litterbox Supply Checklist for Your New Cat or Kitten    

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At first glance, getting a litterbox seems like a straightforward task.  However, it’s not as simple as just buying a plastic box and hoping for the best.  You need to put some thought into factors like the size of the box, what materials you’ll fill it with, how much you should fill it, and where you will place the box in your home or apartment.  Here’s what you’ll need to get started:  

  • A litterbox.  Kittens are quite small, so make sure to select a litterbox that’s as low and flat as possible.  If the walls of the litterbox are too high, your kitten might not be tall enough to get inside!  Look for a size “small,” or a litterbox that’s designed just for kittens.  
  • A scooper.  You’ll need a plastic scooper to remove waste from the litterbox.  Fortunately, you can find one online for just a few dollars.  Some manufacturers also make self-cleaning litterboxes, which are convenient but a bit costly (be prepared to spend about $50 to $150).  
  • Kitty litter.  There are several types of kitty litter.  Some are made from clay, some are made from wood pellets, and some are made from corn or other materials.  Some clump, and some do not.  Some are scented, and some are unscented.  Some cats have no preference, while others are very picky.  You may need to use a bit of trial and error to discover which type of litter works best.   
  • Training pads.  Training pads are also called “pee pads” or “puppy pads.”  Inexpensive and disposable, training pads are inserted beneath the litterbox in order to catch and absorb any waste that doesn’t make it into the box.  Just be sure to dispose of used pads promptly, so that the kitten does not continue to urinate or defecate on the floor due to the scent.  

How to Teach Your Cat to Use the Litterbox  

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Cats may be domesticated, but they still possess keen survival instincts.  These instincts tell cats to bury their waste, because it reduces the risk that a predator will pick up on the scent.   

Between instinctive cues and guidance from Mama Cat, most kittens quickly learn how to use a litterbox.  If you adopt a kitten who’s at least 12 to 14 weeks old, or about three to three and a half months, it will likely already know how to use a litterbox from watching its mother.  

However, if you’re caring for a kitten who’s younger, you will need to help the process along.  Just keep in mind that kittens ideally shouldn’t be separated from their mothers until they’re at least eight weeks old, which is around when they gain the ability to start regulating their body temperature.  

Until a kitten turns about three weeks old, it needs physical cues and assistance to use the bathroom.  The mother cat would normally perform this function, but if you rescue an orphaned kitten off the street, you’ll need to take over this responsibility yourself.   You’ll need to gently stimulate the kitten’s genital area using a warm towel or washcloth until it uses the bathroom.  You must do this every time the kitten feeds.  However, with guidance from your veterinarian, you can stop performing this task once your kitten turns about four weeks old, at which point two developments should occur:  

  • The kitten should start walking more steadily on its own.  
  • The kitten’s instincts and ability to urinate, defecate, and cover its waste should start to kick in.  

Once your kitten is able to walk steadily on its own, it can start physically climbing into a litterbox.  Just remember that kittens have short legs, so they’ll need a low, shallow litterbox that’s easy to get in and out of.  Initially, you may need to physically place the kitten into the litterbox.  If it seems confused, try showing it what to do by pawing in the (clean) sand with your fingers.   

Kittens are fast learners, so it should pick up your lesson quickly – just be gentle and patient, and remember to change the litter frequently, so that the box is always fresh and sanitary.  Your kitten is more likely to use the litterbox if its bathroom area is kept clean and tidy.  

If all else fails, a veterinarian can provide professional advice after ruling out any medical issues that may be interfering with your kitten’s ability to use the litterbox normally.  

Schedule an Appointment with Our Atlanta Cat Sitting Company  

Critter Sitters is the largest and oldest professional pet sitting company in Georgia.  We care for more than 60,000 pets each year, including thousands of cats and kittens.  We also have experience working with special needs cats who take medications or have disabilities or illnesses.  In addition to being highly experienced, reliable, and dedicated, we pride ourselves on being extremely convenient, with virtually around-the-clock availability on short notice.  We’re there when you need us, even if it’s late at night or early in the morning.   

If you’re looking for an experienced, trustworthy, and caring professional cat sitter in Alpharetta, Roswell, Brunswick, Dunwoody, Suwanee, Fayetteville, Mableton, Newnan, or any of our other service areas, Critter Sitters is ready to help.  To book an appointment with our Roswell cat sitting company today, give us a call at (404) 973-2541.