ZippiTips: Keys To Effective Litter Box Training
It would probably take all day (and night) to list the many reasons why we love cats, and we’d be hard-pressed to pick just one favorite trait. Is it their love of all boxes? Their rumbly purr and cuddliness? One of our favorites is their ability – or, skillful, discerning choice – to use a litter box for waste (versus our canine friends who require walks).
Sure, your kitty’s got a long list of admirable qualities, but when you think about it, his or her skills in the bathroom department are pretty top-notch. For new and seasoned cat owners, we offer the keys to litter box training for the purr-fect living situation.
Importance Of Litter
The sound of your kitty digging in his or her box can be a harmonious one. In addition to your cat answering nature’s call, he or she is connecting via the litterbox with their feline instinct to dig and bury. Two birds, one stone. Thanks, litter box!
In case you’ve ever wondered, commercial litter became mainstream in the 1940’s. Before then, owners of cats set out pans of soil, sand, ashes, sawdust, or newspaper (which were all messy and didn’t take care of the smell), or simply allowed cats to roam freely outdoors to take care of business. With the advent of clumping litter in the 1960’s, the concept of cleaner, odor-free cohabitation evolved into millions of households supporting – and enjoying – the fastidious nature of pet cats.
Litter Box Training
Typically, a kitten as young as one month old can embrace litter box training. It helps to feed your kitten or cat on a regular schedule and then place him inside the box. From there:
- Show him how to scratch the litter, and allow for time spent sniffing and turning around to find the right spot.
- Offer profuse praise and even a little treat after he eliminates inside the box to create positive associations.
- If you notice that your cat is gearing up to pee or poop elsewhere, pick him up immediately and bring to the litter box.
The litter box should never be too close to your cat’s food or water dishes, and remember to keep the box immaculately clean. There are three main reasons behind a litter box lapse:
- A dirty, smelly, and full box
- A medical condition, affecting the urinary tract, kidneys, or bladder (if something happens to this extent, come see your ZippiVet Pet Hospital immediately)
- Changes in household dynamics (divorce, relocation, new baby, loss of owner, a new pet)
It can take a little trial and error to find the your feline’s preferred litter brand and style, and once you find it, stick with that same brand and style. Also:
- Scoop the urine and feces out of the box at least once a day, and empty and disinfect the entire box regularly
- Avoid strong-smelling cleaners and sprays to mask the scent, as your feline is especially sensitive to those
- Find a quiet, calm space for your cat’s box that is away from household noise or continuous action
Lastly, litter box training can quickly go sideways if you scold or punish your cat. Keep your cool and use positive reinforcements.
Litter box training doesn’t have to feel like an insurmountable challenge if all of your cat’s needs are met. If your cat refuses to use the litter box against all of your best efforts, please bring him or her in to see us ZippiVet. It’s always best to rule out medical issues first and then address the behavioral changes.