If you have an indoor cat or one with limited outside access, a litter tray is essential. Find out how to toilet train a cat or kitten with this helpful guide.
Your cat’s natural instincts will usually find them wanting to go to the toilet outside, but many cats like an indoor litter tray too. It’s usually best to start with cat toilet training from a young age, but older cats can still be taught and may even find it beneficial as their joints are stiffer and they lack the same energy to go outside.
If you’re new to cat potty training this guide to tell you everything, from what you’ll need to start to how to toilet train a cat.
Getting the perfect tray
For kittens, ensure you use a low-sided plastic tray at first for easy access. When they’ve grown a bit, you’ll want to swap to a larger and deeper tray to give them enough room to turn around and prevent kicking up and scattering the litter all over.
To minimize odors and spillage while also giving your adult cat more privacy, a covered tray could be more suitable. Most will enjoy the extra secrecy, but note that some cats may be nervous about the enclosed space. Avoid a covered or hooded kitten litter box when cat toilet training as the flap and big step in may prove difficult for kitty to initially navigate. An older cat however, will appreciate a lower sided tray that is easier to get in and out of.
Choosing the right type of cat litter
Each cat is an individual and you’ll find many will have a preference for the type of cat litter in their tray. Getting this right is incredibly important when litter training kittens or cats as if they don’t like it, they won’t go in it!
Considered the most common type of litter in Singapore, this one is an affordable and convenient choice. It will clump into balls when it comes into contact with liquids, making it easy to scoop and can save money as it ensures you’re only scooping out dirty litter.
You should consider using a dust-free litter if your cat has an enclosed litter tray as dust won’t be thrown into your cat’s face.
These are great as they absorb liquids extremely fast and they’re generally quite cheap – they won’t eliminate smells though.
This is a popular option as it absorbs well and can help with odor control somewhat, but it is generally more expensive than other options.
If you’re looking for cat litter that can quickly absorb liquids and odors but you’re not that worried about price, a silica-based one would work best.
It’s usually better to avoid this type as they can upset your cat’s sensitive nose and put them off using the tray.
If you need to change the type of cat litter you use, do it slowly so that it doesn’t come as a surprise to your cat and put them off. Follow the packaging instructions for recommended depth of litter, making sure that your cat has enough to dig with. If you want to catch any loose debris, place some newspaper beneath the tray.
Where to put the tray
The general rule is, there should be one litter tray per cat, plus an extra one. Put each tray in a quiet area, away from where the eat and drink, where they can go in peace. Avoid busy or noisy places like hallways.
When you’re cat potty training, always make sure that the tray can be easily. Cats are very clean animals, they will hold on as long as possible if there’s nowhere for them to go, which can be uncomfortable and lead to health problems.
3 steps to litter training kittens and cats
Whether it’s a new kitten or trying to teach an older cat how to use the tray, cat toilet training can be as easy as 1-2-3.
1. Know the signs
The first thing you’ll need to do when cat toilet training is to watch for the signs of when they need to go like sniffing, scratching or crouching on the floor.
2. Put them on the litter tray
When you spot the signs, lift them up and gently place them in the tray. Kittens have small bladders, so also put them on their tray after eating and drinking and as soon as they wake up. Soon your kitten will start to associate the tray with going to the toilet, and will make their own way there.
3. Praise their success
After using the tray, give them praise and a cat treat. They’ll learn to think of the litter tray in a positive manner and will use it confidently.
Expect accidents to happen
When cat toilet training, expect accidents to happen! Be patient and it’ll happen soon. Never punish them for going elsewhere in the home. Quickly clean it up and continue your cat toilet training.
After being thoroughly trained and they suddenly start urinating in the house, this could be a sign of feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD). It can be painful and potentially dangerous. Prompt treatment is needed so bring them to the vet.
The importance of cleaning the cat litter tray
To avoid accidents while cat toilet training, clean trays regularly. As clean creatures, cats won’t want to use a litter tray that they’ve soiled in a lot.
Clean out soiled litter at least once a day, or more depending on how many cats you have and how often they go. And, at least once a week, completely empty the tray and wash it with hot water and detergent. Avoid disinfectants, these can be toxic to cats.
If you’re pregnant, never handle soiled litter. There’s a risk of toxoplasmosis – an infection that can be passed to your unborn baby.
For more information on what else you should pay attention to when you bring a new kitten home, read our detailed article on Bringing a Kitten Home!