How Do I House-Train My Cat?

A gray cat peeks out of a cardboard box during house-training.

Becoming the parent to an adorable new kitty is a very exciting time. However, there will be some aspects of taking care of her that you will want to get sorted fairly quickly. Aside from her food and where she is going to sleep, one of your immediate priorities will be getting her house-trained.

House-training is an essential part of living with any feline. While they are highly intelligent creatures, you cannot just assume that she knows the score when it comes to where she should do her bathroom business. If you have taken on a kitten, this will probably be all new to her, and if you have an older cat, if she has been house-trained before then a little refresher won’t hurt, particularly as you probably have a different litter box and litter than she is used to.

Here are our top tips for the best ways to house-train your cat.

Select a suitable litter box

This may be easier said than done. There are a lot of different varieties available, from open trays to enclosed boxes, and which is right for your new kitty will depend on her personal preference. Some cats feel vulnerable if they are exposed, while others dislike being enclosed in small spaces. Closed-off boxes can also become pungent more quickly – something which can put your cat off of using it. Many owners recommend that you buy one of each and see which your new furbaby prefers.

Find suitable litter

Again, there are many different types and brands of kitty litter and finding one that your cat will happily do her business in may be a case of trial and error. You can use sand, shredded newspapers or wood chippings, but commercially prepared litter tends to be the most sanitary and convenient. Some types clump up when your cat uses the litter box, making it easier to scoop them out and leave the remainder of the litter in place. Make sure you fill the box so it is around 2 inches deep. Any less isn’t enough and too much could cause your cat to scatter it all over the floor.

Position your litter box

As if your cat wasn’t fussy enough about the type of litter box and litter that they are willing to use, she might also turn her nose up at where you place her toileting facility. Try and position your cat’s litter box in an out-of-the-way yet convenient location such as hallway or office. Bathrooms also make good locations.

Keep the litter box clean

Cats are well known for being fastidious about keeping clean and this applies to their litter box. If it too soiled or smells bad, your feline won’t be inclined to use it. Empty it daily and do a deep clean once a week. However, make sure you avoid heavily scented products as these can be off-putting to pets.

Encourage her to use the litter box

There are several ways in which you can do this. The first is by recognizing when she is likely to need to empty her bladder or bowels and placing her in, or by, the litter box. These times tend to be after eating, after a nap and after a playing or training session with you.

If she walks off and does her business elsewhere, scoop it up (if you can) and place it inside the litter box so that she associates the smell of her waste with the box. Don’t scold her, just be consistent in your approach and she should quickly pick up on what to do. If you catch her in the act, pick her up and place her in the box as quickly as you can.

It may seem obvious, but make sure you clean any areas where she has soiled outside the box thoroughly to get rid of the smell. This will also discourage her from carrying out the act in the same location again.

Most cats become house-trained fairly quickly and with little stress, but if you would like further advice and support, our veterinary team is on hand with the answers you need. Please don’t hesitate to get in touch.