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Litter training your kitten

Litter training your kitten

Litter training is an important part of having a kitten, and it can be challenging, but more often than not your kitten will have experience with where to toilet. Remember to be patient with your kitten, and assist where you can by placing them in their litter tray after any stimulation. Keep reading for some helpful hints that will ensure your kitten learns about the right place to toilet, while you pick up some ideas on how to provide them with the best area to do so.

Litter trays and litter

There are many litter trays available, and it’s important to get the one most suitable for you and your kitten. You can get a standard litter tray, a tray with rims and an enclosed litter tray. The standard litter tray is perfectly suitable for a kitten that is learning and is only going to be inside for short periods of time.

A tray with rims is great as it prevents bits of litter that your kitten flicks up as it is digging from ending up everywhere. This means less mess and less bits of sticky litter on the floor of your kitten’s area that could get stuck in the carpet, on the tiles or on your feet.

Enclosed litter trays are particularly good as they provide security, comfort and an enclosed area for your kitten to use the toilet. This will reduce the number of accidents your kitten has due to anxiety or fear, and will also reduce the amount of litter sprayed on the outside of the litter tray. Most enclosed litter trays also have replaceable carbon filters in them to help reduce the odour. This is the most suitable litter tray if you have young children or other pets, such as dogs, around that may find the kitten’s business intriguing.

The size of the litter tray is also important, as your kitten will need to have enough space to dig and bury their business, often going for the largest size that will fit in the space you have available is the best option. If you have more than one kitten, or if multiple cats will use the litter tray, the most suitable number of litter trays is how many cats you have plus one. So if you have three cats, four litter trays are recommended around the house. This helps to prevent territorial issues and will result in fewer accidents from all your felines.

The best method to choosing a litter is one that compliments your traySelecting the litter that goes in the litter tray is as important as the litter tray itself. As mentioned in previous articles, starting with the litter your kitten is used to is the best way to start. Going forward, select the litter that will best work for you, and you can begin weaning your kitten onto the new litter. The main types of litter available are: clay, clumping, crystals, recycled paper and wood pellets.

Clay litter is an affordable litter that is readily available. Unfortunately, this type of litter does not offer much in the way of reducing tracking or odour and is considered to be a basic litter. This litter type is suitable if you are happy to change your litter frequently or if your cat will be inside for a short period of time. As we recommend keeping your kitten inside until they complete their final vaccination schedule, a different litter type may be more suitable for a kitten.

Clumping litter is made of small particles of clay that easily clumps together when your kitten urinates in the tray. This means that the clumps are easy to remove, and as a result keep the remaining litter as clean as possible. Clumping litter also comes in scented varieties, such as lavender, which can help to dispel some bad smells. As it is small bits of clay though, tracking can be greater which may result in more mess around the area.

Crystal litter is comprised of small bits of translucent litter that discolours as it absorbs urine. As it absorbs urine, it also absorbs the smell, making it one of the best at types of litter at reducing smell. Due to the light-weight of the crystals it can be easily flicked out of the litter tray, however as they are bigger bits of litter than other types, this may also mean that it is more messy. Selecting the correct litter tray will help to reduce tracking.

Recycled paper and wood litter are very similar – both are environmentally friendly, while providing a suitable litter for your kitten. Recycled paper can get quite messy the more it is used, so it will require more changing. Wood litter disintegrates as it is used, meaning it too will need more cleaning.

Selecting the right litter for your litter tray can be a confusing decision, however choosing the best one to compliment your tray is the best method. If you’re still unsure, we recommend making a trip to your local Animates to talk to our knowledgeable in-store team.

Things to consider:

  • What type of litter tray is most suitable?
  • What size litter tray do you need?
  • What is the right type of litter for your kitten?

Training time

Depending on the history of your kitten, it may already be litter trained. Kittens who spend time with their mum, or a foster queen, have a better grasp of the right place to toilet, while those that have not been raised with other felines may find it a little more difficult to learn how to use the right area.

Assisting your kitten with their tray will be the best way to ensure they toilet in the right place. Depending on the type of litter tray you opt for, you may need to adapt it for your younger kitten. For example, trays with rims may be too tall for a small kitten to climb into, so may need the rim removed until your kitten gets big enough to hop in and out. Likewise, if you have an enclosed litter tray that has a flap on it, consider removing the flap of the tray while your kitten is learning that that’s their toilet.

Each time your kitten finishes eating, drinking or playing, pop them into their litter tray as this will remind them of the right place to go in the event that they need to toilet. Taking them toilet after a snuggle or a nap is also a great idea, as they will learn to hold on during their favourite times and will toilet once they wake up. When praising your kitten for using the litter tray, keep your voice quiet and positive – remember never to raise your voice at your kitten as this can startle them.

When your kitten is exploring new rooms, keep an eye on them – sometimes toileting in an area nearby is easier for a kitten than trying to find their own space. Selecting the right area for the litter tray is also important – if you’re going to keep your kitten in a room, keeping the litter tray in a quiet corner, out of the way of their food and water is important. As your kitten begins exploring more rooms, consider relocating their tray to a more accessible area, always ensuring that it is in a quiet and private area, otherwise accidents may happen.

Litter training is a great opportunity to keep an eye on your kitten's health

If an accident does happen, be patient. Your kitten is learning and trying to fit in with you, your family and your routine. A stressed kitten will have more accidents and the calmer you are around them and their toileting habits, the more likely they are to be calm and toilet properly.

When your kitten is properly trained to use the litter tray, consider this a good opportunity to keep an eye on your kitten’s health. If your kitten has an upset stomach, there may be something else happening in their life that needs addressing – are they stressed? Is their food not quite right? Are they eating something they shouldn’t be? Do they need a vet visit? Checking their litter tray regularly will help you ascertain if your kitten is in good health.

Things to consider:

  • Was your kitten raised by, or with, other cats?
  • Do you need to adapt the litter tray for your kitten while they’re small?
  • Are you prepared to take your kitten to their tray when they need to go?
  • Does your kitten’s area have a suitable place for their litter tray?

Clean up

Keeping the litter tray clean is important as many cats don’t like to use a dirty litter tray. Having an unclean litter tray can result in more accidents around the place. We recommend removing number two’s as soon as they appear, and, depending on the type of litter you use, removing the urine too. Be careful how you dispose of the used litter and poo, as some litter types can clog the toilet.

How often you clean the litter tray depends on the type of litter you use, some types will need less frequent cleaning than others to control the smell and debris, but at least once a week is recommended. Dispose of the litter into the rubbish, clean the litter tray with a pet-safe cleaner and refill with litter. You can even use a litter liner for easier removal.

Residual Smell and mess around their litter tray could cause your kitten to have accidents

Tidying the area around the litter tray is also important as there may be residual smell and mess around which could cause your kitten to have accidents. Any accidents your kitten has will need to be cleaned with pet-safe cleaners – avoid ammonia based products as these tend to attract pets to go toilet there again, rather than deter them.

If your cats toilet odours are an issue, look into air fresheners and odour removers – remember, getting something pet safe is important. The cleaner you keep the litter tray and the area around it, the less likely your kitten is to have accidents elsewhere, and the more likely your kitten is going to succeed at learning to toilet in the right place.

Things to consider:

  • How often do you plan on cleaning your litter tray?
  • Do you have suitable cleaning products?
  • How will you dispose of numbers twos?

Litter training your kitten is an important step when settling them in. Luckily, cats are instinctually very clean animals, so, more often than not, litter training is a straightforward process.