You have decided to bring home an adorable and cute kitten as a pet. Soon enough, the wish of the feline will be your command for life. However, there are some things that the cat needs to follow as it is now a part of your family. One of the few things is to use the litter box. The kitten needs to understand that it cannot relieve itself anywhere around the house. It has to use the litter box whenever the need arises, during the day as well as night. Even though your cat may spend a lot of time outdoors, it still needs to be taught to use the litter box as a kitten.
When to Litter Train
Many first time cat owners have a question of when to litter train a kitten. You should begin litter training the minute you bring it home. A kitten must remain with its mother for about 8 to 12 weeks. Most kittens instinctively follow their mother and use the litter box. However, if the kitten was born and raised outside, you may begin litter training when it is about 4 weeks old. You should take it to the litter box after a meal and before as well as after a nap. If you see the kitten trying to dig the floor or searching for far off corners, pick it up gently and place it in the litter box.
How to Do It
Before you bring home a kitten, make sure you have bought a litter box. There are plenty of litter boxes available at pet stores that you can choose from. If you have not been able to visit the pet shop, you can always use an old cut down cardboard box, plastic container, or a large baking pan. Next, you need to shop for cat litter that is non-scented and non-clay clumping. Fill up the litter box about 1 to 3 inches with the cat litter. Place this tray in an area that is private, away from traffic, and easily accessible by the kitten. It should be kept away from the kitten's food and water tray. You can even place a rubber mat around the litter box. Your pet can scratch its paws clean to remove any litter sticking to them.
The first thing to do after getting a kitten home is to take it to the litter box. Place it inside very gently and allow it to explore. If it is still a bit confused, you can gently hold its front paws and carry out the digging action. Gently move the paws for a few strokes. The kitten will probably guess what you are trying to say and begin to dig a bit. If you are lucky, you may have adopted a smart girl or boy who will learn to use the litter box in just a day. If not, you may have to help it learn to use it for a few more days. You may have to place your kitten gently in the box half an hour after a meal or playtime. You may have to initiate the digging action by stirring the sand in the box. Allow the kitten to jump in and out and become comfortable with it.
You need to understand the signs your kitten gives before it eliminates. This will help avoid accidents within the house. If your kitten scratches the floor, or goes to a corner, tries to go behind a cupboard or couch, or if it suddenly breaks off from an interesting game and begins to sniff around, it means it needs to use the liter box. You should pick it up very gently and place it in the box. If the kitten has an accident around the house, do not shout or scold it. Once it's done, pick it up and place it in the litter box. Let it associate the action with the litter box. You may even pick up the mess and place some of it in the box. The smell of urine or stool will encourage it to use the box. Make sure you clean up the area properly and leave no traces of the urine or potty smell. Do not get angry or punish the kitten. Accidents do happen and like a baby it is still in the learning process.
Once your kitten begins to go to the litter box on its own, praise it well. This will help associate the litter box with pleasant feelings. Your pet will make it a point to use the box. However, in case of a tomcat, he may spray or mark his territory around the house. You may consider getting him neutered to avoid this behavior. Keep the box clean at all times. Kittens as well as cats are very fastidious creatures and will avoid using a messy one. Wash it with water and detergent once a week to keep it clean and to avoid germs. If you wish to help your kitten learn to go outdoors, you can gradually begin placing the litter box towards the door. Eventually, the cat will get an idea and start going outdoors to answer nature's call.
How Long Does it Take
If you are thinking about how long it takes to litter train a kitten, then the answer is a few days to a couple of weeks. Most of the kittens that are 8 to 10 weeks old come litter trained. They are trained by their mother (who is of course a house cat). However, within 5 to 7 days, the kitten gets an idea of how to use the litter box. Sometimes, you may take about 2 weeks after following the proper way to house train your cat.
Cats are different from dogs in many ways. You do not need to train a kitten like the way you house train a puppy. They have a natural instinct to use the litter box as they are very fussy creatures themselves. They have a tendency to be clean and dig in their urine or stool in the mud. Kittens are very active and will always be up to some tricks. With good cat care and loads of love & affection, you and your kitten will spend many years of healthy companionship.