litter box trainingAnyone who has ever observed a cat fastidiously grooming herself, or carefully covering waste in the litter box, knows that cats are, by nature, very clean animals. Most kittens learn how to use a litter box from their mother before they come to live with you, but if you adopt an orphaned kitten or older cat, you may have to show her the ropes. Our litter box training tips will get you started off on the right paw!

The Setup

  • Make sure your litter box isn’t too small or too large. Kitty should have plenty of room to turn around, while still being able to climb in and out unassisted.
  • Place the box in a quiet spot and out of the way of household traffic and noise. Keep the box away from the cat’s food and water bowls.
  • Spread at least 2 inches of litter on the bottom of the box. This will give your cat plenty of space to dig and cover his or her waste.

Litter Box Training Made Simple

Although kittens aren’t born knowing how to use a litter box, most will take to it readily with a little help:

  • Place your kitten in the litter box upon waking and after meals or playtime.
  • If your kitten doesn’t automatically begin digging once inside the box, you can drag her front paws through the litter to simulate digging.
  • Don’t scold or punish kitty if you find her eliminating outside of the litter box. Simply pick your kitten up and place her in the box. Place the waste inside the box, so your cat associates the two, and clean up the soiled area with an enzyme-based cleaner.


Many cats take to litter box training quickly. But if your kitten is having trouble making the transition, or you have an older cat experiencing house soiling, it may be time to make some changes. Here are some troubleshooting tips:

  • Make sure you have enough litter boxes! The general rule of thumb is one box per cat in your home, plus one more.
  • Switch it up! Some cats like their privacy and do better with a hooded litter box. Others feel boxed in and prefer an open format box. Try both to see which your cat prefers.
  • Don’t switch litter styles or brands. Even small changes in the daily routine can cause stress and anxiety in cats, which may lead to resisting litter box training.
  • A clean box is always preferable. Scoop litter daily. And once a week be sure to empty the litter, wash the box, and refill with fresh litter.
  • If your cat has not been spayed or neutered yet, consider doing so. This can make litter box training much easier.

If you’ve tried out these tactics and your cat is still having trouble using the litter box, please give us a call at Lone Tree Veterinary Medical Center to rule out any underlying medical issues, such as a urinary tract infection.