Litterbox Training

What Kind of Litter?

Most cats prefer fine-grained litters, presumably because they have a softer feel. The scoopable litters typically have finer grains than other clay litters, and are very popular, but clay litters are also relatively fine-grained and may be perfectly acceptable to your cat.

Fragrance free is the key. Although a “rain mist” or “ocean breeze” scent might suit your fancy, cats have a much stronger sense of smell and may find scented litter offensive. In addition, do not use carpet deodorizer or air fresheners near the litter box. If you would like to “freshen” the litter box in some way, you can try sprinkling a light layer of baking soda on the bottom of the box to absorb the odors, without repelling your cat.

If you adopt a stray or outdoor cat, and believe he/she may have an interest in soiling your houseplants, you may want to try mixing potting soil with a commercial litter to ease the transition. Pellet type litters or litter made from citrus peels are not recommended for previously outdoor cats.

Once you find a litter that both you and your cat approve of, stick with it. If you constantly change litter, for convenience or cost, your cat may get upset by this and rebel by not using the litter at all.

Keep it Clean

Clean the litter box frequently! Again, a cat’s sense of smell is much stronger than ours, so any foul odor is cause for them to not use their box. It is necessary to scoop all litter boxes at least once per day and replace the litter altogether every 1 to 2 weeks (more often if you have several cats).

Location, Location, Location

Most people are inclined to place the litter box in an out-of-the-way spot to minimize odor and prevent litter from being tracked throughout the house, but what’s more important is that you choose a location your cat finds appropriate.

Consider the age of your cat. If you have an older cat, he/she may not be willing or able to use stairs to get to their bathroom. If you keep the litter box in an area that your cat seldom visits, he/she may not remember where it is, especially if the cat is young or newly introduced to your home.

If a furnace, washing machine, or dryer suddenly comes on and startles your cat while using the litter box, that may be the last time he/she risks such a frightening experience.

If your cat likes to scratch the areas surrounding the litter box, a cold cement floor may prove to be unappealing.

Compromise is key. The litter box should be kept in a spot that allows your cat some privacy, yet is also conveniently located. If the litter box is placed in a closet or bathroom, ensure the door is wedged open from both sides at all times.

Open or Closed?

Litter boxes come in both open and covered forms. If you begin litter box training early, you can choose which type works best for you and train your cat to use that type. If you inherit, adopt, or rescue a cat, especially if the cat is an adult, it is a good idea to offer both types of boxes. Your cat will choose the box that he/she is most comfortable with.