Training your cat to use the litter box can be an easy or difficult process depending on the cat. Although it is among a cat's natural instincts, they may not always want to use the litter box, instead going on the carpet, on your clothes, or other areas. Though your cat is supposed to cover his poop with the litter, this behavior does not always happen, but you can teach it to your cat. Here's how to train your kitten to cover his poop:
- Let the mother cat do it. In most cases, this is preferable to any training that comes from humans. If the mother cat is caring for her kittens, she will teach them how to use the litter box. Young kittens should learn all of the behaviors they need from her. In some cases, however, such as when the mother kitten is not there, humans may need to step in and teach the kittens these basic behaviors. If the mother is not trained to use a litter box, this is another reason why you would need to help the kittens learn.
- Start when the kitten is young. It is much easier to teach young kittens to use the litter box properly than it is to teach older kittens or full-grown cats.
- Keep the litter box clean. Understandably, your cat will not want to spend a lot of time in a dirty litter box, and will likely step out of the box as soon as he's finished his business, without covering his poop. Plus, cleaning it will keep the smell down, making it more bearable for you while you're teaching him.
- Provide easy litter for the kitten to scoop. Litter that comes in small pieces or sand will be easy for your kitten to use for covering his poop. Newspaper or other items, while generally acceptable for litter boxes, will make it harder for a young cat to learn what to do.
- Make sure that he knows to go in the litter box. Some cats may know to use the litter box, but won't know to cover their poop. Others will have no understanding of the purpose of the litter box. Determine what your cat does naturally, and start the training from there. To start litter box training, place your kitten in the box immediately after a meal. Scrape through the litter, either using your fingers if it is freshly poured litter or using a litter scoop.
- Show your cat what to do. After the kitten has used the box, use a litter scoop to pour litter on the poop in their presence. If you see your kitten imitate this behavior, give praise, and possibly a treat. You can also guide his paw to show him how to scrape the litter over the poop while he is still standing in the box. This can take some patience and repeated actions before your kitten gets the right idea.
Covering his poop is not only a natural instinct, but it also helps keep down the smell in the box. Though most cats will learn this from their mother, in some cases you will have to litter box train your kitten.