Just as dogs need potty training, your new cat may need to be taught good litter habits. This is especially true if you have adopted a previously stray cat or a rescue kitten that was taken away from his momma prematurely. Getting this right is important as one of the reasons cats sometimes lose their homes includes house soiling.
First of all assure that you have a sufficient number of litter boxes. A good rule of thumb is at least one more litter box than cats in the household. If your house has more than one level you will need at least one litter box on each level of the house. Cats like privacy and dislike noise when they need to eliminate. So try to avoid the noisy laundry room for placement of your litter boxes. Cats are very clean and don’t like to eliminate near their water and food bowls. Place their food and water dishes together but place their litter boxes away from their “dining room.” Good places for litter boxes include inside closets, bathrooms, and in quiet corners of a den or guest bedroom. There are even attractive disguised litter boxes that resemble end tables or towel racks that you (and your cats) may like.
Today, we are blessed with a great variety of types of litter so plan on experimenting with several types to determine which one your cats prefer. The same thing goes regarding open style litter boxes and hooded litter boxes. If your household also has dogs, you will need to assure the dog does not have access to kitty litter “snacks.” Plan on scooping the soiled litter daily, adding more litter as needed and cleaning the entire litter box and replacing with fresh litter every one to two weeks.
When you bring your new cat home place her in the litter box and gently move her paws through the litter. This helps her to explore the texture. You may want to run your fingers through the fresh clean litter as an example for kitty. Give her an opportunity to explore the litter box on her own. Stay quietly near by and remember that cats like privacy. There is no need to praise the cat for going potty.
Just as we never want to scold a dog for potty accidents, we also do not want to scold a cat for going outside the litter box. Doing so is a fast ticket to a cat who pees behind the sofa or under your bed. If you are ready to adopt your first cat or just need guidance for problem cat behavior we recommend The Cat Behavior Answer Book by Arden Moore.
Most of all, we recommend you relax and enjoy the new addition to your family. If you are going away for a few days be sure to have the pet sitter come on a daily basis so your fur baby can continue to enjoy a clean litter box daily. Although we sometimes think of cats as being solitary beings, they get lonely and upset when their routine is changed. It is a good idea to have a professional pet sitter coming to your home on a daily basis to refresh your cat’s water, feed him some wet food, play with him and to be certain that your cat is not experiencing any health issues such as urinary blockages. One of the best ways to determine this is by daily checking the litter box.
Let us know what has worked for you in training your new cat to use a litter box.