The Ultimate Guide to Litter-Training Your New Adult Cat

If you’re a cat-enthusiast, chances are you own or have owned a few cats and have had to litter train them. So, you may already have an idea of how to do it. That being said, most of us only know how to deal with kittens.

This article is for those who decided to take in an adult, outdoor or stray cat and give them a home. But that’s just the first step. 

What comes next is more challenging – getting your kitty properly litter-trained! Training a full-grown cat to use a litter box is similar to litter-training a kitten, but it’s a bit more complicated. 

But don’t worry as we’ve done the hard work for you. Read on to learn the essentials on how to get your cat to use a litter box like it was born to!

Get an Appealing Litter Box

Put yourself in your former outdoor cat’s ‘paws’. They have been used to wide open spaces with leaves and soil all their life. The transition from the great outdoors to an indoor litter box will undoubtedly take some time and effort.

Therefore, choose a box that will be most appealing to your cat. This is important – the box should be appealing to your cat, not to you.

It might confuse your not-yet house-broken cat if you choose a covered, automatic or self-cleaning model. They can be confining, noisy and too small. An uncommon litter box will make the task of litter training more difficult.

Introducing a litter box will be a momentous concept for your cat so try to keep it as simple as possible. When they’ve got the hang of it, then you can consider moving onto something more complex.

Pick the Right Kind of Box

The box you choose should essentially be uncovered, easy to find and the right size.

The whole idea of an uncovered box is to make the training session as smooth as possible. A hood might confine and confuse a cat that is used to open spaces.

If you insist on a hooded box, try to keep the flap open at the entrance as much as possible.

You can determine the perfect size of a litter box easily by considering the size of your cat. The box should be 1.5 times larger than the size of your cat. Boxes come in many shapes but for the initial period of training, go for one that’s big and rectangular in shape.

It might be difficult to find a typical litter box that’s bigger than your adult cat in the pet stores. In that case, you can use a large plastic storage container and make a litter box yourself. Cut out a door on one side that’s big enough to fit your cat. Use one which has high sides to avoid the litter getting scattered.

Consider the Number of Boxes You Need

Ideally, the number of litter boxes in your house should be proportional (plus one extra box for luck!) to the number of cats in your house. That means if you have two cats, you should have three litter boxes. These rules work in most cases.

But if you are transitioning an outdoor cat, keep in mind that they are used to eliminating anywhere out in the open space. It’s easier for your cat to learn if you keep a few boxes in most rooms of the house. , This will give them a sense of freedom too.

Consider the Right Spot for the Boxes

You should put the litter boxes in the place your cat spends most of their time. Usually, a place that’s close to where they sleep, eat or play. But don’t put the litter box too close to the feeding station as this might discourage them to use it completely. The trick is to place it just close enough but not too close.

Your cat will definitely have some elimination points around the house – the usual spots they go to in order to successfully complete their ‘business’. Seek out those places and put the litter boxes in those spots. Make sure you clean the spot instantly to remove the odor.

Cats also love to soil in a soothing, quiet environment. You can create some privacy for your cat by placing the boxes in the corner of the room. But don’t create so much privacy that the litter boxes are forgotten.

Choose the Right Kind of Litter

Any outdoor cat is familiar with unscented substrates, soil and sand. They are used to a particular texture and your best bet is to find litter with a texture that suits your cat’s preferences.

To understand your cat’s preferences, you need to familiarize yourself with the kind of litter available in the pet store. You can easily find traditional clay and silicone litter but they have a lot of disadvantages.  

Small, soft, odorless scoop-able litter mixed with a bit of sand could make your cat get used to the idea of litter more quickly. The more natural the litter feels to the cat, the easier it is to train them. After your cat is used to the litter, you can gradually reduce the amount of sand.

Check out Cat World’s article on how to choose the best eco-friendly, natural litter for your cat. Eco-friendly litter is a great way to reduce your cat’s carbon footprint.

The Last Tidbit

Make sure you put your cat in the box to play for 20 to 25 minutes every day. But don’t restrain them, just let them explore and play in the box. Cats love to learn through imitation, stir the litter around to encourage them to play with it.  

Now that you’re armed with all the information to housebreak your new precious pet, don’t forget to reward them with a treat every time they use the litter box. Positive reinforcement can go a long way to house training your cat!

Last but not least, be patient. Your cat will need some time to get used to being indoors most of the time. Give them time and try to create a fun environment so that their transition is not just smooth but also exciting. Good luck!

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