How to Get Your Cat to Use a Litter Box

Owning a cat comes with many responsibilities, one of which is maintaining a litter box – a serious doody (insert rimshot here). Your cat may dislike his or her litter box, but it’s your only defense against moist carpets and stinky surprise gifts left in random places around your home. So whether you adopted your first or fifth cat, he or she will be recreating ‘The Thinker’ in their litter box before you know it thanks to our helpful tips.

Get Them to Like the Litter box

The first step in litter box training is to get your cat to actually like the “facility.” Cats can be very particular creatures, so making their litter box fit their preferences is key. Think about it: If you had to choose between using the toilet at a four-star restaurant or the john at a local dive bar, chances are you’d choose the restaurant, right?

You should have one litter box for each cat, plus an additional box. To make sure your cats start using the boxes, leave them in a room with the litter box overnight. You can let them out when you’re watching them, but continue to do this until they get used to the idea of using that particular box. Gently placing your cat in a box to get him/her more acclimated is recommended.

You may also want to experiment with different types of litter. Between non-scented, clumping clay and silica gel crystals, there are a variety of kinds your cats could hate. Test out the litter, and don’t be discouraged if Sir Cuddlesworth isn’t into the first type you try.

Choose the Right Litter Box

The type of litter box you choose can also play a role in whether your cat likes to use it. Cats can be pickier than Ted Mosby, and that attitude can make training difficult. To ensure the restroom is to your cat’s liking, purchase a box that is big enough for him/her to stand in and one where he/she doesn’t touch the surrounding walls. The last thing anyone wants – whether feline or human – is to be crammed into an airplane-sized lavatory.

Although appealing for you, an enclosed litter box may not be a good idea for your cat, who likely has seen Seven and knows what happens when it comes to closed boxes. You’ll also want to avoid self-cleaning litter boxes because the mechanical noises they make can be startling, like how people react when they use a bidet for the first time.

Scoop, Scoop and Scoop

A litter box should always be clean. No one likes using a dirty bathroom (remember that dive bar example from earlier?), so make sure you’re scooping out the number twos your cat leaves at least once per day. Leaving anything in the litter box longer than that is unhygienic for the cat and, in the words of Stephanie Tanner, “How rude!”

You’ll also want to empty the box completely once a month and thoroughly clean it with soap and water. Then refresh the actual kitty litter. Just like your toilet, a litter box requires regular maintenance and cleaning to keep it pristine and encourage your cat to come back when it’s time to take care of business.

Every cat is different, so your litter box training process might require a little personalization. If your cat isn’t regularly using the box, try changing the litter or the amount of litter in the box, then the box itself, then the location of the box until he/she agrees to use it. Don’t get discouraged if it doesn’t happen right away. Talk to a veterinarian to get specific suggestions on how to make kitty’s potty time go smoothly if you don’t succeed.

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