Whether you bring home a new kitten or adopt an older cat (click here to see our current adoptable pets), litter box training is a big part of getting them comfortable in their new home. Why is this so important? Many cats surrendered to shelters every year are done so because of perceived behavior problems—primarily house soiling. Sadly, many of these cats will be euthanized.

Perhaps proper training could cut down the number of surrendered cats. Cats never eliminate outside their litter boxes out of spite. There is always an underlying medical or environmental issue at hand, and it’s important to let your veterinary health care team know if your cat has developed issues with her litter box.

We have some tips that can help.

  1. Do your research.
    Is your cat marking/spraying? Or is your cat urinating? There is a difference. If your cat is standing upright and eliminating a small amount on vertical surfaces, she is marking/spraying. If she’s squatting and eliminating a larger amount on horizontal surfaces, she’s urinating. You won’t be able to effectively handle the problem if you don’t know what the problem is.
  2. Clean the box.
    Be sure to remove waste from the litter box every day, and wash the box at least monthly. Your cat will thank you for providing them with a clean place to do their business.
  3. No food and water near the litter box.
    Like humans, cats don’t like to use the bathroom close to where they eat.
  4. Privacy, please!
    Keep the litter box away from high-traffic and noisy areas in the home.
  5. Make it convenient.
    If you live in a multi-level home, keep one litter box on each level. It wouldn’t hurt to have two litter boxes in separate locations for a single cat, and consider having at least one more litter box than the total number of cats in your household.
  6. Put it where they want it.
    If your cat seems to be favoring one specific spot in your home, try moving the litter box to that spot. Once they begins to use the box there, you can gradually move it to your preferred spot.
  7. The bigger the better.
    The litter box should be at least 1.5 times the length of the cat, and the depth of the litter should be at least 1.25 inches.
  8. Use pheromones, not scented litter.
    Plug in a Feliway diffuser near the box, and use a fine, unscented, sand-like litter, nothing scented or deodorized.

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