The Cat Litter Expert

How to Train a Kitten to a Litter Box

Cute maine coon kitten sitting in a cat litter tray
Litter training a kitten requires patience and consistency.

Training a kitten to use a litter box is an essential part of cat ownership. It helps your home stay clean and free of unpleasant odors, and also helps your kitten develop good bathroom habits that will last a lifetime. Litter box training is a relatively simple process, but it does require patience and consistency. We’ll guide you through how to train a kitten to a litter box, from selecting the right type of litter box to reinforcing good habits.

We’ll also discuss common mistakes to avoid and troubleshooting tips for when things don’t go as planned. You’ll soon have all the tools and knowledge you need to successfully train your kitten to use a litter box and maintain good litter box habits throughout their life. So, let’s get started!

Preparing to Train a Kitten to a Litter Box

Training a kitten to use a litter box requires a little preparation. Before bringing your kitten home, make sure you have the necessary supplies on hand. Here are some important considerations when preparing litter box training.

Gathering necessary supplies

You’ll need several supplies to train your kitten, including a litter box, litter, and scoop. Also consider purchasing an odor-neutralizing spray to help clean up accidents and prevent unwanted odors.

Choosing the right type of litter box

When selecting a litter box, consider your kitten’s age, size and temperament. 

A small kitten may need a shallower litter box with lower sides to make it easier to get in and out – you can even use a shallow cardboard box, as your kitten will soon grow out of it. You may want to consider purchasing a larger box that your kitten can grow into. 

A covered litter box can be a good option for keeping litter contained and providing privacy, but some kittens may feel uncomfortable in a confined space at first. If you go for a covered litter box, choose one that allows you to remove the cover.

Selecting the right type of litter

The type of litter you choose can play a big role in whether or not your kitten takes to using the litter box. 

Most kittens prefer unscented, fine-grained litter – with a clay- or sand-like texture. However, some may have a preference for a other types or textures. If your kitten seems hesitant to use the litter box, you may want to try a different type of litter to see if they prefer it.

cute ragdoll kitten sitting in a cat litter tray
Most cats and kittens prefer unscented, fine-grained litter.

Litter Box Training Steps

Introduction to the litter box

The first step in litter box training your kitten is introducing them to the litter box. Show them where the litter box is located and let them explore it on their own. This will help them become familiar with the box and its purpose.

You may need to introduce them to the box a few times, to help them learn.

Encouraging the kitten to use the litter box

Once the kitten has been introduced to the litter box, you can start encouraging them to use it. Place the kitten in the litter box after meals, playtime, and naps, as these are times when they are most likely to need to go.

Other signs that a kitten may need to use the litter box are that they are searching and sniffing in private areas or they begin to squat.

Reinforcing good litter box behavior

When your kitten uses the litter box correctly, it’s important to reinforce their good behavior with positive reinforcement. This includes verbal praise, petting, and small treats.

Try to maintain the reinforcement cycle for as long as possible, while your kitten is learning to use the litter box.

Two gray tabby kittens playing with a toy mouse on a floral bed spread.
Playing with your kitten after they use the litter box correctly will help reinforce their good behavior.

Addressing litter box accidents

If your kitten has an accident outside of the litter box, do not punish them – physically or verbally. Try to keep calm and positive, as your negative behavior may contribute to your kitten’s stress and result in more accidents.

Instead, clean up the mess and place the kitten back in the litter box. You may also need to use an enzyme cleaner – these eliminate lingering odors that may attract the kitten to use the same spot again.

By following these steps, you can effectively litter box train your kitten and set them up for good habits in the future. Remember to be patient and consistent in your training, and your kitten will be using the litter box like a pro in no time.

Common Litter Box Problems and Solutions

Litter box problems can be frustrating for both the kitten and the owner. Fortunately, most issues can be resolved with some simple solutions. And remember, every kitten will be different, so you may need to experiment with different solutions.

Litter box location issues

Try placing the litter box in a quiet, low-traffic area that is easily accessible to the kitten. Avoid placing the litter box near food or water bowls. If the kitten is hesitant to use the litter box in its current location, try moving it to a different spot.

Litter box size and accessibility problems

Ensure that the litter box is large enough for the kitten to comfortably use. If the kitten has difficulty climbing into the litter box, consider using a low-sided box or placing a step stool nearby to assist them. Starting with a trimmed cardboard box will enable you to modify your first litter box to suit your kitten.

As your kitten grows, your litter box may need to grow, too. The litter box should also be at least 1.5 times longer than your kitten, to ensure they have room to comfortably move in the box.

Litter box cleaning and maintenance tips

Clean the litter box regularly to prevent unpleasant odors and to encourage the kitten to use it. Use a scoop to remove solid waste at least daily. Leaving their waste in the litter box for a short time may help them recognise the litter box. At the same time, cats can be very sensitive to the smell of their litter box. 

Initially, you should change the litter completely, and clean the litter box every two to three days. Over time, you may be able to increase this to once a week, depending on the litter type and your kitten’s sensitivity.

If you have more than one cat, you will likely need to increase the cleaning frequency.

Avoid using harsh chemicals or cleaning agents that may be harmful to or off-putting for the kitten.

How to Train a Kitten to a Litter Box
Clean the litter box regularly to prevent unpleasant odors and to encourage the kitten to use it.

Tips for Success

Consistency is Key 

Do your best to remain consistent when litter box training your kitten. Establishing a routine for feeding and using the litter box will help your kitten learn quickly and avoid confusion. 

Make sure to keep the litter box in the same location, using the same type of litter and the same litter box design throughout the training process. If you need to change the location of your litter box, try moving it just a little each day until it reaches your desired location.

Patience and Positive Reinforcement 

Remaining patient and providing consistent, positive reinforcement is crucial for litter box training. Rewarding good behavior with praise, treats, and playtime will help your kitten understand that the litter box is the appropriate place to go. 

Punishing your kitten for accidents, such as rubbing their nose in the mess, hitting them or yelling at them is not effective and may cause anxiety, fear and confusion.

Seeking Veterinary Advice

If your kitten is not making progress in their litter box training, or if they display unusual behavior, such as avoiding the litter box or using it excessively, it may be time to seek veterinary advice. These behaviors could be a sign of a medical issue, such as a urinary tract infection, a digestive problem or anxiety, that requires medical attention.

Pleasant bengal kitten sitting in a cat litter tray - how to train a kitten to a litter box
Reward your kitten’s good behavior with praise, treats, and playtime.


Litter box training a kitten may be daunting at first. With patience, consistency, and the right techniques, you will be successful. Remember to gather all the necessary supplies, choose the right type of litter box and litter for your kitten, and follow the litter box training steps consistently. Reinforce good litter box behavior and address accidents in a positive and patient manner.

If you encounter any difficulties or your kitten doesn’t seem to be responding to the training, don’t hesitate to seek advice from your veterinarian.

With these tips and strategies, you and your kitten can successfully navigate litter box training and enjoy a clean home together.

Frequently Asked Questions

What factors should I consider when choosing a cat litter for odor control?

Consider the following factors: 1) Litter specifically designed for odor control; 2) Type of litter (e.g., clumping clay, crystal); 3) Your cat’s preference for litter texture; 4) Scented or unscented litter; 5) Size and age of your cat.

What are some top cat litters for odor control?

1) Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat Ultra Cat Litter; 2) Tidy Cats Free & Clear Ultra Lightweight Unscented Litter; 3) Arm & Hammer Clump & Seal Cloud Control Litter; 4) Fresh Step Outstretch Concentrated Clumping Litter with Febreze Freshness; 5) ökocat Unscented Clumping Wood Cat Litter.

What strategies can I use to control cat litter odor?

1) Cleaning and maintaining the litter box regularly; 2) Proper litter box placement in a quiet, low-traffic area; 3) Using odor eliminators and air purifiers with HEPA filters.

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