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How to litter train your kitten

Published on 16 Jul 2021

Devon Rex kitten sitting on litter box

As you get ready to welcome the newest fur baby in your family, having a roadmap on how to litter train your kitten will surely come in handy! 

The good news is that most kittens learn very quickly how to use litter trays as they are instinctively attracted to soil-like substrates to scratch and dig in to go to the toilet. 

All kittens are individuals so here are some top tips to help make the process of litter training go as smoothly as possible.Making sure you have the appropriate supplies to help set your baby up for success is an important first step in your litter training journey. 

Here are some “must-haves” to get you started:

What you need

Making sure you have the appropriate supplies to help set your baby up for success is an important first step in your litter training journey. 

Here are some “must-haves” to get you started:  

Litter trays 

Yes, you read right, TRAYS plural. Giving your kitten options in various low-traffic areas throughout your house means that your kitten can choose what feels right to him or her.

If your kitten is quite small, keep in mind that the tall walls of trays designed for adult cats may be too high. So choose kitten appropriate trays that are easy for them to enter and exit. You can upgrade to adult trays once your baby is bigger and more confident using litter trays

Kitty Litter

Offer your kitten a couple of different litter options if you aren’t sure which one he or she is used to or prefers. Cats sometimes develop a preference for a certain size or type of kitty litter, so having the wrong one could result in unwanted accidents.

Avoid kitty litters that have fragrance in them as although it might smell nice to us, it will most likely put your kitten off using the litter. 

Litter scoops

Be armed and ready to scoop out any mess as soon as your kitten is finished in the litter tray. 

Enzymatic cleaner

Hey, accidents do happen, be prepared with an enzymatic cleaner designed specifically to attack cat urine. Cats, like many animals will instinctively return to where they have urinated before, so cleaning the area very well with a designated cleaner will help avoid future mishaps. 

Good quality kitten food

You get out what you put in. Runny, smelly or voluminous stools can be caused by feeding in appropriate diets or sudden diet changes. Make sure you feed your kitten a premium kitten food. Of course, changes to your kitten’s stools can also indicate disease so if you have any concerns, reach out to your vet.

How to litter train your kitten

Now that you’ve got the kitten toilet essentials, let’s talk about some top tips to ensuring a smooth transition to using them properly.  

Show your kitten the litter trays

Once they are in their preferred locations, be sure to show your kitten each litter tray by gently popping him/her in tray. Until you are confident your kitten is litter trained, observe them closely for signs that they might be looking for somewhere to go to the toilet. Common times to need to go to the toilet include after waking up from a nap, or after a meal. Take your kitten to the litter tray and give them the opportunity to have a scratch around.

Once they start going to the toilet in the tray, you are on the home stretch! 

Privacy is key

Just like you like to close the door in the public restroom, your kitten will feel much happier going to the bathroom in an area of the house away from prying eyes, noisy kids, other pets, and foot traffic. 

Don’t eat where you poop 

Gross right? Kittens are clean and clever little individuals, and as it turns out they would rather not poop right near their dinner bowl – just like us! Keeping food and water bowls near litter trays can result in avoidance of using the litter trays, eating or both. 

We don’t punish Kitty

So, your kitten didn’t get it right. These things do happen. Remember that small kittens aren’t able to fully control their bladders, so accidents can and do happen. Punishing a kitten could create anxiety around toileting and make matters worse. Not only that but punishing your kitten can make them lose trust in you. So, the simple rule is - never punish your cat.

If your kitten was using the litter tray successfully, but now isn’t, do some trouble shooting. Are the trays clean? Are the locations right? Is the kitty litter right? Has there been any changes around the home? 

Bear in mind also that changes in toileting behaviour can be a sign of disease such as urinary tract disease, so if everything else seems normal, there may be an underlying problem that will need to be addressed by your vet. 

Clean up any accidents

As noted previously, kittens often return to the same spot once it has been soiled. Ensuring that the area has been thoroughly cleaned with an enzymatic cleaner will help prevent repeat offenses. It may be that your kitten is trying to tell you they’d like a litter tray in that location, so if possible to move a tray to the preferred spot and see if that helps. 

More cleaning! 

We need to level with you here, there are a lot of products on the market for “cats” that are actually for humans. A lot of kitty litter products boast things like odour absorption and low need to change them.

The reality is that although it might smell and look okay to us, kittens and cats have very sensitive noses and are very particular about the cleanliness of their litter trays. Pick up the poop as soon as possible after it is done and consider the reality that used litter trays need to be completely emptied and washed out every day or two.

Wash them with a mild detergent and spray them with enzymatic cleaner, but do not use bleach or other ammonia based or heavily scented cleaning products as it may put your kitten off using the litter tray. Cats love clean litter trays, and the bonus is that your house will remain fresh and smelling clean too.

Remember to always wash your hands thoroughly after handling kitty litter, trays, and faeces to avoid zoonotic diseases like Toxoplasmosis, giardiasis or even Salmonella. 

Are you ready?

Your new kitten will hopefully be with you for many, many years to come. With these tips and tricks on how to litter train your kitten, we hope you’ll start off on the right foot, or paw!

As a new kitten parent, we get that thing can be overwhelming at times. But with a little patience, persistence, and willingness to try different options to find what your kitten likes best, you should have your little one using the litter trays like a boss, leaving you with plenty of time for kitten play and cuddles!

Looking for more great tips about kittens? Check out the Kitten Vaccination Schedule here.

Kylie Mitchell

Kylie Mitchell


Kylie Mitchell is a veterinarian with over 17 years experience in animal health and welfare, including in the veterinary and pet insurance industries

She has three rescue cats (Noah, Bei Bei and Meeka), four very old cockatiels and a pond-full of fish.

Kylie Mitchell's Pets

  • MeekaMeeka
  • Bei BeiBei Bei
  • NoahNoah

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