By far, the most common concern among owners of kittens and older cats alike is the litter box. But whether you’re a first-timer or are trying to reinforce proper bathroom behavior, there are a few things you can do to make the process easier—on your kitty and on yourself.
Cats are naturally clean animals and instinctively cover their messes. During the initial kitten socialization period when they tend to learn best, from 8 to 12 weeks or so, confine your new kitten to a small space with food, water, toys and his litter box. He’ll get the hang of it after a few tries.
When bringing home an older cat from a shelter, give him his own separate area (something larger than a bathroom) and again stock it with food, water and his litter box. Remember, it takes a few weeks for an animal to adjust to their new home. A safe space your new cat can call his own limits his ability to get into trouble.
So what about a cat you’ve had for a while? If he’s having accidents or avoiding the litter box altogether, ask yourself what has changed in his environment. New brand of litter? Box moved to another room? Has someone moved in or out? Stressful situations like these may be causing the issue. Place multiple boxes around the house, try a different litter, or if all else fails and medical conditions such as a urinary tract infection are ruled out, go back to basics with a litter box in the same small space where your cat was first trained. Give him time, patience, positive reinforcement and plenty of chances to correct the issue.
We need to recognize why the animal is performing those undesirable behaviors.