Litter tray training
If there’s one time when your kitten wants to be left on her own, it’s when she goes to the toilet. In fact, she won’t even want to be watched.
That’s why it’s important to have her litter tray in a quiet, safe, place where she can get to it easily. She’ll need to be trained to use it, so as soon as you can see that she needs to go just lift her into the tray. Keep on doing this until she can find it for herself by smell and location, then leave her to it. To make sure she’s comfortable, use an absorbent cat litter, such as Catsan®, that absorbs any odour.
Keep it clean
Kittens are naturally clean and they like a clean litter tray. In fact, if her tray isn't spotless, your kitten may choose to go somewhere else. To avoid accidents, make sure you clean the tray at least once a day. And, for obvious hygiene reasons, keep bowls of food or water well away.
If you have any children, make sure they keep away from the tray.
Accidents will happen …
A dirty litter tray is not the only possible reason for your kitten changing her toilet behaviour. The cause can sometimes be psychological. She may be in need of more attention, or perhaps her usual ‘territory’ has changed. As a result, a normally house-trained kitten can suddenly change.
The onset of sexual maturity is another possible problem and this can be avoided by neutering at an early age. With so many factors potentially involved, it's best to check with your vet for ideas about getting your kitten back on track.
… but they needn’t happen twice
If your kitten does have an accident, for whatever reason, the smell left afterwards may well encourage her to repeat it in the same spot. That’s why you need to clean up the offending mess, preferably with soapy water. Avoid detergents with ammonia as the smell of these is too close to the kitten’s own waste. Once everything is completely cleaned away she'll start behaving normally again.
Cats are very clean animals and learn how to use a litter tray quickly, normally by copying their mother. If your kitten doesn't know what the tray is for, she'll need some help from you:
Point her in the right direction.
Watch your kitten's behaviour closely. She may be a little nervous of the litter tray or need help remembering where it is. So, if she’s looking uncomfortable, take her there.
You can also help by placing her in her tray early in the morning, last thing at night and after every meal. Do this several times and she'll soon make the right association between going to the toilet and using the tray, as well as remembering exactly where to go.
Out of sight but not out of reach.
Where you put the litter box is very important. It must be in a private place, away from her bed, food bowl and water, but always accessible. If not, she'll find a more suitable spot. Make sure her tray is always kept clean because she'll refuse to use one that’s dirty or smelly.
Careful when you clean though. Disinfect her litter box with something too strong-smelling or move it away from the usual spot and you could disrupt her routine.
When your kitten does use her tray, make sure she receives plenty of attention and small treats. That way, the litter box will soon have good associations, and you’ll be amazed at how quickly she'll adjust to using it. All it takes is a little patience and lots of encouragement and accidents will be a thing of the past.