Minding his own business…
Cats are easy to maintain, particularly in matters of house training. They like to bury their waste, are fastidiously clean, and are creatures of strong habit. These factors make house training very easy to achieve.
Natural way to deal with nature’s call
By the time kittens are seven or eight weeks old, they will have learnt to tidy up after themselves. Many experts believe that they learn this by watching their mothers or siblings. That’s why you will almost never find a cat excreting near his sleeping or food area.
Others believe that this behaviour is more instinctive and stems from a desire to conceal their scent from predators or dominant cats. In a home, the cat perceives the human to be dominant, and covers up his litter to avoid offending our sensibilities.
Either way, if your kitten is around two months old, he has probably already got into the habit of covering up, or if younger, will just need to be shown how by you, his new mother!
Showing the way
If you prefer your cat to use a garden or the outdoors, make sure he has constant access to it. A cat door or flap is invaluable, and once fixed, the cat will take to it in no time at all.
If your pet is a house cat, I would strongly recommend the use of kitty litter in a litter box, as this desiccates and deodourises the urine and faeces.
A few things to keep in mind while training a cat:
- Keep the litter box in a secluded area. Cats are usually shy about their business.
- Keep the litter box in one place. They don’t appreciate constant moves.
- Place a newspaper soaked in the urine in the litter box, to draw the kitten towards it. They love its sandy texture and this satisfies their natural urge to dig and bury.
- You could use commercially available litter boxes, or make one with a clean milk crate or plastic tub. Just make sure the cat has enough room, and doesn’t accidentally paw the litter over the sides of the tub.
- Restrict access to other tempting, but undesirable places to eliminate, and discourage kitty when he attempts to use another place. (Punishing cats once the deed is done is rarely effective).
Litter box care
- One of the most common reasons for failure of litter box training is not keeping the litter box clean enough. Scoop out clumps of dried litter at least once a day (twice if two cats must use the same box). Top up the litter so that it is sufficient for the cat’s needs.
- Once a week you could empty out the tray altogether and replace it with fresh litter after washing the box with a mild detergent and drying thoroughly. Cats love a fresh, clean litter box.
- Make sure the box is ventilated so that the litter has a chance to dry completely.
- Try not to change the brand of litter, and if you must, gradually introduce the new brand along with the old. Cat litter is available in most pet stores and in some departmental stores as well.
You will find that once your pet has learnt where his toilet is, and if it meets his needs of hygiene, privacy and constancy, he will almost never want to eliminate elsewhere.