In order to avoid litter box problems in adult cats, it is extremely important that you get your kitten off to a good start. Fortunately, most kittens are attracted to an area where they can scratch, dig, and perhaps bury their urine and stool, so that dirt, clay, or any other substrate that allows for digging will usually be effective.
Of course, if there are other appealing areas, such as plants with soil or a fireplace hearth, your kitten may be tempted to choose those areas instead. By choosing a suitable litter, placing it in an appropriate location for the kitten, keeping it clean and dry, and encouraging its use, most kittens can easily be housetrained. If you have more than one cat, add at least one litter box for each new cat to ensure that there are enough clean litter boxes available at any one time, and to reduce the possibility of confrontation or conflicts at the litter box.
To get your kitten off to a good start, it is a good idea to keep the pet within eyesight at all times or to confine it to a room with its litter when you cannot supervise. If your kitten stops playing and begins purposely sniffing around, there is a good chance that it needs to eliminate. Gently pick the kitten up, carry it to the litter box, and place it inside. Praise any sniffing or scratching and give it loads of praise or a small food treat for eliminating. Do this for at least the first two weeks until it has established a regular pattern of using the box.
1. Litter (substrate)
2. Litter box
You will need to seek veterinary advice to help design a program to correct the problem. The first step is to determine whether your kitten is house soiling with urine, stools or both, as well as the surfaces and locations that are being used. Medical problems that might cause these signs must then be considered, since painful elimination, more frequent elimination, or loss of control may drive the kitten away from its box. If the pet has no medical problems that are causing the house soiling, a behaviour program needs to be implemented.
Sometimes it can be successful if you remove the odour thoroughly from flooring and carpets with an odour neutraliser and change the function of the area to one where the kitten plays, eats, or uses a scratching post. Another option is to block access to the area that the kitten is soiling or to make the area unpleasant. If there is more than one cat, additional litter boxes, or preventing the sharing of boxes (e.g. by cat doors or confinement) can be successful.
Often, the best indication of what can be done is determined by finding out where and when the kitten is eliminating. Try to determine what might be deterring the kitten from using its litter (see above) and what the kitten might prefer about the new area. It might be possible to move the litter or change the litter or box to better suit the kitten.
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