How to train a cat to use the litter tray
When a cat has got to go, it just has got to go…but where? Thank goodness, litter trays and cats go hand in hand.
Where a cat does its business needs to be thought
about carefully. One of the great advantages of having a cat over a dog is that this doesn’t involve going walkies in all-weather conditions. Worse still if you’re not feeling too well, or you’ve had one of those rough days where nothing goes well. The last thing on your mind is to take the dog ‘walkies’.
Thank goodness for cats!
Initially, in the case of a kitten, this will do its business almost anywhere, but instinctively, it will search for a litter.
By the age of three or four weeks, it is more than likely that it’s already used to a litter tray.
Most animals attempt to hide their wastes, and using a litter tray does that for a cat. Many people are of the idea that cats do this because they are ‘clean’ animals. This is, in itself, true since they are constantly cleaning and grooming themselves. However, the real reason why they want to hide their waste is to cover their tracks from predators. Obviously, there are no predators in a home, but these actions are hard-wired in a cat.
A cat will look for somewhere to ‘bury’ its business.
Soil, sawdust, or even sand will do. In general, cats seem to prefer the kind that has the consistency of garden soil or beach sand. They also prefer fine-textured litter, and unscented rather than scented.
Initially, try to use different types to see which your cat prefers the most.
Filling the litter up to about two inches is sufficient. In reality, it would be better to use less and change it more often.
Commercial cat litters are available from all pet shop suppliers, as well as supermarkets.
Cats and litter trays
In the case of kittens during the initial stages of training, it’s a good practice to put the kitty inside the tray, as often as you can, for it to get used to it quickly. The best times for doing this are after it has eaten, after it’s played, or as soon as it wakes up. You can clean up the mess using an enzyme cleaner. In the case of a kitten that’s raised along with its mother, it will soon follow suit on the mother’s example.
Once the cat has used the litter tray without prompting, it pays to reward it either with a little treat, or with a pat. On the other hand, if the cat doesn’t respond to the training, no rewards will be given.
It is not wise to punish your cat during training as it backfires on you, and it also destroys any bond that has formed between you and the cat.
Cats are private creatures
They enjoy doing their business in a quiet and secluded spot. Somewhere where they feel safe. The best place for the litter tray is somewhere reachable. It should also be distant from their food dish, human traffic, and any type of noise, which includes washing machines and other similar household items. Should the cat feel disturbed in any way, you might need to relocate the litter tray.
If you have more than just one cat, it will be a good idea to have a separate litter so one cat won’t feel like it’s intruding on the other’s privacy. A cat might refuse to use a litter box if it has been used by others. In a relatively short time, your cat will start using the litter as second nature.
The best cat litter tray
There are various types of litter trays to choose from. Some are not trays at all, but covered boxes. These need to be cleaned out more often as they concentrate the odors). Some fit in corners, others are self-cleaning (but these can be a bit noisy). There are also the regular rectangular litter trays. For kittens or old cats, the sides should be lower.
The litter tray needs to be cleaned out every two or three days. If you wish, you can scoop up the undesired components at least once a day, and change the litter completely not less than once a week. Just use water to wash out the tray and avoid strong-smelling disinfectants. A cat’s sense of smell is far better than ours, and even if we think the disinfectant is not that strong, your cat might have different views.
A cat will find great difficulty using a dirty litter. Also, there is a higher probability that the cat might end up with an unwanted infection if the litter is not changed frequently.
The litter tray is a very important factor for a cat. If your cat decides to stop using it, a trip to the vet is recommended as the cat could have an infected urinary tract, or even intestinal parasites.
Most cats instinctively use a litter box. Keeping in mind some ‘litter tray basics’, and good practice, will surely help prevent any problems from arising.