The need to train a cat to eliminate in the right area arises in many situations, including when adopting a new cat, bringing an outdoor cat inside and getting a new kitten. Training a cat to eliminate in a litterbox sounds easy, and for many cat owners litterbox training is hassle free. But for those who face the challenge of their cats going in places such as carpeting and bedding, teaching them to use the proper area can seem like a monumental feat. Here are some quick tips for training your feline, from kitten to mature adult, to eliminate in the litterbox.
1. The first thing to do if your cat isn't using the litterbox is visit your veterinarian. There are numerous reasons cats may resist going in the litterbox, many of which are medically related. Your veterinarian can be a valuable resource in helping ensure that your cat eliminates in the right areas.
2. Keep the litterbox in an area separate from your cat's food and water, since cats are naturally clean and unlikely to use the bathroom where they eat and drink. Ensure litterboxes are in easily accessible locations, such as rooms the cat frequents. The more out of the way litterboxes are, such as in the basement, laundry room or garage, the less likely they will be used. Keep boxes on the ground for easy access, rather than up high and hidden.
3. Try different litterboxes. In general, most cats prefer uncovered boxes. The optimal size for a litterbox is at least as long as the cat from the tip of the nose to the end of the tail. Most cats prefer unscented, clumping litter as opposed to highly scented versions.
4. If your cat has an accident, use a pet-safe cleaner with enzyme-eating properties on the area to destroy the scent, which can prompt your cat to eliminate in the same place in the future. If your feline leaves only small amounts of urine, lower in volume than his normal elimination, or if he marks on vertical surfaces, the behavior may be linked to spraying. Spraying is different from inappropriate elimination outside the litterbox, and specific techniques, including reducing stress for the feline, need to be used to end the behavior.
5. Feline pheromones spritzed around your cat's living area can help calm your cat when you are adopting a new cat or during the transition from outdoors to indoors, further encouraging proper litterbox use. Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that simulates the cheek pheromones in a cat that provide the feline with a sense of well-being and safety. The less stress a cat feels, the less likely he is to express stress through inappropriate elimination.