5 Simple Tricks To Get Your Cat Using Their Litter Box

Training your cat or kitten to use their litter box correctly is one of the simplest things you can do. Though that's not to say most people manage it without difficulties.

Disgruntled cat

Training your cat or kitten to use their litter box correctly is one of the simplest things you can do. Though that’s not to say most people manage it without difficulties.

Cats are notoriously fussy and creating a positive association quickly is the key to getting the best relationship between your cat and their litter box.

Why Won’t My Cat Use Their Litter Box?

There are plenty of reasons a cat may choose to turn their nose up at a litter box. The most common reasons your cat or kitten may be urinating or defecating outside of their litter box are:

  • Litter box facilities aren’t up to scratch
  • They’re intentionally marking territory
  • A medical problem

More often than not, it’s that the litter box facilities aren’t up to scratch.

Cat’s use urine as a method of communication. They could be signalling to you that something is wrong with the facilities you’ve laid out for them, or that they are distressed.

What Should You Do If Your Cat Won’t Use The Litter Box?

Let’s lead with the most important point, while it can be extraordinarily frustrating, you should not punish your cat for urinating or defecating in an appropriate place. It will not solve your problem and will only teach the cat to avoid you and to go about their business when you aren’t around.

Improper use of a litter box can in some cases be put down to stress or health concerns, so you don’t want to go making that worse by punishing and confusing them.

If you’re convinced you’ve set everything out in a proper manner and you’re still having no luck, then you should schedule an appointment with your veterinarian to rule out any urinary tract issues.

5 Best Ways To Get Cats To Use Their Litter Box

1. Ensure The Litter Box Is Clean

It seems like common sense but you’d surprised how many people overlook this. Remember that cats have a significantly better sense of smell than you do. If something smells the slightest bit off to you then imagine what it must be like for them, this is especially true of dirty litter smells.

If your cat is approaching the box without issue but turning away, the cleanliness of the litter box is likely the cause of the problem. You might want to look at using clumping litter if you aren’t already, as this will help keep the litter box as clean as possible after cleaning.

Be sure to scoop out any soiled litter as soon as you can, and remember that the litter box itself will need washing about once a week. Use warm soapy water only (no bleach) as strong smells will also deter your cat.

2. Place The Litter Box Somewhere Appropriate

Would you enjoy having your toilet right next to your dinner table? Nope, neither do cats.

Place the litter box in an easily accessible area that the cat frequently visits during their daily routine. We place ours next to our cat’s scratching post, since this is a marked territory that they frequently visit and feel comfortable around.

If using the litter box is an inconvenience to the cat, you’ve got no chance of them going out of their way to use it.

Make sure the area is well ventilated so any ammonia smells can’t linger and deter the cat. It may take some trial and error with a few different locations before you find a spot that works well.

3. Use The Right Type Of Litter

There are a few types of litter out there, each with different properties. It’s worth researching to make sure the litter you have is suitable for your cat’s needs.

This is especially important when bringing a formerly outdoor cat indoors, as the change in environment can be really unsettling. It’s even recommended that you fill a litter box with dirt and sand, then gradually move them towards conventional litter.

Avoid excessively dusty litter as this can be a nuisance to cats (they have to clean their paws every time). Scented litters may irritate some cats also, so it’s worth trying both if you aren’t having much like with one.

4. One Litter Box Per Cat

Many cats do not like to share litter boxes with another cat. This is especially true of adult cats who may not be accustomed to using a litter box.

Cats are territorial by nature and the more dominant cat may be putting the other off using the litter box. In which case, each cat will need their own litter box in a separate location.

It’s no use using two if they’re right next to each other, as the dominant cat’s scent will mark both.

5. Show Them It’s Their Territory

If a cat is urinating elsewhere, it could be that they feel their territory is being disputed and they’re asserting their mark over it.

You can place toys your cats love near (but not in) the litter box to show them that it’s a safe place that belongs to them. If they still seem reluctant, trial some new locations around the house until they find a place they’re comfortable with.