Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.
How to Train a Stray Cat to Use a Litter Box
The great thing about kittens is that they are very easy to train, regardless of whether they are feral or domesticated. This is especially true with small kittens that have just been weaned.
These little fellows are like sponges: they quickly absorb what they are taught. Therefore, litter box training a stray kitten can be a walk in the park if you arm yourself with the right tools, and use a little ''feline psychology."
Things You Will Need
- Unscented cat litter (small grain is preferable)
- A small shoe box
- A litter scooper
How to Litter Train a Stray Cat
The main difference between litter box training a stray cat and litter training a domesticated one is that with a stray cat, you will use dirt. Stray kittens are accustomed to using dirt as their potty, so for this reason, the smell of dirt will attract your kitty to the litter box. Don't worry, this is only a temporary method.
- Pour the dirt into a small shoebox. If the kitten is very small (5 to 6-weeks-old) and has trouble climbing into the shoe box, you may use the shoe box lid to start.
- Once the box or the box lid is filled with dirt, place it in a very small room. A bathroom will work great, especially if it has tiles, which makes it very easy to clean up messes.
- The kitten must be kept in this small room for the first few days. The reason behind this is because kittens are very small creatures that can easily get lost in a normal-sized home. Unable to find their way back to the bathroom, most kittens will urinate or defecate wherever they find themselves.
- The bathroom should contain the cat's litter box in one corner, and in another corner, there should be a water bowl and food bowl. The reason we place litter boxes in corners is that kittens tend to look for corners when they urinate and defecate. Kittens also don't tend to defecate where their food and water is. This method, therefore, prevents your cat from urinating in two corners of the room. The other corners should be blocked by something like furniture or anything that will hide a visible corner.
- Kittens tend to defecate within half an hour of eating, so you should watch them carefully after their meals. Look for signs of needing to go, such as meowing, scratching the floor, or looking around. If this happens, place the kitten in the litter box immediately. If the kittens goes, praise and pet the kitten.
- If your kitten has an accident, do not scold her. This will only scare her. Instead, if possible, pick up the poop and place it in the litter box. This way your kitty will understand where it should go.
- Continue to monitor your kitten after every meal and repeat the sequence of picking up the kitten and placing him/her in the litter box.
- After a few days, your kitten should start to understand the process. Make sure to keep the litter box immaculately clean.
- Begin gradually adding some unscented litter to the dirt. After one week, litter should completely replace the dirt. At this point, your kitty should have a grip on litter box training.
By following these steps and practicing a little patience, your kitten will be going like a pro in no time. These smart little fellows quickly learn their way to the litter box and the way to your heart!
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.
Questions & Answers
Question: I have two feral kittens. They are brother and sister, and both about four-months-old. Will the brother try to impregnate his sister when the time comes?
Answer: Yes, you will have to get them spayed and neutered before the female goes into heat. Usually, this happens around six months. Depending on where you live though, this may happen sooner than later. My kitten went into heat as early as five months and was told that was because we live in Arizona and the increased light triggered an earlier heat cycle. I had to keep her separated as her brother was trying to mount her. She was spayed once out of heat.
Question: At what age does a female cat start to menstruate?
Answer: Female cats do not menstruate in the real sense of the word. They instead go into "estrus." Estrus cycle in cats generally starts around 5 to 6 months of age.
© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli