HOW TO LITTER TRAIN A VERY YOUNG KITTEN
In an ideal situation, you should not bring home a kitten under 12 weeks of age. They need to have had time to socialize with their littermates as well as to be properly weaned from their mothers. A mother cat generally starts to litter train her offspring as soon as they have stopped nursing. If you are adopting a cat that has been properly weaned, chances are they already know how to use a litter box.
However, if you have adopted or rescued a kitten under 12 weeks of age, they may need a little more guidance. Here are some tips on how to litter box train a younger kitten.
A newborn kitten up to three weeks of age will need to be manually stimulated immediately after feedings. Rub their genital area very gently with a warm wash cloth until they have eliminated. As a newborn kitten is unable to naturally relieve themselves, a mother takes over the job until they are old enough to do so on their own, normally around four weeks old.
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You can begin litter box training once the kitten has begun to eat on their own and is able to walk. It is important to purchase a litter box with a low lip so it is easily accessible for their tiny legs.
You might want to gently place the kitten in the litter box immediately after they eat their food few times to get them acclimated to the box. Make a scratching motion with your fingers on the litter to show it to them. You can also place them in the litter box after they have just awakened.
Do not hover over the kitten as some cats prefer privacy. Give them a few minutes to do their business. If they have used the litter box, praise them and give them a treat. As with training a dog, do not harshly scold them if they have an accident outside the litter box.
If you catch your cat “in the act” of eliminating outside the box, gently place them in the litter box. Again, do not yell at them. This will only frighten them, and they may learn to associate the litter box with your disapproval or anger.
Place the litter box in an area that is easily accessible to your kitten. Do not place it in a high trafficked or noisy area.
If you are leaving your kitten in a confined area while you are not home, make sure that he/she has access to their litter box at all times. You can leave them in a gated area or separate room but, be sure to provide them with food, water, toys and a litter box.
As kittens more trouble control their bladders than adult cats, you should have more than one litter box until they are properly trained. You don’t want your kitten to have to run up or down three flights of stairs to use their litter box in a hurry and have an accident on the way. Place several litter boxes around your home until they are fully litter box trained (As a general rule, you should have one litter box per cat, plus one additional litter box accessible at all times.)