Establishing a safe and accessible toileting environment for your kitten from day one is key to helping them settle into their new home.

Kittens have natural toileting behaviours – scratching, depositing, and covering – which they begin practising with their mother and siblings. In their new home, your kitten will need you to set up appropriate and appealing litter trays in which these natural behaviours can take place.

Here are five steps to set your kitten up for toilet training success:

1. Choose the right litter tray

Ask your kitten’s breeder or adoption centre what kind of litter tray they have been using and choose a similar style for your home.

The tray should be big enough for your kitten to stand and turn around in, so it will need to grow as they do. Purchasing a larger tray when your kitten is young will ensure it doesn’t become too small for them as they grow. The entrance side of the tray should have a lower edge to allow easy entry and exit for a small kitten.

2. Choose the best litter

Choosing the best cat litter for kittens is just as important as the tray itself when toilet training a kitten.

Cat litter is available in a variety of materials and each has its pros and cons. Options vary from clay litter which forms clumps when wet for easy removal to natural litters which are eco-friendly and produce less dust. Your kitten will usually have been introduced to a type of litter by their breeder or adoption centre, so try and find out what they have already been using.

If your kitten has unique characteristics like long hair or allergies, ask a friendly Petbarn team member about our range of specialty litters.

3. Find the right spot

Kittens like privacy for toileting as much as the next pet, so position your kitten’s litter tray in a quiet spot away from household traffic.

You should also consider the movements of other pets in the home and make sure they cannot access your kitten’s litter tray. Your kitten should feel safe using their tray so make sure they have an escape route and avoid noisy or potentially scary spots like beside the washing machine or in a walkway.

Litter trays should be kept separate from food and water bowls, and your kitten’s resting areas.

4. Manage their space

When you bring your new kitten home, it’s best to allocate them a smaller space while they get used to their new environment. This encourages successful toilet training as it keeps your kitten close to their litter tray, limiting accidents. A spare room or playpen makes a good introductory safe space.

5. Reinforce desirable behaviour

Kittens, like puppies, repeat behaviour that is rewarded. To encourage your kitten to use their litter tray, you can offer a reward when you see them using the tray. Wait until your kitten is finished toileting, then offer a small treat, some gentle verbal praise, or perhaps a toy to play with. It can also help to gently place your kitten in their litter tray when they first wake up, after eating or drinking, and after playtime.

If your kitten has a toileting accident outside of their litter tray, never punish them. Punishment leads to stress and fear and can cause your kitten to seek safer places to toilet away from you.

More tips to keep in mind

Cats prefer a clean environment

Create a routine of checking your kitten’s litter tray whenever you feed them, or at least a few times a day, and dispose of wet litter and faeces as soon as possible.

Give each tray a thorough clean once a week (or more often if needed, of course) by emptying out all the litter and washing the tray with a cat-friendly enzymatic cleaner. Avoid using generic household cleaners that may be irritating to your kitten’s eyes, nose, or paws, or have fragrances that cause litter tray avoidance.

Cleaning up accidents

If your trainee kitten has an accident outside of their tray, clean up as quickly and thoroughly as you can. Your kitten’s urine contains scent cues that may not be removed by standard cleaning products. Make sure to use an enzymatic cleaner to remove these scent cues, preventing further toileting in the same undesirable location.

Patience is key

Patience and consistency are essential to helping your kitten settle into their new home and a healthy toileting routine. By managing your kitten’s space on arrival home, choosing the right litter tray and litter substrate, and focusing on rewards for successful litter tray use, you will have your kitten on the right path in no time.

Not sure where to start?

Toilet training your kitten should be an easy task as long as you are prepared. If you have any questions or feel unsure about what toileting equipment is best for your kitten, reach out to your local Petbarn or Greencross Vets teams for advice.