Potty Training Your Cat

This page gives advice on potty training your cat. This may be needed if Kitty has got out of the habit of using his litter box.

However, before you start the cat litter box training process, it's vital that you've corrected whatever it was that made Kitty fall out with his box in the first place.

If you've reached this page from the main Litter Box Problems page on this website, you've hopefully already read through the reasons why Kitty may be rejecting his litter box and corrected the problem.

If you've landed on this page first, I'd recommend you click here to read the main Litter Box Problems page before you read this one.

picture of kitten with mouth open

In addition, before you start potty training your cat, it's equally vital that you've completely removed all the cat urine from the carpet, furniture etc.

Click on these links for advice on how to clean cat urine and cat urine cleaning products. OK then, time to enroll Kitty in...

Cat Toilet Training School!

To get Kitty back on peeing terms with his litter box, I'd suggest you take the following steps:

1) Put Kitty in a small room with his litter box

To start potty training your cat, put Kitty in a small room with his litter box, food, water, bed and favorite toys. Put his food far enough away from the litter box so that he can't smell the box while he's eating.

Once he's used his litter box, let him out but closely supervise him. If it's too difficult to supervise him all over the house, confine him to the room you're in. If you see him sniffing suspiciously around his old pee haunts, pick him up and put him in his box. Keep him in the small room until he's used the box again.

The idea of this isn't to imprison him in solitary confinement for long periods of time. It's not a punishment. When he is in the small room, make sure you visit him frequently and give him lots of love and attention. What it should do is re-familiarize him with his litter box and encourage him to use it.

Once he is using his box again, let him out properly, but watch closely for any attempts to pee elsewhere. If he does re-offend again, put him back in the small room with his box and go through the process again.

2) Praise and reward him for good behavior

This is a really important part of potty training your cat. When Kitty does use his litter box, praise him. Really go overboard, with a few minutes of extreme love and fuss. If he has a favorite treat, give it to him. This will positively re-enforce that using his litter box is a good thing.

3) Divide his food into several small portions

You're no doubt wondering what on earth this has got to do with cat toilet training. Cats, by nature, are very clean animals, and they hate eating too close to where they pee and poop. Most pee offenders pick two or three favorite spots in the house as alternative "toilets" to their litter box, and they keep re-visiting these spots.

Let's say, for example, that Kitty has been using the bath tub, an armchair and the carpet behind the TV as his "toilets." Divide his dinner into four portions. Keep one quarter of it in its usual place, in his usual bowl.

Put the other three portions onto plates and place one in the bath tub, one on the armchair and one on the carpet behind the TV. You've removed the smell of cat urine from these areas, so he won't be put off eating. But he will be seriously put off peeing or pooping in these spots, because the food is there. Leave the plates in place even after he's finished eating so the food smell remains there.

Do this for a few weeks, then gradually, one area at a time, remove the plates and put his food portions back in the original bowl.

4) Make his old pee haunts unpleasant

This is an alternative to dividing Kitty's food into portions as described above.

An effective way to make an area unpleasant is to put something down that Kitty doesn't like walking on. Aluminum foil often works well. It's a good idea to stick it down with masking tape so that Kitty can't just push it out of the way. There are also commercially available products that work on the same principle.

Potty training your cat does require patience and perseverance, but once it's done, you and Kitty should have a much happier life together. The key is to make any changes gradually, and be prepared to go back a step if necessary.

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