How To House Train a Cat: Everything You Need To Know

As cat owners already know, felines are some of the best pets around. They're cuddly, cute, intelligent, and very independent. They're almost always looking for something new to try or explore. Interestingly, despite their independent demeanor, cats can be house trained relatively quickly.

They react well to going to the bathroom in a cat litter box, even as they might otherwise ignore their owners. If you're wondering how to house train a cat, here's everything you need to know!

How to House Train a Cat: Is It Instinct or Learning?

Since most indoor cats tend to know how to use a litter box, some believe that cats are born with this instinct. In other words, some people may think that they seek out a place where they can use the bathroom in peace.

This statement is partially correct. Cats are not born with the instinct to use the litter box. A cat in its natural habitat won't have a litter box to use. However, cats prefer to find a quiet, consistent place to use the bathroom, which makes them prone to this type of training. 

Cats can receive this training from one of two places. They can either watch their mother use the litter box (in the case of indoor cats with access to a litter box) or learn about the litter box from their owner. 

Keep in mind, though, that no cat has the instinct to go to the blue litter box on the basement floor of your home when they're born. They'll have to develop that instinct through their mom or you. If you're adopting young cats, they may be prone to the general concept of using the litter after seeing mom, but they may not know where your litter box is. In that case, you'll still have to teach them where the correct bathroom location is.

Ultimately, house training is part of caring for your cat and is something you may need to do for your pet, and that training can range from nudging your pet to use your specific litter box to teaching them to use the litter for the bathroom consistently.

How To House Train a Cat: What Are the Steps?

House training a cat is not particularly challenging, although it will require some patience. Read on for the steps for the best way to house train a cat.

First, get the right type of litter box and cat litter. Pick a litter box that is at least 1.5x the length of your cat. Ideally, it should be at least double the size. A roomier box is always better. For the litter, usually, cats prefer soft small-grained litter. Start with that. If your cat doesn't like that litter, you may need to try a different one.

The next step of litter training kittens or adult cats is to take your cat to the litter box after naps and meals. Consider putting your cat in the room and shutting the door for a little bit. The idea is to show your furry feline friend that they should use the litter after they eat.

Between meals, look for times when your cat wants to use the bathroom. You may see your feline friend scratching, crouching, or sniffing. These actions are your cue that your pet is looking for their litter box. If you see any of these actions, pick your pet up and put them in the litter box to show them that's where they go when they get these feelings.

Whenever your cat does the right thing (i.e., they use the litter box as a toilet), praise him or her. Give them a treat if you can. You want your cat to know how much you appreciate them using the litter box!

Do I Need to Be Litter Training Kittens?

Not necessarily. As mentioned above, you needn't necessarily be litter training kittens. If you have kittens born to a litter-trained mom, then there's a good chance that your kittens will pick up on their bathroom behaviors from their mother, which means you may not need to train them.

However, if you're bringing kittens or adult cats into your home for the first time, then you will have to train them. An adult cat with previous litter training may merely need reminding of where the new litter box is. A kitten with no prior experience may need fully-fledged training.

How To House Train a Cat: Patience Required

The best way to house train a cat is to have quite a bit of patience. Don't yell at your pet for misusing the bathroom. Don't "rub their noses" in it either. None of those methods work. Instead, keep calm, relaxed, composed, and work with your pet to help them understand the right places to defecate. Reward good behavior and never punish the bad.

Within a reasonably short amount of time, you will have a house-trained cat!

How to litter train a cat?

Litter training is relatively straightforward. After meals, take your pet to the box to give them an idea of where to go. Between meals, look for signs that your cat wants to go potty. Once you spot those signs, take them to the litter box to show them the right place to eliminate waste. Your goal is to show your cat the link between feelings of needing to go and going in the litter box. With enough repetition, your cat will learn!

Can you train a cat?

Yes, for the most part, you can! Litter training cats is always doable. Cats naturally want a quiet space to relieve themselves, and the litter box provides that. Other types of training (like tricks) are much harder in cats than in other animals, like dogs. They're not impossible, though, just significantly more challenging!

Can a grown cat be house trained?

Absolutely! There's no age limit where a cat can no longer receive house training. Cats from 0 years old to 20 years old can learn this skill. With that in mind, if you've adopted a cat, there's a good chance they've already received house training and will find it easy to use the litter box in your home since they're used to doing so.

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Written by Leo Roux

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