Learning how to use the litter box is an important part of early feline development. Kittens naturally understand the litter box and will be drawn to use it as long as you provide them the proper encouragement. Here's what you need to know about helping get kittens on the right path
Kittens learn and explore with their mouths. This means that you'll need to choose a litter that is safe for kittens so that they don't consume something toxic or dangerous. While clumping litter might be the standard for teen and adult cats, it's a risk to kittens if ingested, and should not be provided until the kitten is at least 2-3 months old and well accustomed to the litter box.
Kittens prefer an open-top, shallow litter box that is easy for them to access and locate. Eliminate obstacles such as tall or covered boxes and provide something that is easy for them to walk in and out of until they're big enough for an adult litter box (which can be high sides or covered).
Equally important is the placement. Kittens tend to be drawn to corners or other areas away from their main home base, so start by placing the litter box in a corner that is clean from clutter. A puppy pad placed under the box will make clean-up easier, as they can be messy learners.
When litter training kittens, you want to make it extremely easy for them to find a litter box at all times. This means you'll want to keep them near a box throughout the duration of their transition, and avoid providing any messy areas such as piles of laundry where the kitten might develop bad habits. For older kittens acclimating to a larger space, it's best to offer multiple options so that the kitten is always near a litter box.
Kittens do well with positive reinforcement--not punishment. Provide praise when kittens use the box correctly!
If the kitten uses an area outside of the box, immediately clean and disinfect the area to avoid scent soaking or scent associations. If the kitten is using bedding or laundry, keep these items off the floor. If a kitten is frequently using the same location, place a litter box in the location. In some cases, switching to a new litter or using a product like Kitten Attract can help kittens who are truly struggling to understand the box.
No one wants to use a dirty toilet, and cats are no different! Clean the box throughout the day (once a day at a bare minimum) to encourage them to continue forming good habits. A clean box is more pleasant for you and for them, and will keep them coming back every time they need to use the bathroom
If your cat is showing signs of inappropriate elimination such as spraying, marking or not using the litter box consistently, this may be an attempt on their part to communicate with you that there is something physically wrong or something they do not like about the litter box.
The solution could be as simple as moving the box to a new, quieter environment or changing the type of litter to one that appeals more to your cat. In some cases the litter box may need to be cleaned more often or in multi-cat families it may be necessary to add an additional box.
It is also important to check the cat for health problems such as a urinary tract infection that may be causing them to avoid the litter box and you should reach out to your veterinarian.