Do cats have to be trained to use a litter box or is it natural for them

It’s not hard to train a cat. All you need to do is put them in the litter box. Once they know where it is they will automatically start using it. Kittens, you may have to show them a couple of times. Because after all they are babies. Good luck.

“Do kitten have to be trained to use a litter box, or is it natural for them?”


It;s possible that their mothers teach them how to use a litter box. I’ve never had a cat have kittens.

however, over my lifetime I’ve had perhaps 30–36 kitten and I’ve never had to train one to use a litter box. They all seemed to know what it was for and how to use it on their own.

Do cats have to be trained to use a litter box, or is it natural for them?

It’s natural, but you need to show them where the box is, and have enough boxes if you have more than one cat. You should have one more box than the number of cats and a box for every level of your home.

Some have to be trained, some gravitate toward it no problem!

So, it depends on the cat and the age. Kittens have to be shown the box and figure out what that stuff in it is, while adult cats just naturally go about their business, in the same way the feral tortie we adopted did.

We’re currently fostering a tuxedo queen who already knew to use the litter box; we expect her (still not delivered) kittens will have to be introduced to it.

You shouldn’t need to train the cat, but you do need to supply three things. First, the cat needs to accept the litter – clay, paper, even corn husks. Second, the box needs to be in a quiet place not near machinery or in a basement or where there are unpredictable noises. Finally it can’t smell so it needs to be cleaned at least daily and shouldn’t be scented or perfumed – cats’ noses are much more sensitive than ours. Do that and the cat should do the rest naturally.

It must be natural for them. All I’ve had to do with a cat is put it into the litter box and use one of it’s paws to make scratching motions in the litter and that’s it. I have a feral and a wild cat who both came to me as mature adults and they used the box without fuss.

Usually, they learn to use the litter box from their mothers, so human training isn’t necessary. They have an instinct for this so teaching them can be as simple as placing the kitten in the litterbox that has been used.

It’s fairly natural to them. When they’re kittens, you still have to show them the box and use their paw to scratch in the litter, but they pick it up very quickly. I believe in nature the cats dig in the soil and cover their waste similar way, unless they’re marking their territory.

I have never had a cat or kitten that I have had to “train” to use the litter box. All I do is put the kitten in the litter box, take a front paw and scratch the litter , gently turn the kitten around, place it’s butt where it scratched, hold it there for a minute or so, turn the kitten around and with it paw, cover up where it scratched. Just made sure that the box side was low enough for the kitten to get in and out. Cats and kittens have a natural instinct to bury their waste. I do have one 5 year old cat that has never used the litter box but once in his life. The first time was last week. He had been to the vet to have dental work. He was very groggy and I wouldn’t let him go out to potty. He waited as long as he could and staggered to the litter box and did his business but he definitely didn’t like it. The next morning he was at the door demanding to go potty. 10 minutes later he was back at the door to come in. I have been surprised by all the questions on how to train cats to use the litter box.

It is usually the mother cat that trains her kittens to use the litter box. Is
she still around or not? If she is let her have her kittens near her and she
will train them. If not, well if you see the little one squat like it is going to do
its business just pick it up gently and put it into the litter box. It will take it
from there I am sure.

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I have had cats and cats over the last 50 years and never had to train a cat to use the litter box. Just showed them where it was and they used it. I have one cat now who literally sucks at covering his poop. I walk down the hall and I can smell it. I cover it. I do have to clean it twice a day, else I have one cat who has major issues with a dirty litter box. He objects and finds a place to poop but not pee. Thank you, PC.

The cat’s desire to cover and hide its waste is at least close to instinctual, but cat moms model the correct litter-box (or sand-burial, etc., if the cats are outdoors) etiquette. I’m sure I’ve written this before, but the mom to my first two kittens confused them rather badly: they had all been using the box scrupulously, but one day when I didn’t respond immediately to the mom’s demand for canned food, she left an amazingly large, steaming pile of dung on the living room carpet. Right in the middle. As if it were deliberate, which I believe it was. She was a young stray, possibly abused or teased by human beings before she was abandoned to the streets, and she had a notable attitude problem.

The smaller kitten, my brown tabby, left spots of urine and feces in various inconvenient places outside the litter box for the next day or two. She didn’t do much damage, as she was little even for a kitten, but it took a couple of days of my watching her, and immediately picking her up and setting her down in the litter box when it seemed she was thinking she needed to relieve herself, for her to get it straight. Once she did, she never, ever went outside the box, not even when she and her sister were old and gradually declining from the kidney failure that tends to plague older cats. Momma cat went to the mother of my neighbor, as she specifically asked for “an outdoor cat”. They were both kind, scrupulous “cat people”, so I’m sure the mom had a good life. My little girls were two months shy of 17 when they both passed within two weeks of each other. I still miss them and keep photos of them on my walls.

It’s natural. They use plain old dirt if they are living outside. Just show them where the box is and they will figure it out.

Well, I have my answer. It was written without reference to the other answers on this website. As I have my own website I published it on that:

Do cats have to be trained to use a litter box, or is it natural for them?

I’ve never had to train a cat to use the litter box. The mother cat does that in the first few months that they are with her. All I’ve ever done was to show the cat where the box is and they knew what to do. If a kitten doesn’t get that education from its mother, though, it may have to be trained. My sister had a kitten that was abandoned at just a couple weeks old. It had to be shown how to use the sand. She said she would put it in the sand after a meal, scratched the sand with its foot and praise it when it used it. It only took a couple of times before the kitten knew what to do.

Fill litter box with your preferred litter, set box in an easily accessible permanent location, set cat/kitten in litter box. Done. Really. In my 45 years of rescuing literally well over 100 cats/kittens, that is the extent of it, they are clean animals who like to bury their mess, give them a location where they can bury it and that is where they will want to go, I have brought in OLD lifetime stray, unneutered male cats who have never seen a litterbox in their lives and they will use the litterbox. Now mind you, you will have some cats, especially unneutered males, that will spray outside of the litterbox to mark their territory. That is a whole other situation, my best recommendation for that is go to your preferred pet store and pick up a repellant spray to spray the area they are spraying. First clean with a mixture of dish detergent and white vinegar, then spray the repellant on it.

All I ever had to do was show the kitten where the litter box was.

The loose sandy material in a litterbox is so close to what a cat’s instincts would drive it towards, that they don’t have to be taught. They just know.

The only cats that have issues with a litterbox are the ones who’ve never seen one until it’s too late, are sick with something like a UTI, or have to share it with too many other cats.

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It is an instinct to bury their excrement and urine.

They usually learn to use a litter box by watching the mother cat.

I had an injured feral cat that was brought inside after his surgery. He hid upstairs under a bed for 6 months but came downstairs and used the litter box. There was never a problem. (They have a great sense of smell and can find the box easily, once you plant their scent in it.)

I had a pure bred himilayan kitten once from birth, who was taught by Mama Cat, but she refused to use the litter box. Instead peeing in a closet, and pooping in the bathtub. No matter what I tried, it was a failure. Some young girl took the cat off my hands. She must have worked something out, because she kept the cat.

Generally, cats are pretty good about this. Once you get their scent into the box, they can figure it out.

Another cat, who was getting old and ill, started having accidents and not making it into the basement where the box was located. I first put one of those rubbermaid boot racks near the wood stove (where his accidents were taking place), and he started peeing in it regularly. There was no litter in it. After we fixed his diabetes with insulin daily, he had more control, and I put a box upstairs in the laundry room, which he used. What amazed me, was the other cat, knew it was for the old cat only, and the younger cat, never used the upstairs box, preferring to go down in the basement in his boxes.

Some kittens need to be taught to cover their urine or feces, but the cats I have had found using the litter pan instinctively. So be prepared in case your kittens need some help at first, but you may find they take to the litter pan without help.

Put the litter box in a very quiet area so kitty feels safe when using it. If you happen to have any kitty droppings handy, putting it into the fresh litter lets kitty know that is the place to go. Just let the cat sniff around to pick up the scent and kitty should be good to go! (So to speak!)

Basically instinct, cats like to bury there excrement so if you provide a place for them to do this they will choose this over any other spot. The exception is if it’s a very young kitten still figuring it out, a male cat who’s marking his territory or a cat suffering from a medical condition like a UTI who find it painful to urinate.

I have never needed to teach a cat to use a litter box, and I have had many cats in my home over the years. Even kittens don’t seem to have a problem. I do introduce them to the cat box as soon as they get in the door. I even place them in it, in case the trip home was too bumpy. I rarely have experienced accidents that didn’t come directly from cats trying to give messages about their health or happiness level. Caution; anything like litter in the home will also be used as litter. Some planting soil, fish gravel, etc. will be ripe with kitty gifts if you don’t keep an eye out.

I managed to litter-box train an 18 year old cat, Gris, who had always used a cat door to go outside in the past.

His owner could no longer keep him, and I agreed to take him. Since Gris is missing a leg and kind of hops his way around, and there are lots of coyote sightings in my neighborhood and since I have a necessary security door, and I rent, so the door isn’t even mine to modify, putting in a cat door didn’t seem like the best idea.

It took about a week to train him. At first I had to put it right in front of the door. So when he tried to go outside, there it was. He figured it out pretty fast! Though with only one front paw, he’s not good at burying it, so I have to clean it twice a day.

I did try to move it to another room after a few weeks. No go. Lots of accidents. So now the litter box lives right across from the front door, under a small table. It’s right around the corner from my room, where he sleeps. No more accidents.

He does go outside, but only when I’m home to let him back in and keep an ear out for coyotes and dive-bombing blue jays.

Bonus photos of Gris napping with my roommate’s idea of fine art, and drinking from my water glass.

He’s happy!

Until they are ready to go outside they normally will use a litter tray. Some need a bit of help. Do not keep your cat’s as indoor only tho that’s cruel.

Generally, a mom cat will teach kittens to bury their poop, which is a natural impulse for cats. Kittens born to an indoor cat will usually know how to use a box by the time you get them. Outdoor kittens and cats that get to come in and have a home frequently pick up quickly, or may have watched another cat use a box and will imitate the behavior.

If you get a kitten or cat that doesn’t seem to know what to do, take the cat to the box and put them in. Gently pick up the cats’ paw and make a scratching motion in the litter. Then leave the cat alone. The cat will “get the message” and that’s as much training as you’ll need to do.

If you train your cat with a litter box then your training them how to go to the bathroom inside. Outside they already know what to do like dig a hole and bury their poop in it so it becomes part of the soil. It is probably natural for cats to go to the litter box as it looks like soil and they wouldn’t go to the toilet unless they have soil. You might need to train them but it is easier to just keep it in their eyesight so they will go there when they need to and after all you don’t know when a cat needs to go potty. There might be a few symptoms but I do not know about any.

I have been associated with felines for many years. I have known many, if I may be redundant, weird cats. I haven’t ever had a kitten need to have litter classes. One trip to show where it was and they did the rest. Can’t you just picture me actually doing a demo tape? I don’t think so. How would they rate that one, PG-57?

It’s usually natural. If the kitten has been removed from its mother too early, it might need to be helped.

When we get a new cat, we always make sure a litter is set up before hand. We place the kitten (or adult) in the litter immediately after she arrives. This was it’ll always know the way back. We’ve had good luck with kittens who have lost their mother early using this method. If the kitty missed the potty, we’ll move the waste into the litter, as an example. Let the kitty see it, but don’t reprimand him, he doesn’t know better yet.

Their instincts guide them to bury their waste, so it’s usually not much of a hassle.

Best case scenario is you have a young kitten that you have just brought to your home. Before you even set that kitten down anywhere, put it in the cat box you have already set up and placed where you want it, a semi-private place. Then just watch. If the kitten doesn’t seem to know what to do, take the kitten’s paw and make the moves as if burying it’s poo. Then leave the kitten in the box so that when it needs to go, it will know where that box is. I usually keep a young kitten in a closed room for about a couple of weeks before giving the run of the house. And I only give a young animal run of the house while I am there to monitor it’s behavior.

If this is an older cat, it will be very difficult (but not impossible) to train to use a cat box. It involves putting a clean (and ALWAYS CLEAN) cat box wherever it has inappropriately eliminated. Once you observe that the cat has stopped eliminating inappropriately, start taking away one cat box at a time. If the cat starts inappropriately eliminating, then you removed the wrong cat box. These instructions assume that you have had your older cat vet-checked for any physical problems such as advanced kidney disease and problems with a declawed cat. If the cat has started inappropriately eliminating after being declawed, you will need to change the type of sand used to try to entice use of the cat box.