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How (and When) to Litter Train a Kitten, Step-by-Step

by Ben Doyle | Reading Time: 6 minutes

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If you’re the proud owner of a new kitten, one of the first things you’ll want to do is teach them how to use their litter tray.

The good news is that litter training kittens is quick and easy. Dirt and sand are natural toilets for kittens so if you introduce them to a litter box, they will be happy to use it.

So, in this article, we’ll cover;

  • When to start litter training kittens
  • What you’ll need to litter train a kitten
  • What to do before you start litter training
  • How to litter train your kitten, step-by-step
  • What to do if your kitten won’t use their litter box

Key Takeaways

Most of the time, kittens will instinctively use a litter tray, so litter training is pretty easy.

Before you start, make sure you have all the right equipment; the right size and type of litter box, scoops etc.

  • Put the litter box in a quiet, but accessible place.
  • Introduce your kitten to the litter box and let them explore and dig.
  • Put your kitten in their litter tray every morning, every evening before bed and every time they wake up from a sleep.
  • Encourage good litter box behaviour by giving your kitten a fuss or a treat whenever they use it.
  • Chances are, your kitten will have accidents. Don’t get mad and punish them as this could put them off from using the litterbox altogether.
  • If your kitten doesn’t use their litter tray, try scooping more often, remove the lid if it has one, or try changing the location. If issues continue, have a chat with your vet or behaviourist.

When to Start Litter Training Kittens

Start litter training your kitten when they’re 4 weeks old. Before that, their mother will stimulate them to go to the toilet and clean them up afterward. 

If you adopt a kitten older than 4 weeks, or even an adult cat, start litter box training as soon as you bring them home.

What You’ll Need For Litter Training Your Kitten

Before you start litter training, you’ll need;

  1. A litter box – To start with use a shallow litter box like this Trixie Nuno litter box for kittens. Your kitten will be able to step right into it instead of having to hop or climb into it. This will make them more likely to use it. That said, kittens grow fast, so you might have to choose another litter box as they can grow.
  2. Kitten litter – Get a litter that’s suitable for kittens. Kittens might sometimes eat their litter so use a non-clumping version. You’ll also want to use a non-scented litter as perfumed litter can be bad if ingested. The best kitten litter wood paper-based.
  3. A litter scoop – to scoop when they have done their business.
  4. Toys or treats – to reward them for doing well.

What to Do Before You Start Litter Training

Before you start litter training your kitten, there are a couple of things to consider;

  1. How many litter trays you’ll need, and 
  2. Where to put them

Provide More Than One Litter Tray

In an ideal world, every cat should have its own litter box, plus one extra. 

Cats are funny creatures when it comes to their litter boxes. Some don’t like to use the same toilet all the time, some prefer to wee in one box and poo in the other.

Providing your kitten with more than one litter box will make accidents less likely.

Read More: How Many Cat Litter Boxes Do I Need?

Where to Put The Litter Boxes

Where you put your kitten’s litter box is important. Get this right now and it can stay there for the rest of your cat’s life.

Here are some golden rules;

  • Put a litter box on each floor of your home – don’t make your kitten or cat scale the stairs to go to the toilet.
  • Put it in a quiet location – many cats avoid noisy areas so don’t put it in an area where there’s lots of it. Keep it away from high traffic areas of the house.
  • Make it accessible – make sure that doors are always open. 
  • Keep litter boxes away from other pets – if you have a dog that eats cat poo out of the litter tray, keep them separate. Cats are at their most vulnerable when toileting. Being confronted by a dog while toileting could put them off using that litter box.
  • Keep the litter tray away from their food and water – cats are super hygienic, they don’t eat and toilet in the same area.

Consider where you’re going to put your kitten’s litter box before you even get them home. 

It’s important you get this right. If you keep moving your kitten’s litter tray because you don’t like where it is, you’ll unsettle them and they’ll have accidents.

How to Toilet Train a Kitten, Step-by-Step

kitten in litter box

Once you have got all of your supplies and you know where to put the litter boxes, it’s time to start training. Here’s how to help your kitten.

Introduce Your Kitten to Their Litter Box

As soon as you bring your kitten home, put them in the litter box so they get used to the smell and feel of the litter. 

You might notice they dig and pay at the litter, this is a good sign. If they don’t, run your fingers through it in a pawing motion.

They might not use the litter box the first time you put them in it. This is OK.

Put Them in Their Litter Box After They Eat and Wake Up

Kittens often need the toilet after they have eaten or woken up from sleeping. 

Place them in their litter tray after every meal and sleep.

It’s in their instinct to relieve themselves in sand, soil, or litter. They don’t need much encouragement once they’re in their litter box.

Encourage Good Litter Box Habits With Positive Reinforcement 

Every time your kitten has a successful trip to their litter box, reward them with some fuss or a treat. This will create a positive association with going to the toilet.

For this to work well, you must reward them as soon as they hop out of the litter box. After a while, they will associate the activity of toileting in their tray with the reward. 


Accidents happen and you should expect them.

If your kitten has an accident, DO NOT punish them or shout at them. You’ll make them nervous and turn an accident into a problem. 

What to Do if Your Kitten Won’t Use Their Litter Box

Litter training kittens is a straightforward process. The vast majority of kitten owners don’t experience any problems at all. 

That said, some kittens might struggle.

If your kitten won’t use the litter box, or keeps toileting outside of the litter box, consider the setup;

  • Scoop more often – some kittens can be fussy so scoop the litter as often as possible.
  • Location – It might be worth trying to change the location of the litter box. Watch your kitten and see where their favourite places are in the house. Try putting the litter box there.
  • Litter – Your kitten might not like the litter so try switching it to a different type.
  • Litter box – some cats like more privacy than others so consider changing their litter box to one with high sides.

If you’ve done all this and your kitten still isn’t getting it, take them to your vet. They will check to make sure nothing is wrong from a medical perspective. They can also help you troubleshoot any problems.

How Long Does it Take a Litter Train a Kitten?

In most cases, it should only take a week or two to litter train a kitten. Most kittens will instinctively seek out a place where they can dig, do their business, and cover it up. So it shouldn’t take long.

That said, while some kittens get the hang of it straight away, some might take a little longer to pick it up. If your kitten doesn’t get it right away, don’t panic. Keep encouraging them to use their tray and reward them when they get it right. Don’t punish them, persevere and treat them with love and kindness. If need be, consult your vet or behaviourist.

Are You Litter Training Your Cat? How Are You Getting On?

If you’re in the process of litter training your cat or kitten, or if you have litter-trained cats in the past, we’d love to hear from you.

Did you find our article helpful?

Are you having issues?

Or maybe you have some of your own tips to share.

We’d love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.

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Ben Doyle

Ben Doyle co-owns Pet Checkers with his wife, Vicki. He spends his days looking after all kinds of animals, from dogs to eagles. When he's not taking care of animals, he's writing about them.

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