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How to Stop Your Cat Using the Litter Tray & ‘Go’ Outside Instead

by Ben Doyle | Reading Time: 5 minutes

Let’s face it, cleaning your cat’s litter box isn’t a job we look forward to. Getting your feline friend to toilet outside could remove the need to have a litter box in the house.

This could save time, money and stink.

And like traditional litter training, teaching your cat to toilet outside is easy.

In this article, we’ll cover;

  • How to train a cat to ‘go’ outside
  • How to stop your cat using the litter tray indoors
  • Why it’s a good idea to always have a litter tray in the house

Find the Best Cat Litter For You and Your Cat

We’ve used hundreds of cat litters since 2013 and product tested 72 this year. These are 9 of the best.

How to Train a Cat to Go Outside

Teaching a cat to toilet outside is pretty easy and most cats are quick to pick it up. After all, it’s in their nature.

That said, it’s best to do this when the weather is warm and dry and your cat is happy to be outside. Don’t try to do this in the winter when it’s cold and wet. Your chances of success will be much lower. 

1. Install a Cat Flap

If you want your kitty to go out when they need the loo, you need to make it easy for them to get outside.

The only way to do this is to install a cat flap so they can come and go when they need to.

If installing a cat flap isn’t an option, you’ll need to let your cat out;

  • As soon as you wake up
  • After every time they eat
  • Before you go to bed, and also
  • Give them plenty of opportunities to go out during the day

As you can see, this isn’t workable in practice. Especially if you go out to work every day. If you can’t install a cat clap, you might need to stick with having a litter tray indoors.

2. Pick an Area in Your Garden for Your Cat’s Toilet

Chances are, your cat will pick a spot to do its business. Some cats refuse to toilet in their own garden and go somewhere else.

Still, there are things you can do to make a certain area more inviting. Especially if you don’t want your cat toileting all over your garden.

When choosing an area, think about;

  1. Where you put their litter box indoors, and
  2. Their indoor toileting preferences

So;

  • If they prefer an open space where they can see everything, find a place in your garden where they have it
  • If your cat prefers an enclosed space or a covered litter box, create an area under a bush, hedge, or tree
  • If they like a quiet area, choose a quiet area

Your cat also needs to be able to dig the area so they can cover up their eliminations. You might have to dig the area over to loosen and soil or add some material that your cat is comfortable to toilet in. This might be fresh litter, sand, or small woodchip.

3. Put Some of Your Cat’s Used Litter in Their New Toilet

Litter-trained cats can be very fussy about where they toilet. 

By taking some used litter and putting it in your chosen area, they will recognise the smell as their toilet. This will make the transition from indoor to outdoor much easier.

4. Put Some Soil in Their Litter Tray

Taking some soil from your cat’s outside toilet and putting in their indoor litter box can also help.

Your cat will start to recognise the smell of both areas as their toilet. 

Start with a handful of soil. Then when you scoop the litter every day, add a little more soil each time.

5. Take Your Cat to Their New Outside Toilet

Once you have prepared the outside area and spread some used litter in it, take your cat to it.

Let them explore the area and have a good sniff. If your cat is confident and you’re lucky, they might recognise the area as a toilet and use it straight away. 

Some cats might take a while to understand that it’s OK for them to use the area. Especially if they’re anxious or sensitive.

6. Take Your Cat Back to Their Outside Toilet After Eating

Food in a cat’s stomach will stimulate their bowel and they often toilet a few minutes after eating.

Now is the perfect time to take your cat back to their new toilet. 

When you take your cat outside, close the door to stop them from going back inside. This will increase the chance of your cat making the decision to use their new toilet.

Here are a couple of things to bear in mind;

  • Keep an eye on your cat but don’t hover over them. Give them space to go on their own.  
  • Don’t keep moving your cat back to their toilet if they walk away. They should choose to use the area for themselves. If you try to make them, use it, chances are, they will reject it.

If your cat hasn’t gone to the toilet within 20 minutes, they might be holding on to use their indoor litter box. In which case, let them back inside so they can go.

Take your cat outside after every meal for a week. Most cats will get the idea and you’ll find they use their indoor litter tray less and less. 

How to Stop Your Cat Using the Litter Tray Indoors

If, after a week or two your cat isn’t getting it, moving their litter box will help the process along.

NOTE: While you’re doing this, you should still take your cat to their outside toilet after every meal time.

1. Move the Litter Box a Few Feet Every Day 

Make sure you keep it within eyesight of where it was the day before. If you move it too far, your cat might wonder where it’s gone. 

Move it towards their cat flap.

2. Keep the Litter Box Next to the Cat Flap For a Few Days

By keeping the litter box next to the cat flap, your cat will learn to walk toward it when they need the toilet.

This will make the transition to going outside easier.

3. Put the Litter Tray on the Other Side of the Cat Flap

When you do this, take your cat to it so they know it’s there.

Again, keep it there for a few days so your cat knows where to go.

4. Move the Tray Towards Their Outside Toilet

Now it’s time to move the litter box towards the outside toilet. Do it little by little, in the same way you moved it towards the cat flap.

Once their litter box is next to their outside toilet, keep it there for a few days before removing it.

Why It’s Important to Always Have a Litter Tray in the House

Once your cat gets used to going outside to the toilet, it’s tempting to remove their litter tray.

That said, here are 3 reasons why it’s a good idea to keep their litter tray in the house, even though they don’t use it often;

  1. Bad weather – if the weather gets bad, it’s not fair to force your cat outside to toilet. Many cats don’t like extreme cold, rain, wind or heat. Forcing them to toilet outside in these conditions could cause stress. This can cause stress-related illnesses.
  2. Threats from other cats – it’s common for cats to fight over territory and one cat will often attack another when they’re at their most vulnerable. Like when they’re toileting. Most cats won’t go to the toilet when they sense the presence of another cat. 
  3. Injury or illness – If your cat gets ill or injured and needs house rest, they will need a litter tray. If you remove it as soon as they start to toilet outside, you could find yourself having to re-teach them.

In Conclusion

Teaching your cat to stop using their litter tray and toilet outside is pretty easy. 

Most cats pick it up with little trouble. Nervous or sensitive souls might take a bit might more time to get it.

And even if your furry always go outside to do their business, it’s important to their litter tray in the house. In fact, we’d say it’s a must.

Photo of author

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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