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Kitten Won’t Use the Litter Box? 7 Reasons Why & How to Fix Them

by Ben Doyle | Reading Time: 5 minutes

For most kittens, litter training is quick and easy. Yeah, they might have the odd accident, that’s natural. But on the whole, most kittens pick it up with no real issues.

Sometimes though, litter training can be a challenge.

If your kitten won’t use the litter box, it’s up to you to find out why and fix it as soon as possible. If not, your kitten might grow up refusing to use its litter box.

The good news is that fixing litter box aversion in kittens is pretty simple. Quite often, a simple change will solve the problem.

In this article, you’ll learn;

  • All the potential reasons why your kitten won’t use their litter box, and
  • What you can do to fix it

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Why Won’t My Kitten Use the Litter Box? The Problems and the Solutions

Here’s a list of all the reasons why your kitten refuses to use the litter box.

We’ve listed the problem and the solution to it.

1. The Litter Tray Isn’t in a Good Location

cat litter tray in bathroom

Where you put your kittens’ litter box will have a huge impact on whether they use it or not.

Cramped spaces, noisy areas or places that are too isolated can put your kitten off using their tray.

The Solution

Consider moving their litter tray into a part of the house where they spend most of their time.

Follow these rules for litter box location;

  • Put a litter box on each floor in your home – your kitten shouldn’t have to scale the stairs to go to the toilet. If you make them, chances are they will find somewhere else.
  • Put the litter box where your kitten spends most of their time – if they spend most of their time in the spare room, put a litter box in there.
  • Put a litter box where they toilet – if your kitten goes to the toilet behind the sofa, it’s because they feel safe there. So put the litter box there. It might not be ideal for you, but it’s best for them. You can move it bit by bit once they use it all the time.
  • Keep it away from their food and water – cats are hygienic animals. They don’t eat or drink where they toilet. So don’t make them.
  • Keep the litter box away from noisy areas – don’t put it on the landing where people come and go all day. Especially where kids run around. And don’t put it in next to a noisy washing machine.
  • Don’t put several litter boxes together – A dominant cat might guard the whole area. This will prevent your kitten from using them.

2. Your Kitten Doesn’t Like the Type of Litter You’re Using

kitten sniffing litter

If your kitten doesn’t like the type of litter in their litter box, they might not use it.

The best litter for kittens is fine-grained and/or soft on their feet and easy to dig and move around. Wood pellets are large and quite hard on kittens’ soft feet and some don’t like it. Lots of kittens also hate scented litter.

Changing the brand or type of litter can also put your kitten off using the litter tray.

The Solution

Paper, wood shavings, tofu and fine, non-clumping clay litters are good for kittens. Still, it might take a bit of experimenting to find one they like.

If you do change litter, do it gradually, adding a bit of the new litter to their old litter. So add 25% of the new litter to 75% of their old litter. Then, next time clean their litter tray, add 50% new litter to 50% old litter. Keep doing that until the change is complete.

3. The Litter Tray is Unclean

dirty cat litter tray

Kittens are hygienic little creatures and a dirty litter tray might put them off using it. Especially if your kitten shares a litter box with other kittens or cats.

The Solution

There is a couple of things you can do here;

  1. Get another litter tray – in an ideal world, each kitten should have their own litter tray, plus one extra. This will prevent one litter box from getting dirty so quickly.
  2. Scoop more often – the other option is to scoop the litter more often. You might also have to clean the litter box twice a week instead of once.

4. Your Kitten Doesn’t Like the Litter Box

This happens most often with covered litter boxes and litter boxes that are too small.

Many cat owners believe a covered box offers kitten privacy, as well as covering the mess we don’t want to see.

From a cat’s perspective, a covered litter box;

  • Can feel cramped
  • Contains strong odours
  • Prevents them from being able to see what’s coming
  • Traps a cat if they get ambushed by another cat or dog

If the litter box is too small, your kitten might feel like they can’t turn around or dig in it.

Both situations can result in your cat toileting somewhere else.

The Solution

If you have a covered litter tray, either remove the cover or buy a new litter tray without a cover.

Also, make sure the litter tray is t least 1.5 times your cats’ length so they can turn and dig freely.

5. Conflict With Other Pets

large cat stepping out of litter box

Other pets in your house might scare your kitten away from the litter tray. This is most often a problem with more senior or dominant cats who don’t want to share their toilet.

I could also be a dog who wants to play or any other pet that intimidates your kitten.

The Solution

Move your kittens’ litter tray away from areas of potential conflict. Put it in a place where they feel comfortable and at ease.

6. Stress

kitten sniffing around it's litter box

Kittens suffering stress around the litter tray might toilet outside their litter box.

There are lots of things that can cause your kitten stress. For example, being a new kitten in a new environment or conflicts with other cats or pets.

The Solution

Use a plugin pheromone diffuser like Feliway Optimum. It can put your kitten at ease and reduce stress around the litter box and make litter training easier.

If this doesn’t work, seek advice from your vet.

7. Medical Issues

If your kitten is having trouble using the litter tray, it could be a medical issue.

One of the telltale signs is your kitten trying to use the litter box but struggling to pass urine or faeces. They might also meow or cry while in the litter box.

These could be symptoms of;

  • Bladder inflammation
  • Crystals in their urine
  • A blockage of the urethra
  • Constipation
  • Diabetes

The Solution

If you suspect your kitten has a medical issue, take them to the vet as soon as possible.

Your vet will do blood and urinalysis to work out if there is a problem and how to treat it.

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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