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The Litter Box

By Tammy Gagne

One of the best things about owning cats is their high aptitude for housetraining. Long before most puppies master the concept of where they should eliminate, kittens are reliably heading to their litter boxes, making life easier and more pleasant for everyone in the household. It is widely believed that mother cats teach their kittens to use a litter box, but this is not the case. If you have recently purchased a kitten—or adopted a cat of any age, a certain amount of training will be necessary. 

Begin by purchasing the few supplies that you will need. These items include the litter box itself, a bag of cat litter, and a scoop. Litter boxes come in a variety of styles—from covered spaces to corner-shaped boxes that help maximize space and privacy. Likewise, litter is available in numerous forms. By far the most popular and convenient is the type that clumps around waste. A sifting litter scoop also makes life easier, as it allows owners to lift away the mess without having to change the litter daily.


1. The first step to litter-box training is proper placement of the box itself. Most cats prefer a quiet, private space. It is also wise to choose a spot that is far from your pet’s food and water, as feline species members usually prefer not to eliminate in the same area where they eat. Some cats will refuse to use a litter box if it is too close to their dishes.
2. Next, cover the bottom of the box with about 2 inches of litter. After eliminating, cats like to cover their mess, so you must give your pet enough litter to complete this task. Once the box is ready, set your cat inside so that he can get used to the smell and feel of the litter. Don’t worry if he doesn’t eliminate right away, though.
3. Continue to place your cat in the box several times a day. The most important times of the day will be directly after your pet has eaten. Kittens will need to go almost immediately after meals. If you catch your cat in the act of eliminating elsewhere, interrupt him and take him to his box at once. Whenever he goes in the box, praise him.
4. In some cases it is necessary to move the box to a different location or change the type of litter you are using. If your cat still won’t go in the box, don’t despair. You may simply need to use the containment method of


Whenever you notice that your cat has used his litter box, use your scooper to lift away the mess. When you are finished, you may need to add a bit more litter to ensure that your pet has enough material to dig a hole and then cover it. A thorough weekly cleaning of the box will help keep it looking and smelling fresh. Simply empty the litter into the trash before cleaning the box with a pet-safe cleaner and refilling it with clean litter.

Four Paws®, Magic Coat®, and Wee-Wee® products are available at major pet stores everywhere in the U.S. Please check with your local retailer or our Where to Buy page for product availability near you.