Litter Training Feral Cat
I rescued a 9-month-old feral kitten
and have attempted to train her to use a litter box. She is living on an enclosed porch, where we have laid down plastic sheeting to protect the floor. The plastic is covered with newspaper and I have 4 litter boxes
with different types of litter, on top of the paper. We have
tried traditional clay litter, unscented clay, white sand, the
finely ground-up newspaper litter, the wood pellets variety, and
sawdust. Gray chooses to urinate and defecate next to the boxes
instead of in them.
Next, I tried just putting the sand or litter directly on the
paper, and still she will not go in it, only near it. I have
tried putting her in the boxes after she eats, and mimicking the
scratching with her front paws and I have tried to rub her belly
while in the box to stimulate her interest in peeing! Nothing has
worked. She is so sweet and we let her in the house when we can
keep an eye on her. She cries mournfully when we put her back
outside. it is starting to get cold at night and I want to bring
her inside...but she has to behave. Any ideas? Terry in NC
We have an older cat, Blackie, who uses her own litter box. Gray
watches her, but has no interest in copying her behavior. They
get along ok, but fight occasionally.
Dear Terry in NC - How very frustrating. You have done all the right things. Try
using one litter box only, with filled with a clump of leaves
and/or soil. Your goal in litter training a feral cat is to
make the place where it does its business mirror that which it
used in its upbringing
. In the case of a feral, soil and
leaves are good places to start. Be sure to clean the solids out
of the litter box daily and change the box as often as is
reasonably possible. Once you experience success start making a
transition towards more traditional litters.
Consider bringing Gray inside
keeping her in a confined area (a room or pen) such that she is
protected from the cold but does threaten your home. Keep her in
there and use the methods described above. Also, check out
Helping New Cats
for tips on keeping
the peace with new cats. Keep me posted. Simba
The following materials are good for litter training
older feral cats:
- Clay litter (good for kittens)
- Fine-grained sand-type litter (mirrors the outdoors)
- Loose soil (good in making the transition)
- Leaves (used cover up waste in the wild)
Once your cat/kitten gets used to using a box for its business,
make the switch by gradually changing the proportion of the old
stuff to the traditional litters (try a few weeks). Clean all
solids out of the litter box daily. Change the litter and wash
out the box often to keep it clean and dry since cats love clean,
dry spots (i.e., the back of the closet!).
We lost our 17-year-old cat in August.
We just rescued two 8-week-old kittens. They lived outside before
coming to us, they will now be house cats. What is the best way
to litter train them given that they have not previously used a
We have them in a big box and take them out and put
them in the litter. So far, they seem to know what it is for.
Cats have a natural instinct to cover their bathroom deeds and it
looks like you are doing ok in directing that instinct to the
litter box. The important thing is to not allow the little guys
to relieve themselves anywhere else in the house. Migrate from
the box to a small room and see how they do, take small steps
this way until you are comfortable that they will use the litter
box at all times. Keep me posted. Simba
Kitten using Plants and Bathtub as Litter Box
My new kitten (10-weeks-old) is constantly digging in my
house plants! She sometimes uses them for her litter box...how can
I keep her out of them? Forest
Ah, the eternal struggle between cats and plants! Ok, let’s
fix this. First, make sure that your plants are not poisonous
). Cats love
chewing on the plants and playing with the leaves!
discourage chewing by spraying cayenne pepper on the leaves. This
is a safe and effective repellent. Third, take care of the
digging and litter issues by covering the plant dirt with
aluminum foil and/or gravel. Also, consider replacing the top few
layers of the plant soil, since you kitty has probably put in his
scent marks. Best of luck. Simba
HELP! Our new kitten will not stop peeing in the
bathtub. He goes poop and sometimes pees in his litter box, but
he usually uses the bathtub to pee. We have tried placing foil
and he went on that.
We then tried filling it with water, but
then he just goes outside of his litter box - right in front of
it! We have tried different litters, a bigger box, with lid and
without lid, we clean it twice a day and change the litter once a
We do not know what else to do. We read your other advice, but
nothing seemed to address this specificly. He never goes anywhere
else in the house, just in the tub or in front of the litter box.
Any advice? Steve
You have got to give it to him for persistence. As you know from
reading the letters, your kitten has built a close association
with peeing and the tub
. The best way to handle this is to
restrict his access to the area. This will require you to move
the litter box to a new location and to keep the door to the tub
area closed. Be sure that you let the kitten know where the new
location is (so that he does not get lost and have an accident!).
You also want to thoroughly clean the tub with bleach and some
odor killing cleaners so that the little one is not reminded of
the good times he had there. Simba
My 7-month-old kitten has started urinating about our condo. I
have his litter box outside in the balcony for 2 months. Is this
normal? What is the best way to get rid of the smell?. Suresh
(former cat lover?)
Former cat lover? Look at those baby eyes and adorable
and tell me that he is not the sweetest thing
Cats are creatures of habit. While your kitten’s urinating
may at first have been an act of confusion, he now associates the
condo with his latrine duty. As I told ‘Frustrated Feline Lover’
the smell reinforces the behavior so cleaning the area is very
important. Your local pet store probably has a very good
assortment of pet-safe carpet cleaning supplies, you can also try Nature's Miracle Just for Cats Urine Destroyer.
Following the cleaning steps for Frustrated Feline Lover and you should be in good shape.
Bad weather may be a cause of the kitten’s hesitation to go
to the balcony for litter duty. The little guy may be more
amenable to using the box indoors. If you moved the litter box to
the balcony because of the smell, try a stronger smell absorbent
litter or one for multiple cats, Arm & Hammer Double Duty Clumping Litter
seems to do a good job. Consider using a self-cleaning litter box
or a stronger air filter. These problems can be corrected with a little love and patience.
Thanks for the informative reply. You are right, I cannot resist
his adorable eyes. - Suresh
My pleasure. Simba
Inconsistent Use of Litter Box by Kittens
We adopted a new kitten because our other cat was lonely. The two did not get along at first but they now seem to enjoy each other.Ever since we adopted this new kitten the two enjoy relieving themselves in places other than their litter boxes. We have tried
keeping them in the room with the litter box when we are not
home…but they run over to their favorite place and relieve
themselves as soon as we get home and let them out. We have tried
feeding them in their spot and have changed their litter to a
soft clumping kind.
Also, they both have ringworm
(they are in
treatment) and chronic diarrhea.
Every day they each have a total of one can of soft cat food in addition to their dry food. We
also give them milk. How do we stop this? -Frustrated Feline
Dear Frustrated Feline Lover,
Sounds like you have two little rascals! Good to know that they
are in treatment. First know the cause. It is likely that your
cats use the spot because of their markings and the smell
associated with their deeds
. What to do?
- Clean the target area very carefully with a strong carpet
friendly antibacterial solution
- Scrub well to remove all stains.
- Let dry and restrict access to the spot using home
- When you have cleaned and the area has dried, place dry food
without right on the area without a plate or foil.
Cleaning will eliminate the smell, restricting access and putting
food down will help break their habit. About the diarrhea, visit
for tips to help
your cats out. Cats are usually lactose intolerant so milk may
cause loose stool. I believe that dry food alone, is best for
cats and their dental care. Lastly, the ringworm, this is a
fungal disease, so follow your vet’s instructions on
decontaminating your home. Ringworm can be a tough thing to fix.
Note to readers:
Be sure to read through Helping New Cats
before you bring in a new
kitten. The tips there address problems when introducing a second
cat to your home or when you move your cat somewhere new.
I got a kitten a few weeks ago - she was 6-weeks-old at adoption,
and very well-mannered. Recently though, she has been sneezing up
a storm and has had diarrhea. Also, she likes peeing in my
backpack and pooping in my bathtub. She is causing a lot of
problems. I took her to the vet, they did fecal and urine tests,
and charged me $100 to give her a clean bill of health….she
is not healthy. Her eyes are continually filled with goop that
ranges from just milky white to brownish red. What could be
wrong? The diarrhea is bad, and it is been about 2 weeks she is
had it. Melissa & Kitty Chloe
Dear Melissa & Kitty Chloe,
You two are not alone in your situation. Many folks go through
the same thing, especially in the first few weeks after adoption.
What is different is the clean bill of health.
Sneezing and other upper respiratory discharge can be caused by
what is commonly referred to as the cat flu. The cat flu
can result from either a viral or
bacterial infection and should be treated to prevent long term
damage. Best thing to do is to get a second opinion.
The following will help you in treating Chloe's diarrhea
- Feed Chloe a few very finely cut pieces of oven-baked or
boiled, plain, dry & skinless chicken.
- Place her in her own room, play pen, or training cage with
her food, water and small litter pan.
- Choose your favorite litter and stick with it
- Place Chloe in the litter box when she wakes up, after she
eats and after any type of play.
- When you place her in his box, drag her front paws to
simulate digging and covering.
- Check up on her periodically and drop in some toys for her to
- Do not give Chloe run of the house until her tummy is better
and she is trained.
Most kittens catch on from there. Also, make sure this is the
only spot where Chloe goes potty. Chole's tummy should be
better within a day or two. Once better, be sure to feed her
only. A lot of kittens get into trouble when their
diet strays. Keep me posted. Simba
Is It Possible to Toilet Train Your Cat?
I was just adopted by a 14-week-old male kitten. I have had cats my entire life and never found one as loving and attached as this
one. Anyway, I have heard you can train kittens to use the toilet
rather than a litter box. Is this possible and if so, how do I go
about doing that? Connie and Rascal
Hi Connie & Rascal,
Yes it can happen. There a couple of helpful resources out there.
One highly rated book is
The Toilet Trained Cat
. Best of luck and keep me posted. Your
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