How Do Cats Know How to Use the Litter Box – What To Know


When you first adopted your cat or kitten, you may have had to train her on how to use a litter box. Or, even better, maybe she was already trained! But how exactly do cats know how to use the litter box?

Cats know how to use their litter box because this behavior is already natural to them. In the wild, cats expel waste into sand or dirt to bury their scent. A litter box litter is created to replicate that same feeling and texture for cats.

So when they need to go, they know to find that pile of a sand-like substance you’ve so kindly set up. Cats prefer this type of material for their bathroom needs for a variety of reasons. Instinctively, they want to bury the scent of their waste from other predators. And of course, litter box litter is designed to help them do that (even though the greatest predator they might have is that laser pointer dot they can never seem to catch).

But there’s more to this topic! For example, how can you train cats on how to use a litter box? Do you even need to? How do they know where their litter box is located?

How Do Cats Know to Pee in a Litter Box

Cats instinctively look for a pile of dirt- or sand-like substance to pee in. So utilizing a litter box is a natural transition for them.

It may require some training when you first introduce your cat into your home; even though he would naturally, in the wild, seek something like litter – he may not know what to do in this new place.

Show your kitty where the litter box is and take some time to train him on how to use it. Fortunately, litter was created to replicate the same kind of material outdoor cats use for their “bathroom,” so the transition should be pretty natural.

Do Cats Know Where Their Litter Box Is

When looking for a place to do their business, cats automatically try to find litter-like material; so, a new cat may automatically gravitate toward its litter box.

However, you still might need to introduce it when bringing home a new feline fur baby. Particularly in a larger space, the litter box might not be as easy to find. So, upon her arrival, ensure that she knows the location of the litter box. You might even limit her living area for the first few days so that she’s in close proximity to her litter box at all times – and can get accustomed to using it.

Fortunately, as we said before, cats instinctively want to bury and cover their waste into a dirt or sand pile. So the litter box is a relatively easy sell and likely something she’ll seek out, especially if you keep it clean, fresh, and habitable!

Can Cats Smell Their Litter Box

A litter box contains your cat’s specific scent, so naturally, cats should be able to smell it.

Are you attempting to lure your feline back home after he got out? Leaving a litter box outside for an escaped indoor cat can help lead him home. Some cat owners even set out a trail of their cat’s litter, which can also help create a scent.

However, if it’s merely that you’re trying to move his litter box and are concerned that he won’t be able to find it, know: it’s essential not to move the litter box unless you have to. Cats are creatures of habit and will go to all of their known spots for things that they need; litter box, food and water, and so on. If you move his litter box, he may get confused and start toileting in the wrong spots; so be sure to introduce the new location to him – and don’t move it again!

Do You Need to Train a Cat to Use a Litter Box

 Yes, when you adopt a cat, there is a chance you may need to train her on using her litter box.

Like any habitual behavior, this may be something you need to teach when first introducing your furball into your home.

The biggest key for litter box training, however, is to have patience! Your new adoptee may not be used to using the bathroom inside of a plastic bin, no matter how much you spent on that high-quality litter! Celebrate her successes with treats and praise, and don’t get upset if she has a few accidents here and there.

The good news? Cats innately want to dispose of their waste in some form of dirt or sand. So the idea of using litter for such an endeavor is not news, no matter how young your kitten may be. 

How Do You Train a Cat to Use a Litter Box

You can take a range of steps to train your cat to use his litter box when you first adopt him. It starts with finding the right litter box, introducing him to it, and celebrating his victories. It’s also essential to handle his accidents appropriately.

  • The first step of training a cat to use his litter box is – again – selecting the right one. 
    • Get one based on his size: make sure it’s not too big for him to step into (for example, don’t give an adult-sized box to a kitten!). 
    • But at the same time, make sure it’s not too small – if it has a top, for instance, make sure he can comfortably fit under it.
    • A hooded litter box offers privacy to kitties (which they love!) – and may even entice them to use it.
  • The next step is to find a good spot for his litter box.
    • Cats like privacy when they do their business, so put it in a location with low traffic. For example, the laundry room, utility room, or even a lesser-used bathroom, if possible.
    • Also, if you have space, try to get at least one litter box per cat. They prefer not to share – and will be more likely to use them if they don’t have to.
  • To start getting him trained to use the box, introduce him to it.
    • Play with him around it, so he gets accustomed to the area. You may even shut yourselves into the litter box room until he uses it for the first time, so that he gets the idea of what he’s supposed to be doing. Do this enough and you might even find your cat playing in the litter box
    • If you figure out his toileting habits, try to have playtime near the litter box around those times of the day.
    • Also, if you pick up on signs that he’s about to go (scratching at the floor, for instance), place him in the litter box, so he knows where he’s supposed to imbibe.
  • Celebrate his achievements!
    • When he successfully uses his litter box, offer ample praise (and maybe a treat or two).
    • Keep this up until he seems comfortable with the litter box.
  • But also accept the accidents.
    • During litter box training, accidents are inevitable. Don’t get upset – but do make it clear where the accident was supposed to go. Put it in the litter box if it’s solid. 
    • Most importantly, please clean up the accident as thoroughly as possible; make sure the scent is gone so that he doesn’t think it’s an appropriate spot for toileting.
  • Keep the litter box clean!
    • Cats are much more likely to utilize a fresh litter box. Scoop it daily, and change the litter at least once a week.

 

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Welcome to FAQCats! We are a team of cat owners and writers who love to write about everything related to cats. We strive to provide the most accurate and helpful information about cats through extensive research and caring for our own fur-pals!

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