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Training your kitten to use its litter tray 

Cats are very hygienic pets and can easily be housetrained with the right encouragement. Kittens usually pick up on how to use litter trays by watching their mothers, but they may also need a helping hand from us.

Your kitten might want to go to the toilet after meals, waking from a sleep, just after sniffing the floor, scratching or begin-ning to crouch and gene-rally looking as if they are about to go! If your kitten is inclined to mess else-where in the house, confine them to one room with a litter tray until they learn to use it regularly.

You will require a plastic litter tray, which can be filled with cat litter available from all pet shops and supermarkets. Earth from the garden should never be used as it may harbour diseases from other cats. The tray should be placed on newspaper to catch any litter pushed over the side during digging, but make sure it is not too deep for your kitten to climb in. If you intend to let your kitten out to use the garden in the future then a simple open tray will suffice for the few weeks.

If you intend the cat to continue to use the tray, you may want to purchase one of the covered types which gives the cat more privacy, stops smells from escaping and prevents mess.

Place the tray in a quiet, accessible corner where your kitten will not be disturbed. Make sure it is not next to food and water bowls, as the kitten may be reluctant to use a tray close to their food. The litter tray must be kept clean, however do not empty the whole of the litter tray every day, just take out the soiled litter – this way the kitten will be encouraged to return to the tray as it will smell ‘fami-liar’.

Unless the kitten has diarrhoea or the litter tray is particularly dirty (in which case you’ll have to clean far sooner), complete emptying of the contents should only take place weekly. Some disinfectants which go cloudy in water (such as Dettol) are toxic to cats so use only hot water and a weak detergent when clea-ning out the tray.

If your kitten is reluctant to use the tray it could be because it is not clean enough – in which case you’ll need to empty it more often, it is not big enough (it should be big enough for an adult cat to turn around in and to use more than once without getting dirty), you have cleaned it out with a chemical that is too strong smelling, it is too near the kitten’s bed or food bowls or the kitten does not like the texture of the litter you have chosen – revert to a type previously used or try a different type.

When your kitten starts to go outside more often, gradually move the litter tray towards the door. A few handfuls of cat litter from the tray spread onto well dug soil in the garden will encourage your kitten to dig there. Do not remove the litter tray from indoors until your kitten has started using the garden.