Once you have the litter box and the litter set up, the next step is to start training your kitten how to use the box. Kittens won’t be ready to use a litter box until they are three weeks old. If your kitten is even younger than that, they’ll need stimulation (often done by mother cats) to go to the bathroom. So accordingly at three weeks old or older, you can start introducing your kitten to the litter box.
Introducing the litter box
After your kitten has eaten or has just woken up, place them in the litter box and wait to see what happens. Kittens will usually innately start to dig in the litter. So if your kitten starts doing this on its own, let it be. If they don't start digging, you can take their front paws and start digging in the litter with them. This can encourage your kitten and they may keep digging on their own before eliminating.
Be mindful of where you place the litter box
The location of the litter box is very important to whether or not your kitten is willing to use it. The best places to put it are those that offer some privacy but at the same time are in easy-to-reach areas. If your cat spends a lot of time in certain parts of the house, it’s a good idea to place the litter box there.
As a kitten parent, it can be tempting to hide the litter box out of the way so that it can’t be seen (or smelled). But if it’s nowhere near where your kitten usually spends its time, then they may avoid using it.
Keep the litter box away from your kitten’s food and water. The area should also be lit so that your kitten isn’t trying to use the litter box in the dark. Think about what you would want in your own bathroom – if it wouldn’t be comfortable for you, chances are good your kitten won’t find it comfortable either. Wherever you do put the litter box, once you’ve shown it to your kitten, avoid moving it so you don’t confuse them.
Learning to use the litter box is an adjustment. Although kittens do start to dig in litter naturally, there may still be accidents. Don’t punish or yell at your kitten for these – accidents are only natural. Yelling could frighten your kitten, making litter training take even longer.
Note: Keep in mind that cats don’t associate punishment with the incident that they’re being punished for, so it won’t help them learn and will in fact only make them more nervous and stressed.
Give your kitten positive reinforcement
Unlike punishment, kittens will react to positive reinforcement by emulating the actions they associate with the reward. If your kitten has successfully used the litter box, make sure to reward them. You can praise your kitten and give them a toy or a treat for a job well done.
Clean the litter box
Make sure to regularly clean the litter box. You’ll need to scoop the litter every day. The litter will then need to be changed completely about once a week. You can tell when it needs to be changed because the litter box will smell.
When you change litter, make sure you scrub the litter box thoroughly with water & soap or vinegar. Avoid bleach or chemicals, since these can be harmful for your kitten.
A clean litter box will also make your home smell nicer!