How to Train Your Cat to Use the Litter Box Again

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Let’s face it, cats don’t always use the litter box when you want them too.

Most times you can catch them in the act just before it happens but in a lot of cases, you’re stuck cleaning up the mess.

Whether you’re raising a new kitten or an older cat, or you need to train your cat to use the litter box again this article will help you out.

Mother cats don’t teach kittens to use the litter box. So they will use dirt or any loose material they can find at just a few years old even without learning it from their mother.

It is a natural instinct your cat has given to them at birth that tells them to do this. Knowing this, it’s not hard to understand that your cat might have to be trained to use the litter box.

Let’s dig a little deeper into what you should be doing to train or retrain your cat to use the litter box.

Note: If you just adopted or bought a new kitten you should also check out this article on how to litter train your new kitten.

How to Train or Retrain Your Cat Your Cat to Use the Litter Box

Confine Your Cat

First, until you have your cat well trained, you should not have it roaming the house. You should keep your cat confined in a single room to prevent any accidents, that you’d have to clean up.

The best rooms would be rooms with non-course floors, like the kitchen, bathroom, basement, and garage.

Always provide water and a warm place to sleep at one end of the room and a fresh litter box on the other end. ​

PetCo​ says, “Cats don’t like to eat where they “go,” so never place food and water bowls next to or anywhere near your feline’s litter box”. This will help your cat distinguish between what a good place is to go and another to eat and sleep.

Your cat should have a regular eating schedule so it will have a similar litter box schedule. This will help you with the timing of when your cat will have to go.

Reward Your Cat

When training your cat to use the litter box, you should always be rewarding it for using the litter.

In order to do this, you must be at the litter box when it’s used, which can be difficult. In a lot of cases, most cats go when they wake, eat, or after some exercise.

So to help predict when your cat will go, set up regular eating times. It may also help to call your cat to the litter box from a variety of places throughout the house.

Then once your cat is there, scratch at the litter to get your cat interested.

During the day when your cat has been asleep for two hours, wake it up and call it to the litter box. This is where you need to encourage it to go into the litter box and reward it even if it doesn’t go.

It is learning that the litter box is a great place to go.

Tip: When it comes to litter boxes you don’t have to get fancy. A simple, inexpensive litter box, like this one, will do the trick just fine.

Disciplining Your Cat

If your cat has a mistake, pick it up and take it straight to the litter box. Don’t discipline your cat before placing into the litter box, the cat will associate any discipline you give it with the litter box and assume it is a bad place to go.

Then again, if you punish your cat after the mistake, you’re teaching it to be afraid of you. You should NEVER run your cat’s nose in the mess, or bring it over to it for punishment.

The thing about it is that cats don’t remember why they are being punished, so it will just start going in hidden spots to avoid the punishment.

Long story short, punishment doesn’t work on cats. Prevention and praise are the keys to training your cat to use the litter box.

Always clean the accidents your cat may leave, with half and half of water and white vinegar. This will eliminate the odor and stop your cat from returning to that spot. Another option is to use a professional product to remove cat urine. This Enzyme-Powered Stain and Odor Remover is a best selling product on

Then, cover that area with a plastic sheet to make it unpleasant for the cat and to discourage it from going back to that spot.

Tips and Tricks for Training Your Cat to Use the Litter Box

When your cat is still learning to use the litter box, be sure to leave a little bit of feeses so the scent will remind your cat what the box is for.

Then, as soon as your cat starts using the litter box reliably, remove all solid and liquid waste regularly once or twice a day. My favorite litter is Purina’s Yesterday’s News Non-Clumping Paper Cat Litter, which is available on

PetCo​ says, “If they feel their sacred place is dirty or has lingering odors, they will find a new place to relieve themselves”.

If your cat happens to have trouble finding the litter box, place the box in an area your cat can start seeing it all the time. Also, if your cat stops playing and starts digging or smelling the floor, place her in the litter box.

If you’ve followed these tips without luck then you may want to see this article on why your cat won’t use the litter box.

Finally, if your cat stops using the litter box, take it to the veterinarian as soon as possible to see if there is an underlying health issue.

Video: How to Train or Retrain a Cat to Use the Litter Box

Final Words on Training Your Cat to Use to Use the Litter Box

Once your cat gets used to finding the litter box it will use it for life, which will, in turn, be good news for you.

Always remember to confine your cat in the early stages of its training.

Always reward your cat for going into the cat litter box, even if it doesn’t use it.

Finally, never discipline your cat and place it into the litter box when there is a mess on the floor, it will think the litter box is bad.

Use this information as a guide in how to approach the proper way of training your cat to use the litter box. Just remember, it may take a little patience.