One disadvantage to having a cat in your home is litter. I recently decided it was time to get two cats, but I was not looking forward to dealing with a litter box. I had heard it was possible to potty train cats, so I did some research and we ordered a cat potty training tray. The instructions said to give the cat(s) some time to adjust to their new home first, so we did.
I added some steps to the recommended process. I’ve potty trained children in the past, so I applied some of those principles to cat training. The very first step was to simply open the box and leave it near the cats’ food. I wanted them to see the tray around so they would become used to it. I saw them sniffing it once in a while, so I knew they knew it was there. That’s all that is needed. You can’t expect cats to use something unfamiliar.
Once the tray had been there for several days, I started to move it closer to the little box. We decided to put theirs upstairs because that’s the bathroom they would later be using. The tray spent a day or two at the bottom of the stairs, and then I moved it up into the hallway. Next, I propped it up on its side, right next to the litter box. I figured that would help them associate it with their litter. Now that the two items were side by side, it was time to move them together. I first moved them right next to the bathroom doorway. Several days later, I put them right inside the bathroom. I took a bag of treats up and shook it to get their attention. When they came running, I gave them each a treat, and made sure they saw that the litter box was now inside the bathroom instead of out in the hallway.
Next, I moved the litter box and tray next to the toilet, and again made sure they knew its new location. So far, so good.
I decided to put some litter into the tray, and put it on the floor next to the litter box. I wanted them to get used to walking through it on their way to the litter box. It worked! They would sometimes scratch in the tray before or while using the litter box. One day, I saw that one of them had actually used the tray. That’s when I knew it was time to remove the litter box. Now, there was just a tray where the litter box had been. It’s important to check and clean the litter frequently, since it only holds a shallow layer of litter compared to the litter box. Part of the training process is to get them used to smaller and smaller amounts of litter.
A side note – we had bought clumping cat litter right before our cats came to live with us. It worked well, but was kind of dusty, and we hated it. That just made me even more determined to potty train them. The instructions for the tray system specified to get flushable litter, so we did that. I’m happy to report that the second type of litter we got was not so objectionable. It’s easier to scoop, and we were able to stop wearing the dust mask we grabbed from our basement tool area.
So, the cats were finally very familiar with the litter tray, and had even used it while it was on the floor. The next step would be to start the potty training!