do cats know how to use a litter box

House training

Many cats and kittens will instinctively use a litter box without needing to be taught, because of their instincts to expel bodily waste in dirt or sand. Therefore, with a new kitten, owners usually need to simply show the kitten where the litter box is located, and how to get in and out.

3. A Helping Paw

When cats and kittens first move into your home, they might still need some assistance finding and using the litter box despite their innate instincts. Most cats can be trained to use a litter box in a matter of days or weeks, particularly if you take advantage of their innate tendencies.

When your cat exhibits any of the following behaviors—sniffing and scratching the ground, meowing, or hiding behind the sofa—place them gently in the litter box. Repeat this whenever there’s a chance they’ll need to use the restroom, like after meals, when they wake up from a nap, and after playing.

To accommodate your cat’s innate behavior, use a litter that most closely resembles sand or dirt (like finely clumping clay), and fill the tray two to three inches deep. To demonstrate to them that they can dig, it might be helpful to gently scratch at the litter. Usually, they will quickly pick up on this. Make sure you start with the same litter if your kitten is already trained to use it so they are accustomed to it when they come to you.

When your cat does something correctly, reward them with a treat and lots of love; never punish them when they make mistakes. To completely eliminate any smells, use specialized enzymatic cleaners designed for pet accidents to clean up any areas they have soiled outside of the litter box.

Steer clear of products with ammonia since it makes cats think that area is where they should urinate, which could encourage them to keep using it that way.

Older outdoor cats who have never used a litter box before occasionally have to start because their circumstances have changed or they are confined because of a disease or accident. It’s a good idea to initially replace their cat litter with loose soil since they will become more accustomed to it than cat litter.

The Mystery Behind the Litterbox

The truth is that cats are born knowing how to use a litterbox; they only learn a little bit from their mothers. In fact, cats are born knowing how to use a litterbox instinctively! Like humans do when we’re young, a cat already associates the litter box with potty time by the time they’re active young kittens.

This deeply ingrained instinct is a holdover from the fierce ancestors of cats, who had to hunt and flee from predators on a daily basis in order to survive. Cats gradually developed the ability to bury their waste, which gave them an advantage when hunting by hiding their scent from both predators and prey. As a result, your cat has the same instinct whether they were raised as a domestic pet or were once feral. Consequently, cats will look for a place to bury their waste. Your cat is not likely to try to use another location in your home as a litter box if there is only one area that has this characteristic.

4. The Litter Box Itself

To help your cat recognize the litter box as the proper place to relieve themselves, try appealing to their natural instincts. Cats like their privacy. During their period of vulnerability, wild cats will seek out a peaceful and hidden location to relieve themselves of the threat of attack while they are at work.

Your cat will benefit from having their tray in a quiet area of the house rather than in a busy or noisy area since they will share these same instincts.

Some cats will use covered litter boxes, but you might find that yours feels too small and constricted. For this reason, it’s usually preferable to start with an open box and offer a covered one only after your cat is consistently using it.

Place the tray away from their feeding station because cats also prefer not to relieve themselves in the same space as they eat and drink. Because cats are meticulous cleaners, make sure to regularly remove waste from the litter box.

do cats know how to use a litter box

In the event that your cat or kitten is not using the litter box, consider the following as potential causes:

  • Are you using a spacious, spotless tray in a quiet area that your cat can easily access? Are you using the proper number of litter boxes—one for each cat in the home—in a private area? Cats have a keen sense of smell, so they usually don’t like scented litter. Have you tried switching up the type of litter to see if they prefer something different? Cats prefer a clean litter box, so are you scooping out the tray every day and completely emptying and cleaning it at least once a week? Your cat might not like the new location of the litter box if you moved it. Have you switched brands of litter? If so, you should always make adjustments gradually by blending in new litter gradually with the old. Does the cat exhibit any symptoms of a medical condition? If the problem continues, or if the cat has experienced any anxiety or unpleasantness in the litter box, speak with your veterinarian. Is your cat under stress? Incidental elimination, or urinating and defecating in inappropriate places out of protest, may be the result of changes in your cat’s indoor or outdoor environment or conflicts with other cats in the home.

For the majority of pet parents, training their cat to litter is a simple process. Our domestic cats have the same innate tendency to bury their waste, just like their wild counterparts.

Most cats will gladly use the tray once it is placed in front of them because litter boxes typically offer the only area in our homes that is appropriate for them to engage in this instinctive behavior.

To make the process of litter box training as simple as possible, we can take advantage of these innate tendencies by ensuring that litter boxes are the right size, placement, and maintenance.

There are a number of things to take into account if cats refuse to use the litter box or abruptly stop using one they were previously content with, including the potential for illness, which your veterinarian should examine.


Do cats naturally learn to use litter box?

Most cats require little training to use their litter box, because cats have a natual desire to dig and bury their waste. But once a cat has developed undesirable toilet habits the problem can be very difficult to resolve. Follow these suggestions to prevent and solve litter box problems.

Will a stray cat know how do you use a litter box?

If kittens are born outdoors, mom may designate a clump of leaves or some soft ground as the bathroom. Recently homed feral and stray cats may have to be actively trained to use a box filled with clay litter, especially if they have been imprinted on something else. While some strays catch on quickly, others don’t.

How does a cat know to pee in a litter box?

But cats are born with the instinct to dig and cover their waste. Theoretically, she says, if you place an appropriate litter box in a room, a cat or kitten will use it. Stray cats transitioning from outdoor to indoor life also know what to do, but they might insist on using your houseplants rather than the litter box.

Do cats know we clean their litter box?

While they may not comprehend the concept of “cleaning” the litter box in the way humans do, they are aware of the care provided to them and can associate their caregivers with the maintenance of their living environment, including the litter box.