Most cats and kittens are easily trained to use a litter pan. Choose a location that is convenient and acceptable to both you and your cat, away from the cat's feeding area and family traffic. Place your new cat in the litter pan soon after her arrival in your home. Be sure she has access to it and knows its location. Any accidents should be cleaned immediately and the area washed with a 50/50 solution of white vinegar and water, or an enzyme-based product.
A trained cat's failure to use the litter pan may be caused by any number of conditions including:
- The cat has a physiological problem (such as diarrhea, worms or a urinary infection) and should be examined by a veterinarian.
- The cat has not yet learned the location of the litter pan. This is common with young kittens.
- The litter pan has not been kept clean. Feces and wet spots should be removed daily.
- The brand of litter is unacceptable to the cat and should be changed.
- The location of the litter pan is unacceptable to the cat (i.e., not private enough, too close to food).
- The cat is attracted to an area previously used for elimination by another pet.
- Enzyme-based odor removers or repellents are available at pet supply stores and a white vinegar/water solution will also neutralize odor. Putting the food bowl(s) at a previously soiled spot(s) will also deter the new cat from using that spot again.
- The cat is reacting to family or household changes or stress.
- Another pet is keeping the new cat away from the litter pan.
- Another cat is using the new cat's litter pan; some will not share a pan, especially at first.
- A pet (or child) is terrorizing the new cat while you are away, causing fear-related defecation.
- The litter pan has been disinfected and not thoroughly rinsed. (Phenol-based disinfectants such as Lysol and Hexol are toxic to cats. You must use a diluted solution of liquid bleach and boiling water; then rinse well.)
- Your cat may be used to newspaper or dirt.
Any new cat may make a mistake. Any mistake should be put into her litter pan. You can then gently put her in the pan and help her cover the mistake. If you see her sniffing around a previously soiled area, carry her to the litter pan again. When she used her pan, praise her generously. If she takes a while to catch on, you may need to confine her, with food, water, bed and litter pan, in a small unrugged room when you are away. DO NOT punish a cat if she makes a mistake. Your patience and praise are the keys to success in this area. If you don't seem to be getting anywhere, call the Humane Society of Central Illinois at (309) 451-1000 to talk to a counselor.