Feral cats are often considered to be untrainable and challenging to care for. But, with patience and persistence, it is possible to train a feral cat how to use the litter box. Below, we’ll look at some tips for training your feral kitten to use the litter box. With these tips and tricks, you can quickly have your feral kitten using the litter box.
How to litter train a feral kitten
Litter training a feral kitten can seem daunting, but with dedication, patience, and consistency, you can teach your new feline companion to use the litterbox in just a few weeks.
Contrary to popular belief, it is possible to domesticate even the wildest of kittens.
- First and foremost, create a comfortable litterbox area for your kitten; this should include limiting their access to the rest of the house until they understand bathroom etiquette.
- Secondly, observe your kitten’s behaviors so that you can place them in their litter box when necessary.
- Lastly, reward your kitten every time they use their litter box correctly – treats or extra affection are always recommended.
When done correctly, litter training a feral kitten can create an even stronger bond between you and your feline friend.
Establishing a Routine
Establishing a routine for feral kittens is essential for successful litter training.
This often begins by slowly introducing the kitten to their new environment with regular meal times, setting locations for their food and water bowls, and plenty of toys and activities to stay stimulated.
As any changes can make them anxious, care should be taken to ensure the kittens are comfortable with each process step before moving on to the next.
Additionally, placing their litter box in one specific area can make it easier for them to adjust; cats naturally seek out a single spot to relieve themselves, so this will make it easier for them to remember where they’re supposed to be going.
With time and patience, these steps will lay the foundation for successful litter training and help your new kitten become happy and healthy in their forever home.
Choosing the Right Litter Box
When it comes to choosing a litter box for your feral cat, there are several factors that you should consider.
- First, ensure that the box is large enough for your cat; many cats prefer larger containers because it gives them more room to move around and do their business safely.
- Also, make sure that the litter box is easy for your cat to access; if possible, put it in a corner or somewhere out of sight, so they feel comfortable going in there and doing their business without feeling like someone is watching them.
- Finally, make sure you choose a litter type with no perfumes or scents; these scents can be overwhelming for cats and may deter them from using the box.
Using Positive Reinforcement
When teaching your kitten how to use the litter box, you must use positive reinforcement techniques whenever possible.
This means rewarding them with treats or toys when they successfully use the litter box and praising them when they do something right.
This type of positive reinforcement will help teach them what behavior is expected from them and will help keep them motivated during potty training sessions.
Additionally, try not to punish or scold your kitten if they make mistakes; instead, redirect their attention elsewhere so that they understand what behavior is expected from them next time around.
What Should You Know About Feral Kittens?
Feral is a term that people typically use to describe cats who live outdoors without a specific owner. More often than not, feral cats were originally domesticated cats that were abandoned or lost, either purposefully or by mistake. However, heavy storms and hurricanes can leave pets stranded from their owners.
Sometimes, people cannot care for a cat. No matter the original cause, when a cat is thrown out of a house and abandoned, it will usually develop distrust and fear of humans.
This is vital information when discerning feral cats from stray cats. Stray cats are accustomed to people and accept them. Feral cats are not, which makes readjusting to living with people complex and problematic.
Kittens will learn from their parent cats. For example, if a parent cat runs and hides from all passersby and attacks anyone who comes too close, the kitten will learn to do the same. However, one thing that might bring hope to your endeavor to litter train a feral kitten is that kittens usually learn this from their parent cats.
Was the kitten abandoned?
Unless the kitten was also abandoned, it will not usually have the same absolute terror and distrust of humans as adult feral cats. Therefore, it will generally be easier to litter train a feral kitten than an adult cat.
Knowing that a kitten is feral is also essential information when you are litter-training a feral kitten. Once you know that your kitten is feral, you will understand why your kitten might not want to be seen, looked at, or touched.
This also means that you can more or less rule out picking the cat up and physically showing the cat the litter box, as it will usually end with you covered in scratches and bite marks. Armed with the information that your kitten is feral, you will be able to make better plans on how to litter train it properly.
The Supplies You Will Need For Litter Training
To get started litter training your feral kitten, you will need some supplies.
Most of it is pretty straightforward: a litterbox, a litter scooper, a cat litter, and so on.
Of course, you should get the supplies you typically call for a cat that needs to use the litterbox. However, there are some other things that you will need to get when you are litter-training a feral kitten. The two other things you will need are dirt and a shoebox.
Dirt will be the first type of “litter” that you use to teach your feral kitten where the litter box will eventually be. This is because feral cats are used to using dirt as their natural litterbox.
Calm the kitten
Having something that brings a sense of familiarity with their new homes can be calming, which you and your cat will appreciate. In addition to it being something your cat is familiar with, having dirt as the litter will attract your cat to the litterbox. This makes it even easier to start the litter training process.
The shoebox, as you might be able to imagine, will be a starter litter box for your kitten. Shoe boxes are typically smaller and more manageable for a kitten to climb over. They also will not be as large as typical litter boxes, which will be necessary for a feral cat.
Feral kittens are usually skittish and avoid things they fear, such as a full-size litterbox. However, if your kitten is very small or young, between five to six weeks of age, you might need to use a shoebox lid to climb it more easily.
Starting the Litter Training
First, keep your feral kitten in a small room for the first few days of litter training. This ensures that not only will the kitten be able to find the litter box without too much exploration (exploration might be something feral kittens fear doing), but it will also not get lost in the maze of a new house.
More often than not, a bathroom is a perfect place to keep your kitten. If the toilet is tiled, that is even better, as it is easier to clean up accidents on a tiled floor. Of course, ensure that the bathroom has food, water, toys, and a comfortable place for the kitten to sleep if it wants to.
Never give up
Next, fill the litterbox with dirt. When you are litter-training a feral kitten, you will usually want to place the litter box in one corner of the room, with food and water in the other. Kittens, in general, want to eliminate their waste in the corner of a space that isn’t where food and water are.
Your feral kitten will be more likely to use a litter box where they feel safe and hidden from perceived predators, such as you, making a corner an even better place to put the makeshift litter box.
If it is possible, you should find a way to monitor the kitten, as there are several things you will want to look out for. Whether this means having a camera in the room connected to your phone or putting the cat in a room that has a window you can look into, you will want to keep an eye on the kitten without intruding on it.
Making Sure the Kitten Is Using the Litter Box
During the process of litter training a feral kitten, there are going to be accidents. This is inevitable; no matter how closely you watch the kitten, they will happen. Typically, your kitten must eliminate around half an hour after it eats. Signs of needing to defecate include meowing, scratching the floor, or looking around for no other reason.
Keeping the litter box clean
If you have bonded with the feral kitten enough that it is okay with you to pick it up, you should pick it up and show it in the litter box when you see these signs. Be wary, as a feral kitten might not appreciate being picked up suddenly and will not hesitate to show you that it does not want this.
If you are okay with this or want to be as efficient with litter training as possible, you can wear thick gloves when you pick up the kitten.
Just keep in mind whether or not the kitten has been vaccinated for rabies yet and clean any wounds the cat leaves.
When the kitten uses the litter box, praise the kitten as best you can. Give your kitten some treats with goodies and some attention if it is okay. If your kitten doesn’t yet trust you, you can leave some treats in the room when your cat uses the litter box.
If the cat is becoming braver but hasn’t warmed up to you yet, you can find a cat toy and play with it. The critical part is making sure you praise the kitten and that it acknowledges that you are giving it praise. In some cases, praising the cat can even help you bond with it.
Continuing the Litter Training Process
Despite their reputation as solitary and stubborn, cats can learn things relatively quickly. In a best-case scenario, where the kitten is okay with picking it up briefly, you can get the litter training process over within a few days. However, depending on how much the kitten despises being picked up, it can take a week or even a few weeks.
Accidents, as mentioned earlier, are a normal and natural process of litter training a feral kitten. You should never, ever get mad at your kitten for an accident.
This will only induce fear in the kitten, hindering its litter training progress. For feral kittens, who already distrust people, scolding them for an accident will only reinforce the idea that humans are threatening creatures.
Do not punish the kitten.
This method ruins progress on litter training and can destroy any bond you have made with your kitten. Instead of scolding the kitten, place the poop in the litter box.
This will show the kitten that the litter box is where poop belongs, and it will help to reinforce the idea that the litter box is where the kitten should be eliminated.
Gradually, you should add some scoops of unscented litter to the dirt box. This will help your cat become accustomed to the smell, texture, and way that typical cat litter works. The litter box should be filled with litter instead of dirt in about a week.
A week is also about the time it will take for your kitten to have at least a grasp of litter training. If you still see that accidents are happening, and it is not due to another reason (such as medical or out of fear), you might have to keep the cat in the room longer.
Finishing Litter Training for Your Feral Kitten
Usually, it will take a week or less for you to finish litter training your feral kitten. Of course, you will probably come out of this process a little bit more frustrated and covered in a few more scratches, but once your kitten has learned how to use the litter box, it can begin feeling as if your home is truly a home, not the enemy’s territory.
You need to note that your kitten will probably become accustomed to using the litter box in the location you put it, even after you open the doors for your kitten to explore the rest of the house. This means you should place the shoebox of dirt where you are okay with having a litter box.
Some hope for this training process is that feral kittens can quickly lose their feral mindsets if brought in and domesticated correctly. This means that once your kitten realizes you are a safe person who means no harm, your kitten will probably trust you.
This means that you can easily replace the shoebox with a proper litter box. When you do this, you will want to place some of the old litter and the waste inside the new litter box. This will show the kitten, by scent, that this new litter box is more or less the same as the old one, but it just looks different.
Teaching Your Kitten, it Can Trust You.
When the kitten is in a small room, you can combine this with teaching your cat that it can trust you. You can do this by gently feeding it from your hand, playing with it, and handling it. Leaving some worn clothes in the room can also help the kitten get accustomed to your scent.
If other people and animals are in your house, leave items that smell like them in the room. Be warned that your kitten might try to mark them, though. Combining litter training your feral kitten and getting the kitten accustomed to the house is a very efficient idea.
Litter training a feral kitten may seem intimidating at first, but with patience and persistence, it’s doable! By establishing an early routine for your kitten and providing plenty of positive reinforcement during potty training sessions, your new feline friend can happily use their litterbox in no time! With these tips and tricks, you’ll have no trouble keeping yourself and your new furry friend happy.