How to Litter Train a Kitten Fast (as early as 4 weeks old)

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Your kitten is cute, but puddles and plops are not. Fortunately, kittens instinctively want to dig and cover when they “go”. All you have to do to teach your kitten to use the litter box is leverage these instincts. Here’s a quick & easy way how to litter train a kitten fast, as early as 4 weeks.

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Litter Training is Easy

Don’t let horror stories from friends make you nervous. Litter training your kitten is easy. Most kittens will naturally use the litter box, figuring it out within a few days.

You can optimize the chances of this happening by understanding how your kitten thinks. If you set up your kitten’s environment to make the litter box easy to use, the process will go smoothly.

Understanding Your Kitten’s Brain

Your kitten’s perception of his own potty needs will evolve quickly.

  1. A newborn kitten needs to be stimulated to urinate or defecate. That’s right – kittens can’t pee on their own at first. The mother cat helps by licking the baby kitten’s butt to get the kitten to go.
  2. By 3 weeks of age, kittens are mobile and able to pee and poop without help. Your kitten will have begun to notice that she has made a mess.
  3. Soon after a kitten notices that she has made (in the very recent past) a mess, a kitten will notice when she is actively peeing or pooping (currently, in the present). This is when you will naturally see kittens start to head towards the litter box. At this point, they’re not going to make it to the box in time, but they have the right idea.
  4. Very quickly, kittens will begin to realize when they are about to start peeing (in the future). At this point, they will be able to run to an easily accessible, nearby litter box.

You just need to guide your kitten through the stages of learning that they peed, to learning that they are peeing, to learning that they are about to pee, to going to the box in time to pee there. Setting up the right environment will help your kittens to learn to use the litter box quickly.

Kitten Litter Box Training Supplies

To litter training your kitten, you’ll need a litter box, cat litter, and optional treats and toys.

Litter boxes for litter training kittens

You’ll want at least two litter boxes if you’re training one kitten. It’s a good idea to have extra boxes available if your kitten has access to a larger area. If your kitten is very small, you may want to consider using cardboard box tops or aluminum trays until your kitten can easily maneuver into and out of the larger litter boxes.

Keeping it Clean

Part of the whole litter box deal is keeping it clean. Here’s the best scooper that will make your job easy and last a long time, and here’s a place to put that scooper when not in use. A good litter mat is an extra tool that slips under the litter box and that makes your life easier. You’ll also want a good trash can with a tight fitting lid. It doesn’t need to be designed specifically for cat litter, but this trash can is made for the job and locks down odors tightly.

For any concerns on odors and cleanliness, check out our articles on the best air purifiers for cat owners and the best vacuums for cat owners.

Cat Litter for Litter Training Kittens

There are many types of cat litter available, and some cats have strong preferences. Keep in mind that it’s very important for cat litter for young kittens be non-clumping. This is because clumping litter can be very dangerous if your kitten mistakenly eats a few bites. Litter box training will also go more smoothly if you choose an unscented or fragrance-free litter. The easiest option is to choose a simple non-clumping clay litter while litter training your kitten. After your kitten knows how to use the litter box, you may feel free to experiment with different types of litter.

Toys and Treats for Litter Training Kittens

After your kitten has successfully used the litter box, you may want to reward him with a tasty treat. This will help reinforce the behavior. Choose a healthy, delicious kitten snack or a few pieces of dry kitten food that your baby cat will love.

Setting up the Right Environment to Litter Train your Kitten

Consider the size of litter boxes, the number of litter boxes, and their locations. Your “kitten potty training” setup does not need to look like what your house will always look like. You may have more smaller litter boxes throughout your house for a month, and slowly start to take away extras as your kitten learns the layout of your home and gets better at detecting when he needs to pee.

Keep in mind that you will ultimately want one litter box per cat, plus one. So if you have adopted two kittens, eventually you will need three litter boxes. During litter box training, you may have five or six small boxes scattered throughout the kitten’s living area, depending on how big the space is.

Litter Box Size for Potty Training Kittens

Unless you’re litter training a lion cub, your kitten is probably smaller than a full-grown housecoat. Make sure that your kitten can easily get in and out of any litter boxes you expect him to be able to use. Imagine trying to climb a wall while you really need to pee – kind of hard right? Yes, cats are agile, but you’re trying to set Baby Felix up for success here.

Your small kitten will soon be big enough and accustomed enough to using a litter box to use a normal sized box. But early on, he needs to be able to see the litter to understand what it is for, and access it easily and quickly. If regular litter boxes are too large for your kitten, try out a cardboard box lid. Shallow disposable aluminum trays are another great option.

Litter Box Location for Potty Training Kittens

If you have very young kittens, you are likely keeping them in a small, safe place for the most part. If you adopt an older kitten, this may not seem like a natural thing to do, but it can help your kitten transition safely and smoothly into your home in many ways.

Start by keeping your kitten in a small, kitten-proofed room such as a large bathroom, a small bedroom, or a safe laundry room. In a small room, you’ll need one or maybe two litter boxes, depending on how mobile your kittens are.

When you play with your kitten, and as your kitten gets used to the environment, expand their play area slowly. Maybe include a hallway, or bring your kitten to a larger living area. In a larger area, be sure to have two litter boxes that your kitten knows how to find.

Once your kitten is prowling your entire home, it may be prudent to keep the extra litter boxes for a few weeks before you start paring down to your final setup.

How to Litter Train a Kitten Fast

If your environment is set up for success, you likely won’t have to do anything. Your kitten will know where the litter boxes are, be able to access them easily, and intuitively know how to use them. Your kitten will quickly get the hang of using the boxes.

What You Actually Do

If you notice that your kitten is actively peeing outside the litter box, simply lift your kitten calmly and put her in the litter box. If you notice that your kitten is showing signs of needing to pee, such as digging in the corner of a room, or prowling around near the wall or behind furniture, calmly bring your kitten to the litter box. After a few days of repetition, your kitten will understand that pee and poop go in the box.

If you want, you may reward your kitten for using the litter box with a tasty treat. This will help create a positive association with the litter box, and encourage learning. However, this is completely optional and your kitten will learn just fine without extra incentives.

Your Kitten Has Quickly Learned to Use the Litter Box – Now What?

Once your kitten is able to use the litter boxes consistently, start paring down on any extra boxes you introduced during the learning process. Take away one extra box every few days so you don’t confuse your kitten too much. Make sure your kitten always has easy access to a clean and comfortable litter box.

How Long Does it Take to Litter Train a Kitten?

How long it takes depends on a number of factors. Most kittens should have the hang of the litter box within a few days if the environment is set up right. Even if you have a really dumb cat (and we all love the dumb ones), the training process shouldn’t take more than a week or so.

If the training process takes much more than a week or so, you’ll want to troubleshoot your kitten’s environment. If you have a kitten playing in a small open area with an easily accessible, clean litterbox that the kitten is aware of, a 4 or 5 week old or older kitten will reliably use the litter box within a week.

Congratulations – You Have Litter Trained your Kitten Fast!

By following the steps above, you’ve in all likelihood trained your kitten to use the litter box in under a week. Congratulations! Now you get to check that off your list and enjoy playing with and caring for your new kitten!

How to litter train your kitten fast, without a mother cat, as early as 4 weeks old!

Kelsey Madison

Kelsey Madison is a cat lover, fostering enthusiast, part time vet tech & writer. She has fostered close to 300 animals over the last 10+ years, and currently has 3 beautiful tabby cats who love to stick their faces in her morning lattes. She is passionate about helping others develop a deeper understanding of their beloved felines and learn more about fostering.