Get your pick of the litter box.
After choosing the perfect pet, your next step is to grab the accessories and supplies your furry friend will need to be happy in your home. You’ll need to grab the healthiest food, cutest toys, Fresh Step® kitty litter, and the first litter box you can find. But, is having the litter box last on your list a big mistake?
Sure, litter boxes may all appear to be the same, but just like human toilets, they are not all created equal. And some will naturally appeal to your kitty more than others. If the litter box isn’t to their liking, Kittycat may even skip the litter box altogether and simply decide your bed or your white sofa is now her bathroom. Obviously way less than ideal. In fact, litter box avoidance is the #1 reason cats are returned to shelters. We don’t want that to happen to ANY cat. To avoid this from happening, consider these tips when picking your next litter box.
Rethinking the “One Cat, One Litter Box” rule.
Cats like to have options, so instead of considering one litter box per cat, think of having at least one more litter box than you do cats.1 For example, if you have 4 cats, you should have 5 litter boxes, 5 cats means 6 litter boxes, and so on. This way, each cat feels like he has his own litter box, and there are extra communal litter boxes, too.
You’re gonna need a bigger box.
This may seem like a no brainer, but the bigger your cat is, the bigger her litter box needs to be. After all, she has to fit into the box, and is going to spend some time attending to important business in there. You want to make sure that your cat is going to feel comfortable in there and will want to visit it again and again without using another place that she shouldn’t. Your cat should have ample space to climb in, dig around in the litter, daydream and climb out of the box. Measure your cat from the tip of her nose to the tip of her tail and make sure the box is about the length and a half of that.2 Do the same with the width of her body also to make sure the height of the box is correct too. Make sure to leave her the latest issue of Cat Fancy, too. Just kidding — or are we?
Covered or uncovered?
Whether to get an open litter box or a litter box with a lid is often a big debate. However, your cat probably wants you to get an uncovered box. Why? Having no cover helps your cat feel safe while they go to the bathroom since it allows him to see all around, including possible threats and an easy escape route if need be. Hey, it’s in their nature.
To clean or to self-clean?
Another debate in the kitty community is the self-cleaning litter box. While it can be tempting to automate another chore, it will be less than convenient when your cat becomes frightened that his poop place has suddenly come to life and scared him out of ever returning again. Similar to the automatic flush toilet that whirls when you’re mid-stream, these self-cleaning kitty litters scare cats, are expensive, high maintenance, and make it difficult to spot any health concerns that are found in your cat’s poop and pee. Stick with the old school scooping litter boxes for a happier, healthier cat.
Let’s get back to basics.
Now that you’ve chosen the right box, it’s time to get into Litter 101. You’ll learn everything you need to know to make sure your kitty has a fresh, clean box she’ll love.
Want free Fresh Step® litter?
Join the Paw Points® Reward Program, and earn enough points to score a FREE
1. Cat Not Using Litter Box: Causes and Solutions (n.d.) https://resources.bestfriends.org/article/cat-not-using-litter-box-causes-and-solutions
2. Litter Box 101 (2015) https://www.nehumanesociety.org/for-pet-owners/behavior-help/litter-box-101.html
Almost everything about adopting a new kitty is awesome. They’re loving. They’re playful. They’re beautiful. And they can be incredibly calming companions.
But just like the rest of us, a cat has to go potty several times a day. That odor can be, shall we say, aggressive. But here at Fresh Step, we’re the odor control experts, so we’ve got a lot of ways to keep your home smelling fresh and lovely, every day.
First, what makes cat pee so strong-smelling?
Cat pee isn’t so very different from other animal pee. But younger cats have very efficient kidneys, which absorb water very well to keep them hydrated. And they generally don’t drink much water. As a result, your kitty’s pee is very concentrated. And when it begins to break down, bacteria create a strong ammonia smell. And worse, cat pee isn’t noticeable until it’s a problem. You’ll notice that older cats have even stronger smelling pee, as their geriatric kidneys don’t work as well as they used to.
Let’s get fresh.
But keeping your home smelling sweet and not “catty” isn’t that hard, and is absolutely worth it. Take these steps, and when guests come over, they’ll be surprised (and delighted) that you have a cat or two.
- Choose the right litter for your cat(s): Got one cat? Got more than one? Is your cat a kitten or a wise elder? From singletons to multiple and older cats, there’s a Fresh Step® litter that’s right for your cat. Find your cat’s litter here.
- Clean litter regularly: Scoop out solids once a day, and clean the rest of the litter according to the instructions on the package. Treat kitty to a nice new litterbox once a year, since plastic will eventually absorb odors and be stinky.
- Make sure you have enough boxes to go around: If you have multiple cats, you should have a litter box for each cat, plus one extra. So if you have two cats, get three litter boxes.
- Take care of accidents ASAP: Sometimes Kitty will go in the wrong area (say, the rug or a couch). Treat that area as soon as you can with enzyme cleaners so she won’t return after she marked her spot.
- Get Kitty fixed: Male cats have an even stronger pee scent, and often will spray to mark territory (nothing says “This is mine!” like peeing on it). Getting cats fixed, male or female, will often help avoid these problems — and a host of others, but we’ll save that for another time.
- Vacuum it away: Vacuum rugs and kitty litter area about twice a week. It will help keep odors down and reduce pet hair everywhere.
- Keep Kitty’s bedding clean: Make sure any blankets and bedding that Kitty sleeps on are kept fresh for her. Your home will smell better, and your cat will love snoozing on a soft, clean bed (and those “catty” odors should disappear).
- Wash Kitty’s food and water bowl: Cleaning your cat’s food and water bowl regularly will discourage stinky bacteria from forming, and keep your cat healthier.
Clean and fresh is the name of the game when it comes to keeping odors from forming. Want to keep that litter coming? With the Fresh Step® Paw Points® program, you’ll earn points for buying the litter your kitty loves. Points add up fast, and you can redeem them for free litter and coupons. That way, you’ll get to enjoy more purr time — and less stink time.
It’s an exciting day. You’ve adopted a new feline family member. On behalf of cat lovers everywhere, we thank you for opening your heart and home to a cat.
There are the purring, playing and cuddles to look forward to. But there’s also the logistics. How do you train a new cat to find and use the litter box? Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. We’re the kitty litter experts.
Whether you want to know how to help a kitten learn how to use a litter box, or find out why your adult feline is avoiding the box, we’ve got all the tips you need to successfully litter train your cat.
Litter training a kitten.
One of the (many) great things about kittens is that they may start to instinctively want to use a litter box as soon as they’re about 3–4 weeks old.1 But that tiny fuzzball is still learning, and might need a little encouragement. Here are some tips to ensure a first timer’s success:
- A Room of Kitty’s Own: For the first week (especially if the kitten is very young), contain the kitten in a room with her litter box and food, but keep the food as far away from the litter as possible. This lets Kitten acclimate to her new home and gets her used to litter.
- Don't Clump Me In: Many vets recommend non-clumping litter for kittens. After two or three months you can gradually transition them to clumping litter.
- I Have Tiny Legs!: Use a shallow, small litter box so Kitten doesn’t have trouble getting into it.
- Shhh, I Must Concentrate: Put the litter in a quiet, private space so Kitten doesn’t get distracted.
- Learning About Litter: Keep placing
Kittenin the litter box to get her used to her new box, especially after a nap or eating.
- Give Me a Helping Paw: If Kitten is a little confused, you can help her by putting your hand on her paw and gently encouraging her to scratch. Usually, she’ll take this up on her own, and instinctively know that this is her toilet. If she does, give her a treat!
- Oops, I Missed: If she goes outside the box, don’t get mad at her or yell or force her into the box. She might get scared (wouldn’t you?) and start associating the litter box with punishment.
With the right training and a little natural instinct, Kitten will soon be a litter box champ.
How to litter train an adult cat.
An adult cat (unless they’re feral), will generally know how to use a litter box already. That’s because cats are SMART and BEAUTIFUL. However, there are a couple of tips to make sure Kitty knows where her litter box is and how to use it correctly.
Please:Cats like their privacy as much as humans. Put the box in a quiet, accessible location that’s easy to clean, such as a bathroom.4 Got a multi-level house? We recommend having a litter box per level.
- Dude, Where’s My Box?: Place the cat in the box several times so she knows where it is. If you need to move it, move it gradually over several days so Kitty doesn’t get confused.
- Just My Size: Make sure the litter box is a comfortable size for your cat. It should be one and a half times her body length. Cats generally prefer an open box.4
- A Box for Every Cat: Got more than one cat? Make sure you have enough litter boxes for everyone. The rule of thumb is one box per cat, plus one. So if you have two cats, get three litter boxes.
- I Love a Fresh, Clean Litterbox: Cats are very sensitive to odors, and they might reject a litter box that’s too messy.4 So scoop out solids once a day, and follow the directions on your favorite kind of Fresh Step® litter to keep the box smelling clean and fresh.
Soon Kitty will be using her litter box regularly and it will be one of her happy places. But sometimes…
Occasionally — or maybe often — your cat might miss the litter box or stop using it entirely. Let’s troubleshoot this thing.Is the box clean? Cats, like people, enjoy a clean bathroom.4 If Kitty is avoiding the box, she might be giving you a hint that it’s time to clean it out. Give Kitty what she needs, a box filled with clean Fresh Step® litter.
Is your cat sick? Cats won’t tell you that they’re sick. Sometimes the litter box is the first clue. If Kitty is avoiding the litter box, going a lot or just can’t make it in time, it’s time to take her to the vet.4 She needs a doctor’s help.
Do you have enough boxes? Each cat in your household should have his/her own box.5 So, getting an extra litter box might be just the trick.
After checking off those boxes (see what we did there?), and Kitty is still relieving herself in inappropriate places, try these tricks:
- Clean the area with an enzyme cleaner to remove any odor marks for the cat.6 If she went there once, and she smells her own pee there, she’ll be tempted to go there again.
- After cleaning the area with an enzyme cleaner, put a couple of treats down: Cats, like humans, don’t like to “go” where they eat.
- Block the area off.
- Or cover it generously with a plastic cover liner, teeth side up, plastic wrap or tin foil. After a few weeks, you should see success.
- Try unscented litter. Some cats have extra-sensitive noses.
Good luck! Remember, the number one reason cats avoid the litter box is because the litter isn’t clean. So, make sure your kitty always has a supply of clean, effective Fresh Step® litter.
Get lots of litter with the Paw Points® program.
Join the Fresh Step® Paw Points® program, and you’ll earn points every time you buy litter. It’s easy to rack up the points — and then you can redeem for fresh, free litter (along with toys, entries into our big sweepstakes and even donations for your favorite cat shelter).
1. How old is that kitten? Kitten guide: Three weeks. (n.d.) https://www.alleycat.org/resources/how-old-is-that-kitten-guide-three-weeks/
2. Litter training. (n.d.). http://www.kittenlady.org/litter
3. Preventing litter box problems. (n.d.). https://www.humanesociety.org/resources/preventing-litter-box-problems
4. Litter box problems. (n.d.). https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-behavior-issues/litter-box-problems
5. What multiple cats need multiple litter boxes. (n.d.). https://www.petmd.com/cat/centers/litter/evr_why_multi_cat_households_need_multiple_litter_boxes
6. McCarthy C. (n.d.). How to clean cat urine. https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/how-clean-cat-urine