My cat is a former stray, approximately 7 years old, and her routine has always been to go outside to do her "evacuative" duties as she had her entire life. But as she is getting older and we are having issues with coyotes roaming around at night, I would like her to get used to using a litter box. I've never had a cat before so I never had to experience introducing a litter box to a cat. What's the best way to do this with my "mature" but nature-loving feline?
[Sticky] Training an older cat to use litter box
Thank you for reaching out to us with your question.
I think that’s a great idea to be thinking about your cat’s safety at night. To answer your question, it’s very possible to introduce a cat to a litter box even if they’ve never used one before. When they toilet outdoors in soil or sand, it’s basically like a very large litter box so they adapt quite well when litter boxes are provided indoors.
There are a few things that will encourage your cat to use the litter box. Firstly, it’s recommended to provide 1 litter box per cat plus 1. This would mean two boxes in your cat’s case in different parts of the house or on separate floors if multi-story. The litter box should be large for your cat to turn around and approximately 1.5 times the length of your cat. Litter boxes should be situated in quiet, private parts of the house that are always easy for your cat to access. Cats usually like a fine litter material that is soft on their paws and clumping makes it easier to scoop this out daily. Cats are very clean and won’t use their litter box if it’s very soiled so daily scooping is recommended and cleaning it out fully at least once weekly. Some cats prefer covered or uncovered boxes, so I’d either provide one of each or go for uncovered.
When you introduce the litter boxes into your house, you should bring your cat over to it so that they know it’s there. They’ll go into the box themselves in their own time so you don’t need to do this for them. Cats want to toilet in a clean area with soft material so they’ll soon discover the litter box and know what it’s for.
If you have any problems please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.
I hope this helps,
I have the same problem with our “adopted” 8 year old cat. I’ve offered a litter box (also, tried many different litters) and he won’t have anything to do with one. He continues to go outside like a dog! I even ordered an “attractant from Chewy” once. No luck. Are there anymore ideas I can try???
It can be difficult to encourage cats to toilet inside when they're used to going outdoors. As you can imagine, outdoors they have a huge selection of litter boxes to choose from (flower beds).
To encourage your cat to use a litter box, I would offer a few litter boxes in different locations and make sure that they're big litter boxes. I'd use uncovered (not hooded) litter boxes initially as your cat might be nervous to go inside a covered box. If he still won't use a litter box after those changes and won't use any type of litter you buy (clumping fine clay is the favourite, unscented), I've sometimes tried putting some compost in a litter box as this mimics what they use outdoors.
I hope this helps,