How Do Cats Know To Use A Litter Box?

How Do Cats Know To Use A Litter Box?

It’s one of the first things that most new cat parents are worried about, and there’s always one question on their mind – do cats naturally use a litter box? There is more to know that how and why, in most cases, a cat will naturally use a litter box.

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If you’ve recently brought home an adorable, little furry cat, you are probably already wondering about how to litter box train her.

It’s one of the first things that most new cat parents are worried about, and there’s always one question on their mind – do cats naturally use a litter box?

Well, much to your relief and happiness, most cats actually do know how and when to use a litter box. Most kittens learn the art of using a litter box from their mothers before you bring them home. But that’s not it; there’s more to how and why, in most cases, a cat will naturally use a litter box..

They Have Their Natural Instincts

Think of this as a natural instinct. Most felines are born with it where they have this need and urge to do their bathroom business in private. At the same time, they also want to bury their waste as a way to prevent the scent from reaching other animals around them.

You’ve probably also walked in on a cat quickly hiding away its waste in the sand at least once in your life, right?

In many cases, they don’t even learn it from their mothers; they just happen to know how to use a litter box.

They Are Private Creatures

As a new pet cat owner, you should know that cats tend to super secretive sometimes, and they like doing their business in private. You aren’t likely to ever find a cat dropping its waste openly like many other animals do.

If they don’t have a separate litter box, for instance, they will look for a secluded spot with low traffic and then do their business.

They Like Things Clean and Tidy

From everything mentioned above, you can probably tell that cats are generally super tidy and clean creatures.

They are known to be incredibly meticulous and have a thing for cleanliness.

If your kitty is suddenly not using the litter box that you got for her, it’s possibly because the litter box hasn’t been cleaned, and the scent is turning her off.

So, always make sure to deep-clean your cat’s litter box at least every week because the cleaner it is, the more your pet will be inclined to make good use of it.

How to Train Your Cat To Use The Litter Box

If your pet cat doesn’t seem to have a natural inclination to use a litter box, you need to start training it right away.

There can be instances where your cat might not naturally use a litter box, but there’s nothing to worry about because it’s fairly easy to train a cat to use one.

If your fur-ball needs some directions and pointers on litter training, here’s what you can do.

Place the Litter Box In the Right Place

As a rule of thumb, always remember that you should have one more litter box than the number of cats in your home.

So, if you are a new proud parent with a single cat, get two litter boxes. Make sure to place the boxes in two different areas of your home where there’s little to no traffic and areas that are more private.

Familiarize Your Cat With the Box

Litter training needs start right away, so it’s best to get them familiarized with the box as soon as you bring your kitty home.

You can begin by setting your cat in the box, allow it to sniff and examine it so that they get acquainted with the sight and feel of the box.

Put Your Cat In the Box After Mealtimes

Post-mealtime is one of the most common ‘doing the business’ times for cats, so after every meal,  make sure to put your cat inside the litter box.

If the cat needs to go, you will notice it sniffing the box or crouching in a particular manner. If your cat does its business according to plan, it is best to reward her with a treat, pat her on the back, or appreciate her on the job well done.

The cat is likely to take that as a cue that it’s done something good and will repeat the task in the same way.

The idea is to create positive associations between using a litter box and rewards like toys, treats, and praise.

Tips for Litter Training A Cat

There are many important details that cat owners need to bear in mind when training a cat how to use a litter box.


Here are a few tips to help you get started.

  • Choose the right litter box, one that is 1.5 times bigger than your cat. Also, an open or closed litter box depends on your cat’s preference.
  • Find the right kind of litter, such as a natural, unscented type, because that’s what most cats prefer.
  • Be consistent when it comes to litter usage because if you abruptly change the kind of cat litter, it’s possible that your cat will stop using the box altogether.
  • Always keep the litter box clean; one can’t emphasize that enough!

Final Takeaway

So, to answer your question, do cats naturally use a litter box? Yes, in most cases, they do.

If yours doesn’t, it could possibly be due to a number of reasons:

  • The box is too small
  • The box is dirty and smelly
  • The box is difficult to access
  • It is placed in a busy, non-private area of your home

In case none of these factors apply and your cat is still struggling to use the litter box, there could possibly be some health or behavioral concerns going on with your cat.

In such situations, it is best for you to take your furry friend to a veterinarian. If not behavioral, it could also be a medical problem. In any case, schedule an appointment with a vet if your cat isn’t naturally using a litter box like they normally do, or if it seems to be having difficulty in learning despite your training efforts.