Litter Box Training Tips

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Adopting a new cat is so much fun; there are toys and treats to buy, adorable pictures to take, and a kitten to play with! However, one of the most important aspects of kitten ownership is training your kitten to use a litter box. The sooner you’re able to do this, the happier you’ll both be!

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When I had kittens, litter box training was a cinch.  I took each cat to the litter box, put him or her in it, and scratched around in the litter with its paws.  From that moment on both of my kittens had no trouble using the litter box.

It’s not always this simple, and even cats who are great at using a litter box can sometimes have a set back.  Moving to a new place, for instance, can cause cats to revert to bad behavior when it comes to avoiding their litter box.  So, here are a few tips that may help you overcome any difficulties in getting YOUR kitten or cat to use a litter box.

  1. Make sure the litter box is clean.  You have to clean it at least once a day (clean out any clumps) and rinse it with warm water at least once a week. Each day when you clean it, add an inch or so of new litter too. Cats like a clean place to go, so if the litter box is dirty they’re going to avoid it.
  2. Be mindful of where the box is located.  It needs to be in a quiet and easily accessible place.  It does not need to be near where your cat sleeps.  Make sure it’s a place easy for the cat to get to – not a place where a door might accidentally close and leave the cat without litter box access.
  3. If  you’re training a new kitten, take it to the litter box and scratch around in the litter.  This will show the kitten that this is a nice, clean place to use the bathroom.
    1. Make sure the litter box is one your kitten can easily get in and out of.
    2. It needs to be large enough for the kitten to turn around and kick a bit of litter around in order to bury any waste.
    3. At first, try to put your cat in the litter box after it eats, wakes up from a nap, or finishes with a play session. These are the most likely times for it to use the bathroom and if you begin taking it to the box early on, you’ll help the cat form a routine.
    4. Finally, the number of litter boxes in your house should ideally be equal to the number of cats you have plus 1.  So if you have 1 cat, you need 2 boxes.  2 cats? 3 boxes. This will ensure that the cats always have a clean box to go to and are also able to have their own privacy.

Tips for helping your pets and children bond

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When it comes to pets and kids, there are several steps you can take to make sure your puppy or even older dog learns to socialize well with children of all ages.

The dog

  • Begin socializing your pet as soon as possible.  If you’ve got a puppy, then between 5 weeks and 5 months is the best time to really begin introducing your pet to children.  This chart from the ASPCA shows the best times to introduce your puppy to a variety of people, places and things:
  • Even with older dogs, you can still help them to become more used to children by slowly introducing them to kids and various child-based situations.  Try taking them to a soccer field to watch children play or take them to a friend’s house where children are present. Introduce them to children of various ages.
  • Teach your dog the “pack” order and how to be comfortable as a pet in a human society by making sure he knows his place: make sure the dog gets fed after people do; make sure that you or your child enters the house or leaves the house before the pet does so that the pet sees who is in charge.
  • Don’t force your dog into a situation that he or she isn’t ready for and make sure not to allow the dog to play roughly with children.
  • Be sure to supervise all pet/child encounters!

The children

  • Make sure your children know that pets are real creatures, not toys.  They should always be gentle with pets.
  • Children shouldn’t grab toys away from pets.  Teach your child how to coax the toy (if playing fetch) from your pet and how to reward the pet with treats for a job well done.
  • Make sure children know to leave dogs alone while the dogs are eating and make sure that they know not to run up to strange animals.

Children and Cats

Cats are quite tolerant of children.  From my own experience it seems every time cats are around children they seem to just lie there while kids do their best to “gently” pat the kitty.  Still, there are a few guidelines to keep in mind when helping your child and cat bond:

  • Make sure that children approach cats from a sitting position so as not to seem threatening.
  • Remind children that cats are alive and need to be treated gently and with care.
  • Perhaps reward your cat for his good behavior with a favorite treat or some catnip.

Puppies and Kittens: 5 essentials

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When you bring home a new puppy or kitten, there are several great items you should have on hand to make life easier for everyone.

For puppies
1. Piddle Pads – when house training your new puppy, piddle pads can come in handy.  If you have to be gone for an extended period of time, having a pad your dog knows is an “ok” place to go will make life easier for both of you.  Young puppies have bladders that are still developing and may not be able to hold it if you’re away for a while.

2. Treats – The best way to teach your dog what behavior is acceptable is by rewarding him or her with a treat.  Kind words and a little bit of a treat after using the bathroom outside, coming when called or sitting will go a long way towards getting your young puppy to obey.

3. A good leash – Taking your puppy on walks is a great way to get him or her used to a leash, and also used to the world around him.

4. Name Tags / Collar – Make sure to get your puppy a collar and a name tag with his name, address and phone number.  If he ever escapes from you, you’ll be glad to know that information is there for someone if they find him!

5. Gates – If you want to confine your puppy to one room of the house while you’re at work, having a gate to close off certain rooms of the house is the way to go.

For kittens
1. Spray deterrents – there are lots of pet-safe sprays available that will help keep your new kitten from clawing on furniture or curtains.

2. Treats – Kittens don’t really understand punishment, but they DO understand rewards for good behavior.  When your kitten does what you want, like coming when called or using the litter box, have a small treat handy.

3. Litter box and litter – a new litter box will be necessary for your new kitten. If you already have a cat at home, make sure to bring home at least one extra box and maybe 2.

4. Furniture and/or toys – kittens need places to play and things to play with.  Make sure to get a good scratching post and perhaps even a tower or two for your cat to climb on.  Small toys to chase will also keep your kitten’s mind active and alert.

5. Carriers – when transporting your kitten to the vet or anywhere else, a good carrier is essential for its safety!

Find all of these items and more at J&M Aquatics and Pet Center, 2851 North Avenue, Grand Junction.