Kitten will not use the litter box
by Buffie Mead
(Indianapolis, Indiana U.S.A)
I just received two six week old kittens one uses the litter box the other will not. We have put him in and he has gone in it, but he will not get in it himself and go. It is the smallest box there and his brother can get in it fine.
Kittens usually first learn to use the litter box by imitating their mothers. Some kittens are faster learners than others, and various factors can influence the learning process.
If something happens to interrupt that learning process, the cat may get off track. If a kitten is separated from its mother too soon, or if conditions are not ideal (street cats, rehoming, etc.) the learning process may be broken.
Many breeders won't let kittens go to new homes before 12 weeks of age due to all the socialization and learning that goes on up until that time. Part of that is to give stability to the kitten's environment until he's consistently using the litter box.
I'm assuming that there are no health problems here, of course. I don't know the history here, but if these kittens were on the streets or exposed to other cats or animals, it's possible he has parasites or another health condition that makes things that much more difficult. Many rescue kittens experience diarrhea for a period of time, and this may complicate things.
I'm also assuming that you're confining your new little residents to a very small area of the house, so that he doesn't ever have far to travel to reach the box. Dr. Lisa Pierson has excellent advice concerning the litter box and kittens
in that you should keep them in a small room until they're consistently using the box.
The good news is, he may eventually catch the hint from his brother's behavior and with your encouragement, start using the box regularly. For your part, you'll want to place the kitten in the box several times a day. So, gently place him in there after his meals, after playtime, and when he wakes up from his naps.
Since he has already used the box successfully when you put him in there before, it's probably just a matter of being consistent with this until he is trained to it.
It's important not to use any type of punishment for non-use of the box. Simply clean up the "mistake" and stick to the training. With a healthy kitten, consistency in this process should win in the end.
Please let us know how he progresses.