Kitten keeps standing in his poop!

by Andrew Hirst
(Manchester, UK)

Hi, my 16 week old kitten is using the kitty litter just fine, but doesn't seem to know how to bury the poop.

He uses his two front paws to try and push the litter back but gets no where near the poop, and seems to dig right down to the plastic so there's no more litter to push.

He then ends up standing in it with his back paws and leaving the litter tray with poop all over his paws. I woke up the other day and he'd trodden it all over my pillow.

I've been on hand recently to watch him, wipe his paws and wash him if need be, but need to get him to learn to not stand in it.

Any suggestions??


My Thoughts:

I'm sorry to hear that your kitten is having problems, Andrew. This is a bit tricky in that he is using the box and we don't want to do anything that would cause him to stop doing that (i.e. associate unpleasantness with using the litter box).

Kittens typically learn to use the litter box from their mothers. If he was separated from his mother early, there may be something missing in his early training.

The good news is that some cat owners have reported that their kittens have done this type of thing early on, and then outgrown it.

I have a few suggestions:

1) Praise him a lot every time he tries to bury
it, but only after he leaves the box. Most cats don't like to be disturbed while using the box.

You can show him how to bury it by moving his paw in a scooping motion. This may annoy some cats, so use with caution.

2) Have you tried altering the litter levels? In this case, you might try experimenting with more or less litter (from say, ~3 cm to ~10 cm) to see if it's easier for him to manage.

I normally like to keep my litter several inches deep (about 7 - 10 cm), as the cats are less likely to dig down to the bottom, and it helps with urine not sticking to the bottom of the box.

But, in this case, maybe less is more.

3) Is the litter fine or more course in texture? I would think that finer litter would be easier for him to dig in, but I could be wrong.

Perhaps changing the weight of the litter may help. I'm normally reluctant to change litter type, as it can throw a cat off his/her box routine, so take that into consideration.

4) I'm also curious about the box size. If the box is too big for him (too wide or too high), he may have a difficult time navigating things. Kittens should usually have kitten sized boxes, and get an upgrade as they grow.

I hope that helps. Please keep us updated on his progress with this.

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