Kitten will not use litter box
by Joe Burch
(Kirkwood, NY USA)
We got a kitten at the age of 47 days because the lady wasn't taking care of the kittens, so we took her away from her mother early.
Since then we have had her to the vet's several times for check ups, shots and treatments for ear mites and fleas, which both are well taken care of.
But the main problem still and always has been that she will not use the litter box. It is a small box located in the bathroom, which she does most of her business in within 24" of the box on the carpet.
She has also done her business by our front door. We have changed the type of litter several times upon the vet's orders, but she still doesn't use the box.
We also have a 3 year old male, but he has his own litter box located in one of the clothes closets.My thoughts:
Thank you for taking care of her. Are you placing the kitten in the box often? This often works to train them to use it when mom cat isn't around.
Most cats have a natural instinct to eliminate on a sandy substrate, so a little encouragement and regular placement in the box after meals, when waking, and after exercise/playtime usually does the trick.
If a kitten is slow to get the hang of it, some people recommend taking one of the cat's front paws and making a digging motion in the litter. Those who are against this feel it isn't necessary and may make for an unpleasant experience for the cat, something we definitely do not want.
In addition to the urge to eliminate on sand or soil, kittens learn to use the litter box by imitating their mothers, but they don't usually start until 3-4 weeks of age. If a kitten is taken from the mother too soon, a surrogate, sometimes in the form of any other cat that already uses a litter box could be helpful.
Since the kitten is going in the bathroom near the box, I'll say that having the litter box too far away isn't a problem here, although that can be a factor as kittens don't have as much control.
With young kittens, some cat parents use shredded newspaper instead of cat litter. In the alternative, you could try a product like Cat Attract and see if that helps, and some cats are even stimulated by a little grass and dirt from outside mixed in.
I'm assuming the box was always a kitten sized box, so she never had trouble getting in and out of it? If the box sides are too high, this can be problematic for small kittens.
I hope that helps get you thinking, and please let us know how things progress.