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How to introduce a new litter box to your cat: Our top tips

This is exactly how to get your cat to use a new litter box

Cats love their routines; they’re creatures of habit who rarely enjoy new things. This can make it difficult when you need to switch your kitty to a new litter box. But just because she doesn’t like change doesn’t mean you have to keep using the same dirty old litter box. It simply means you have to be smart about the transition. If you’re wondering how to get a cat to use a new litter box, keep reading below to learn some crucial tips!

Difficulty

Easy

Duration

30 minutes

What You Need

  • Litter box

  • Cat litter

  • Cat toys

  • Treats

Kitten sitting outside of litter box
Ysbrand Cosijn/Shutterstock

How to introduce the new box

If you’re using the same type of litter and style of box, your cat probably won’t have any objections. If you are switching to a different box style, like a self-cleaning or covered one, you need to be extra contentious about these other factors.

Step 1: Location is key. Location, location, location! What they say about real estate is also true of your cat’s litter box: Having it in the right position can help ease the transition to a new box. Consider putting the new box exactly where the old one was. This will help her understand that the new box has the same function as the old one.

Gray cat sitting next to litter box
New Africa/Shutterstock

Step 2: Don’t throw out the old box. Sure, it’s tempting, but don’t throw out the old box as soon as the new one arrives. She might recognize that both boxes have the same purpose. Your kitty will probably decide to use the new one of her own accord.

Want to find out why your cat is lying in the litter box? Check out our guide.

Step 3: Use scent to entice them. Cats have excellent senses of smell. They enjoy and are drawn to familiar scents. To incentivize your cat to use the new box, pour a little bit of the used litter in the new box. Keep in mind, however, that this trick will not work with all litter boxes. For example, if you have a self-cleaning litter box, your cat may not be able to pick up the scent before it is removed by the machine.

Step 4: Keep it tidy. Try to make the new box more desirable by cleaning it out more often. Hopefully, your cat will realize the advantages of using the new box and stop using the old one on her own.

Kitten using a litter box
Africa Studio/Shutterstock

Step 5: Use toys and treats. The goal is to help your cat create a positive association with her litter box. To achieve this, you can use anything your cat enjoys, whether it’s a tasty treat, favorite toy, or catnip. Put her toys around the new box. Scatter treats in the area with her litter box. Sprinkle some catnip near the box’s entrance or on the mat.

Step 6: Remember positive reinforcement. You should also provide positive reinforcement whenever your cat approaches and explores the litter box. Warm, positive emotions work just as well as treats when rewarding your kitty for her good behavior. If you praise and show support for your cat, it lets her know that you approve of her behavior. With your reassurance, she will feel better about using the new litter box

Step 7: Let her set the pace. Additionally, you should never force your cat to use the new litter box or scold her if she doesn’t. Negative reinforcement doesn’t work; it will only make your cat afraid of the new box and of you. Give your cat the time and support she needs to get accustomed to the new litter box.

Switching your cat’s litter box can be quite a challenge. Kitties are usually resistant to change, and if you’re not careful, you may end up dealing with a bigger mess than before. By keeping the box in the same location and using treats, scent, and praise to encourage her, you can ease her transition. With these four helpful tips, you now know how to introduce a new litter box to your cat. Good luck!

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