House training a kitten

Credit: MaxPixel

Dear Paws:  My mom says she will let me keep a kitten that is from one of my friends’ cats, as soon as the kitten is old enough. I can’t wait, but I wonder if it will be hard to house train the kitten? – Sara, via email

Dear Sara:  Compared to house training puppies, kittens are usually very easy to train. Cats instinctively use the bathroom in specific ways—burying their poop, for example—because in the wild, it hides their scent from potential predators.

The first time you bring the kitten home, let him or her explore the house a bit (supervised at all times). Then carry the kitten to the litter box and place him or her into it.

If the kitten pees or poops elsewhere in the house, don’t scold him—as soon as it happens, carry the kitten to the litter box and place him gently in it. Speak in a soothing voice all the time. The kitten should quickly make the connection that this is where you want him to go.

A couple of quick tips: scoop the litter box daily and change it weekly. Neither you nor your cat will like a smelly litter box. If the kitten’s habits change—he uses the litter box, then suddenly stops using it and eliminates around the house—take him straight to the vet to make sure he’s not sick.

Be sure to take your kitten to the vet as soon as you get him—on the same day, ideally—for his first checkup. That way you’ll have a healthy, happy kitten for whom you can provide the best care for a long life.

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