How to Make Introducing a New Litter Box to Your Cat a Breeze

Video how to introduce cat to new litter box


It’s no secret that cats are creatures of habit. They thrive on routine and can be resistant to change, especially when it comes to their habits and environment. This is particularly true for elderly cats who are less adaptable than kittens. However, there are times when introducing a new litter box becomes necessary. Whether you have new cats joining the family or simply want a box that better suits your home, there are ways to navigate this transition successfully. Here are five helpful tips to make introducing a new litter box to your feline friend a seamless experience.

1. Keep the Old Box

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If your cat consistently uses their current litter box, it means they are content with it. Suddenly removing it can stress out your cat, especially if it is skeptical of the new box. During the transition period, it’s crucial to keep the old box intact. Leave it in the same location and filled with the same litter. This way, your cat can continue using it until they get used to the new addition.

The trick is to make the new litter box more appealing than the old one. Cats are clean animals and prefer relieving themselves in fresh litter. Make sure the new box is always clean, while cleaning the old box less frequently. Over time, the old box will become less appealing, and your cat may be enticed to try out the new box. Remember, cats can be stubborn, so patience and consistency are key to success.

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2. Location, Location, Location

Cats value their privacy, especially during vulnerable moments like going to the bathroom. Choosing the right location for their litter box is crucial. If your cat happily uses the current litter box, the new box should be placed in the same area. If the new box is of the same size and shape as the old one, you can even swap them out discreetly without your cat noticing.

However, if you’re introducing a completely different box, you’ll need more patience. Place the new box next to the old one, so your cat becomes accustomed to seeing it while using the old box. Over time, they’ll recognize that both serve the same purpose and may feel more inclined to try it out. Placing the new box in a completely new location may only confuse your cat, and they may ignore it.

3. Use Recognizable Scents

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Scents play a significant role in cat communication. Your cat’s urine is like their personal brand or name tag, leaving messages for other cats. Introducing their scent to the new litter box can be beneficial. Mix a small amount of used litter from the old box into the new box. This will incorporate familiar smells that your cat recognizes and make them more comfortable exploring the new box.

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4. One Change at a Time

Making multiple changes to your cat’s routine can confuse or scare them, especially if they’re set in their ways. When introducing a new litter box, it’s essential to focus on one change at a time. If you’re planning to adjust the location and type of litter used, do it gradually. Your cat may not recognize the new box as a suitable place for toileting if it’s too different from their familiar box.

Instead, take small steps to allow your cat to adjust alongside the changes. It may be challenging for us to embrace gradual change, but patience and perseverance will pay off. By ensuring your cat maintains proper habits around the home, you’ll create a harmonious environment for both of you.

5. Reinforce Good Behavior

woman hang giving treat to a cat
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Cats are known for their independence and self-governing nature. While they may not respond to praise or negative reinforcement like dogs, they are intelligent enough to make connections between behaviors and positive rewards. If you hear your cat using the new litter box, quietly observe nearby. When they finish, reward them with a small treat or a gentle pat. With time, they’ll associate using the new box with receiving rewards and ignore the old box.

It’s crucial to note that you should never punish your cat for using the old box. Negative reinforcement will deter them from using any litter box and may result in unfavorable toileting behaviors throughout the house.

In a Nutshell

Cats are independent and strong-willed, so introducing a new litter box requires a thoughtful approach. By understanding your cat’s motivations and comfort zone, you can ensure a smooth transition. Keep these tips in mind, and you’ll be well on your way to success. Remember, patience is key, and your efforts will be rewarded in the long run!

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Featured Image Credit: Leoniek-van-der-Vliet, Shutterstock


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