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How to house train your cat

Bean

Owning a cat is both rewarding and potentially frustrating, especially if your cat isn’t properly house trained, by which we mean she has problems in using a litter tray or going outside for her toilet, or she takes to destroying your furniture carpet and curtains. We once had a cat that displayed an amazing ability to climb up the wall paper, at least so far, before it would slide down bringing streaks of wallpaper along with it.

Toilet training

Cats are notoriously clean when it comes to their toilet. Unlike dogs that will just walk away from theirs, well adjusted cats discretely bury theirs in the ground. Of course there are exceptions to every rule; we once had a dog that would do the same, (bury its faeces); it had learned to do so from observing our cat.

The best way to toilet train a cat is to use a litter tray. Fortunately if its mother uses one too, it will copy her and won’t need too much work on your part. However if this isn’t the case, you will have to take on the role.

It is important to position the litter tray where your cat can easily access it. It should be well away from where your cat eats and you should avoid using any disinfectants or deodorisers around it as the smell could discourage your cat from using it; cats dislike chemical smells. However it is also important to keep the litter tray clean. You should rake it through and remove faeces every day, which admittedly is not a pleasant job, but a necessary one otherwise your cat could stop using it. Make sure that you replace the cat litter every week, and take the opportunity to clean the tray using soapy water.

Cats tend to do their toilet after waking up in the morning, after taking a “cat nap”, and after eating. At such times place your cat on the litter tray. If it doesn’t seem to know what it should do, take its front paws gently in your fingers and encourage it to scratch into the littler. Once it starts doing that nature generally takes over and it completes the job on its own.

If your cat happens to do its toilet somewhere else, for instance on your carpet or favourite arm chair, be philosophical about it and don’t get cross. Certainly don’t punish it by rubbing its nose in it (as my ‘wise’ grandmother always advocated) as doing so will only have a negative effect.

Once your cat gets used to the litter tray, you can encourage it to go outside by placing it there and showing your cat where it is. Gradually you can encourage it to use the garden for its toilet and eventually do away with the litter tray altogether.

The thing to be careful about is the neighbours. After a while cats tend to eschew using their own garden for their toilet, preferring the garden of your neighbour, in which case it pays to take out cat insurance that includes third party liability.

Scratching

Cats just live to scratch, and often it is your furniture that suffers. You will never stop your cat from scratching; it marks out their territory, it is good for keeping claws healthy, and it makes them happy (sometimes putting a smile on their face).

The solution is simple; buy a few scratch posts that are even more enjoyable to scratch than your sofa. Spray them with something your cat likes such as cat nip, and spray what you don’t want scratched with cat repellent. Eventually your cat will catch on. As for stopping your cat climbing up the wall paper, we are still working on that one.

In collaboration with More Than.

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