DEAR PAW’S CORNER: I’m going to adopt a cat soon, and I’ve never had a pet. My friend told me that cats aren’t easy to train, so I’m worried. Will it be difficult to train my cat to use a litter box? — Sara in Columbus, Ga.
DEAR SARA: Congratulations on adopting your first pet! Cats can be great companions. While it’s difficult to teach a cat to fetch or roll over like a dog, house training is usually much easier to accomplish.
Cats have a natural instinct to cover up their droppings. This hides them from predators. A litter box caters to that instinct.
A kitten that is old enough to be adopted (usually 12 weeks) has typically been taught by its mother how and where to poop, how to cover it up, and how to keep itself clean and neat (by washing its fur with its tongue). You can reinforce this: Set up your new cat’s litter box, as well as its bedding, toys, food and water, ahead of time. As soon as you bring your new cat home, take it to the litter box and let the cat check it out.
If your cat doesn’t get it the first time, and piddles elsewhere in the house, don’t scold it. Try to catch it as soon it happens, pick the cat up and place it in the litter box. It should connect quickly.
What if your cat refuses to use the litter box and goes elsewhere? Move the box to a quieter part of the house. If that doesn’t work, or if the cat appears lethargic or meows a lot, contact the veterinarian right away. Cats that don’t use the litter box often are ill, not stubborn.
Send your questions or comments to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Paw’s Corner, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475. For more pet care-related advice and information, visit www.pawscorner.com. © 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.