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How to Train a Stray Cat to Use a Litter Box!

Updated on January 26, 2010
Open your home to a stray and save a life!
Open your home to a stray and save a life!

This will be a some-what short yet important HUB Page! If you have ever opened your heart and home to a stray cat then you know that they can often be tough to train when it comes to using a litter box. If you think about it, stray cats are use to eliminating outside…whenever and wherever they wish! Though bringing a stray cat into your home is a wonderful thing to do (after all, living in a warm, comfortable home is better than life on the street any day of the week!) you must remember that many stray cats have never stepped a paw inside a house before! Be patient, kind and consistent and before you know it, your new cat will be a loving member of your family and his stray days will be a thing of the past!


Like I mentioned before, stray cats are use to eliminating anywhere and in anything that they wish. It is best that you start with a very basic cat box…nothing to fancy. Though automatic cat litter boxes are wonderful, they will probably scare your new furry friend. Once you purchase a basic litter box, make sure you put it in a desirable location. Cats tend to like privacy when they go to the bathroom so putting the litter box in the busiest room in the house is probably not a good idea. Once you choose an ideal location, make sure you show your cat where it is. If you are really worried that he won't use his litter box, start out by placing the box in a small room or bathroom and leave your cat in the room for a while so that he can become acquainted with his new toilet.

Since many stray cats poop in sand and dirt, it is a good idea to get a cat litter that is similar to what he is familiar with. Ever Clean is a wonderful litter that is sold in most pet supply stores. It is considered a "premium" litter so you may not be able to find it in your neighborhood grocery store. The consistency of Ever Clean cat litter is similar to sand and dirt (but don't worry…it doesn't smell like dirt). Besides choosing a litter that your new friend likes, another great way to get a stray cat to use his litter box is to put a piece of cat poop and some cat pee into his box and then let him smell it. He should put two and two together and realize that the wonderful box you bought him is where he should "go." You may also consider mixing a small amount of dirt and or sand in with the litter. I know this sounds messy; however, you won't have to do this forever. As soon as your stray kitty figures out what his litter box is for you can wean out the dirt and sand eventually only using litter. This little trick tends to work well…and your cat is none the wiser.

If after trying several of the techniques above your stray continues to pee and or poop outside of his box, it may be time for a trip to the vet. Explain your situation to the veterinarian and allow him to rule out any medical problems. If he gives your kitty a clean bill of health…it may just take some extra time to litter box train your stray. Remember to be patient, consistent and don't give up! Opening your door to a stray cat is a noble and wonderful thing to do. He deserves a chance at a happy and healthy life! Good luck!

For more information about kittens and cats, please visit the Kitten Care Guide! Meow!


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      stray cat recently adopted 6 years ago

      THank you for this information. im going to try these ideas asap. my new cat is so cute and cuddly i hope he learns this quikly/

    • Cygstarz profile image

      Cygstarz 6 years ago from Maryland

      Most cats learn how to use a litter box very quickly. It is natural for them to go in a place where they can dig and cover. I wish you luck! Oh..and congrats for taking in a stray! Trust me when I say there are MANY stray cats in this world that need good homes. :-)

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      charlie 6 years ago

      we just took our new stray in tonight he is suprisingly very clean and well mannered he has been here for a week and i asked around and no one seems to own him so tonight i decided to let my fiancé bring him in and because i have to leave for 3 weeks for work we had thanksgiving early and put our christmas tree up. He went straight under it and that is where he has been sleeping stores were closed so she made him a cardboard litter box for now with some fresh cat litter my neighbor let us have until tommrrow when we can buy stuff so we are going to use this technique and see if it works thanks!

    • Cygstarz profile image

      Cygstarz 6 years ago from Maryland

      Hi Charlie!

      First of all...God Bless YOU for helping out a stray animal. That is awesome. Most cats will start using litter right's an instinct thing. Let me know how it goes. That stray cat that is sleeping under your Christmas tree really has a lot to be thankful for!

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      michelle 5 years ago

      my little kitty is a stray who ahs found her home in our compound. I feed her twice everyday but she chooses to poop only near the lift of the building which is higly annoying for the residents as it smells etc...i get a chance to clean up only after i come back from work... what do i do?? any ideas??

    • Cygstarz profile image

      Cygstarz 5 years ago from Maryland

      Hi Michelle...

      First of all...thank you for taking care of a stray cat! As for your problem...well, it's a tough one. It would be very difficult to teach an outdoor only cat to go to the bathroom where you want it to. The good news is that there are things you can do to keep it from "going" by the entrance to your building. Check out this webpage: There you will find harmless ways to keep a cat from digging or using the bathroom in certain areas. Good luck and I hope this helps!

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      kimberly 5 years ago

      i have to cat and there brothers but one of then died poe that his name and i was realy sad so my dad picked one off the street and his shop and hes dose not know how to use the litter box and he realy scared of every thing and my other kitten pobe dosent like my new kitten so i was thiking the dirt or sand will work with him thank u

    • profile image

      Claire 5 years ago


      Googled to find this answer. We've taken in a stray who started living in our garden last summer. She was very skinny and ran when we came out, but after months of encouragement she now is normal sized and is happiest sitting on my knee, drooling all over me!

      My husband is allergic so we made her a kennel type thing with a duvet in our boiler house, she comes and goes under the door.

      This week he has finally given in and allowed me to let her in our kitchen. Unfortunately one time she got in through a window, pooed on the bathroom rug then buried it with my dressing gown! I was hopeful that she thought the rectangular rug was a litter box, as there are many, many signs that she has been a left behind pet.

      I bought a basic litter box today, so fingers crossed she will recognise it and use it.

      We love her very much, I couldn't ask for a more perfect cat, and she found us!

    • Rusti Mccollum profile image

      Ruth McCollum 5 years ago from Lake Oswego, Oregon

      great hub. I have one that won't use the box. I'm gonna try locking her in the bathroom with it hopefully it will work. Thanks for the ideas.Have a great day.

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      debbie poplin 4 years ago

      thankyou for soluations to my stray.Its going to be a battle but I wont give up.I love him dearly!!!!

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