Last updated on October 6th, 2023 at 03:12 pm
Are you wondering how to get a cat to use an automatic litter box?
As you’ll find, cats need a bit of encouragement to use a self-cleaning box, so it’s natural for them to be anxious during the transition process.
Fortunately, I’ve prepared this fantastic step-by-step guide on how to get your cat to use automatic litter boxes.
Just keep reading.
How to Get A Cat to Use an Automatic Litter Box in 10 Steps
Cats are one of the cleanest pets and hate the smell of a dirty litter box so much that they won’t step a paw in soiled litter.
Unfortunately, scooping the box every day is not always easy, especially when the litter sticks to the bottom of the cat makes a big mess inside.
Moreover, cleaning embedded litter particles from the carpet and furniture is a chore for cat owners.
So, naturally, you’ll want a toilet box that does this nasty job instead of you.
But how to get your cat to use an automatic litter box? To train your cat to use an automatic self-cleaning cat litter box, you need patience, time, and a little bit of luck.
#1 Pick the Right Type of Self-Cleaning Litter Box
When it comes to the best smart litter box, you can be overwhelmed by various brands and functions.
But to increase your chances of training your cat to use an automatic litter box, you have to pick the right type of self-cleaning toilet box—covered or uncovered.
Previously, many owners thought that cats would avoid covered toilet boxes and find another suitable bathroom spot around the house.
However, as a study explains, “if boxes are kept sufficiently clean, most cats will not show a preference for either box type .“
Still, you want a box design that your cat is familiar and comfortable with to ensure a smooth transition.
You also have to choose the right size. If the box is too small, your cat won’t have the room to turn around, and it will be more difficult to coax it inside.
#2 Consider Your Cat’s Age
Automatic toilet boxes aren’t the best choice for kittens under six months.
As the pet expert Yody Blass, explains, “They may be too lightweight for the sensors or too small to climb into some units, or may even eat the litter .
#3 Choose a Suitable Toilet Box Location
In general, you should place litter boxes in a private location, away from traffic and your cat’s food/water bowls.
But when you’re switching to automatic boxes, the best permanent location is close to your cat’s regular litter box to avoid disrupting your cat’s bathroom routines.
Placing the self-cleaning cat toilet in a new place will confuse your feline companion and slow down the transition process.
#4 Let Your Cat Examine the Automatic Litter Box
It’s easy for cats to get scared when encountering unfamiliar objects in the house. Some felines are even scared of a room because of the new object.
As such, once you purchase a self-cleaning box, you should give your cat a day or two to get familiar with its scent and shape before you assemble it.
Just leave the litter tray and the parts for your cat to examine. Cats are curious creatures, so it won’t be long before they come to investigate.
#5 Assemble the Litter Box
Once you’ve found the best automatic litter box for your cat, it’s time to read the assembly instructions and put the whole thing together.
Usually, automatic cat litter boxes aren’t tricky to assemble. You can also find plenty of videos on Youtube on how to put together different brands, such as:
And you can always contact the manufacturer and ask for more instructions if you’re having trouble assembling the toilet box.
#6 Switch the Litter
Automatic cleaning boxes require specific substrates, such as washable granules, clay, or crystals. If it’s different than your usual brand, you should introduce it to your cat slowly:
- Sprinkle some of the new substrates on top of your cat’s usual clumping litter.
- Wait a couple of days to see if there’s any change in your cat’s bathroom habits.
- Slowly increase the amount of the new substrate in the litter box until you’re not using the old one anymore.
- Continue to monitor your cat’s bathroom behavior for changes.
#7 Don’t Turn the Self-Cleaning Box Just Yet
For the first week, you should leave the self-cleaning box available for use without turning on the cleaning function. You don’t want to freak your cat with the noise just yet.
Instead, you should build as much positive assassination with the automatic toilet as possible:
- Fill the pan with your usual type of litter to encourage your cat to use the automatic self-cleaning box as a substitute for its regular toilet.
- Allow your cat to examine the box and offer plenty of threats whenever you see your cat doing its business in there.
- Give your feline companion a couple of days and observe if it’s using the box as a bathroom.
- Don’t turn the clean cycle just yet but scoop the box as usual.
#8 Keep Both Toilet Boxes
Don’t remove your cat’s old litter box just yet. The sudden change can stress your feline companion, and it can start peeping/pooping around the house.
Instead, allow your cat to choose which toilet box they want to use. To tempt the cat to use the “correct” box, you can sprinkle some catnip or lure your cat with its favorite toy.
Sooner or later, your cat will try the new box. You have to be patient and reward your kitty when you see it around the self-cleaning box.
Once you observe that your cat has used the automatic toilet a couple of times, you can remove the old box. Wait a few days and move to the next step.
#9 Turn on the Cleaning Cycle
The automatic litter box should be your cat’s only bathroom option by this time.
Wait for your cat to use the automatic self-cleaning litter box and then turn on the cleaning cycle. Observe how your cat will react to the sudden noise coming from their toilet:
- Shy cats will bolt and hide as soon as they hear the unfamiliar sound. Comfort your kitty with tasty treats and pets until it calms down.
- Some cats will be curious enough to stay and watch how the automatic cleaning cycle works. Don’t panic, and don’t scold your cats if they strike their toilet box with a paw.
- Keep turning on the cleaning cycle by hand after bathroom visits.
- Be patient. It will take a couple of days or weeks until your cat is used to the box cycle sounds.
ALSO READ: Litter Robot Waste Drawer Liners
# 10 Keep The Box Turned On
In a few weeks, your feline friend should be used to the sounds coming from their toilet box after each “visit.”
Once your cat uses its box regularly without accidents, you can leave the self-cleaning mode on all the time.
Just remember to check that your cat hasn’t found any alternative bathroom spots.
7 Tips on How to Teach a Cat to Use an Automatic Cat Litter Box
As you can see, it’s not hard to teach your cat to use an automatic toilet box. However, some felines are pretty stubborn and can resist the change.
So, if your kitty is giving you a hard time or seems afraid of the self-cleaning box, I’ve got a couple of clever tricks to coax your pet.
#1 Stop Cleaning the Regular Toilet
As I already explained, cats hate the smell of a dirty toilet box. So, when you stop cleaning the cat waste from the old box, your pet will look for another clean option.
Naturally, your cat’s first choice would be the sparkly clean box you’ve placed near its usual toilet, especially if you’ve already followed the steps mentioned above.
Still, this trick is a bit risky because your cat can start avoiding the toilet box and develop a preference for another location or surface .
#2 Add a Bit of Familiar Scent
Sometimes cats are wary of the new toilet box you’ve provided because it smells strange and they don’t trust it.
Place some dirty clumps from the old box in the fresh litter to lure the cat inside. The cat will recognize its smell and won’t be afraid to go inside.
You can also sprinkle a little bit of catnip around the toilet box or inside the tray. Many cats are sensitive to this herb and won’t resist.
#3 Use Only Positive Reinforcement
Your cat must have a pleasant experience using the new automatic cat litter box. If you scold your kitty or force it inside the toilet box, your cat will be too pissed and scared to do its business.
Usually, cats need the bathroom after napping, vigorous play session, and mealtimes. So, coax your cat to the toilet box after each of these occasions.
And make sure you reward your cat with yummy treats every time you see it using the new toilet box.
#4 Have Enough Toilet Boxes
Automatic litter boxes sound like a miracle for households with multiple cats and owners who scoop several times per day.
However, cats shouldn’t share their toilet or bathroom space with another feline. Unlike people, cats won’t hold it until the bathroom is accessible.
That’s why cat experts recommend that you always have an extra toilet available.
#5 Try Cat Attract Litter
If you’re not having much success in getting your cat to use an automatic litter box, you can get a special litter to attract your cat to use the box.
The disadvantage is that this particular substrate isn’t compatible with all self-cleaning automatic litter box models.
# 6 Maintain the Toilet Box
It’s easy to forget about cleaning the automatic toilet box in busy households. However, it would help if you didn’t forget to check the sensors and dispose of the dirty litter in the trash.
While self-cleaning cat toilets are great for keeping unpleasant odors at bay around the house, your cat has a better sense of smell than you.
As such, they know when you’re lacking behind your duty and will stop using the box.
#7 Don’t Rush Things
Finally, don’t rush things when you’re training your cat to use a new self-cleaning litter box. Any unpleasant experience around the box will decrease your chances of success.
How to Train a Cat to Use an Automatic Cat Litter Box: FAQs
How Long Does It Take For a Cat to Use Litter-Robot?
In general, it can take your cat up to a couple of weeks to get comfortable with the Litter-Robot, depending on how shy your pet is. Most pet owners recommend keeping the Robot powered off for a week before you turn on the automatic mode.
How Long Does It Take For a Cat to Get Used to a New Litter Box?
Cats can get used to a new toilet box in a couple of days, especially if it’s the same size and type as their old one. However, if you switch to covered or automatic toilet boxes, the transition period will be longer.
Why Won’t My Cat Use the Automatic Litter Box?
Usually, cats don’t use automatic toilet boxes because they’re afraid of the sounds or don’t like the shape and size of the box.
As you can see, how to get your cat to use an automatic litter box is a matter of time, patience, and rewards.
Still, automatic toilet boxes require regular maintenance to keep foul odors at bay and match your cat’s standards. So, don’t think you won’t have to do any work once you finish training your cat.
Moreover, automatic boxes aren’t always the most affordable option for cats in multiple-cat households. So, think carefully before training your cat to use an automatic toilet box.
What do you think about this step-by-step guide on how to get your cat to use an automatic litter box? Does your cat use such toilets? Share your thoughts in the comments.
- 1. Grigg EK, Pick L, Nibblett B. Litter box preference in domestic cats: covered versus uncovered. Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery. 2012;15:280–4.
- 2. Is a Self-Cleaning Litter Box Really Less Work? [Internet]. www.petmd.com. Available from: https://www.petmd.com/cat/care/self-cleaning-litter-box-really-less-work
- 3. Litter Box Problems [Internet]. ASPCA. Available from: https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-behavior-issues/litter-box-problems
Olfa knows how to get things done and has a keen business sense that others admire. She’s always on the go, coming up with new ideas! Her ability to anticipate the needs of her readers and deliver information that they want is what makes CatVills such a success. She loves cuddling her cat Picaciu. He is her inspiration.