How to Train Cats to Urinate Outside

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Cats are  clean and private animals and will hide their toileting whenever possible.
Cats are clean and private animals and will hide their toileting whenever possible. (Image: Jupiterimages/Comstock/Getty Images)

Training your cat to urinate outside enables you to remove a litter tray from your home. This can be a money-saving decision, based on the expense involved with keeping a litter tray and cat litter. It can also be a time-saving decision, as you will not need to clean or maintain the litter tray regularly. Or it can be a decision based on your own preferences. Most cats will quickly learn to use the toilet outside, providing they are already litter trained.

Things You'll Need

  • Litter tray
  • Cat litter
  • Cat flap

Litter Training

Set up a litter tray. There are a range of trays available, from standard to hooded trays. Pour about an inch of cat litter into the tray.

Place the tray somewhere suitable. Ideally, this should be somewhere relatively private, as cats like privacy when toileting. It should also be away from their food and water bowls.

Show your cat where the litter tray is. Encourage him to explore the tray, and get used to it. Your cat does not need to use the tray at this time; he can explore it so he will become familiar with it.

Observe the cat during the day. If they show signs of needing to use the toilet, such as ‘digging’ on the floor, place them in the litter tray.

Feed the cat as usual. Allow them time to eat without rushing them.

Wait a few minutes after the cat stops eating before placing them in the litter tray.

Repeat until your cat begins to use the litter tray independently.

Praise your cat when they successfully use the litter tray. This could be with a treat, or with extra attention.

Clean the litter tray regularly. Cats are unlikely to use a dirty litter tray, so this can encourage accidents.

Toileting Outside

Make sure your cat has easy and constant access to the garden. This could be through a cat flap, or an open door.

Move the litter tray outside. Place it somewhere where the cat can easily access it; ideally, this is where you’d like the cat to toilet, such as on a patch of grass.

Show the cat the litter tray in its new location. Allow them to explore it, and recognize it as their litter tray.

Continue with moving the cat onto the litter tray after eating or when he is showing signs of needing the toilet.

Wait until your cat is comfortable using the litter tray outside, and remove the tray. When your cat shows signs of needing the toilet, move your cat to the spot where the litter tray used to be, and encourage them to toilet there.

Tips & Warnings

  • Cats are likely to toilet in the same place. This means they will both urinate and defecate outside, or in the litter tray. It is not possible to train a cat to defecate inside and urinate outside. While your cat is learning to use a litter tray, prevent them from accessing rooms where they do not have a litter tray, or where accidents could ruin carpets.
  • It is easier to litter train young kittens, who have not learned any toileting habits, than it is to train adult cats. However, with perseverance, you can successfully litter train a cat.nAvoid scolding your cat for accidents. While these can be frustrating, they are likely to happen during the training process.

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References

  • Cats Of Australia: Toileting Outside
  • "The Ultimate Guide to Cat Training -- How to Train Your Cat Fast and Effectively"; Brenda Toler; 2010
  • "RSPCA Complete Cat Care Manual"; Andrew Edney; 2006
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