Every animal deserves a loving home and making the decision to take in a stray cat can be one of the most rewarding experiences. However, it’s not without its challenges.

Stray cats have become accustomed to a certain way of life so it can be difficult for them to adjust to an indoor environment that includes a litter box.

Even though this is going to seem like an impossible task at first, it is possible to litter train a stray cat.

Will a Stray Cat Use a Litter Box?

When you decide to take a cat in, it will be categorized as either semi-feral or feral, which will give you an indication of how much time and patience it’s going to take to get them to use a litter box.

Feral stray cats aren’t accustomed to being touched by humans and will often avoid it, which is one of the first hurdles you will need to overcome. 

When it comes to getting them to use a litter box, know that it’s not impossible. Any animal can be trained to adopt a certain habit with the right tools, approach, and a little time and patience.

Also read: How to Train An Older Cat To Use a Litter Tray

What to Consider When Training a Stray Cat

As mentioned, one of the first things you will need to keep in mind is that a stray cat needs to get used to the idea of interacting with humans, which will include eventually living with humans.

You are not going to be able to get a stray cat to just come into your home and stay there. They are used to roaming free and doing their own thing in their own time. 

A slow and steady approach is the best way forward if you want to adopt a stray cat. Find ways to keep them coming back for more attention and food until eventually they will see your home as their own.

You will need a calm and patient attitude during this process and even once a stray cat starts becoming used to your home, it’s still important to respect their space and let them progress at their own pace. There’s no forcing a stray cat to do anything, not unless you want to build fear and resentment.

How to Train a Stray Cat to Use a Litter Box

Once you feel you’re in a space to start introducing your cat to a litter box, here are some tips and tricks to keep in mind.


Pick Your Litter and Litter Box Carefully

When picking a litter box and litter for a stray cat, you want to make it as similar to an outdoor setting as possible.

Any litter that is scented or feels too artificial will immediately deter your new feline friend so stick to varieties such as corn, wood shavings, or even sand. You can even mix some soil into your litter for the first few weeks to make it feel more familiar and comfortable. Placing a few leaves in the litter box can also help.

When it comes to choosing a litter box, an open tray is better. This is because stray cats are used to doing their business in the open where they can see their surroundings and potential predators. A closed box will feel confined and threatening, so there is very little chance they will take to it.


Be Wary of Placement

Getting a stray cat to use a litter tray means ensuring they don’t feel trapped. You may want to keep the tray in the corner of your home, but if your cat doesn’t feel like they can escape easily, they won’t be too keen on it.

It’s also best to keep the tray away from any noise so avoid high-traffic areas in your home and any noisy appliances. Cats prefer a calm and peaceful environment when it comes to doing their business.


Offer Some Encouragement

Make your stray cat aware of the litter box by drawing their attention to it when possible – after meals is always a good option.

If they’ll allow you to, place them inside the litter box and stir the litter around to show them that it is safe and to encourage them to do the same.

You could also have them around when you’re setting the litter box up. Letting your cat sniff and touch the litter before and when it goes into the box may get them curious enough to explore it further. 

And, any time your kitty successfully uses the box, offer some calm, positive reinforcement. Scolding is discouraged as this may scare your new furry family member and cause them to view their litter box in a negative light.


Prioritize Hygiene

Just like humans, cats want to do their business in a clean area, so it’s important to prioritize daily scooping and to keep the area around the tray clean too.

It’s also important to give their litter box a deep clean at least once a month to prevent the growth of any harmful pathogens. However, you may want to avoid any deep cleans until after your stray cat becomes used to using a litter box or you may get rid of essential scents and pheromones.

Final Thoughts

Even though getting a stray cat to use a litter box isn’t going to be the easiest of tasks, it will certainly be worth it.

Understand going in that this process will take some trial and error. You may need to experiment with different types of litter, incorporate treats as motivation, and move the litter box around until your cat feels more comfortable.

The bottom line is that it is possible to get a stray cat to use a litter box, so don’t throw in the towel too soon.