Tuesday, 25 September 2018

How to train your cat to toilet outside

The secret to getting your cat to toilet outside is to make them an outdoor toilet that is perfect for their needs.

Our domestic cats evolved from the African wildcat, which lives in sparse, sandy terrain where they are able to bury their deposits. This is important for their survival as it enables them to cover up any trace of their whereabouts from nearby predators.

Although our pet cats don’t have to worry so much about predators, they’ve still retained this behaviour and so need specific conditions for toileting. Unfortunately our back gardens don’t quite resemble the African savannah, so we need to do a bit of work to make them appealing to our moggies.


cat sleeping on garden decking
Modern gardens with decking & concrete don't make great cat toilets
Toilet type

The most important thing is to provide suitable material for your cat to bury their deposits in. Soil or fine play sand is perfect as it is easy for your moggy to dig. You could simply place a litter tray containing your chosen material outdoors, or dig a toilet for them, the same size as a standard litter tray or bigger, and fill it with the material. You’ll need to make sure it is available for them all year round, so if it freezes over in winter then an alternative toilet will need to be provided.

Location

As it is for us, going to the toilet is quite an exposing behaviour for cats so they need somewhere private and safe to do it, away from any loud noise and neighbourhood cats. Position their toileting site as close to the house as possible so it is in their core territory, preferably at the edge of the garden rather than in the middle, and put some plants around it so that your cat will be shielded from view.


tabby kitten behind a tree
Your cat will prefer a private toilet obscured from view
Fair-weather felines

If you are trying to encourage your moggy to use their new outdoor toilet, it’s best to do it when the weather is warm and dry. During the winter months it will not be so appealing, although you could try putting up a shelter or windbreak around it so that your moggy is protected from the elements.

Encouraging your cat to toilet outside can be tricky, so it’s important not to change anything about their current indoor toilet as they should always have the choice to use it if they want to. Hopefully, if you’ve created the perfect loo for them outside, they will gradually start to use it over time.

If you have any problems training your cat, take a look at our advice on the Cats Protection website or contact a qualified behaviourist.

See also:
How to train your cat to respond to their name
How to train your cat to use the litter tray, cat flap and cat carrier
How to train your cat to use a scratch post

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