November 21, 2011

Litter Training

I've avoided mentioning Kaylee, though we've had her around three months now, because we were trying to see if we could litter train her. She's pooped on the carpet, the couch, and even peed in Alice's old crinkle-tunnel (which made me super-sad). If we couldn't train her, we would have taken her back to the shelter. The event in the comic above was undoubtedly the lowest point of her training.  She pooped.  On the sink.  While I was washing my hands.  After cleaning her litter box.  Luckily (for us all), she's a lot better now.

For those of you who adopt a stray, here's how you litter-train them:
  1. In a small room or kennel with no soft things (no fabric for them to lie on), you put a litter box, food dish, and water dish.
  2. Once they go a week using only the litter box, then you can give them a rug or blanket to sleep on. If they go on that object, take it away until they go another full week using just the litter box. Repeat until they can go a full week without going on the soft object.
  3. Once they go a week without going on their soft object, you can let them have supervised time out of their small room. Increase the time based on their good behavior. If they mess up, it's back to confinement for another week.
  4. Once they can behave outside their room, start letting them out for longer periods during the day (I do unsupervised but do a spot check for accidents every 2-3 hours) and only lock them up at night.
  5. Two or more weeks of perfect behavior and you can dispense with the lockup.
Return to steps 1 or 2 as needed.

It took a VERY long time to get Kaylee where we want her, and it's going to take another month before I let her in the bedrooms (where it would be easier to hide illicit poopies), so if you get an untrained stray be prepared for litter training to take forever -- including setbacks. But from what I've read, this process worked for a woman who's adopted ~7 strays in her life and housebroke them all.

For Kaylee, she used the box just fine when it was the only option in her room (the bathroom). She peepeed on her towel once, so we took it away, but when we gave her a rug two weeks later she never ever went on it. She did have some trouble with supervised time downstairs, and that was the biggest time-sink. We had to put her back for several weeks before she could behave in the main parts of the house either supervised or unsupervised.

So take heart if you want a stray.  It's a bit of work, but training them up right is worth it.  (Kaylee is super-affectionate.)

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