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Litterbox Training an Almost Blind Kitten

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 

I am fostering two former stray kittens, one of which is almost blind.  She appears to be able to differentiate light and dark and I notice her ability to locate objects is better in bright light. She has little problem finding her food, water and toys, but I cannot seem to get her to use either of the two litterboxes I have set up.  She tends to avoid any area that is dark and won't climb into the boxes.  One is brown so I figured that is why she won't use it, but the other is light pink so I thought it would work since she's more drawn to light areas (the linoleum in the bathroom is mostly white).  When she needs to go, she'll pace frantically around the room mewing.  I'll call her over to the box and when she comes to me, I will lead her over and into the box.  She just jumps out and continues pacing until she can't hold it anymore, then will squat on the linoleum to do her business.  I'm probably wrong to do it, but I pick her up at that time and place her in the box, hoping that the feel of litter under her paws will give her the idea where she should go. She continues her business (by then she's committed), but she hasn't got the connection yet.  I had also thought that she'd be drawn to the boxes by the smell of her sister using it.  It's only been two days, but I want to make sure that I'm training her correctly.  Can anyone give me any additional suggestions or clue me in on how long it takes?  I've never fostered a special needs kitty before, and it's been decades since I've had to litterbox train any kitty.  Thanks in advance for your help.

post #2 of 14

There might be other things at work.  Wrong kind of tray.  Wrong size of tray.  Litter she doesn't like.  Litter too clean.  Litter too dirty.  And, only 2 days...  Are you the first home with litter trays she's had?  If she was with a different fosterer before you could ask them how she was getting on.


Although she is almost blind I doubt that is the cause of the problems, that is if there is one beyond newness.


There might be some useful things in this page:

post #3 of 14
Originally Posted by bigcatfan View Post It's only been two days, but I want to make sure that I'm training her correctly. 


Yes, you do it like it is usually done with training of puppies and cats who dont know how to do it.


Oriental gave you several good follow up questions.

It is not so she just poops anywhere. Apparently she knows she is supposed to make it in a appropriate place, but by some reason she doesnt recognize your litters as THE appropriate place.

So what WAS her appropriate place/sort of litter 3 days ago? 


If your big litter boxes arent OK for her, you could try with a shallow litter try?  Like is used for training for small kittens, or used for show cats.  They often use bakery aluminium foils for it.  Se it up with a double adhesive tape  the bottom - floor, so the little litter box doesnt wander around.


If she is from the outside, she prob did in the dirt.  Or the previous fosterer used some dirt in the litter box...  Or some grass / leaves...


Using these small aluminium litter trays you can try out with several different litter at once.


Tx for caring!


Welcome to our Forums!


Good luck!

post #4 of 14

BTW my new kittens will NOT use their normal litter in an open tray.  They were used to using a hooded tray at the breeders and that's what they still use.  I'll be trying the litter I normally use in the hooded tray next, having put a little used litter in the open tray (as well as fresh) and putting it more out-of-the-way than at present.

post #5 of 14

Okay, I have no experience with vision impaired kittens, but this is what I would try if I was in your shoes:


1. If she keeps going in the same place put a box there if at all possible. 

2. If not, and you feel like light may be a factor, I would buy a small book light and attach it to the back of the box. This way, she will be able to see it better. 

3. Regardless of which method, I would highly recommend some Dr. Elsey's Kitten Attract Litter. I have preached about it's awesomeness before and still stand by it's freakish magical properties. It has worked for every kitten I have had litterbox training difficulties. They are attracted to the scent, and if she has decreased vision she probably has heightened olfactory glands and the smell will really entice her. 


Good luck! 

post #6 of 14
I know that my old friend had two cats and the issue was that his cat wouldn't use the litter box if the other cat used it.. so maybe your foster kitty doesn't want to share a litter box.
post #7 of 14
Originally Posted by EB24 View PostDr. Elsey's Kitten Attract Litter. I have preached about it's awesomeness before and still stand by it's freakish magical properties. It has worked for every kitten I have had litterbox training difficulties. They are attracted to the scent,


Right, and you dont need to fill the whole litter pan with Dr Elseys. It is enough with the outer layer, the rest down under you can fill up with a more common, cheaper, not scented litter.

So, although it seems rather costly as per kilogram, in reality it is very affordable.


Tx EB24 for reminding.   :)



Good luck!

post #8 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you all for your responses.  I volunteer for our local Humane Society and she (Lani) and her sister (Tama) were turned in as strays.  They had been kept in a small metal kennel for 4 days before I got her where they had a small shallow tray that stands about 2" high (1/2 the height of my smaller box).  I'll have to check with them to see if they kept records of her actually using it or not.  My small box has the same litter they use (Tidy Cats non-clumping); the larger one has clumping litter (Ever Clean/Blue Buffalo mix).  The sister almost exclusively uses the larger box.  I normally scoop the boxes daily, but have tried going a couple of days just to see if the smell would attract her.  No luck.  The large box has a hood which can be flipped up for cleaning.  I've just been leaving it up and I notice Tama tends to use the box in the back where the hood still covers. 


Lani just doesn't like to step onto elevated surfaces.  Tama will play with toys in my walk-in shower, which has a 4" rise.  Lani is interested and will place a paw on the lip, but will not go in.  She has jumped into the small box as she follows her sister along the shower, but still won't make the connection.  I have a small 2" step placed outside the large litter box to make it easier for the kittens to get in, but she won't step on it either.


I purchased some puppy training pads and put them down in the two main areas (next to the large box and by the bathroom door) where she tends to go.  It's been hit and miss.  She did pee and poop on the one next to the box, so I tossed down a little litter on it so she could connect the dots.  Didn't work.  Next time she went, she pooped on the linoleum near their food dishes, then peed on the linoleum next to the pad by the bathroom door.  I will try the Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Litter and get a shallower tray if I can find one.  I'm not as concerned with the cost since the litter I use for my resident cats is not cheap.  I'm mostly concerned in getting Lani trained in order to make her more adoptable as special needs kitties are usually harder to place.  Here's a picture of her.




Thanks again for your suggestions.  I'll give them a go and keep you informed on her progress. smile.gif

post #9 of 14

aww she is adorable, if i didnt already have a houseful id take her in a second :)

post #10 of 14
Thread Starter 

I was able to find Dr. Elsey's Cat Attract Litter at my local PetsMart.  They didn't have the Kitten Attract Litter.  I hope it might still work.  I notice the granules are smaller than the regular litter I use.  I got a small disposable box used for critters which has a lower front step-in and the box is white so I 'm hoping Lani will use it.  After she ate, I placed her in the box.  She sniffed it for a little while before stepping out.  I also added the litter as a top layer on the other two boxes.  So far both Lani and Tama have smelled the boxes but haven't walked in voluntarily.  Now I have the added problem of them both having diarrhea.  I thought by now their systems would adjust to the change in food, but it seems actually worse (more watery).  I'm thinking I should schedule their feedings instead of leaving food constantly available--I think they're pushing it through their systems too fast.  Neither are gaining weight.  Lani has lost 0.1 lbs and Tama has remained the same weight since I got them on the 10th. frusty.gif

post #11 of 14

The cat version is similar to the kitten but not quite the same. The kitten formula has even finer granules (it's almost like sand) but I think the scent is similar. I would think the regular formula will work fine but if it doesn't take the bag back- usually PetsMart will take back food and litter if your cat didn't like it. They may be able to order you the kitten formula. 


Yeah their tummies should have adjusted by now, especially If you pulled them from a shelter they weren't likely eating high quality stuff. It could be that they are eating too much too fast but I would get them to a vet ASAP to rule out any serious illnesses. They can get very dehydrated very fast and you need to rule out things like parasites, ect if you haven't already. Maybe you can just confine them both to the bathroom for tonight? That way if they miss the box you don't have a huge mess in your carpet. If the one who was doing well with the box prior stops using it, make sure at least one box just has the TidyCat litter in it. 

post #12 of 14
Thread Starter 

Update on Malulani - Well I found the Kitten Attract Litter and set up a box for that.  It didn't work.  She's curious and will smell the box, but won't step in.  I've placed her in the box after eating, but she'll step out.  Her sister has used the box and rarely uses the other boxes (there are now 3 in there - one w/reg litter, one w/Cat Attract, and one w/Kitten Attract).  Lani has twice peed on the piddle pad NEXT to the box, but I can't even seem to get her to associate using the piddle pads instead of the linoleum.  She still pees/poos on the linoleum right next to the pads.  I keep using the Nature's Miracle to kill the odor in hopes she'll move to more appropriate places.  I think she's the one who has twice peed in the shower, which means at least she is stepping into it, a small point of progress.  She tends to go when I'm not in the room so I can't move her to the box each time she assumes the position.  I contacted the shelter and they don't have any notes that she was avoiding the box there.  I've never had a cat with complete litter avoidance before, especially a stray.  I even thought of trying some of the stuff they use in hamster cages, but it seems she only likes smooth surfaces.  I don't know what else to try.


On the plus side, the diarrhea problem has cleared.  The shelter vet game me some I/D food.  They are gobbling it up and having regular stools.  He thinks maybe the Blue Buffalo is too rich to start them off on.  Lani has put on a little weight but Tama is holding steady (she's really active).

post #13 of 14

What kind of puppy pad are you using?


Here is an idea: When Lani uses a puppy pad instead of the floor, give her a treat. That way she will learn not to pee and poop on a hard, smooth surface, even though she would not be in the litterbox. Also it would make a lot more sense to just train her with the pads so Lani gets the idea there are designated places for peeing and pooping first, then advance to litterboxes. There is no hurry to get her adopted. Teaching her to use litterboxes while having pads out is sending Lani mixed signals and she is confused about what to do.

post #14 of 14
Thread Starter 

Thank you for the advice.  I am using the pads from Petsmart (Top Choice).  Unfortunately, she goes when I'm not in the room, so I can't reward her at the time so she gets the connection.  I've also had to isolate her to just the bathroom all the time.  I had started letting her out for 1/2 to 1 hour in my bedroom/upstairs so she could explore, but that seemed to confuse her more and she would pee and poop on the carpet in the other rooms.  By her being only in the bathroom, she seems to be more consistent with using the pads.  She's also gone from using three areas of the bathroom to two -- just outside of both of the litterboxes.  That's progress, but I'm going to have to have another foster parent take over her training.  My adult male cat is starting to mark in response to her peeing on the carpet and its stressing him out.  I contacted the shelter and they're going to get her with a foster who is more experienced with special needs pets and can get her the proper training so she'll be adoptable.  It's been a good learning experience for me so, thanks to all the people who responded, I'll be better prepared next time I have a special needs pet.

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