I bought an expensive self cleaning litterbox because if the normal one gets even slightly dirty after, say, 1 day, she will use the carpet instead. It's been happening for weeks. I can't keep coming all the way home on my lunch break to clean the litterbox or pick poop up off the floor. So I bought this automatic litterbox.

It cleans itself 20 minutes after the cat gets out of it. Unfortunately, she saw me setting it up, and it does a test sweep when plugged in. She seemed freaked out about getting in it after that, and even got startled for no reason when checking it out.

So she's chosen to use the floor rather than the new litterbox for the 2 days that we've had it, even though we moved it to the corner where she goes if the litterbox isn't clean enough for her liking.

Further detail:

  • The box is in the same place the previous one was, albeit pushed up against the wall where she went if the other one wasn't clean.
  • The litter used in the automatic box is different, but this is a requirement for this special litterbox.
  • The box cleans itself by sweeping everything into a compartment slowly with a metal rake.

I have got to train this 5 month old kitten to use this litterbox. What can I do?

3 Answers 3


My approach would be:

  1. Put the old litter box back immediately, with something to protect the floor. (You can probably find a cheap shower curtain liner for this purpose.)
  2. Put the new litter box nearby, but do not plug it in yet. Do not try to coax her into the new litter box. Sooner or later, your cat's curiousity should conquer her fear. Put a small amount of soiled litter in the new litter box so she knows its intended purpose.
  3. When she does start using the litter box, clean it as you would an ordinary litter box; i.e., don't plug it in yet. Keep the old litter box there too.
  4. Once your cat has been using the new litter box consistently for a couple of weeks, move the new litter box to its permanent location. Do not plug it in yet; clean it manually. Do not get rid of the old litter box yet; put it where the new litter box was. (In other words, just swap the locations of the old and new litter boxes.)
  5. Once your cat has been using the new litter box in its permanent location consistently for a couple of weeks, plug it in when she is not nearby. Do not get rid of the old litter box yet.
  6. Once your cat has been using the using the new litter box, with it plugged in for a month, you can get rid of the old litter box.

This may seem like a pretty involved process, but if you want to be sure of success, this is how I would do it.

Even when I replace one ordinary litter box with another ordinary litter box, I keep the two side-by-side for a couple of days, to make sure the cat is comfortable with the new one.

  • Will it affect the process if I've already tried coaxing her to use the box? She lets me hold/move/direct her however I like, so I spent some time this morning putting her in there and pulling her paw through the litter, as I've heard can work.
    – J.Todd
    Mar 12, 2015 at 20:19
  • 1
    No, it shouldn't affect the process. But from now on, I wouldn't put her in the box. Let her natural curiousity do the training for you. I haven't yet seen the cat who could resist a container for long!
    – mhwombat
    Mar 12, 2015 at 21:28
  • 2
    By the way, I think the "moving the paw through the litter" thing is mainly for young kittens who do not know how to use a litter box. Your cat does know how to use one, so that shouldn't be necessary.
    – mhwombat
    Mar 12, 2015 at 21:31

In addition to mhwombat's suggestions, I would add the following:

  • During the time when you have both boxes out, try leaving the 'old' box a little dirty. You want the new box to be the preferable choice, so it should be sparkling clean and the old box should at least have a poop in it.
  • Try switching the litter in the old box over to the same type of litter in the new box (any of the litters recommended by this alternative tray system should be close enough to what's in the standard trays for your purpose). You should do this switch slowly, maybe 1/4 of the litter box every other week or so. This way she doesn't have to get used to the new box AND the new litter at the same time.

You will probably have to have some period with both boxes present while she forgets about the noise and grows accustomed to the new box.

While this is going on some plastic sheeting under both boxes will help protect the floor.

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