How To Litter Train a Cat in a New Home

How To Litter Train a Cat in a New Home

One of the first things that you should do when you move your cat to a new home is to get their litter box set up and establish a new routine for your cat. Cats are creatures of routine, so moving to a new house can be upsetting for them.

But with a little preparation and consideration, your cat will adjust quickly to being in your new home.

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Table of Contents

Deciding Where To Put The Litterbox

Whenever possible you should put the cat’s litter box in the same place that it was in the previous home. The more things that feel familiar to your cat, the more comfortable they’ll be in your new home.

If the litter box was in the basement at the previous home, try to put it in the basement in the new home. But that’s not always possible. And sometimes the new home has a better place to put the litter box like a laundry room or mudroom.

When you’re choosing a spot for the litter box keep some of these things in mind:

One Box For Each Cat Plus One

Two Cats By a Litter Box

The number one reason why cats choose to go outside their litter box is that there aren’t enough litterboxes.

Many cats like to urinate in one box and poop in a different box in a different location. So the general rule of thumb is that you should have one box for each cat that you have plus one extra. And you should avoid putting all of the boxes in the same place if you can.

At Least One Box Per Floor

If your home has multiple floors there should be access to a litter box on each floor.

Even if it’s just a small box tucked into the corner of the landing your cat should be able to access a litter box on each floor of the home. That way if your cat is sleeping and suddenly has to go they will be able to get to a box no matter where they are in the house.

If your cat is sleeping in a third-floor bedroom and suddenly has to race to the basement to the litter box they might not make it in time.

Choose A Quiet And Private Place

Cat In a Litter Box
How ’bout a little privacy, please!

You wouldn’t want to go to the bathroom in public, and neither does your cat. When you’re choosing where to put the litter box in your new home look for a place that is quiet and private but not dark and scary. It should also be open enough that the cat would be able to get away from another cat or dog if you have other pets.

A closet is not ideal because it doesn’t give the cat room to escape. But a quiet corner of the laundry room, a private space in the basement, or a box tucked into a corner of a bathroom are all great choices.

If you have a very small space and you have no choice but to put the litter box in a public place like the living room choose a covered litter box like a litter box cabinet that will give your cat some privacy. A covered litter box will also disguise the box and help mitigate odors.

Before You Move

You might think it’s a good idea to just throw out the old litter boxes and get new ones for the new home. But that’s actually going to make it harder to litter train a cat in a new home. If you want to switch to a new type of litter box make the switch before you move.

For example, if you’re going to use a covered litter box in the new home get a covered litter box and let your cat get used to it before you move.

When you move take the litter box with you and don’t change the litter. It will help the cat find the litter box in the new house. And they are more likely to use the litter box in the new home without any issues when they have a familiar box that has their scent on it to use.

If you can put your cat’s existing litter box in the new home before the cat gets there that’s ideal, but if you have to bring it with you on your journey to the new house pack the box with the litter in it in a large trash bag so that it doesn’t spill.

At The New Home

When you get to the new home it’s a good idea to keep the cat in a small enclosed space while you get all the boxes and furniture moved in. If you are going to keep the litter box in a mud room or bathroom put the cat in that room. They will be comforted by the familiar smell of their litter and they will know where the litter box is.

But if you are putting the litter box in the basement or in some other place wait until all the boxes and furniture are in and the movers have left.

Then pick the cat up and take them to where the litter box is. Show them where their familiar litter box is. After that, the cat should use the little box without any problems.

If Your Cat Isn’t Using The Litter Box At A New Home

Cat Sitting Next to Litter Box

If you have used a familiar litter box that has your cat’s scent on it, shown the cat where the litter boxes are, and not changed litters or changed anything about the boxes except the location and your cat is suddenly not using the litter box don’t panic.

It doesn’t mean that your cat won’t use the litter box in your new home. It just means you have to figure out what it is that the cat doesn’t like about that box or the location and make some changes. Some things that you can try are:

  • See A Vet

The first thing that you should do is take your cat to the vet to make sure your cat doesn’t have a urinary tract infection or some other medical problem that is making them uncomfortable.

Stress can cause UTIs in cats, and moving is a stressful experience. So it’s possible your cat has a UTI and needs a prescription antibiotic from the vet. Get your cat checked out by a vet to rule out any medical issues.

  • Change The Location OF The Box

What seems like a perfect location to you may not be a perfect location for your cat. If your cat refuses to use the litter box in the new home try moving it to a different spot and see if the cat will use it. Sometimes just changing the direction of the box can make a difference.

  • Use Puppy Training Pads

While you are working on figuring out why the cat won’t use the litter box properly in the new home it’s a good idea to put down puppy training padsOpens in a new tab. under and next to the litter box. The pads are easy to clean up and will prevent any accidents from damaging your floors.

The main thing is not to give up. Cats don’t stop using the litter box out of spite, even though it might seem like it sometimes.

The cat is just telling you that there is something about the litter box situation in the new home they don’t like. Once you figure out what that is and correct it the cat should use the litter box with no problems again.

Final Thoughts

Moving is already stressful enough. Moving with cats can add a whole other layer of stress.

However, getting your pets settled into their new home and using their new litter box locations doesn’t have to be one of those stressful events. Be mindful and most of all, patient, with your cats and they’ll get adjusted to their new home in short time.


I've been a college coach for going on 20 years now and that career has led Jen and I on quite the journey. We've lived in 7 different states and have moved a dozen different times. We've learned A LOT over the course of all those moves and we want to pass on our knowledge to help others going through the moving process.

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