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How to switch to a new cat litter

How to switch to a new cat litter
by KatKin Team

Read time: 6 min

So, you’ve read our foolproof guide to choosing the right cat litter. You’ve landed on a choice that works for you and your cat. The next question is, how do you go about switching with no stress or mess? 

Well, the good news is that nine times out of ten, you just empty your old litter, fill up your new litter and keep living your life. End of post. Thanks for reading. 

But – if you know us at KatKin – you know we've got your back for every eventuality. So in case your cat is having a bit of trouble adjusting, here are some suggestions for how to smooth things over. 

Before we dive in, it helps to know that cats aren’t just being divas when they’re picky about certain things. By nature they’re routine-loving animals and can be neophobic, which is a fancy way of saying ‘suspicious of change’. Most cats will switch litter with no drama, and any cat that has a wobble just needs a bit of patience and reassurance.

Our Switching Tips:

1. Do it gradually.

Try making the switch slowly over time. Allowing the texture and smell of the new litter to appear gradually will help neophobic cats to adjust gently to the change.

Day 1: Add one scoop of new litter to the old litter. 

Day 2: Remove one scoop of old litter. Add one scoop of new litter.

Day 3: Keep going until the tray is 100% new litter.

This will allow your cat to use some of the new litter every day and get more used to the experience at their own pace. With a bit of time, they’ll have switched over completely and that old litter will be a distant memory.

2. One change at a time.

When you’re introducing change to a neophobic cat, try and keep everything else in their daily routine familiar. 

Keep bowls and litter boxes in the same places. Serve meals at the usual times. Try and avoid bringing new faces or new cats into their space until they’ve made the switch.

This helps avoid other unnecessary stresses that might make your cat feel anxious. When a cat is feeling calm and relaxed, they’re more likely to accept changes and approach a new situation with curiosity and openness. 

3. Familiar smells help.

But we’re not talking about freshly baked bread here. Bear with us. 

Smells are a powerful tool that can create positive associations and a reminder of familiar routines. Neophobic cats can find it helpful to have a familiar smell from their previous litter in their new litter. Yes, that means poo. 

If your neophobic cat is struggling to switch, save some of your cat’s poo from their old litter and add it to their new one. If you’re making the shift gradually, remove the usual scoop of old litter but leave some poo behind, adding the new litter on top. It might seem hardcore (what cat parent isn’t?) but all you’re doing is giving them a smell that says “this place is familiar and safe”, shifting their perception from Strange New Litter to Familiar Toilet.

4. Everyone loves treats.

Give good behaviour a thumbs up. Rewards are a great way to teach neophobic cats they’ve done the right thing – and to encourage them to keep doing it. When your cat successfully uses their new litter, reward them with a treat to celebrate. 

Not all treats were created equal, so choose something that’ll keep your cat feeling good in the long run. KatKin Nibbles are our 100% natural protein treats that come in two kinds: 100% freeze-dried chicken or 100% freeze-dried salmon. Wish we could avoid saying 100% so much but there’s nothing else in them. Get them from your KatKin account.

5. Good vibes only.

Every cat adjusts to change differently. Accidents happen. So if yours has a slip-up or is acting out, they’re probably feeling a bit unsettled by the switch. 

It’s important to never scold or punish ‘bad’ behaviour. Doing this could lead to more unhelpful behaviour because of your cat feeling stressed. Remember it might take some time and patience, but most cats will get there in the long run.

If accidents do keep happening, try leaving out two litter trays next to each other: one with the old litter, one with the new (or a mixture of old and new litter). This should help your cat understand that both are great places to go to the toilet. 

Need a cat expert?

Want to switch your cat’s litter but don’t know where to start? Read our guide to choosing the right cat litter where we break down the multitude of litters out there to help you decide what’s best for your cat. 

Alongside our KatKin fresh food, we’ve developed our own range of cat litters that come to you. They’re now available for everyone, even without a fresh food subscription. Learn more about them here.

And we’ve also got a team of cat experts on hand 7 days a week to offer tips, tricks and everything in between. Email to say hi and let them know you read this guide to the end. They’ll be thrilled.

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