How to Train Your Cat to Go to the Bathroom Outside

A cat sitting on a flat stone wall outside.
  • Intermediate
  • 30
What You'll Need
Dirt and leaves
Pet door
Litter box

Say goodbye to scooping and sifting litter and persistent pet odors! Once you have your cat trained to use the litter box indoors, you can actually train it to go outside instead. Positive reinforcement is the best route, so you should avoid hitting or punishment. Be prepared, as this task requires patience, love, and affection.

Step 1 - Observe

Once you have finished litter training the cat, you may think of making the transition right away. Do not rush; instead, wait several days or even weeks before you begin with outdoor training. Observe first whether he is using the litter box regularly.

Step 2 - Move the Litter Box

After two to three days, move the litter box a little towards the door that the cat will regularly use to get outside. This should be done in stages; take seven to 10 days total, moving the box only a few inches each time. By the time you reach the door, the cat will be used to the new position. At this point, you will also want to add a little bit of dirt and leaves to the litter.

Step 3 - Install a Pet Door

Since your cat will be going in and out regularly, you will want a pet door installed at this exit. Such doors are easy to find at your local home improvement store. Installation should be done during your transitionary period or before starting training; either way, have it ready by the time you're ready to move the litter box outdoors.

Step 4 - Take the Litter Box Outside

Put the litter box outside the door, and keep a close watch on the cat. Whenever he shows any signs that he is looking out for the litter box or he wants to relieve himself, gently pick him and place him in his litter box outside, all the while encouraging and petting him. Also, add more dirt and natural debris to the box.

This step may take quite a few days, and you'll need time and patience to keep a close watch on the cat. Encourage him to use the pet door to go out to the litter box outside regularly. Do not rush this.

Step 5 - Move the Litter Box Away From the Door

Now that the cat is regularly coming outside to use the litter box, keep moving it progressively further from the door to the area of the yard where you wish the cat to regularly eliminate. Again, patience is the operative word—move it two to three feet each day, gradually drawing the cat across the yard. Now, the cat will use the pet door regularly whenever he wants to relieve himself and come to the yard in search of the litter box.

Step 6 - Dump the Litter

Finally, dig a hole in the ground and dump the litter into it. The cat should start excreting here on a regular basis if it has been responding well to the transition thus far, and it should continue to do so without encouragement after this point.

Make small changes and give the cat time to accept and adapt to the change. As mentioned previously, patience is very important, and kind words and encouragement will guarantee that the training meets with success.