Nothing is quite as precious as watching newborn kittens learn to adapt to their new environment. They'll mimic everything mama kitty is doing, including using the litter box. Because kittens have different potty needs than their mother, you should put out a separate litter box specifically for them.
When kittens are about 4 weeks old, you can start keeping a litter box out for them, notes the ASPCA. Using the litter box is a natural instinct for cats. Mama kitty might have to nudge her kittens into the litter pan and may even show them how to go, but they'll quickly get the grasp of it. Because of their curious nature, they'll play, dig and sniff around in the litter, making a mess in the early stages.
Importance of Separating Boxes
Your loving feline just gave birth to her first litter of kittens. She is the sole caretaker -- feeding them, bathing them and helping them go to the bathroom. At some point while they're sleeping she'll want to sneak away, stretch her legs, grab a bite to eat and use her own private facilities. It's important for mama to get a moment to herself when she's trying to eliminate. Plus, if she shares a box with her babies, one of them may sneak underneath her, causing her to accidentally go potty right on her baby.
Different Types of Boxes
Pint-size kittens need a different type of box than their full-grown mother. Kittens have short stubby legs and can't quite get over a tall wall of a regular litter box. You'll need to get them a litter pan with very short walls that they can easily climb over. If the sides are too high, they'll wind up having accidents next to the litter box, rather than in it. Put out an old phone book or folded towel next to the litter box to act as a step, in case your little felines still have a hard time getting in and out.
Kinds of Litter
Mama kitty can keep using her favorite clumping litter in her own box after delivery. However, her fuzzy babies need to have a different type of litter. As kittens are learning to use the litter box, they might be a little curious and nibble on the litter or it might stick to their paws and wind up in their bellies after grooming. If they ingest large amounts of clumping litter, they can suffer from severe gastrointestinal problems, reports the Partnership for Animal Welfare. Fill the kitten-only pan with regular unscented clay litter, shredded newspaper or newspaper pellets. After several months of successful potty training, you'll be able to transition to clumping litter if you prefer.
Melodie Anne Coffman specializes in overall wellness, with particular interests in women's health and personal defense. She holds a master's degree in food science and human nutrition and is a certified instructor through the NRA. Coffman is pursuing her personal trainer certification in 2015.