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Easy To Litter Train Ferrets?

The ease of litter-training is compared between ferrets and cats.

By Ailigh Vanderbush
Posted: April 1, 2008, 5 a.m. EST

Q: Is it easier to litter-train a ferret than a cat?

A: Most people would feel very strongly that it is much easier to litter-train a cat! Cats have a natural instinct to eliminate in dirt or sand and cover their feces. It is a very natural transition then for cats to use a litter box.

Ferrets, on the other hand, are a bit harder to litter-train. While ferrets are inclined to eliminate away from their food or bedding and often back into a corner to eliminate, they go more often than a cat and are not as picky. Additionally, ferrets are naturally diggers, so a litter-box can be easily mistaken for a great new place to dig. Ferrets also seem to eliminate near doors or areas that smell, such as a bathroom or drain. This is probably an innate behavioral response that relates to a need to mark territory with feces.

Ferrets can be litter-trained, but I would never guarantee that it will be easy or completely successful. If the ferret is caged, place a litter box in every cage corner and anywhere there isn’t bedding or food. Secure the litter box to the cage and choose a nondusty litter. When it is time to play outside of the cage, wake up your ferret and place it in the litter box. Don’t allow your ferret out to play until it first uses the litter box. After an hour or so of play, depending on your ferret, return it to the cage to use the litter box, then allow it back out to continue playing. Be sure to place several litter boxes in the room where your ferret plays.

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Reader Comments
I currently have one female fuzzy. She loves to dig, and even with the addition of a rice-box she would always dig in the litter boxes. I have opted to use newspaper. It is readily available at my house, can be folded to have a high backing, gives a place for her to wipe (besides the carpet), and is easily disposable. Just have to make sure that it is thick so urine won't absorb all the way to the bottom layer.
However, some ferrets may find the newspaper just as fun as digging and I have read somewhere else about ink marks being left on the fur of some ferrets.
Finding what works for you and your ferrets can be quite the process.
Joseph, Crestview, FL
Posted: 9/21/2009 11:44:43 AM
Be sure you get a ferret litter box too - not just a small cat litter box. Ferret boxes can be found at most pet stores or online, and they have low front-entry, sometimes with a high back for backing into. Ferrets are very short, and even the smallest cat-boxes are often shoulder high for them. I had a friend give me her ferret because it "never" used the litter box, but this same ferret has been 100% accurate since she came here (my others are not nearly so dedicated) In a pinch, you can cut a lower front entry in a cheap, small cat litter box. Works for me.
Other tips:
Have more than one litter box for a larger room,in different areas - ferrets only run so far when they gotta go.
Get ferret "Slippy Pads" or puppy training pads to put in front of/beside your litter boxes to catch the inevitable "near-miss".
Triangle boxes make sense, but don't get the smallest triangle boxes - they only work for kits. Ferrets will stand with their hind in the main corner and their paws at the center of the entry, so there is a lot less room for them to stand than it looks.
Rachel, Chicago, IL
Posted: 6/7/2008 11:47:03 PM
Very accurate and well written. It's true, once you get a ferret to potty in a box, it's much easier to keep their house clean. All of my 'furkids' are box trained and I have litter boxes strategically located when they're out for their daily romp and rampage sessions, which helps quite a bit. I do enjoy the articles, it helps answer questions and provides helpful tips. Thank you!
Barbara-mama to six, Sioux Falls, SD
Posted: 4/25/2008 8:50:43 AM
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