When my friend told me she was potty training her cat, I thought she was pulling my leg. I’m a pretty gullible gal, but I refused to believe her until I got back to my desk to google it for myself. Turns out, potty training cats is actually a thing. Hilarious as it was in “Meet the Parents,” REAL PEOPLE do this with REAL CATS, and my six-month-old kitten Bert is about to become one of these talented, toilet-trained tomcats.
Lucky for you, dear Zing readers, I’ve been researching this phenomenon all day in preparation for tonight’s cat-tacular potty training session. Ready to put your precious pet on the potty? Here’s what you need to know.
Why Train Your Cat to Use the Loo?
Here’s some simple science about cats and poop: According to LiveScience.com, cats bury their feces to disguise the smell in order to protect themselves from predators. Chances are, you don’t have any predators in your home (unless you have a two-year-old, like I do), but if your kitty cat buries their litter in the tray, that means they’re recognizing you “as the dominant ‘cat’ of the house,” says LiveScience.
So when it comes down to it, the litter box is all about disguising odor. So why then, wouldn’t your cat enjoy using the toilet, a relatively odor-free solution to nature’s calls? That’s a bonus for both of you. Are you sick of that litter box smell in your house? Is there no good place to keep a litter box in your tiny apartment? Are you grossed out by the mere idea of cleaning the litter box? Do you think it would be hilarious to see your cat squatting over the latrine? If your answer to any of these is a YES, then toilet training your cat just might be the right option for you, my friend. And as an added bonus, you’ll avoid germs and save tons of money on litter!
Does It Work for All Cats?
According to Litter Kwitter, a manufacturer of cat toilet training seats, any litter box-trained cat should be able to learn to use the toilet. There are, however, a few exceptions.
Age matters; the old adage “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks” seems to hold true here. Litter Kwitter says that cats up to the age of five or six should have no problem learning a new routine. You might have to be more patient with a cat who’s older than that, but you can try. And as for starting young, you really shouldn’t try to toilet train a cat who’s less than three months of age, as they could fall in and drown.
You should also consider your cat’s health and personality. If you cat has mobility issues such as arthritis, you really shouldn’t force your cat to climb onto your porcelain throne. And if you have a shy kitty with a nervous temperament, the plan to toilet train your feline could backfire; a fear of the toilet could cause your cat to have accidents, or worse, a bladder infection or other health problems.
The Training Process
Unsurprisingly, there’s a wikiHow about toilet-training your cat. Here’s the gist of it:
- Start by placing your cat’s litter box right next to the toilet, and gradually moving it upwards, day by day. Once it’s up to the same height as the toilet, start inching it over until it’s on top of the seat.
- Replace the litter box with a training box. The training box can be anything that fits into the toilet seat that can support your cat’s weight. The wikiHow article has many great suggestions.
- Transition your cat to using only the toilet, reducing the amount of litter used.
Sound easy enough? According to CitiKitty, most cats can be completely toilet trained in about three to six weeks.
Training Product Options
There are a myriad of products out there that promise to command your cat’s attention to the commode. And if you’re looking to save a few bucks, there are some DIY options too. Let’s take a look!
- The Litter Kwitter: This three-step training system was developed by animal behaviorists, veterinarians and cat breeders. It comes with a base plate designed to fit standard toilets, and three rings that you can gradually swap out until your cat learns to use the toilet without the trainer. It costs $59 on the Litter Kwitter website, or you can pick it up at most major pet retailers.
- The CitiKitty: The CitiKitty toilet training kit is a five-step toilet insert. It’s circular, and you can gradually remove the inner rings to widen the seat until your cat is just sitting on the rim of the toilet. You can purchase it for $29.99 on the CitiKitty website or Amazon.
- A roasting pan: Toilet training aids are convenient, but expensive. PetPlace.com recommends using a roasting pan, placed over the bowl but under the seat, and duct taped into place. Like the Litter Kwitter and the CitiKitty, you’ll gradually widen the hole in the center by cutting open the roasting pan, until your cat decides to balance itself on the side of the toilet.
Well Zing readers, what do you think? Are you going to toilet train your cat? Do you have experience toilet training a cat? Is it wrong that I’m more excited about toilet training my cat than my toddler? Share your thoughts, comments, experiences and tips in the comments below.