Toilet training your cat seems like a pretty convenient way of dealing with cat poop, right? No litter trays to take up space, no scooping, no pellets trailed across the floors on little fluffy paws. It’s also entirely possible and many people have successfully trained their cats to use the toilet. But like everything, it has its ups and its downs. Cat toilet training, while being very convenient for us, isn’t always the best thing for our feline friend.
In this article, I’ll share with you the pros and cons I found to toilet training your cat and the steps and tools on how you can do it. Then you can make the decision to attempt cat toilet training or not and know that you’re doing the right thing.
Is Toilet Training Right For My Cat?
For some people, toilet training their cat was easy and straightforward. Some cats take to it every well. In fact, I recently read a story about a cat who trained itself to use the toilet when her owner was on holiday. Just because it was on the internet doesn’t make it true of course, so stay skeptical, but it also might well be the case! Some cats, however, are not suited to using a human toilet and shouldn’t be put through the stress of you trying to train them to do so. This results in an unhappy experience for both you and your cat. So how do you know if you should train your cat or not?
Reasons Not To Toilet Train Your Cat
There are many reasons why you should not toilet train your cat. Here are a few examples of such situation:
- Your cat has to straddle the toilet seat, which is wide and slippery. This is difficult if your cat is very young or old, is small or has difficulty climbing on things.
- Fearful cats, arthritic cats and cats that already have issues using a litter tray shouldn’t be toilet trained.
- If someone closes the toilet lid, your cat has nowhere to go but on the floor.
- There is the potential for your cat to fall into the toilet. This is particularly stressful for the cat. More so if the toilet was not empty at the time as your cat then has to be washed. I know from experience that attempting to wash an unwilling cat is no fun for either party. Even worse is if this happens when no-one is around. Your cat then has to potentially deal with this for hours alone.
- If you leave your cat in a kennel or with a friend when you go on holiday, they’ll be using a litter tray. This will cause potential confusion for your cat and you may have to go through the training process again when you come home.
- The above situation also applies if your cat spends any time at the vet.
- Where a cat makes waste is very territorial. Some cats won’t even share a litter tray in the same area as another cat. So if you have more than one cat, getting them to use the same toilet can cause stress.
How To Toilet Train Your Cat
If you’re still reading at this point, then chances are you think your cat can be toilet trained. In this section I’ll talk you through how to do this. Mostly it takes step by step procedures and lots of patience. How much time this takes depends on your cat.
Things that can affect training are the age or your cat, its temperament and its intelligence. Of course, cats are super smart animals by default, but it can’t be denied that some cats are just born smarter than other. On average though, cat toilet training can usually be achieved in 8-10 weeks.
The natural instinct of a cat is to bury its waste so that it hides its smell from predators. It’ll take some time for your cat to realise that the running water does a better job of this than the litter pellets. You’re asking your cat to change its fundamental behaviour so be patient and take baby steps.
Transitioning Your Cat
As you may know, where your cat chooses to do its business is a very carefully selected location. If you want to toilet train your cat, you need to convince it that the bathroom is indeed the best place to go. Make sure that your cat can easily access your bathroom and move its litter tray in there. If your cat’s litter box is far from the bathroom, it may take a few stages of shifting it a little bit closer each time until you get there.
Once the cat is used to going to the bathroom to conduct its business, you can start raising the litter box off the floor. Do this a little bit at a time to acclimatise your cat to pooping at altitude.
Getting the Right Supplies
The two most popular tools to help you with your cat toilet training mission are Litter Kwitter and CitiKitty toilet training systems. Both work on the same fundamental principle of training your cat in stages to use the toilet.
The first stage is a tray filled with flushable cat litter. This is placed inside the toilet bowl under the toilet seat. It’s a solid tray so you will have to remove it when you need to pee and put it back afterwards. Initially, it may take some coaxing to get your cat used to jumping up onto the toilet. Treats work well as encouragement.
Once your cat is comfortable using the tray in the toilet, both systems then have a series of trays that you swap in and out. The trays have progressively larger holes in the middle. This gets your cat used to dropping its waste down the hole. Each stage takes around 2-3 weeks to master. By the end of it, you can remove the trays completely. Your cat will then be comfortable peeing directly into the toilet. For each stage, you should also be adding less and less litter. By doing so, you show your cat that it doesn't need to dig and bury.
The Litter Kwitter cat toilet training system takes around 8 weeks to fully transition your cat to using the toilet. It uses a 3 stage progressive system with colour coded rings. Start with a red tray until your cat is accustomed to using the toilet. This is a solid tray that you fill with flushable litter that covers the toilet bowl.
Once its mastered this you swap it out and attach the orange tray to the white toilet seat that’s designed to hold each stage. The orange tray has a small-ish hole in the middle so that your cat can still stand on the ring, but has to pee directly into the toilet through the hole.
The final stage is the green tray, which has a larger hole and gets your cat comfotable balancing on the toilet seat. From here it’s a simple removal job to having your cat use just the toilet.
Along with the trays, Litter Kwitter also comes with an instructional DVD and training guide book to help you understand your cat’s needs during this process.
The CitiKitty cat toilet training system used 5 stages to progress your cat to using the toilet. It has a training seat that fits all standard toilets, both round and oval shaped bowls. It also has an insert that contains all 5 stages for the training. At each stage you just pop out the innermost insert to increase the size of the whole in the middle of the seat.
As some added extras, CitiKitty also comes with an instruction guide to help you help your cat and CitiNip, their own grown catnip, to encourage and reward your cat through the training.
Other Things To Consider
Now that your cat is using your bathroom, you need to make sure that this room is always accessible. The door needs to be open at all times and you should inform guests not to put the toilet seat down as this will mean your cat can’t use the toilet and will therefore use the floor. Or your favourite pot plant, because yes they do know which one you like best and they will aim for it!
Even the best of cats may experience some regression in the toilet training process. If your cat stops using the toilet, consider backing up a step in the training. Give your cat more time to adjust to this stage before moving on.
As we talked about, toilet training isn’t for all cats. Even if your cat has the right temperament and is fit enough to use the toilet, it might just not like it. Cats are very particular about the location of their toilet area and there are a whole number of reasons that it just doesn’t like your toilet.
Remember, your cat’s wellbeing is more important than you having to deal with a smelly litter tray every so often. If toilet training is not working out for your cat, giving them a consistent place to do their business in a litter box is better than stressing out both you and your cat by forcing toilet training. Using a toilet is just not for some cats and that’s ok.