Kitty on the potty?
June 3, 2008 7:11 AM   Subscribe

I want to teach my cats to use the toilet instead of a litter box. Anybody done that and have tips? I've searched the web (?), but would like to hear from others about the experience before I take the plunge.

I have a second bathroom and the litter box has always been near the toilet in there. The kittens are three and a half months old. I wouldn't mind teaching their mom, too, but she is almost two and very skittish, so I'd be happy just to get the little ones on the throne.
posted by owhydididoit to Pets & Animals (18 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I've tried it. There's a book, I believe it's called "How to toilet train your cat" that is pretty good. Basically it involves putting the litter in a bowl in your toilet seat and getting the cats used to going there. As they get used to it you use less and less litter, finally you remove the bowl and the theory goes they'll be so used to going there they'll go in the water.

It gets messy. Expect to have to clean cat poop off the seat constantly.

I got to the point where I removed the bowl. After a few days of no sign of poop I figured they were just holding it, only to find they'd been going elsewhere in the house. That's when I gave up.

Also, I'm told you can teach them to flush but once they learn to flush they flush all the damn time and it's difficult to teach them not to flush.

It's worth trying, if for no reason than to see the site of your cat squatting on the seat.
posted by bondcliff at 7:23 AM on June 3, 2008

Misha cat is quite famous (on the web at least). See:

Googling "cat using toilet" got many hits, including "a Complete Cat Toilet Training Kit" and some cats on YouTube. I confess I have never tried this myself!
Good luck with your kitty!
posted by lungtaworld at 7:24 AM on June 3, 2008

Best answer: Famous jazzman Charles Mingus outlines his method.
posted by ikkyu2 at 7:57 AM on June 3, 2008 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I bought something like this and had great luck! The cat that learned is no longer with me, but it did work. The most painful part for us was only having one toilet and you don't have that issue!

Thanks to the perforated rings, kitty was much less freaked out by being able to gradually move up to the BIG HOLE OF WATER DEATH.
posted by likesuchasand at 8:14 AM on June 3, 2008

Best answer: There is also a group on Yahoo for discussing this.
posted by Ferrari328 at 8:23 AM on June 3, 2008

I tried this a few years ago, but never really followed through. I do have one hugely important tip, though--don't watch. It's really, really hard not to watch, and to clap excitedly the first time you hear your cat's tinkling urine hit the water. But, of course, cats hate this, and it will be a serious disincentive.
posted by MrMoonPie at 8:38 AM on June 3, 2008

A friend of mine successfully used that CitiKitty product (linked by likesuchasand) with her two cats, so there's another vote. She said the cats were resistant at first, so she had to be pretty vigilant about making sure they weren't going anywhere else around the house instead. I'd recommend starting with the litter box next to the toilet if it isn't there already, just so they at least know which room they should be in. And be really careful to keep your closet doors closed, keep clothes off the floor, etc. while training them in. You don't want anyplace else in your home to look like a better option than the toilet.
posted by vytae at 8:45 AM on June 3, 2008

Best answer: It gets messy. Expect to have to clean cat poop off the seat constantly.

Read this
before you decide to go through with training your cat to use the toilet.
posted by HotPatatta at 8:52 AM on June 3, 2008

Read this before you decide to go through with training your cat to use the toilet.

I'm not sure I understand what that link has to do with cat poop disposal methods. Unless you're suggesting that handling cat poop yourself is better than flushing it down the toilet.
posted by toomuchpete at 9:05 AM on June 3, 2008

I was able to do this with both my cats, but had to stop because the kitten didn't have the balance at the time...and I only had one bathroom, which drove me crazy. I've been wanting to do this again as soon as I find a place with a 2nd bathroom.

Whatever you do, do NOT teach them to flush!
posted by iamkimiam at 9:21 AM on June 3, 2008

I think HotPatatta's point is that flushing the poop results in greater spread of toxo - it gets into groundwater; if you have heavy rains/big storms that overwhlem your sewage system it will get into the ocean, rivers, streams, etc.

Here in the SF Bay Area, we're asked to not flush cat poop, as an increase in toxo in the Bay results in more otters dying of toxo, etc.
posted by rtha at 9:23 AM on June 3, 2008

Best answer: Read this before you decide to go through with training your cat to use the toilet.

If you're not pregnant (a safe bet, judging by your profile) and do not have a compromised/weak immune system, you just need to wash your hands after using that toilet to prevent any chance of toxoplasmosis, as it is transmitted through ingestion, not butt-osmosis.

Since you mention that this a secondary bathroom, I'm assuming that this would not be the main bathroom for guests. If guests would be using it on occasion, you may wish to create a "cat-poop zone" sign with a warning to not skip the handwashing.
posted by desuetude at 9:36 AM on June 3, 2008 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I have two other litter boxes that I don't plan to retire, and am hoping that doesn't ruin things. I appreciate the links and anecdotes, keep them coming if you got 'em!
posted by owhydididoit at 11:24 AM on June 3, 2008

Uh, you marked desuetude as favorite answer but there are some good reasons to not flush cat poop that don't have to do with anything like butt-osmosis.

Anyway, having done this, my advice is to use the CitiKitty Cat toilet trainer, it looks much easier than the doohicky we had to rig. Also, make sure you don't walk in on your cat, they hate that.
posted by sondrialiac at 2:08 PM on June 3, 2008

Response by poster: What are the reasons not to flush it? The toxoplasmosis site says to "incinerate or flush" cat poop every day. I marked desuetude's as a best answer because of the warning about pregnant and immune-compromised people (I'm neither, and plan to stay that way, but the idea that my guests might be at risk seemed important). As it stands right now, I presume that every bit of my cat's poop is leaching into the ground water, via the city dump. Is that incorrect?
posted by owhydididoit at 3:16 PM on June 3, 2008

The reasons to not flush it are not that you, the flusher, might get toxo. There are indications that toxo is spread much more easily via sewage systems (like, when they overflow, or are in a state where there are leaks and seeps) into groundwater, baywater, streamwater, etc. While that may not affect you directly/immediately, it can have quite an impact on wildlife, and surfers, and people who use rives/lakes/streams recreationally.

(There are worse things in the water, of course, and there are other sources of toxo besides cat poop that contribute to its presence in bay/stream/river/lake water, but the point that please-don't-flush folks are trying to make is: please don't make it worse. That's all.)
posted by rtha at 5:26 PM on June 3, 2008

Oh - and the city dump thing. Possibly? But many landfills are lined - not that that's a panacea - and, on an upside that's really a downside, things in landfills tend to take a really, really long time to break down. The path any toxo bacteria in your cat's poop might take to groundwater is much faster and more direct via the toilet than it is via the landfill.
posted by rtha at 5:29 PM on June 3, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks for that perspective. I'll have my cats tested for toxo at the next vet visit, and consider how that might affect my options.
posted by owhydididoit at 6:13 PM on June 3, 2008

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