|Panther, a toilet-using cat, photographed in San Francisco on 22 August 2005. He is ten years old and has been using the toilet since the age of six months. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Cat toilet training in easy steps:
Toilet training your cat is an easier task than you might think. Several techniques can be used for training your cat to use the toilet, and you can even buy products that will assist you in toilet training a cat.
The advantages of cat toilet training:
Teaching your cat to use the toilet can hold several advantages for any cat owner. The biggest advantage of having your cat use a toilet is that eliminates most of the disadvantages that using cat litter holds. Cat litter is expensive. After toilet training your cat, you won't ever need to buy cat litter again. Cat litter boxes need to be cleaned regularly or they will become smelly. With cat toilet training, the water in the toilet masks most of the offending smell and all you need to do is flush regularly - much simpler and easier than cleaning a litter box. Going away for weekends or holidays also becomes easier for your neighbour - instead of asking someone to clean out the litter box, all they need to do is flush your toilet once in a while (when they come around to water your plants and feed your cat).
How to toilet train a cat (do it yourself):
Toilet training your cat depends entirely on the cat's personality. Toilet training sociable cats that love being praised make the training task much easier. You might want to adapt the toilet training technique described below to fit your cat's personality. Training your cat to use the toilet can take anything between 2 weeks up to 3 months, depending on the individual cat's personality.
Cat toilet training basically consists of a simple procedure: gradually moving your cat's litter box closer and closer to the toilet, finally placing a bowl with cat litter inside the toilet, and removing it altogether when your cat is comfortable and used to it. Toilet training a cat is a gradual, step-by-step process, consisting of making small changes to the location of the litter box and only continuing to the next step when your cat is entirely comfortable with its current situation. You might have to wait for anything between 2 days or 3 weeks before moving to the next step in cat toilet training. You might even have to go back a step once or twice when it turns out that your cat wasn't ready to move on to the next toilet training step. Beware - cat toilet training takes a lot of patience!
Cat toilet training steps:
1. Start gradually moving your cat's litter box nearer to the toilet until finally it should be next to the toilet. Ensure that your cat is always comfortable and sure of its litter box's location.
2. Now start elevating the cat's litter box. Put something non-slippery like newspapers or cardboard underneath the litter box. A normal rate to increase the height of the litter box would be about 5cm a day, but be very attentive to signs that your cat is not comfortable with the current height, and adjust the pace of raising the litter box accordingly. The cat litter box should be raised until it is at a level height with the toilet bowl. Throughout this process it is very important to keep the toilet lid open and the seat down, because your cat will get used to it and might even start climbing on the toilet seat in order to reach its litter box.
3. Move the litter box to rest on the open toilet seat. Keep it there until your cat seems comfortable with this arrangement.
4. Buy a metal bowl or tray that will fit snugly inside the toilet bowl. It would be advisable for the metal bowl to have small draining holes. Fill the bowl with cat litter (preferably the flushable type). Now remove your cat's litter box entirely. If you have reached this step successfully you are very close to having a toilet trained cat!
5. While your cat is using the metal bowl inside the toilet, be attentive to where its paws are. The goal is teaching him to squat with all four paws on the toilet seat rim. You can move the cat while it is using the toilet and praise it (or reward it) when it is sitting in the correct position. Normally the cat will first sit entirely inside the metal bowl, then with front paws on the toilet seat, and finally it should sit with all four paws on the toilet.
6. Start using less and less cat litter. This can get smelly, so be sure to clean the bowl after every time your cat uses it. Cats scratch in sand or cat litter to cover up the smell (this is out of instinct), so if the bowl becomes too smelly your cat won't be comfortable using it (and you probably wouldn't be comfortable with using your toilet either). Using flushable cat litter makes cleaning the bowl very easy - just throw out the contents in the toilet and flush down, rinse out the bowl, refill with correct amount of cat litter and replace. A handy tip is to place newspaper on the floor around the toilet to help keep the room clean should your cat scratch in the cat litter. Decrease the amount of cat litter in a pace that your cat feels comfortable with.
7. When you basically don't use any cat litter inside the bowl anymore, start gradually filling the bowl with water. The water will also help mask the smell so your cat will be more comfortable using the toilet. Be attentive to your cat's behavior through this whole process - if your cat stops using the bowl inside the toilet, you may be moving on too fast and might need to go back a couple of steps.
8. When the water level in the bowl has reached about 4cm and your cat has no problem using it, it is time to remove the bowl entirely. Your cat should now be toilet trained. Remember to always leave the toilet seat up and flush regularly!
Products to assist you in toilet training your cat:
There are several cat toilet training kits available on the market. They basically consist of a tray that fits inside the toilet, and with a hole in the middle that you can gradually make bigger. When choosing a cat toilet training kit, ensure that you buy quality. The cat training kit should not be flimsy and should be able to support your cat's weight even when the hole becomes large. Be aware of cheap, flimsy products you buy at toy stores or pet stores because if your cat falls in, it might lose interest in toilet training completely.
The disadvantages in toilet training your cat:
Not everyone agrees that cat toilet training is such a great idea. They argue that it is unnatural for a cat to use a toilet, as it goes against their natural instincts to cover up their smell. Toilet seats can also be slippery and there might be the risk of your cat injuring itself. Even if your cat doesn't fall in at all, he may become anxious whenever he uses the toilet and going to the toilet can become an unpleasant task.
A litter box also has the health benefit in that it's easier to monitor your cat's urine for signs of infections or sickness.
Moving locations will also be harder for the cat because a litter box can be moved easily but the cat will first need to get used to using the new toilet. With some cats, this is no problem and they can become comfortable with the new toilet very fast, while other cats might be less adaptable.
Things to remember when toilet training a cat:
The most important thing to remember is that the toilet training should be done gradually. Be very patient and never rush to the next step until you are sure that your cat is completely comfortable with the current setup.
Make using the toilet as easy as you can for the cat. Always remember to keep the toilet seat up and the bathroom door open. When you have guests, ensure that they also know about considering your cat. Flush the toilet regularly as cats do not like using smelly toilets.