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Cat Litter and Accessories

Furball’s Cat Toilet Training – Day 25

I was going to punch out the next ring in the cat toilet training kit.  After all, it had been 10 days since Furball’s last accident.

But, much to my dismay, Furball left another parcel beside the kitty litter bag today.  The only thing I could think of for the cause was that he finds the tray awkward for #2.  Also, I had cleaned the toilet yesterday, but anticipating a problem with any lingering cleanser smells (yes, even eco-friendly ones allergy stink), I simply used some baking soda.  The other thing I did was start moving the foot stool gradually to the side of the toilet.

I moved the foot stool back to the front.  I cleaned up the mess (not in that order).  I’m hoping tomorrow will be a better day.  I can certainly see why people get discouraged and give up.  It seemed like things were going well.  Just goes to show that you need to go slow.

Furball’s Cat Toilet Training – Day 15

I waited 5 days from when the stool (the foot stool, not the cat stool!) was removed to punching out the first hole in the CitiKitty cat toilet training tray.  I figured that conceptually it was a big leap to go from using a step stool to leaping onto the toilet.  While the hole in the tray is tiny, I think it’s another big conceptual leap for Furball to see a hole in the tray.  He can now see the toilet through the hole, which must be somewhat freaky for a cat.

IMG_5671I needed to use a box cutter to punch out the hole.  There are little perforations to guide you to punch out the hole, but without a knife, I’d say it’s almost impossible.  That tray is pretty tough.  Make sure you use a knife that only touches things that you wouldn’t mind if they came into contact with cat litter.  My attempt to use a tissue and not touch the tray with my bare fingers was a resounding failure.  You’ve got to get hands-on to punch out the tray.  Next time, I think I should fish out some rubber gloves, but I’ve got to balance that against needing dexterity to cut the tray while handling a sharp knife.

I can see now why  some people complained on Amazon that it was very difficult to cut the rings smaller if your cat needed to progress more slowly.  On the other hand, you know the tray is sturdy and your cat isn’t going to fall through.

As I’ve been saying throughout this process, go slower than slow.  Fortunately we are blessed with a spare washroom.  It would be a pain if that was our only toilet and I had to keep taking the tray out and washing down the toilet seat each time I needed to go.  On the other hand, it’s a much bigger pain to clean cat urine and feces from the floor, carpet, wall, your bed, etc.

It’s 11:36 am and I’m now waiting to see what will happen when Furball goes to use his “box”.

3 Hours Later in the Day

Furball stood on his hind legs with his front paws on the toilet seat, peering in at the tray.  As predicted, the hole really freaked him out.  Several minutes later, he peed in the tray!

30 Minutes Later

First accident.  Furball dug open the litter bag in the bathroom and pooped inside.  I admired his creativity.  He really tried to do the right thing.  I cleaned up the mess and left the tray as is.  The CitiKitty instructions advise to either leave the tray at the same step or go back a step.  Since I just started, I don’t really have any steps to go back to.

Furball’s Cat Toilet Training – Day 9

IMG_5637This was the second day in a row I awoke to find a big cat turd sitting the the toilet training tray.  As you can see by its position, Furball stands in the tray with his butt facing the rim of the toilet seat.  In order for him to use the toilet successfully, he’ll have to get used to facing the other way.

Cat toilet training is not for the lazy.  You’ll need to clean the tray at least once a day, probably closer to twice a day.  It’s not that hard to pull out the tray and scoop the poo/pee into the toilet.  A few caveats:

  • Use flushable litter only
  • Flush only if it is safe to do so in your municipality
  • If toxoplasmosis is an issue, like it is here in California, only flush if you are 110{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} sure you’re cat does not have this parasite.  If your cat goes outdoors or has eaten raw food, the risk of him/her having taxoplasmosis is much greater.

For your sanity, give up on trying to keep the toilet pristine, or the bathroom for that matter.

If you are lazy, you can console yourself with the promise that after your cat is toilet trained, you’ll never have to clean a box again.

Furball’s Cat Toilet Training – Day 8

IMG_5636This morning I awoke to find a stool sitting on top of the CitiKitty toilet training tray.  Who knew the day would come when I’d be happy to see a cat turd?

The day before, I had some concerns because Furball seemed like he was holding onto #2 instead of using the litter pan on the toilet.  I was happy that he did #1 twice in the tray yesterday, but #2 was a day overdue.   Although I was concerned that Mr. Poo had not made his appearance, I was glad about the pee.  Poo can be picked up and thrown out.  The floor can be wiped and cleaned.  Everyone knows cat pee is a different story.

I was expecting a much greater mess when I decided to undertake the process of toilet training my cat.  Based on some of the feedback on Amazon for CitiKitty and Litter Kwitter, I was expecting to find litter, urine and feces strewn all over the bathroom.  As you can see from the graphic photo, it’s not so bad.  The little bits on the floor that you can barely see are bits of litter.  Maybe not any messier than usual.

Sorry about posting a pic of my cat’s stools, but I figure one of the greatest hesitations people have in deciding whether to toilet train their cat is fear of the unknown.  You just don’t know what to expect.  Granted, every cat is different, but if you follow this story, you’ll at least see one cat’s journey photo by photo with wonderful commentary from the peanut gallery.

Furball’s Cat Toilet Training – Day 7

I was still waiting for Furball to use the cat toilet training tray since I moved the CitiKitty onto the top of the toilet.  He was whining a little more than usual in the morning and kept pacing around the house.

I was a little concerned.  When I checked the toilet, the tray was still unadorned from any excrements.  I enjoyed writing that sentence!

After watching Furball seem a little more anxious than normal, I thought I’d try showing him the box one more time.  This time, instead of placing him directly on the tray, I put him on the stool beside the toilet.  This allowed him the opportunity to stand on a familiar object, yet explore the toilet seat.

He gave the tray a couple of sniffs.  Then he gingerly stepped up and walked on the pan a bit.  I held my breath.  He went into the familiar cat squat and I left him to do his business.

A giant sigh of relief!

My Observations:

Yes, as Amazon reviewers have noted, the CitiKitty pan is flimsy as compared to the Litter Kwitter.  I noticed it giving a bit under Furball’s paws.  He weighs about 12.5 lbs.  At no point however, did it seem like the tray would not hold him or that it would break off from the toilet.  It moved, but seemed secure.  Like what you would expect from buildings built to withstand earthquakes.

Furball also stood exclusively on the pan and did not put his paws on the toilet seat.  I could see how punching out the rings too fast would cause issues.  I’m just happy he’s using the tray on the toilet.  I’ll give him as much time as he needs before punching out the first ring.  The first ring is quite small, so I’m not too concerned.  My biggest concern was that he wouldn’t use the tray when it was moved to the toilet.

Out of habit, I went to use the bathroom a few times, but stopped when I saw the cat litter tray sitting on the toilet.  I used the other washroom instead.  I could see how if you only had one bathroom this would be a pain in the butt.  It’s not that big a deal to move the tray, but I really didn’t want to be handling a pan full of litter every time I needed to go.

Furball’s Cat Toilet Training – Day 6

On Day 6, I moved the CitiKitty cat toilet training kit tray back onto the toilet.  I put down the new flat toilet seat.  I picked up Furball, placed him on the toilet so that he could see where his new “box” had moved to.  He jumped off immediately, but that was to be expected.  I picked him up one more time to show him and then I waited.

And waited…

And waited…

And waited…

The expected #2 never arrived, so I put a footstool right infront of the toilet.  Furball eta-i.org/xanax.html likes to sit on the stool in the kitchen.  Kinda ironic I needed to add a stool in expectation of a stool.

Again, I waited…

And waited…

And waited…

And waited…

By the end of the day, the cat litter tray sat pristinely on the toilet.  Well, as pristine as a litter tray can be.  Actually, it wasn’t that pristine.  I left remnants of his previous #1 coated litter in the pan.  I figured the smell of cat pee would alert him to where his box went.

Furball’s Cat Toilet Training – Day 5

On Day 4, I was going to move Furball’s CitiKitty litter pan onto the toilet.  I lifted up the toilet seat, placed the tray on the bowl and lowered the seat back down on it.  Then I picked up Furball and placed him on the seat to show him where his new “litter box” had relocated to.

As his paws skidded on the seat, I realized I’d have to go back a step.  Our toilet seat is the “French curve” style where it slopes gently inwards.  Personally I hate it, but that’s what the house came with and it was brand new so it didn’t make sense to get rid of it.  Why would you want your butt to slide into the toilet?

I’d seen Furball balancing delicately on the seat before, but I figured with the cat toilet training, it would be hard for him to stand on the sloping seat and squat over the tray.  If you’re going to toilet train your cat, why set them up for failure?

I put the CitiKitty tray back to the spot beside the toilet and left it there for another day.  On Day 5, I finally got around to swapping the French curve seat with the flat seat in the upstairs bathroom.  Who knew it was so hard to align a toilet seat perfectly over the bowl?

I did learn why some toilet seats slide around on the bowl.  The screws are loose.  Flip up the caps by the seat hinges, and use a large flathead screwdriver to tighten the screws.  Reach behind the bowl and under the screws to find the bolts.  Hold onto them while you tighten the screws.

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Furball’s Cat Toilet Training – Day 1

IMG_5615On Day 1 of Furball’s cat toilet training, I took the CitiKitty kit and placed the plastic tray insert on the ground next to the toilet.  According to the instruction booklet (which is printed on 100{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} recycled paper), the first step is to place your litter box next to the toilet.

Furball’s box has always been next to the toilet so I was already onto Step 2.  The second step was to actually put the tray insert into the toilet and show it to your cat.  I decided to go slower since everything I’ve read about cat toilet training suggests that going slowly is the best thing to do.

As a result, I put the tray insert on the floor where Furball’s litter box used to be.  The plastic made a scratchy scraping sound on the floor, so I carefully folded up a piece of newspaper and put it underneath as a buffer.  I thought the scrape (like nails on a chalkboard) might freak out the cat.

I also didn’t put only fresh litter in the tray.  I put a bit of his stink-o-factor litter from the box.  It made sense to me that he’d recognize what it was if there was some of his business in it.  The tray felt like it might move around when he walked on it, so I also wedged it between the litter scoop and the toilet brush to keep it from sliding.

I was expecting a big mess of litter all over the bathroom since the tray is quite shallow.  Much to my surprise and delight, when Furball used the “box”, there was just a wet spot in the tray and a few stray bits of litter.  Later in the day, when he did #2, he left a few logs sitting on top.

I guess I’m lucky that my cat is rather lazy when it comes to burying his stuff.  I’m unlucky in that for 8 years, I’ve had to put up with stinky cat boxes since he won’t cover it up half the time.  On the other hand, this might make cat toilet training really easy.

Tips on Toilet Training Your Cat

Cat toilet training and toilet training your catOne of our readers wrote in to recommend toilet training your cat as an alternative to using kitty litter.  While switching to eco-friendly cat litter is much more positive for the environment than clay-based litters (See related posts at bottom of this article for more details), it may not be the greenest option.  I just read on the Internet that the average cat goes through something like 440 lbs of litter a year.

I thought to myself that the number was a bit high until I looked at the cat litter bag in the bathroom and saw that it was indeed a 40 lb bag.  We probably go through a bag every other month and I really stretch out its use. I’ll blog about how to do this in the future.  Regardless, that would still add up to 240 lbs of litter going into the garbage each year. If you factor in that there are over 80 million household cats in the United States, even if only half of them were using 250 lbs a year, that would be 20 billion pounds of litter a year.  I had to check the calculator twice to make sure I had the right number because it was so high!  I had made an estimate before that had astounded me, but it was only 3 billion.  Now, I’m looking at a number 7x higher.

That made me give more serious thought to idea of toilet training my cat.  Admittedly, it does seem strange at first, but the more you think about it, the more sense it makes.

Fortunately, Green Little Cat has some very intelligent readers who are passionate about the environment.  Ewa wrote in to tell me that she has started the toilet training process with her cat, Netto.  It does take patience and a few months to make the transition.  She’s going to check in with us when Netto is fully toilet-trained.

In the mean time, here are some tips she offered based on her experience to date:

  • Buy a toilet training system! She chose Litter anti fungal Kwitter since it seemed like the best one on the market. It is more expensive than others, but since you don’t need to break it to make the hole larger it allows you to go back to an earlier step if you realize your cat was not ready to move forward. It also seems sturdier than other brands.
  • Use a separate toilet for your cat if possible. She has a small apartment with only one bathroom and sometimes it’s annoying when you wake up in the morning and have to start cleaning because the cat made a mess during the night. (Poo and pee on the Litter Kwitter and cat litter all over the floor…)
  • Take your time and make sure your cat is comfortable with every step forward. She tried to get her cat to “get used to it” by sticking by the changes even though the cat didn’t like it and that was not a good approach. Instead the cat started peeing in the bathroom sink (a problem Ewa now has to solve) and had a few “accidents” on the bed. To make the changes easier on her cat Ewa decided to buy the two extra trays from Litter Kwitter that give you 5 trays in total instead of only 3 and now the cat accepts the changes without a problem since they’re more subtle.
  • Use a litter that your cat is comfortable with that is also flushable. She’s using one made of pine shavings and it works really well. No smell, her cat likes it and it doesn’t muck up the toilet when the cat digs it into the toilet.
  • Have patience! She started toilet training Netto in March (!) and she has gone through a long process of different techniques etc. Ewa’s friends and her husband think she’s crazy since she is still confident it will work, but now they’re doing really well. You just have to be attentive to your cat and what he needs rather than trying to force him to do something. That will never work with a cat!

Thanks Ewa for sharing and being so honest about the experience!

I do have to add a caveat if you live in the state of California like I do.  Toxoplasmosis parasites from cat waste are killing the local sea otters.  Apparently the waste eventually ends up in the ocean and the parasite is harmful to sea otters.  All litter bags in California carry a warning sticker saying not to flush cat waste into the toilet.  Be aware of whether your cat may be affected by this parasite.  They will not exhibit any symptoms.  It’s spread by eating raw flesh such as rodents so if your cat has ever been outdoors, then they are at risk.

I personally know Furball’s entire history and he’s been kept indoors his whole life and has never been allowed outside or has eaten raw meat.  I was confident enough to clean his litter box while I was pregnant so I’m honestly quite sure that his waste is toxoplasmosis-free.  This may not be true for your cat, so please take this into consideration if you are thinking about trying the toilet training route.

Here’s a YouTube video I found on the Litter Kwitter system:

How to Make Recycled Newspaper Cat Litter

Recently, I came across a recipe for making your own recycled newspaper cat litter.  Naturally, since I’m a big DIY proponent, I couldn’t resist trying out the instructions for making kitty litter out of recycled newspaper.  The litter recipe was the invention of Allie Larkin and is posted on her blog, Allie’s Answers.

My first concern about making litter from newsprint was the ink on the paper.  Was it safe for my cat and me and was it safe to rinse it down the drain?  Good old Wikipedia had the answers under an article about Soy Ink.  It cited a 2004 article from Graphics Arts Online that states, “Currently, about a third of the nation’s daily and weekly newspapers print with soy inks, including about 95{456796300b989ac2391159a2df073ed1ad38074dfcdb28494d5d1df8ab5972d8} of the 1,500-plus high-circulation dailies. Soy inks have become the prime source for newspaper color printing, with publishers citing their performance on press, vibrant colors, and environmental friendliness (no volatile organic compounds). Though black soy news inks cost slightly more than their conventional counterparts, publishers still find them competitive because of the extra coverage they afford.”  To be extra sure, you could always contact your local newspaper and ask them.

This was actually a moot point for my experiment in making my own cat litter because I have newsprint packing paper that I can use.  I have literally been reusing the same packing paper for over 4 years through 3 moves and I’m planning to keep reusing it for the next time I move, maybe in a few years.  However, some pieces have become so tattered that they’re really not that good for packing stuff anymore.  I used these sheets of newsprint to try out the cat litter recipe.

Since there’s no ink on my packing paper, I skipped the first two steps that entail washing off the ink.  For my test batch, I used the equivalent of 1.5 full sheets of a newspaper.  Allie’s instructions call for a paper shredder, but I don’t have one, so I tried tearing the paper into strips.  I found that by stacking 4 sheets together and following the grain of the newspaper, it was relatively simple to tear it into strips about 1/4″ to 1/2″ wide.

Relitter1

Next I added some warm water and my big pile of shredded paper shrank down into a wet mass.  I dumped it into a collander, squeezed out the water and using my hands, mixed in about 1/4 cup of baking soda.  The newsprint shrank down to a small ball.

Allie suggests crumbling the newspaper mixture onto a screen and leaving it to dry for a few days.  I also don’t happen to have a screen, so I tried improvising by using a really old towel that was beyond donating except to an animal shelter.  It’s about 90 degrees outside, so I spread out the towel in the sun.  Then, I put a layer of mesh fabric on top of it.  The mesh is leftover from a DIY Hallowe’en costume where my husband went as a beekeeper.  We knew if we kept the mesh, we’d find a use for it one day.

I crumbled the newsprint, which took a bit longer than I expected.  I think I was crumbling too small based on Allie’s photo on her blog, so you should try making bigger “crumbs” if you’re going to make your own recycled newspaper cat litter.

Next, I waited for about a day for the do-it-yourself cat litter to dry.  In the end, the recipe yielded about 3 to 4 cups of recycled newspaper cat litter.  The final texture came out a bit like wood shavings.  Allie’s looked more like little balls, so I’m wondering if I didn’t add enough baking soda or conversely, added too much.

I tossed it into Furball’s box, mixed it up with his organic wheatgrass litter, and waited to see how he would react.  Because it was such a small amount and he had used recycled newspaper litter before, I wasn’t too concerned about the homemade litter upsetting his normal routine.  He did his business as usual.

I can’t really comment on how the homemade litter made from newsprint was for controlling odors because I made such a small amount.  It also won’t fit neatly through the standard litter scoop.  However, if you’ve got the time, want to save some money and are hardcore green, making your own litter may be a great option — especially if you know people who have a newspaper subscription (try friends/neighbours/the library).  Why not give it a try?

Read more articles on eco-friendly cat liter options