Green Little Cat

toilet training

5 Tips to Successfully Toilet Train Your Cat

Cat toilet training and toilet training your catIf you’ve ever wanted to banish litter forever, then you’ll be interested in 5 tips on how to toilet train your cat. Potty training your cat can not only save you hundreds of dollars a year, it can also divert a ton (as in 2,000 pounds) of litter from ending up in landfill sites. If your cat uses even just 100 pounds of litter a year, over the course of 20 years, that is literally a TON of litter.

I attempted to toilet train my cat a few years ago, but unfortunately had to abandon my attempts prematurely. As a result, it’s always felt like unfinished business to me. Recently, I got the chance to uncover the folly of my ways when I wrote an article for on how to toilet train your cat.

I was originally using the CitiKitty cat toilet training system. Through some serendipitous circumstances, Rebecca Rescate, the inventor and founder of CitiKitty, sent me an email, offering me a CitiKitty to review on my blog. It just so happened that I was talking with my husband only a week earlier about whether we should try potty training our cat. When I got the email from Rebecca, I took it as a sign that I should go full steam ahead and try to train my cat to use the toilet.

I didn’t realize I was being overly ambitious. At the time, I was also looking after a new baby and was so sleep deprived and overwhelmed that I really didn’t have the time or energy to do the training properly. Poor Furball was subjected to my cat potty training experiment without having the full support of me, his cat mommy. At the first sign of a setback, instead of going back and patiently reinforcing the training, I called it quits.

Hey, if you had a baby crawling around on the carpet, the last thing you’d want to see on the floor is a little brown present from your cat.

Looking back, I really feel that I could have successfully toilet trained my cat if I had simply chosen a different time to do it so that I could do it properly. This was really why I decided to write the article for Catster.

I decided to go back to where it all began and contact the experts at CitiKitty when I began writing the article. Combined with observations from where I went wrong, I wrote up a simple guide with 5 tips on how to successfully potty train your cat.

I also added some details on toxoplasmosis, an infection that cats can get from the parasite, Toxoplasma gondii. I live in California and it’s a major concern here because when infected cat feces is flushed down the toilet, it ends up in the oceans. It’s been having a really negative impact on the sea otter population. There’s a whole bunch of things that can put a cat at risk of contracting this parasite, but the main ones are exposure to infected raw meat/milk/rodents or infected feces and soil. Knowing the complete history of my cat, I knew he didn’t have T. gondii and was so confident in this that I even scooped the litter box when I was pregnant.

I’m not saying that I recommend this for others, but it was appropriate in my circumstances. And if you’re thinking of toilet training your cat and you live in a coastal region, it’s the responsible thing to do to educate yourself on toxoplasmosis too.

So, if you’re thinking of going green and saying sayonara to cat litter, and you’re ready to save hundreds of dollars on litter AND you want bragging rights on how smart your cat is, or at the very least, a real conversation starter, then please visit Catster to read the full article: How to Toilet Train Your Cat.

Furball’s Cat Toilet Training – Day 27

Unfortunately, the cat toilet training experiment has come to an end.  Furball, who is almost 9 years old, made it known loud and clear that he had no plans on progressing to the next ring.  Thankfully he used the tray when he needed to urinate, but he just did not get used to it for pooping.

Furball had another accident today.  In the morning, I peered in the bathroom and didn’t see a present on the floor.  I suspected that he was perhaps holding it in.  He hadn’t gone yesterday, so I figured I would wait to see what would happen.  My nose did pick up the slight scent of fecal matter, but I dismissed it as general cat tray odour.

On his way to work, my husband called out from the stairs leading to the garage.  He found where Furball had decided to do his business.  This was Furball’s third accident and I had not made any changes to the toilet training set up, nor had I tried to move him along too quickly.  I’d say 4 weeks to go from cat box to one hole punched out of the ring would be taking it slow.

My mother-in-law is going back to Canada in two weeks, which leaves me on my own to look after my baby son.  Factoring this in with Furball’s increased anxiety over the past week, I made the decision today to stop the toilet training.

It is unfortunate, but I guess some cats adapt and some don’t.  Furball was not going to be one of the ones to use the toilet, at least not on this attempt.

We were using the CitiKitty which was generously supplied to us by the owner of the CitiKitty company.  I wanted to be able to report success since she uses recycled plastic and post-consumer recycled paper to make her product in the USA.  Unfortunately, I just did not have the time to devote to making it work.

It seemed to me that Furball did not like perching himself on the tray.  He normally uses a very generously sized box, so perhaps the switch to a small tray was too much for him.  As well, he likes to be in an enclosed, “safe” place.  His box used to be in the corner, protected on three sides.  Perhaps he felt too exposed sitting on the toilet, even with the bathroom door mostly closed.  With more praise and coaxing, I think he would have migraine adapted, but I just don’t have the time to do this with the baby.

In all honesty, I do not believe that had we used the competitive product, Litter Kwitter, it would have made any difference.  The only difference would have been paying twice as much for a product made in China that uses a lot more plastic.  If anything, the Litter Kwitter with its much bigger ring sizes would have been more likely to have freaked out Furball.  I believe what it comes down to is whether your cat has the disposition to be toilet trained and you have the time to invest in training them.

There’s no way to predict whether or not your cat will take to the training.  I guess the only way you’ll know is to give it a try.  And, if you are going to try, in my opinion, you should use the product that uses less plastic, less packaging, less resources for transportation, is made locally and is made from recycled materials, which is the CitiKitty.

Here’s my two cents worth of advice (although I always advise people to only take advice from those who are successful at what you are asking advice for):

  • Have lots of time and energy to coddle your cat through the experience.  Doing this with a new baby is not a good idea.
  • Be careful of any scented products you use to clean the toilet.  They may spook your cat.
  • Go really slowly.
  • Make sure your toilet seat is attached firmly and level.  No seats that slope inwards.
  • Expect the toilet to be occupied with the tray for weeks and possibly months.
  • Clean the tray every day.

I’d love to hear from anyone who has successfully trained their cat.  While it didn’t work for Furball, it may be just the thing for your cat.

On the plus side, I discovered that Furball would still use the tray even if there was very little litter in it.  Based on this experience, I’m going to significantly reduce the amount of litter used in his box.  I scoop it almost daily anyways so might as well reduce our environmental impact a little bit more.

I had an epiphany for redesigning a litter scoop a few weeks ago and was thinking of submitting the idea to be an As Seen On TV product.  Now that we’re back to the cat box and I’m going to be using less litter, I think it’s time to proceed with this idea.

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 16

With some trepidation, I headed to the bathroom this morning. A sigh of relief as I saw Furball had peed in the toilet training tray.

I decided to put the foot stool back beside the toilet until Furball gets the hang of using the tray for his #2.

#2 did not appear, but Furball did pee in the tray a second time.

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 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.