One 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: