How to Toilet Train Your Cat

So by now you probably know about my cats Cleo and Ernie.  The cats I have because I couldn’t pick out a dog.  You also know I love my cats even though I understand all the cool kids have dogs that end in “doodle”.  Having said that, you should know my cats come when I call them, play fetch and generally act as doglike as possible.  It’s quite impressive really.

Of course, like kids, there have been some not so proud moments.  Cleo shredded my upper eyelid sending me to the ER late one Friday night.  I startled her.  Try not to startle a cat.

The late Prada used to attack people.  Usually  if he thought they were talking too loudly.   He regularly drew blood and didn’t swat like a normal cat; he opened his mouth, bared his fangs and sunk them into whatever was closest.  My boyfriend was understandably terrified of Prada.

No problems with the formerly wild Ernie yet (other than the scars left over from when I was trying to tame her).  Can’t really blame her for that though.  I mean if it wasn’t for me taming her she’d still be outside having the time of her life, living off puddle water and showing off her street cred mange to all the other cats.

The residual scars on me and my family members are bad but the worst thing about being a cat owner is the litter.  I have gone through every invention and reincarnation of litter known to catkind. There was the  motorized litterbox.  It broke; which is just as well because it would  randomly fling poo across the room.   There was the scented litter that Cleo refused to use .  Instead, in a show of defiance, it prompted her to pee right beside the litterbox while staring straight into my eyes. And finally there was the flushable litter that kindda clumped but mainly just morphed into messy thick pee pucks that were impossible to scoop.

And then there was toilet training.  Which believe it or not actually worked.  Yes.  My cats peed on the toilet.  Or in the toilet more specifically.

Absolutely fed up with the sheer amount of stuff that comes out of a cat on any given day I thought I’d look into making them go on the toilet.  Like a civilized animal.  A few searches around the Internet confirmed  I wasn’t nuts.  It could be done.  One woman trained her cat so well that she could travel with it to hotels around the country knowing her cat would just hop onto any toilet and go to the bathroom.  No mess, no fuss.  It’d be like having a 3 year old  with fur.

Another woman even taught her cat to not only use the toilet, but to flush!  This was too much.  I mean, I KNOW the Internet lies, (see my Maple Sugar Massacre) but  if there was even a remote possibility this was going to work I was willing to try it.  Even though I only had one small bathroom which I was now going to have to share with a couple of sometimes bitchy cats.   So I read all the articles on it, took the best from all of them and formulated a plan.  Get these cats using the bathroom within 3 weeks.

I did it and I swear you can too.  Everyone involved has to be dedicated but it really does work.  Like all the other things I do that seem ridiculous at first, in the long run this’ll save you time, money and make your life easier.  And it’s certainly no more stupid than putting a Santa hat on your newly tamed, and somewhat unpredictable stray.  In fact, I can tell you right now … the Santa hat thing would be wayyyyyyyy stupider.  Uh huh.

How to Toilet Train a Cat

  1. Obtain a cat.
  2. Take the cat’s litter box and gradually move it closer and closer to the bathroom.  This may take a couple of days because cats don’t like it when you change where they poop.  You too would be angry if in the middle of the night you went to have a sissy and found your bum suddenly hovering over a plot of air because someone secretly moved your toilet.  If your cat adapts well to change, you can probably just move the litter box straight into the bathroom.  You just have to judge this whole litter training process based on the personality of your cat.  Some steps might take longer for you, or some shorter.  It depends on how your cat deals with things.
  3. Once the litterbox is in the bathroom (beside the toilet) and the cats are using it without incident start to raise the litterbox. Just raise it up a couple of inches every day.  Stack whatever you need to under it.  Old telephone books, boxes, your Fantasia Barrino CD collection.  Just make sure the stack is very stable and not slippery.   Once a cat’s litterbox goes sliding out from under them, their distrust of it will instantly present itself in random and rapid defecation throughout your entire house.  Your cat will also begin to eye you suspiciously.
  4. Your goal is to get the litterbox level with the seat of the toilet, with the cats jumping up into it. This could take anywhere from 1-3 weeks.  The cat will either jump right up into the litterbox, or they’ll jump up onto the toilet seat and then step into the box.   Let the cat get used to this for a few days.
  5. Move the litterbox so it is sitting on the toilet.  This will be quite a jump for them but they can do it.  They’re magestic, limber felines. When they’re not slowly nodding off and  falling off the couch.   It might be helpful if your litterbox isn’t incredibly deep so they don’t have such a huge jump.  Let the cat get used to this for a couple of days.  Make sure the litterbox is stable on the toilet!
  6. Buy a metal or strong plastic bowl that will fit on the rim of your toilet. It has to be strong enough not to move or bend when your cat is using it.  Basically it will sit on the edge of the rim of the toilet, suspended inside the bowl.
  7. Remove the cat’s regular litterbox from the top of the toilet bowl and place the purchased bowl onto the rim of the toilet and put the seat (not lid) down.  Fill this litterbowl with their most favourite litter. Now is NOT the time to make a litter change.
  8. This is where it gets exciting.  The cat will now jump onto the toilet and provided it isn’t too freaked out will use the litterbowl inside the toilet.  Your hope is that the cat will automatically “get” the fact that they should place their paws on the toilet seat, not inside the litterbowl.  The goal is all four feet on the toilet seat, but if only their front paws are on it you’re still off to a good start.  Gently place your cats paws onto the rim so they know what they have to do. Yes.  This is the dirty part.  You are touching your cat while they do their business.   You probably won’t get contaminated but wash your hands thoroughly just in case.
  9. Let your cat get used to this procedure while gradually decreasing the amount of litter you put in the bowl.
  10. You want to get down to just a teaspoon of litter in the bowl.  If your cat starts to revolt, just go back a few steps until they’re feeling safe again.  All of this can be very traumatic for the cat if you move too quickly.   There’s nothing worse than terror while they’re trying to use the facilities.  It’s kind of how you feel when you have to use the bathroom at a big party and the bathroom door doesn’t lock.  It makes you uneasy and you either can’t “make” or you start looking for somewhere else to do it.  Hopefully for you that doesn’t mean the living room rug.
  11. At this point you’re probably going to be ready for all of this to be over because of the overwhelming stink of the bathroom while your cat “goes’.  Without the litter to absorb the smell it’s a bit offensive.  So keep an eye on the cat and the litter and wash the bowl out right away.  Keep with it though.  Remember … you’ll never have to buy or scoop litter again.
  12. Here we are.  The final step.  If your cat were a kid, you’d be in the “Yay! You get a cookie” stage.
  13. Once you’re down to only a teaspoon or so of litter, remove it and start adding water.  As always, just a little bit at a time. Within a few days you should be up to about 2 inches of water in the bowl.  If you’re cat seems O.K. with this, you can move onto the final step.
  14. Take away that litter bowl! This should come as quite a relief to everyone involved, especially if you only have one toilet in the house.  Voila!  Your cat is toilet trained.

Cleo makes dirt

I should let you know that this is just a guide.  Your cat’ll let you know if  you’re doing things too slowly or quickly.  When I did this with my two cats several years ago  Cleo was just too small.

She was still a kitten and simply wasn’t big enough to be able to splay across the toilet the way she needed to.  So it didn’t really work with her.  And since then she’s taken to peeing in corners.  So it’s entirely possible I traumatized her.

Prada goes number 1

My other cat, Prada took to the toilet like a man.  He in fact let me know in no uncertain terms that I was going too slowly for his tastes.  During the later stages of the process he took matters into his own hands.  My bathroom is right off my kitchen and in a cleaning fit I removed the litter bowl from the toilet but forgot to put it back.  I moved into the kitchen to start cleaning something in there when I heard the distinct sound of a man peeing in the bathroom.  Huh?  There’s no man here.  So I peeked in the bathroom and there was Prada, ignoring the bowl full of litter on the floor, sitting on the toilet.  Peeing.  Like a man.  He got a cookie.

Good luck!

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  1. Jen says:

    Karen- my sister is attempting this with her cat- could you provide a picture of the “bowl in the bowl” set up?

  2. Ruth says:

    Wow Karen!

    Thanks for sharing all this detail with us, including what to watch out for so as not to traumatize our feline friends in the process.

    I’ve been in the company of Siamese cats most of my life and often thought about their ‘smarts’ and considered attempting ‘toilet training’, but was always in a career position that took me out of the house for long hours or days on road trips, so couldn’t really start a decent program.

    I too have tried every kind of litter known to man.

    Just to encourage the other readers to consider the toilet training program:

    – clay-based clumping litter is bad for the cats’ respiratory system, as well as their human companions’ and weighs more than the waste management will consider picking up if you have a multi-cat household.

    I tried breaking my 1 bag into 2 bags, using the kitty litter bags themselves as bags, only to find that this now exceeds the 1 bag limit (or so it seems, as they only take 1?)

    – most flushable litter must be administered to the toilet by the tablespoon for low flush toilet-acceptance,

    – biodegradable, grain (corn) – based product is seriously hydrophilic and clumps into concrete-like football-sized offerings that need to be shovelled vs. scooped and to be chopped up into small pieces before they can be flushed,

    – wood pellet / shaving – based material doesn’t really clump, isn’t really flushable unless you want to feed the toilet in tablespoons fulls, and tracks all over the house; I actually find it under the covers at the foot of my bed when I’m changing the sheets!!

    The majority of the 1/4 bag of garbage I put on the curb is furry feline fecal matter.

    Would you believe that with 3 cats (one was an accident – left behind by a pregnant housemate) my 1/4 bag of garbage weighs too much for the city’s waste management crew to take away!!

    I now find myself considering weighing in at the local transfer station, but the minimum charge would suggest that this solution is neither a financially viable option nor an environmentally sustainable one!

    My feline family consists of: Suki an 8 month old applehead seal point Siamese (looks very much like Chloe, actually!), Nala – a horrifically shy 3 year old grey tabby, and Simba – my 15 year old indoor/outdoor Champaign tabby.

    P.S. Nala was named by the housemate who didn’t know that I had a Simba .. too funny :)

    What tips would you give to those crazy enough to try this in a multi-cat, multi-gender, multi-age household?

  3. Elyse says:

    Ok, so I hope I don’t offend you but I think I have your cat. They are basically twins and also have the same personality. And I don’t know if Prada wore a collar but in the picture of him on the toilet it looks like he has a little white patch, which is not really a patch but like 7 white hairs. So creepy, and to push the creepy to the max my cat, Bowser, also will not swat, he stings like a viper! I have trained him not to hurt his mama but my fiance regularly “plays” with him and has many tiny teeth marks to prove it. Check out my wedding website, he adorns the guestbook page

    • Karen says:

      Um. You’re right. Wow. Prada’s dead. Watch it. I might come get your cat. Is the wedding invitation only, or more of a just drop by and steal a cat kind of affair? ~ karen

      • Elyse says:

        I’m sorry the cat will not be attending the wedding, but you are still welcome to pop by if your on the Michigan side of the pond!

  4. christyl says:

    I want to try this so bad! I’ve tried all the other boxes to. Cat #1 has decided that he will lift his butt at the end of each pee (before he’s done) so I had to go to a large plastic tote to contain it all. Cat #2 is a very cool cat but he has kinda of a bum knee…not sure how he would do with that. I may have to try tho….the thought of no more litter is too tantalizing.

    P.S. What did you find out about your cat throwing up catfood? The “toothpaste” tube of undiegested cat food. Mine does it and I’m getting ready to make him an outside kitty this summer if I can’t improve things on the inside. I want carpet!!!

  5. kletia says:

    Hello, my name is Kletia and my husband and i have been toilet training our cats (with a city kitty) for a while now (we have a slow learner :) ). This slow learner is finally making progress, but our other cat, who has been actually been standing on the toilet seat and pooping on his own for a long time now, will not poop in the toilet anymore. In the past week, he has pooped once in the toilet and 6 times on the floor right in front of the toilet. He will urinate in there no problem and doesn’t seem “scared” of the toilet. It is very frustrating… what should i do?
    Also, with our slow learner (venus), often she sits in front of the toilet and whines and whines till she just can’t hold it anymore. Once she gets up there, she’s fine… is there anyway to make her more comfortable or get her to stop whining?

    I really love my cat’s and feel like we are almost to the finish line, but have a boulder in the way… and it’s very frustrating.

    • Karen says:

      Kletia – Hi there. Without being there and seeing the situation it’s hard to know what to do. Is it possible one of them skidded off the seat and into the toilet at one point? Maybe there’s been some sort of scare while you weren’t around. I would either leave it for another week to see what’s happening or set up a box or something beside the toilet for them to jump up on and then over to the toilet. It’s possible the toilet seat is slippy and jumping up on to it is scaring them. Give it a shot! ~ karen

  6. Jackie says:

    Hi, I have never really thought about toilet training my cat before, but I have always had problems with him and peeing in most places but the litter box, But recently every time I have gone to use the toilet he has run ahead of me to follow me in and sit on the back of the toilet, I did try to put him back out but he was persistent every time so in the end I just gave in it wasn’t doing any harm, we had just moved so I didn’t know if it was a comfort thing with him and I didn’t want to make him more nervous about the move. Then this morning as I was taking clothes to be washed that he had peed all over, when I heard the sound of someone peeing knowing he was the only one in the bathroom I assumed he had found something else to pee on but when I looked in there he was sat at the side of the seat
    peeing into the bowl, I couldn’t believe it I give him loads of praise and treats, I hope he keeps it up :) Just thought this might help in training your cat to do this as I did not train him in any way he still had his litter box he had just learnt it from coming with me to the bathroom.

  7. Kayla says:

    Hi Karen,

    I am getting ready to start the training process and was wondering what your experience has been with traveling. We like to take our cat with us to visit family for long weekends and usually just drag the litter box with us. Will he know to use a different toilet if I show it to him or will he need to be re-trained?


    • Karen says:

      Kayla – I never travelled with my toilet trained cats, but when I did research for training them to use the toilet, several people said their cats recognized a toilet as a toilet no matter where they were. Much the same way they’d recognize a litter box. Best bet … bring the cat, show them the toilet and keep a bag of litter handy the first time you do it just in case. ~ k!

      • Brennan says:

        (Just starting to train my cat), but I read that one person brought a little bit of flushable litter and when the cat didn’t understand they put some in the toilet and the cat “got it”. Just a thought…

  8. Kinsey says:

    Hey Karen,
    I realize that this is an old post, but maybe you’ll see this anyway. I’ve been toilet training my cat for a week and a half or so. I was actually using this exact process before I saw it on your site, but have picked up on some tips here that I’ll definitely use. I received the metal bowl yesterday, removed the litter box from the top of the toilet, and filled the bowl with a bit of litter.

    It’s been almost 24 hours, and my cat still hasn’t used the bowl. She seemed comfortable with every other part of the process (and used the multiple times after each change). I’ve even seen her jump up on the toilet, walk around, bat at the litter, and leave. I don’t think she’s gone anywhere else..but I’m concerned that she might not use the bowl. Do you have any tips or tricks? And/or reassurance that cats can hold it forever and she’ll probably go eventually? I’m taking what I can get here.

    • Kinsey says:

      10 minutes after posting the above comment, I forced my cat to pee in the bowl by closing the bathroom door, putting her on the toilet, and being like “lets rumble.” So she went, and I was stoked and texted my husband and was all “IT HAPPENED WE’RE WINNERS.” Not 5 minutes later, my cat shit on the rug behind me while my dog looked on worriedly. Ugh. One step forward, two steps back–literally.

      • Karen says:

        Kinsey! Oh dear. Whenever the cat gets upset like that just slow down the process. For instance, if you only have a little bit of litter in the bowl, put in a lot to make her more comfortable. You just have to make sure you do it all at her pace. Good luck! ~ karen

  9. Tate says:

    Thank you very much for this list. I am definitely going to try it with my 2 cats. We are soooo tired of litter and litter box changing!

  10. Lindsay says:

    We used the CitiKitty system last year and it only took about 3 weeks (Luigi was about 5 or 6 months old- still moldable) My main reason for doing it was because I was pregnant and not supposed to change the litter and my hubby was working out of town a lot. We were also in a townhome with no good place for a litter box. It was so great not having to deal with litter!

    Unfortunately when we moved we decided that we didn’t want to have to share our one bathroom with Luigi and now we have an actual basement that the box can hide in, oh ans hubby is home now to change it. When we buy our house I will most likely be trying this again though, so wonderful!!

  11. Nikki Kelly says:

    OMG!! I have taught my cats to sit and shake hands, but this tops everything! Excuse me, I need to go get a litter bowl and get started right away!

    • Karen says:

      Nikki – There’s nothing like the sound of your cat using the toilet for the first time. Beats the thrill of potty training a kid by a long shot. ~ karen

  12. Sara says:

    Ooh! same here, my cat will happily ‘go’ in the litter bowl in the toilet, i keep trying to get him to sit on the edge but he doesn’t seem to want to. he often stops what he’s doing and then tries to wait until I’m not around to interfere.

    Any advice, I’m desperate to get to the next stage with him…

    • Karen says:

      Hi Sara! If you’re at the point where there’s barely any litter left in the bowl, then what I would do is move on to filling the bowl with water. (not full … just an inch or so of water in the bottom) See if that helps. If the cat is ready to move on, he’ll figure out he can’t stand in the bowl anymore and must rest his feet on the edge of the toilet seat. If that doesn’t work, go back to the bowl with litter in it and get him comfortable with that again. Then, I’d cut away the side sections of the bowl. You’ll have the lip of the bowl, then four strands of plastic (assuming you’re using plastic) running down to the bottom of the bowl with a bit of *flushable* litter on it. (must be flushable cause it’ll for sure spill into the toilet) It’s hard to describe what I want you to do but in essence you’ll have a plastic plate, being held to it’s upper rim by 4, 1″ strips of plastic spaced at equal intervals. The goal is to make sure the cat can see there’s still a bottom and there’s still litter, but there isn’t anywhere for him to actually stand. Proceed with caution! LOL. ~ karen (if you can’t understand what I’m describing lemme know and I’ll draw a quick picture)

  13. Martha says:

    Hi again Karen,

    I am also with Jenni in the process but I can’t get one of my cats to stop standing in the bowl of litter on the toilet and put his feet on the seat. If i try to move his feet he jumps down like Jenni’s cat. The other one realized all along that the seat was the way to go. Thoughts?

  14. Jenni says:

    I’m in this process now and my cat is doing very well – no accidents so far! However, he refuses to let me move his paws onto the seat. If I catch him just as he takes ‘the stance’ and move his feet, he jumps down. If I catch him in the middle, there’s not much he can do, but he is quite annoyed at me and refuses to put his feet there again. I’m just not sure what to do. Is there a way to get him to stand on the seat without me moving him?

  15. Taylor says:


    Check this out!
    My friend just said she was toilet training her cat, so I sent her the link to this post. THEN she showed me this! Even simpler! Though, I’m sure your way is more cost-friendly :)

    Can you teach an old CAT new tricks? Wonder if my cat would do this….hmmm…

  16. Martha says:

    I would like to second Liz’s question – do they still paw around on the toilet seat, or worse in the toilet water, after they do their business?

  17. Mae says:

    hi there! i’m loving this idea, but i have five (yes, five—there was a two-for-one kitten sale at the spca!) cats of varying ages (and only one bathroom) and am wondering how it would work with all of them. any advice?

  18. liz says:

    I am dying to do this with my cats! One question though. Do toilet-trained cats still have the need to scratch and “bury” their leave-behinds? Do you put a cardboard scratcher on the floor next to the toilet or anything? Thanks!!

    • Tennille says:

      Mine do scratch at the lid a little and sometimes the seat when they are done.

    • Diana Ramsey says:

      My cat pees with no effort at all but when it comes time to poop I keep a small litter box in my glass shower when she see it I take it out and put it on a stool by the toilet after she scratches to make a place and in position I pick her up and she poops in the toilet and gets praise and treats as she. Does when she pees by herself but I can’t get her to give up the scratching to find a place to burrow even though she sees it go bye bye and treats Help

  19. Harriet says:

    Just discovered your blog & almost peed myself over this one. Forwarded to all my cat owning friends & will save in case the dog ever permits one in the house. BTW, yrs. ago I too owed a siamese who was a descendant of satan.
    Thanks so much for the laughs.

  20. nix says:

    Hilarious! I tried to do the same thing with my cats. It worked quite well…at first. And then they staged a revolt on my couch…and my pillow. Needless to say their litterbox was returned quite promptly. I have to say, now that my couch is white, I am a little too scared to try again. :)

    • Julie says:

      My cat is almost at the very and of toilet training, but has also staged a revolt and has started going in the shower! Any suggestions??

  21. Danielle says:

    Genius!!!! I have a friend who has a very tempermental cat and she’s tried EVERYTHING to solve the litter debacle. Her cat even intentionally peed on the mechanism for the motorized litter box to break it…one of the many reasons I love cats.

  22. Corinne says:

    Love it!
    Buddy (RIP) started using the toilet when I moved in with a roommate who also had a cat. Like a typical only child he didn’t like sharing, even if it was the litter box.
    We only realized it because the toilet would be unflushed, full of pee, but with no toilet paper. For a while we each thought the other was being gross – peeing without wiping or flushing until there was Buddy crouched on the seat doin’ his bidness.
    Lucky for me – that meant I was relieved of litter box duty!

  23. Lori says:

    Everyone thought we were crazy too, but we toilet-trained our cat, Murray, a couple years ago. Although it was a trying couple of weeks, it was completely worth it. No more buying litter, no more scooping, no more tracking his paws through pee or worse. The only problem is if one of the kids uses Murray’s bathroom (we have three, thank God) and leaves the toilet lid down. (I’ve trained them too well.) Murray is a good boy, though, and will come crying if he can’t get to his toilet.

  24. Liz says:

    That is literally amazing. Myself and OH have seen a “Train your cat to use the toilet” DVD in the petshop but refused to spend £40 on buying it. However, with your handy guide i think i shall start the process.

    Our cats only use their box for wees these days (they prefer to lay their cat eggs in the shrubberies i think) but it would definitely be awesome to not have to scoop clumpy wee pucks.

    (P.S handsome cats!)

    • Uturn says:

      If your cats are doing their business in your potted plants, put plastic forks in them with just a bit of the tips sticking up. The cats won’t go in them anymore

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