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. Grant says:

    Im teaching my cat to use the toilet and it was going well but since I made the hole in the Citykity bigger she now poops elsewhere. She uses it only to urinate. Any advice please? she is Maine Coon and 5 months old and already very big.

    • Karen says:

      HI Grant. I’ve never used a “professional” litter trainer. Normally I would suggest you take one step back (move everything to the way it was before your Maine Coon started pooping elsewhere, but I’m guessing you can’t do that if you’ve already made the hole bigger. I assume there’s no way to make it smaller again. Sorry! How long was it before you moved onto the next step and enlarged the hole? ~ karen!

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