A cat on a human toilet? ‘Only in the movies’, you might assume, but think again! You can train a cat to use a human toilet - all it takes is patience and understanding.
There are different reasons why a cat owner may be interested in training their feline friend to use a human toilet. Maybe they’re allergic to the kitty litter, maybe they can’t stand the smelly trays, maybe they have back issues and can’t bend down that low to pick up their cat’s droppings. Perhaps their cat just doesn’t like to use the litter tray. In any case, you must be sure that training your cat to use a human toilet will not impact her welfare negatively, and that it is, overall, in her best interest.
How to train a cat to use a human toilet
The first thing to do is to purchase a toilet training kit for cats. The most popular one on the market at the moment is known as the ‘Litter Kwitter’, and was designed by Jo Lapidge after she grew tired of picking up her cat’s litter.
The Litter Kwitter is composed of four different toilet trays that fit over the rim of a standard (human) toilet. These toilet trays are designed similarly to training seats used for potty training children. One tray has no hole, another has a small hole, the next size has a bigger hole, and so on. Each tray can be filled with litter, so as to incite the cat to use it.
You should, of course, start with the tray with no hole. As your cat gets more confident over time, you can switch to the next size down, until eventually, you are left with no tray at all. You should proceed at your cat’s pace, no matter how slow it is. If you feel your cat is not comfortable, do not rush her through the toilet tray steps. Only move forward once your cat is entirely comfortable with the step you’re at.
When training your cat to use the toilet training kit, you should remove any other litter boxes from the house so that your cat isn’t tempted to use them. Make sure the bathroom door is always open, the toilet seat always up, and the toilet training kit always placed on the rim. Some cats may benefit from stepping stools to help them up if they are afraid to jump onto the toilet. Others also feel more comfortable with toilet seat covers that enable better grip.
Fill the trays with kitty litter. Cats have a natural instinct to cover their waste, so they will automatically look for a place to eliminate which will enable them to do that. Make sure you clean out the training kit as often as possible - cats don’t like to go to the bathroom where it’s dirty.
Teach your cat to use the toilet training kit by placing her on top of it after mealtimes, playtimes, and nap times. You can also lure her up with treats. Always reward good behaviour, and never punish your cat. This is not a natural behaviour for her, so patience is key.
Remember a toilet-trained cat may solve some of your litter box issues but will also create new ones! You will have to flush after your cat nonetheless, and share the bathroom with yet another member of the family!
When to avoid toilet training
Not all cats can or should be toilet-trained. This type of training is only suitable for cats who are eager to learn, active, inquisitive, flexible and confident. It is also best suited for young cats who are not yet set into their routine.
Some cats will be too fearful of the toilet bowl, or will not be comfortable eliminating in a ‘vulnerable’ position and where they cannot bury their waste. You should never force your cat to go through with the training if you sense that she is becoming stressed by it.
Additionally, cats with medical issues such as arthritis may not be able to stabilise themselves over the toilet bowl painlessly. These cats should have litter trays on the ground, and preferably with low borders.
Multi-cat households should also avoid toilet training. Indeed, a cat likes to have its own place to go to the bathroom. In fact, a cat even appreciates options, which is why it’s recommended that cat owners have at least 2 litter trays per cat in their home. If your cat shares the toilet with many other cats (and you!), this may cause her a lot of stress, and may also lead to inappropriate toileting.
It is recommended you only try toilet training if you have several toilets in the house and you will not necessarily be sharing with your cat too often. Remember, cats only feel comfortable enough to eliminate when they are in quiet, calm surroundings. If you are barging in on them all the time, they will feel stress, which will lead to behavioural issues.
Training a cat to use a human toilet is possible, but that doesn’t mean it’s always what’s best. Keep your beloved pet’s interests at heart, and if you feel this isn’t the best option for her, stick to the litter box!