Cat Potty Training: 7 Things You Need To Know

Cat potty (toilet) training is a unique concept that some people try. Most people litter-train their pets. When they need to use the restroom, they use the litter box.

However, it is possible to potty train your pet as cats are much smarter than we think.

These cats use a human toilet just like, well, humans do. They climb up on it, do their business, and, if you teach them, they can even flush it!

In theory, this sounds ideal. Rather than needing to clean up stinky litter boxes, you can let your cat use a real toilet. In reality, there are quite a few problems with this approach. If you want to start cat potty training, here are seven essential things you need to know!

Cat Potty Training Requires Patience

If you thought litter box and house training were difficult, cat potty training is much worse. For starters, it's not an entirely natural concept. Cats aren't used to perching themselves in such a way that they use the toilet. In the wild, cats would have gone on the ground, which a litter box mimics. However, a toilet is an entirely foreign concept to a cat. Therefore, most people find that potty training cats on the toilet require a lot of effort.

The Lid Must Be Up at All Times

If the lid to your toilet is ever down, you'll have problems! A cat cannot lift the lid on their own. So, if you ever leave it down by mistake, you could find a nasty reminder on your floor. 

Cat Potty Training Won't Let You Catch Important Diseases

Many diseases manifest themselves in cat poop or urine. If your cat has a UTI, urinary obstruction, diabetes, hyperthyroidism, etc., you'll have no idea if your cat uses the toilet. Unlike humans who can observe their waste for red flags (like blood, for example), a cat has no clue. So they could have a severe UTI that's excreting blood, and you won't know if they aren't using the litter.

If you do suspect that your cat is sick, consult your vet and try these holistic cat health alternatives.

Traveling Becomes Challenging

Counterintuitively, traveling with a pet that's toilet-trained is harder than one with litter box training. You might think that having a toilet-trained pet would make travel more comfortable - after all, your friends might not have a litter box. However, the inverse is often true.

If you have a litter-trained cat and you travel, bring a litter box, and your cat will be fine. If you have a toiled-trained cat, you'll need to show the cat where the toilet is. Then, your host will need to remember to keep the seat up at all times. If the cat forgets where the bathroom is, or if your host forgets the seat, your host could find an unpleasant surprise on their floor.

Putting a litter box on the floor is often way easier!

Another Downside to Cat Potty Training: What If Someone Else Is Already Using the Facilities?

What should your cat do if someone is already using the toilet? If you're lucky, maybe the cat will decide to wait, but there's likely no guarantee of that. If you choose to engage in cat potty training, you might find that you need to leave the toilet open for the cat 24/7, which leaves one less bathroom for you to use!

It's Harder as Cats Become Older

As cats become older, jumping becomes significantly more challenging. One study found that 90% of cats over 12 years of age had evidence of degenerative joint diseases. If you toilet train your cat, you might find that it's ok to start. Maybe your cat is doing well to start. As they get older, though, there's a good chance that you'll have to litter-train them as they won't be able to make it up in time!

Older cats may need several lifestyle changes, including adapting to a diet that's suitable for older cats.

Spread Unwanted Diseases

There are parasites in cats' feces that can cause problems for marine life or humans if either comes into contact with it. Therefore, you're usually best to keep it in a litter box, rather than in the human waste system.

Cat Potty Training: A Good Idea That Has Issues

At first, it sounds like a good idea: get your cat to use the toilet instead of a litter box. However, it's not the right approach. The reality is, quite frankly, that the best way to potty train a cat is to point them to a litter box. It's a tried-and-tested way that will have the best results!

How to potty train a kitten?

Assuming you're going to go with the litter approach, potty training a kitten is relatively straightforward. First, introduce your kitten to the litter box. Let your pet sniff it and get used to it. After meals and naps, put your cat in the litter box. This act gives them the idea that they should start using the litter for their lavatory needs. If you notice your cat sniffing around or looking like they might be wanting a place to go, again, pick them up and put them in the box. If they use the litter, reward them! You can either use praise, pets, or a toy. Never, ever scold or punish. Don't rub their noses in it either. None of these methods do any good!

When do kittens start using the litter box?

They start using the litter quite early on in their life! Most people can start litter training around three weeks of age. If the kitten's mom was litter trained, then the kittens might very well learn how to use the box from their mom, and you might not have to do much.

How long does it take to litter train a kitten?

There's no guaranteed answer to this question. How long litter training takes depends significantly on the cat and the owner. If the owner has a strong rapport with the pet, and the cat has a high learning capacity, it will be shorter. Just like humans, each pet is different and will learn at a different pace. With that said, most people find that after a dozen or so times taking the cat to the litter box, they understand what to do. Some cats even start using it right away! It all depends on the cat!

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Written by Leo Roux

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