How to Toilet Train Your Cat

Butter wouldn’t melt….

Latham told me that as he was heading off to college next year, I should take this opportunity to buy a cat as a child replacement, or use it as an excuse anyway.  It was his way of trying to talk me into getting a cat.  I was pretty adamant that we didn’t need another pet in our mobile lives.  The cost, worries and sheer logistics just logically weigh the benefits of having a small, warm creature curled up on your lap every night.  Also, with Latham off to college, I can think of other things to do with my time than just have another entity to look after all the time.  But after a year of being worn down by cute kittens in the pet shop window and heavy hints from Robert and Latham, I finally succumbed, and last September we bought a very cute siamese.  And with her came the dreaded world of pet travel rules and regs, airline restrictions, and worst of all, what to do with her during the complexities of changing post.  Like I say….a bad idea in every way except that we all wanted a cat again.  Logic loses to emotion, yet again.

So over here in teenage land, I am dealing with potty training again.  Living in a high rise apartment meant a kitty litter tray – we’ve never had to have one for any length of time before — and its nuisance and smell.  Plus kitty litter is very expensive here.  (A ridiculous, heavy, luxury import if you think about it.)  Our helper very graciously does most of the dirty work, but our kitchen area is completely unliveable without some scooping upkeep by yours truly.
Tired of the expensive kitty litter and smelly bathroom, I looked online for alternative litter tray products and in the process discovered the wonderful world of toilet trained cats.  The prospect of toilet training her so that she did everything but flush, was very appealing and we started the process about a couple of months ago.

I’ll spare you pictures of the first part.  Essentially you just move the kitty litter tray from its original location, slowly, until it is located adjacent to the toilet.  Then, as she accepts that, you start raising it, slowly…using boxes or telephone directories ….one at a time…. until the kitty litter tray is parallel in height to the toilet seat.  Its very important that the raised tray is secure, non wobbling and able to take the force of her leap without scaring her. Depending how far away the tray’s current location is from the proposed toilet, this could take days or a few weeks.

Once you have it parallel to the seat, you move it on to the seat itself.  Leave it there for a while.  She is now jumping up on to the toilet seat to do her business.  An important goal has been reached.  Again, structural security is everything.  Use lots of duct tape!  Make sure that the toilet seat lid is taped in the open position.  You don’t want that to come crashing down accidentally and ruin your progress.

Now comes the tricky bit. The litter tray has to go.  But cats like to dig and scratch around, and the noise of the water below can be a bit scary. So again, slowly is the key.

Raise the lower toilet seat and tape a disposable aluminium pan to the inside of the ceramic bowl.  It has to be tabled really securely and able to take the weight of the cat, Here’s my first insert:

Note ample duct tape securely affixed to clean dry surface. Can’t emphasis this enough!

Lower the seat so kitty has somewhere to learn to stand and balance and you have this….which is starting to look awfuly familiar:

The next step was to be cutting a small hole in the center of the aluminum tray. However, my husband unexpectedly stepped in and bought me the “Litter Kwitter” kitty training set, which does all the construction work for you. I had spotted it online, but as it cost $50 and I knew I could pull the whole thing off with cheap aluminum trays and a pair of scissors, I was too cheap to purchase it. But he did, and yes,it was easier with the pre-made trays, but doing it yourself is very feasible too. Just keep enlarging the hole — slowly over time.

As we were now Litter Kwitter owners, after 1-2 weeks of the pan in place as before, I inserted the orange LK disc, which has a medium sized hole as below:

This was the hardest stage so far. For the first week or two she missed more often than not. At first, we think she never aimed for the hole, hitting the water only accidentally as she tried to use the litter area around the edge. For us though, it was already a success as just having to flick turds from the ledge into the water and flushing was so vastly better than the litter tray. After about a month she was only missing occasionally. There was never any clumping in the litter as the “shorter” visits were hitting the water 100% of the time. Time to move on to the green ring:

More of the same, of course, except the hole is bigger. This is the stage we are at currently and I expect things to progress now so that we don’t need anything in a month or two. Even if she never progressed on from here, the smell and mess is negligible. I could happy stay here and never worry about a litter tray again.

Bottom line is that my description might make this sound like a lot of work for a long time. It isn’t. You don’t have to be diligent. There’s no timetable. I can forget about the plan for a week or two and life goes on. In fact that’s better, as slowly is the key to success. Of course, for an FS family, we do still have one more problem: How easily do toilet trained cats use other human toilets? Can I take her to a new bathroom in our Nepal home and will she adapt? Can I pop into the Ladies room with her at the airport en route? I guess we’ll have to wait and see!

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