March 16, 2011

Potty Training

Here's a story from the archives:

Before we picked Kitten up, Boyfriend and I  decided that we were going to potty train him. By "potty train" I mean toilet train. We didn't like the idea of cleaning litter all of the time and also thought it would be a pretty cool party trick to have a cat that could use the toilet.

We had researched it a fair bit online and came across this site. I highly suggest you take a look; not only will it help you picture a few things I am about to explain, but it also has an awesome video you can watch. The basic concept is that you slowly aclimate the kitten or cat to toilet use. You start with the litter-box beside the toilet and day by day raise it up to toilet level. Then you have litter resting in the toilet, and finally you only put litter in rings along the inside (this will really make much more sense if you just go to the link).

Anyway, Boyfriend and I didn't want to spend our money on stupid plastic rings when we could clearly construct something equivalent ourselves. We set out to become master cat trainers. 

From day one we had the little-box in the bathroom.

This is Kitten, who had fallen asleep trying to climb out of his litter box. As you will recall from an earlier post, Kitten apparently had some narcolepsy issues in his kittenhood. 

Clearly, we could not have the box any higher than floor level at this point. But as you can see, the litter box is right beside the toilet. 

As Kitten grew, Boyfriend and I put textbooks under the box to raise it to toilet level.

The photo below isn't related to Kitten's toilet training saga in any meaningful way, but it is pretty awesome:
Once we had the box at toilet level I constructed a DYI version of the plastic rings. I started out with a shallow tray resting across the opening of the toilet. After about a week of that, I created a small hole in the centre. Each week, I would make the hole a bit bigger. It seemed to be working fairly well; Kitten would sit on the edge of the toilet like we hoped, however, he was really fixated on aiming for the litter. He was not okay with his business falling into the toilet. He also would paw in the air around the toilet like he was trying to bury it. Our toilet seat got quite scratched up during this experiment.

Like I said, things were going pretty well. It was frustrating having to move the litter-ring every time we wanted to use the bathroom, and it definitely made our house guests feel uncomfortable, but we felt it was worth it for the end result.

The ring got thinner and thinner and as it became thinner, it also became less sturdy. Kitten, who had not yet mastered balancing on the toilet seat, would put his entire weight on it and would end up falling into the toilet along with the ring.

What we thought would be a fun experiment was starting to become quite a burden. The rings were becoming more difficult for me to make and Kitten was falling in on a regular basis. Every time he fell in, the litter would fall in too and we would have to deal with that as well (we had flushable litter, but it was still a pain).

The straw that broke the camels back: One day, little gifts started showing up in our sink and bathtub. 
This was upsetting for Boyfriend and me on so many levels. 

I guess Kitten had also met his breaking point with the toilet rings. We didn't know that Kitten had coordination problems at this time, but in retrospect he probably physically cannot balance on a toilet seat. Regardless of his reasoning, Kitten was done with the toilet. He does deserve some credit though, as he mainly kept his gifts to things that appeared porcelain. 

Boyfriend and I gave up and in case you are wondering, Kitten is now very well trained to use a conventional litter-box. 


  1. I was hoping you would do a post on this! I saw a pic of Kitten on the toilet so I thought you had potty trained him! We were going to toilet train our kitty Dexter when we got him so we were doing some research into it. But then, we're lazy so we didn't end up doing it.

    If it worked out for you guys though, I may have changed my mind...

  2. Stuart Maclean has a hilarious short story called Toilet Training the Cat
    I'm sure you will like! Here are YouTube links if you wish to listen.
    Part 1
    Part 2
    Part 3