July 31, 2011

Potty Training Redux

After about two and a half years of anxiety and frustration caused by Kitten tracking litter absolutely everywhere (see: A Paw Problem), Boyfriend and I decided to take another shot at potty training him.

A few months back I was watching Shark Tank (which by the way, is no Dragons Den) and I saw the CitiKitty. It looked much more feline-ergonomic than the model Boyfriend and I had considered and rejected the first time round. 

The fact that we tried to make one of these ourselves may have been the reason for our ultimate failure. That, and Kitten was a kitten the first time and the instructions that came with the CitiKitty said you should only train adult cats.

The CitiKitty actually arrived prior to our Bonnaroo trip, but since the process requires supervision, we waited until we got back.

This is basically how it works:

You place the cats regular litter near the toilet so he gets used to going there. Then, you place the white plastic piece over the toilet and put enough litter in it to cover the entire bottom. The toilet seat rests on top of this so that the cat needs to sit on the seat to squat in the litter. You are supposed to clean the litter immediately since cats use litter to hide the smell -- if they learn that there is no smell, they won't try to burry it.

Once the cat gets used to this, you cut out the first pointy-oval shaped piece and wait until the cat has gotten comfortable with this change. Slowly you remove each section. The cat should learn to balance on the seat and should eventually realize that water covers smell just as well as litter.

Kitten enjoying the change-over process. 
The seat should be down, but this is what it looks like.

Well, this is how it is supposed to work.

When we first removed Kitten's litter box and replaced it with the white tray he was not too impressed. He checked it out to see what was blocking the way to his "water bowl." But because Kitten is a cat, he is engrained to use litter, so begrudgingly, he did.

Covering the scent is a very big issue for Kitten. Since there is only a small amount of litter in the tray, it is impossible to bury anything so Kitten needs to rely on Boyfriend and I to clean the tray after he uses it. Kitten however, has trust issues and always tries to deal with the stink himself. This leads to litter everywhere, including Kittens face.

Unimpressed Kitten with litter on his face.
Another issue Kitten has is that he prefers to sit directly on the tray as opposed to sitting on the seat. This is a crucial set back for us, since inevitably, Kitten must learn to sit on the seat. Unfortunately, it is difficult to work on this aspect of the training, when Kitten still has issues with using the tray.

He is able to go #1 in it without much trouble, though he won't use the tray again unless it is cleaned right away. The real problem is #2s. Even if the tray is perfectly clean, Kitten still gets anxious about using it for #2s. He prefers instead, the bathtub. 

Every now and then I hear a distinct echo of something in the bathtub (generally followed by a scratching sound) -- and I know. 

He has only done this a few times, but considering that we have been working on this for over a month, I was hoping he would not still be reverting to #2s in the bathtub at this point in the training. 
In fact, while I was writing this post I heard Kitten jump in the bathtub. I ran in, pulled him out and put him on the litter tray and walked away. Then, a few minutes later, I heard it again. So I ran in, pulled him out and put him on the litter tray. This time I stood over him and held him in place. Oddly enough, I think he finds it comforting to have someone there with him because as soon as I held him in place, he #2'd.

Ideally, I would like to not have to assist my cat with his BMs, but if this whole thing works, I am pretty sure it will all be worth it.

I will keep you up-to-date with some status reports throughout Kitten's potty training process. Right now we have the first pointy-oval shape popped out and Kitten seems okay with that adjustment. Considering his bathtub attempt this morning though, I think it will be a while before we remove another one.

In the meantime, please enjoy this video of me attempting to remove Kitten from the bathtub:

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