Our Cat's Place – Living With Cats

thoughts, articles, & information on cats, their behavior, and their relationships with us.

  • May 14
    Panther, a cat using toilet, photographed in S...

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    For many owners, daily litter box duties are one of the less pleasant aspects of caring for a cat.  Some cats love to dig and scratch in the litter, and can fling it outside the box and onto to the floor.  And it’s very easy for the cat to get litter stuck in his paws and track it all over the house.  Then, there’s the scooping and cleaning….

    So for some people who have the time and patience to put into it, toilet training cats is an ideal solution.  Be aware from the start that this won’t happen right away, and that you will need to be watchful and diligent as you go through the process.  But in the end, won’t it be wonderful to have a cat who willingly uses the toilet?  No more litter boxes, no more cleaning, no more litter tracked all over the floor.  Sound great?  Read on!

    If at all possible, have the family use a separate bathroom while you are training your cat.  This may not be an option for you, but if it is, it will make things that much easier.

    The first step will be to move your cat’s litter box into the bathroom and next to the toilet.  It will be important for all family members to be sure that they always leave the toilet seat down and the lid up, so that your cat will become accustomed to being next to the open toilet.  Next, begin slowly raising the litter box up to the level of the toilet by placing newspapers or other flat and stable items underneath.  Be sure not to use anything slippery, as this could scare your cat and defeat all your good efforts!  Do this gradually over a period of many days.  At first your cat will climb into the box, but as it gets higher up, he will probably jump onto the toilet seat before stepping into the box.  When this happens you are on your way!

    Once the litter box has been raised to the level of the toilet seat, the real work begins.  At this point, get a metal bowl that fits inside the toilet bowl and under the seat.  Make sure it doesn’t slide around when your cat jumps up on the seat.  You can use tape or another method to get it to stay if necessary.  Fill the bowl halfway with litter, so that it is similar to the litter box.  Remove the actual litter box from the bathroom at this point.  When your cat jumps up on the toilet bowl, he will see the litter in the bowl and should begin to use it for elimination.  Now, gradually reduce the amount of litter in the bowl (warning – this is the most unpleasant part of the process of toilet training cats – it will get VERY smelly for a while, hang in there!).  Encourage your cat to stand on the toilet seat instead of in the bowl, by gently moving his paws onto the seat.  Be sure the seat isn’t too slippery for him to stand on.  A cushioned toilet seat may be a good investment at this point!

    Finally, when you have reduced the amount of litter in the bowl to nothing, start putting in water, little by little so your cat can get used to it gradually.  Once you are filling the bowl part way with water, remove the bowl from the toilet altogether so that your cat stands on the seat and does his business directly into the toilet.

    Hopefully this will be a smooth process for you, but there are lots of things that can go wrong and your cat may refuse to cooperate.  There are some very useful resources on toilet training cats that you may want to refer to in this case.  One good one can be found in Mike Whyte’s book “Thinking Outside the Box”, a book on litter box issues with cats, that includes a chapter on toilet training along with how to deal with some of the potential pitfalls.  The techniques for toilet training cats are wonderful, and if you are having any other litter box issues with your cat, this guide is indispensible!

    all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth

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  • Apr 3

    If you are a cat lover like me, you do your best to understand your cats, and to make their home and their life with you as pleasant and carefree as possible. But because we are different creatures after all, sometimes conflicts and unpleasant problems occur that can interfere with your enjoyment of your feline friends. One of the most frustrating cat behavior problems is when your cat suddenly (or maybe not so suddenly) refuses to use his litter box, and instead pees all over the house. It can make your entire life miserable, and you feel you would do anything to make the problem go away. I am here to let you know about a wonderful and effective solution that helped me, and I’m sure it can work for you and your cat too.

    In our home, we had two neutered male cats, Eric and Felix, who we absolutely adored. Both were friendly and affectionate, well behaved cats. Then, not so long ago, my husband was asked to be out of town for work for an extended period. Although this did cause some stress in our house, it was not an insurmountable problem. I now had sole responsibility for taking care of my daughter and the two cats for the duration of his trip, along with my ongoing responsibilities in my own full time job. It wasn’t always easy. Of course my daughter and I missed my husband very much and lived in anticipation of the few occasions when we were able to get together for a visit.

    Thank goodness we had our two sweet cats to help us get through this time! Eric, being the dominant cat, took on my husband’s role as “man of the house”. He would make his rounds each day and night, making sure that we were all OK, and that nothing was amiss inside our home. At night he would curl up on my husband’s side of the bed, and often he would even snore! Felix, being the softer and gentler one, seemed to take it all in stride, although he did seek even more attention than normal, which we were only too happy to provide.

    The real cat behavior problems started when my husband finally returned home permanently. Eric had grown to see himself as the “alpha male”, and was now being threatened by the returning human. He began spraying and peeing outside the litter box, and at times he would even attack Felix and provoke fights. It didn’t take long before Felix was peeing on the floor and the furniture too. Our home had become a battleground, and our life inside it a constant struggle. Based on what I already knew about cats, I could tell that some kind of territorial issue was happening, but I had no idea how to deal with it or make it stop. We tried being extra affectionate with both cats, we tried punishing them when we caught them peeing inappropriately, but it didn’t make any difference. We found ourselves in a constant mode of cleaning up stains, yelling at the cats, yelling at each other. Our bills for having the furniture and rugs constantly cleaned were getting out of hand, and we couldn’t get the smell of cat pee out of the house. We were too embarrassed to have friends over, or to entertain the way we liked to do. Life had become unbearable, and I was desperate for any solution.

    It was while I was doing some research on the Web that I found Mike Whyte’s book “Thinking Outside The Box” (How to Stop Your Cat Peeing Outside The Litter Box). Mike also had gone through some very painful and expensive issues with inappropriate urination by his own cat, and it seemed like he really understood how desperate this kind of situation could be. Because he offered a 100% money back guarantee, I thought I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by trying his system myself. So I downloaded the book and bonuses and read them cover-to-cover. I was able to gain a great deal of insight into what was causing our cat behavior problems and how to deal with it. Then, by putting into practice just a few of the tips that Mike offered, we were able to start turning our situation around almost immediately. One thing we did was to get a second litter box, which allowed each of our cats to have his own space. We also started using the cat pheromone “Feliway” strategically. Within just a few days, our cats had stopped using the floor and furniture to pee, and were using the litter boxes just as they should. The few occasional slips were now easy to deal with, and before long they ended altogether. We were finally able to get the house clean, keep it clean, and restore order to our lives.

    In our case, it was the territorial issues, changes in our household and the competition that Eric felt with my husband that were the main problem. But in “Thinking Outside The Box”, Mike Whyte also goes into great detail about many other possible causes of inappropriate urination, including medical problems, issues with the litter or the box itself, placement of the litter box, multiple cat issues, and issues unique to outdoor cats. He even provides a section on how to toilet train your cat, if you feel that would be a good alternative to litter.

    After seeing how well Mike’s tips worked for us, I honestly can’t recommend this book highly enough. I strongly urge everyone who is struggling with cat behavior problems like having their cat peeing outside the litter box to pick up a copy now!

    Here’s wishing all the best to you and your feline friends,

    Beth