Should I train my cat to use a human toilet?

I was gobsmacked when I saw this question in my inbox recently.  Why would you want to train your cat to use the toilet? Is it to show off and say, ‘Look at Marmalade – he goes to the bathroom - isn’t he clever!’

Some people don’t like the mess, or the smell associated with litter trays.  I get that.  I once had a lady who wrote and told me that her cat had started to defecate on her bed.  She was really upset by this, and when I asked her how often she emptied the litter tray, she said every two months.  EVERY TWO MONTHS???  I’d come and poo on your bed if you didn’t flush my toilet for two months!

But it is natural behaviour for a cat to dig, eliminate and cover up what they’ve done.  Whether this is outside in a garden, or in a litter tray.  If you’re going to have a cat, then changing the litter tray is an essential part of looking after his needs appropriately.  If you had a baby, you’d have to change his nappy/diaper every couple of hours.

Trying to toilet-train a cat goes against a cat’s natural instinct to dig a hole, have a satisfying wee or a poo, and then cover it up afterwards.  The idea behind toilet-training is that eventually the toilet-training kit will be removed, therefore forcing the cat to straddle the toilet to eliminate.  Toileting in this way can be extremely stressful and painful for cats, whether young or old.  Additionally, what if somebody accidentally closes the toilet lid?  Also, imagine how confusing it might be for your cat if he had to use a regular litter tray during a stay in a cattery or the vets.  Inevitably, this will lead to retraining the cat again to use the toilet.

A more natural option would be to provide the cat with a litter tray and fill it with an appealing litter.  This way, the cat will be able to dig to his heart’s content, eliminate, and cover by instinct, which should lead to a happier cat.  Litter trays don’t have to be messy or smelly; instigate a thorough cleaning regime to keep it clean and odour-free.  Your cat will thank you for this. 


Dogs Come when Called

"Dogs come when called. Cats take a message and get back to you."

"Of course, every cat is really the most beautiful woman in the room."

Edward Verrall Luca (essayist)

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