By now, you've probably seen a video or heard about these supercats that go potty in the toilet — like a human. Even after seeing products like the CitiKitty ($30) and the Litter Kwitter ($60) that promise every cat can be toilet trained, you might not think it's something your own "average" cat could do.
But I was tired of spending $20+ a month on cat litter — talk about flushing money down the toilet — so I decided to embark on a four-month journey to train my 12-pound, 1-year-old cat to use the toilet. Here are some tips I picked up along the way:
- Pick the right bathroom: Pick a bathroom that is closest to where you will be spending the most time at home. The more you can keep an eye on your cat in the bathroom, the less likely he is to have an accident.
- Keep the room clean: Do NOT leave any clothes on the floor — a cat's natural instinct is to cover up the scent of their feces. If they're not yet accustomed to using the toilet, they might go potty on the floor and try to cover it with your clothes.
- Keep the toilet clean: A cat's sense of smell is about 14 times stronger than a human's, so be sure to disinfect the toilet at least once a week. Cats don't like going potty in a stinky litter box, and they sure won't like going potty in a stinky toilet.
- The type of litter matters: The Litter Kwitter recommends using flushable litter, and I found that pine pellet litter ($9) works best — it's flushable, and there is minimal tracking because of the larger size of the pellets. The pine has a naturally pleasant scent as well!
- Treat him right: During the few months of training, refrain from giving your cat any treats other than for the purpose of toilet training. I gave my cat beef, chicken, or salmon jerky, like the Halo Liv-a-Littles Protein Treats ($12), and boy, did he love it. He comes running to me as soon as he's done with his business!
- Immediate positive reinforcement works best: Show your cat some love, and give him a treat after each successful attempt — no matter the time of the day (if possible). I can't tell you how many times I have gotten out of bed in the middle of the night to give him treats. Why do cats like to go potty in the dead of the night, anyway?
- Clean the tray after each time: This might seem like a chore, but it's a necessary step. Flush down the litter and feces and wipe the trays with Clorox wipes (or try some DIY disinfectant wipes).
- No yelling or punishing: Your cat will mess up. Many times. But cats don't respond well to scolding, so give him a firm "no" and hold up your finger but nothing more. Be patient and persistent!
So is all this trouble worth it? Absolutely. Once your cat is fully toilet trained, you won't ever have to spend money on litter or clean a stinky litter box. It's also more sanitary if your cat sleeps with you on your bed, since he won't be digging through litter every day. Did I mention, it's also incredibly entertaining to watch? If you really are committed to toilet training your cat, I recommend the Litter Kwitter over the CitiKitty, because it comes with three separate trays so that you can go back a step if necessary. Good luck!