Many people are familiar with Mr. Jinx, Robert De Niro’s toilet trained cat in the film "Meet the Parents". However, potty trained cats are not simply a figment of the Hollywood imagination. Cat owners can, with training and the help of special litter pans, teach their cats to use the toilet.
Toilet training a cat is a step-by-step process that requires a gradual introduction to the toilet. The amount of time it takes a cat to learn to use the bathroom will depend upon the individual feline. Some catch on quickly, while others may be a bit more reluctant. In fact, toilet training is not for every cat. Fearful cats, older cats who have trouble jumping, or cats that have trouble using the litterbox may not be ideal candidates for potty training.
Step One: Move the Litter Box
The first step in toilet training a cat is to move his regular litter box as close to the toilet as you can. Owners may want to do this gradually, moving the box a little closer to the bathroom each day. Some cats don’t adjust well to abrupt change and suddenly moving the box into the bathroom could cause the cat a great deal of stress. Pay attention to how the cat responds to change, and adjust your approach as needed.
Step Two: Raise the Litter box
Once the cat is comfortable using the litterbox in the bathroom (and all family members remember to keep the bathroom door open), slowly begin to raise the litter box using phone books or small boxes. Be sure to secure the box to your platform so that it does not slide off when the cat jumps in. When the box is finally level with the toilet seat, you can move on to the next step.
Step Three: Move the Box Onto the Toilet Seat
Keeping your platform in place, slowly inch the box onto the toilet seat, moving it a little closer each day until it completely covers the seat. Throughout this process, decrease the amount of litter in the box, until there is only a thin, 1-inch layer of litter present.
Step Four: Switch to a Training Box
Choose a toilet training litter box from your pet store or purchase one online. There are several brands on the market, so do research and be sure to choose one that will bear your cat’s full weight when he steps into it. Toilet training litter pans fit directly onto the toilet’s bowl, and they are made up of a series of “rings” that are removed over time, increasing the opening into the toilet bowl. Remove the rings according to the box’s recommendations and the cats comfort level. Each time you remove a ring, decrease the amount of litter in the training box.
For the first few days, it will be important to monitor the box regularly. Scoop it as soon as the cat uses the box, and sprinkle catnip in the box after it’s clean to keep the cat interested in the training litter box.
Step Five: Remove the Training Box
When the cat is ready, remove the training box from the bowl. The first time you “catch” your cat using the toilet, be sure to reward him with praise, affection, and a treat. You will also want to train your family to flush the toilet after the cat uses the facilities. This helps everyone feel a little more comfortable about sharing the toilet with their cat.