On the surface, toilet training sounds like a great idea for Ragdoll cat owners: no more smell, no more constant scooping and cleaning – what could be the downside?
When I first got Charlie and Trigg, I requested a few of the cat toilet training kits that were on the market and decided to try and toilet train them. It was a painful experience for me to watch – very un-cat like. I couldn’t follow through with it. I do know that some readers have their kitties toilet trained – and understand that there are always exceptions to the rule. However, in general, if a reader contacts me asking about toilet training, I will tell them I am opposed to it. I am opposed to it mainly because you can’t really keep an eye on their urine output if it is going into a bowl of water. You really don’t have a concept of how much they are peeing.
Actually, there are quite a few downsides, not the least of which is that toilet training doesn’t necessarily even get rid of odor problems. Here are a few reasons to steer clear of toilet training your kitty.
Toilet Training Cats Is Not the Perfect Solution
One major flaw with toilet training cats is that it might not even be effective at eliminating odors. Most people toilet train because they do not want to deal with litter box waste, but because a cat cannot flush, you might still have to deal with the smell in your bathroom anyway.
There is also no guarantee that toilet training will always work. In order for your cat to always use the toilet, you will have to keep the door open and the lid up at all times – if you forget once your cat will be forced to go on the floor.
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Cats also might need to be retrained to use the toilet. For example, if you board your cat, they will probably use a standard litter box and would need to be retrained when they get home, which can be confusing. A bad experience with the toilet or even difficulty because of age or illness could also mean that your cat will no longer want to use the toilet, so it isn’t necessarily a permanent arrangement – and if a cat starts going in another spot without your knowledge, that habit could be even harder to break.
Health and Age Can Be Dangerous
As mentioned above, the heath and age of your cat affects their ability to use the toilet. The toilet is a slippery surface that the cat has to jump onto and then perch on while they do their business, which could be difficult for very young or very old cats. Imagine a cat starts to have muscle or joint issues as they age – using a toilet will not be comfortable for them. And of course if they have one incident that involves falling in the toilet, they might be so traumatized that they will not want to approach it again – not to mention the stressful experience they could have if they fall in and cannot get out while you aren’t home.
There is another health reason you should not toilet train your cat: monitoring feces and urine is one of the quickest ways to detect cat heath problems, such as UTIs, which can be life threatening. When you scoop things out of the litter box, you notice changes in the volume or consistency of your cat’s waste, and this early detection could mean lifesaving treatment for a cat.
Toilet Training for Cats Is Just Not Natural
As Jackson Galaxy points out, toilet training a cat means they are not a “raw cat” anymore. Cats are already doing humans a huge favor by using a litter box instead of going wherever they want like they would in the wild, so asking them to also jump up and use a toilet is downright demeaning to them as animals.
Cats also have a lot of natural instincts related to their bathroom routines, like the desire to dig and cover or to mark their territory. They are sensitive to where their litter boxes are, and they might not even want to share with other cats, so demanding that all of your cats use the toilet could be stressful for them, and going to the bathroom should feel safe for a cat.
So for the physical and mental health of your kitty, it is better to stick to the litter box. In addition, litter boxes do not have to be smelly and unsightly if you get into regular routines of scooping every day, topping off litter, and occasionally scrubbing the whole litter box.
Why do you use a litter box over a toilet? What tips do you have for good litter box routines?