Toilet training Multiple cats - suggestions

gardengal11January 27, 2010

I have three cats that I would like to toilet train. One is a 5 month old kitten and the other two are much older. Does anyone have any suggestions on how to successfully toilet train multiple cats?

I would like to try to use the method below:

There have been more books and articles about toilet-training your cat than you'd think. In the summer of 1989, when Misha was a small kitten with big ears and enough meow for five cats, I searched out and read a half-dozen of them. And then tried it myself, and discovered there were a couple of things they all failed to mention ...

Some of the advice in those books turned out to be impractical. Some of it was unnecessary. Some of it was quite sensible and worked like a charm. A lot of what works and what doesn't work depends on the individual cat on her personality and smarts. Here's what worked for me and Misha.

The central idea is that the transition from litter box to toilet be accomplished in a series of stages. You make a small change and then give your cat time to adjust before you make another small change. If at any time Felix gives the whole thing up and pees on the rug instead, you're pushing him too far too fast; back up a stage or two and try again, more slowly.

In the following instructions, I've used the word "rest" to mean: do nothing for a period of between a day and a week, depending on how flappable your cat is. (Misha caught on fast and was completely trained in under two weeks, far in advance of what the books led me to expect.)

Ready? First start by training yourself ...

The very most important thing to remember is: Lid Up, Seat Down. Post a note on the back of the door or the lid of the toilet if you think you (or your housemates or guests) might forget. (Nowadays, if I have a guest who leaves the lid down, Misha will usually come and ask me to fix it, but you can't expect every cat to go to this much trouble. Besides, he's been using the toilet for more than six years now; when the whole idea was new to him he'd just as soon pee in the bathtub instead.) And if you are accustomed to closing the bathroom door when it's empty, you'll have to break that habit too.

Begin by moving the cat's current litter box from wherever it is to one side of the toilet. Make sure he knows where it is and uses it. Rest. Next put something  a stack of newspapers, a phone book, a cardboard box  under the litter box to raise it, say, about an inch. (Magazines are too slick; you don't want the litter box sliding around and making Felix feel insecure. Tape the litter box down if you need to.) Rest. Get another box or phone book and raise it a little higher. Rest. Continue this process until the bottom of the litter box is level with the top of the toilet seat. (For Misha I raised it about two inches per day.)

At the beginning of this process, your cat could just step into the box; later he began jumping up into it, until at some point he probably started jumping up onto the toilet seat first and stepping into the box from there. You've been diligently keeping the lid up and the seat down, of course, so by now your cat is thoroughly familiar with tromping around on the open toilet.

Lift the seat on your toilet and measure the inside diameter of the top of the bowl at its widest point. Venture forth and buy a metal mixing bowl of that diameter. Do not (I discovered this the hard way) substitute a plastic bowl. A plastic bowl will not support the cat's weight and will bend, dropping into the toilet bowl and spilling litter everywhere, not to mention startling hell out of the cat.

Now you move the litter box over so that it's sitting directly over the toilet seat. (If your cat has shown reluctance over previous changes, you might want to split this into two stages, moving it halfway onto the seat and then fully over.) Take away the stack of phone books or whatever. Rest.

Here's the cool part. Take away the litter box entirely. (Ta da!) Nestle the metal mixing bowl inside the toilet bowl and lower the seat. Fill the bowl with about two inches of litter (all of this is much easier if you have the tiny granules of litter that can be scooped out and flushed).

Naturally, any humans using the toilet at this point will want to remove the metal bowl prior to their own use and replace it afterward. The next week or two the whole process is likely to be something of an annoyance; if you begin to think it's not worth it, just remember that you will never have to clean a litter box again.

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It didn't sound like you finished,like how long til you don't have to use the metal bowl anymore?

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 12:06AM
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I don't think it's her method, I think she copied it from somewhere else ... she starts by asking if anyone used that method.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 12:33PM
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I did copy the article. I would assume that you would take the bowl away once your cat has learned and is comfortable to use the bowl with water in it.

    Bookmark   January 28, 2010 at 1:13PM
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IMHO, I don't like it. Let the cat do it's natural thing.

    Bookmark   January 29, 2010 at 7:52PM
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IMHO teaching a cat to use the toilet leaves out a huge step and that is flushing. We have three cats that use the litter box in the winter only and then only if it is way too cold or snowy for them to want to be outside. If they have a preference, it is always to eliminate outdoors as nature intended.

For a multi-cat litter box, I use a plastic kiddie pool in the basement. I clean the lumps out daily and the litter only needs to be changed monthly. We have never had a cat spray or eliminate in the guest house.

    Bookmark   February 1, 2010 at 9:34AM
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Is there a way to untrain a cat that has been toilet trained as a kitten? I have cat that when using the litter box scratches on the wall instead on the litter to cover up, which I'm thinking is a behavior associated with flushing the toilet... is there a way to fix that?

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 8:22PM
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There are many kits on the market that are made for training your cat, and they supply all the parts needed.....see link below.
I'm not a fan of the idea since I can just see my cat scratching the seat and lid in an effort to 'bury'. She now tries to bury any food she's not interested in so her instinct is pretty strong. :)

plastician..........I think what your kitten is doing is normal. My cat will do that to the wall, the sides of her box and the edge of the litter box if the box is too small or she doesn't have enough litter to cover her business. Make sure the box is large enough for her and that there is the right depth of litter in the box. I keep about 3" of litter in my cat's box.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 9:42PM
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Interesting. I only have one bathroom though, and two cats. Not sure Id want to be waiting around for the cats to finish.

Id use something else besides a stack of phone books - they aren't nearly big enough - an average size litter box is about twice that size. And setting a litterbox on top of a stack of them sounds VERY unstable. My cat would be perching his front paws up on the rim of the litterbox scoping it out prior to jumping in - that would knock the whole thing over! All it takes is one time falling over and the cat won't have anything to do with it ever again.

    Bookmark   August 18, 2013 at 10:46PM
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