7 reasons why you shouldn’t toilet train your cat

Toilet training a cat, that is, training a cat to use a human litter box, may sound like a convenient and fast solution to smelly litter box and the constant need to scoop it. But is it?

Our colleague veterinarian recently asked for Maris’ opinion as a cat behaviorist because she was invited to sell cat toilet training kits in her clinic.

She already had her doubts (because her employees told her what Jackson Galaxy says about it) and, after a short phone conversation, she was convinced. Selling toilet training kits  would sure bring in some extra money, but it would not be the best for her clients and patients.

Here are 7 reasons why toilet training a cat is a bad idea.

  1. You won’t monitor your cat’s health as efficiently. A large number of feline diseases have early signs visible inside the litter box. For example, you might see that there is blood in your cat’s urine or feces, litter clumps suddenly increase in size or numbers, your cat suddenly stops using the box or has diarrhea or constipation. While you might notice these even if your cat uses the toilet, having a litter box is a guarantee that any problem will be noticed the very first day it occurs. One may point out that outdoor cats don’t have litter boxes at all so there’s no need to worry. Well, to be honest, outdoor cats don’t live as long as indoor ones either.
  2. Cat sitting on toilet seat and meowing. WC lid must always be up and toilet door open. Men finally win, because the toilet lid can, and actually must always be, left up. And that is the problem. Not because it’s inconvenient to leave the lid up, but because one day someone will forget to. And then what? Your cat has a choice:  hold on as long as he can, or pee on your rug.
  3. You will not stop the odor. One of the big reasons people want their cats to use the toilet is that they think the smelly box will be gone. Yes, but the smelly toilet will not. The scent will absolutely remain. If the cat has a litter box, he will cover his waste. If he uses the toilet, he won’t. Besides, the lid will be open, too. You could train your cat to flush, but you should know that a cat who knows how to flush is likely to do it all day. If you are bothered about the smell, find tips to reduce the cat’s litter box scent here.
  4. Uncomfortable posture for the cat. It’s not easy to balance on the edge of the toilet seat while eliminating. Most cats manage, but it’s not only about the inconvenience. As your cat becomes older, his ability to balance, hold a strained posture and even jump up on the toilet seat may become diminished. And, at some point, your cat may decide that using the toilet is not worth the trouble. Or even worse, your cat may slip, which creates an additional problem…
  5. Possible stress-related toilet avoidance. We mentioned that your cat may slip on the seat. Of course, it is unlikely that your cat will drown or even become physically injured, but one such event can create post-traumatic stress, making your cat afraid of the toilet. This means that he will be deterred from the only litter box that he has known for his whole life. What happens next depends. Your cat may start to eliminate on the carpet, and we bet it’ll be hard for you to find out why. If you are lucky, you will be able to re-train your cat to use the litter box, but it may create a serious struggle if your cat has not seen one for a long time.
  6. WC use is unnatural cat behavior. Okay, a toilet is unnatural for humans, too, but that is not the problem. For a cat, it’s very important that he instinctively digs a hole and thereafter covers his waste. Do you see your cat pawing all around the air on the toilet after elimination? Your cat is unsuccessfully trying to cover his smell. While this is crucial for survival in the wild, many house cats still find this a very important thing to do. Instinctively, it provides them with a sense of security and helps to minimize stress.

    WC toilet in the wild
    Some say WC seats are not found in the wild. This proves they are wrong.
  7. Having more than one cat may cause a problem. Quite often the territorial nature of cats makes it hard for them to share a litter box. Have you heard that a cat household should contain at least the same number of litter boxes as they have cats? This is because cats are not only social, but territorial animals as well. Cat people often report that dominant cats guard the litter box from other cats. (We see this in our three-cat household, too.) If that happens to be the only litter box, or the only WC seat, it becomes a huge problem.

Okay, now you know that training your cat to use the toilet is not the best for your cat, and the assumption that it’ll be more convenient for you is questionable. But what do you do if maintaining a litter box is still a pain? Luckily you can find tips to make litter box cleaning easier here.