What cat parent wouldn’t love the idea of ridding their home of an annoying, sometimes smelly, litter box? Not worrying about cleaning, scooping, and disposing of kitty waste, along with the absence of kitty litter cost may seem like a dream come true, but is it really?
If you truly love cats, you’ve most likely seen stories on the internet or met another cat owner, who has taught their kitty to use the toilet instead of a litter box. You may think this isn’t possible, but don’t be fooled. Cats are highly intelligent and can be trained to do several things, including using the toilet. The big question is whether toilet training your cat is the right thing to do.
Honestly, while saying goodbye to a litter box may seem like a dream come true, teaching your kitty to use the toilet isn’t the greatest course of action. Let’s take a look at the reasons why you shouldn’t teach your kitty to use the toilet and why that pesky litter box should remain an important part of your and your feline pal’s lives.
The Upside to Toilet Training Your Cat
As we’ve already mentioned, the only true upside to toilet training your kitty is the lack of a litter box. Why are litter boxes such a thorn in our sides though? Let’s take a look at what not having a litter box can bring to your home, even when a kitty is a family member.
Yes, no matter how much you scoop or the type of litter you use, a litter box can have an odor. It’s the area where a kitty eliminates, so this makes sense. Feces and urine can smell. Especially kitty urine thanks to the ammonia content. Unfortunately, many litters themselves also have an odd odor. If you use basic clay litter, it has a slight dusty or ashy aroma. There are other litters out there that may be less of an issue when it comes to odor but you’ll definitely be paying more for these litters.
A kitty’s litter box costs money. Whether you choose to purchase a basic litter pan or a self-cleaner, there is a cost involved. Then there’s the litter you put inside it. The better, more absorbent litters cost more than the basics. These are often the ones people go for when buying litter thanks to the lack of odor and the potential of using it for multiple cats.
Less Clean Up
We all know that a litter box requires constant cleaning. You’ll find yourself scooping it daily and sweeping up kicked-out litter unless you use an automatic cleaning pan. Even if you use self-cleaning litter boxes, you must still remove the feces and urine that is cleared away for you. Avoiding the cleaning of a litter box is often the biggest reason owners consider toilet training their kitties.
While they aren’t huge, litter boxes do take up a bit of space. This is especially true if you have multiple boxes for multiple cats. Finding an inconspicuous area in your house to keep your kitty’s box can be difficult. The last thing you want is visitors finding a litter box right after your kitty has left you a present waiting inside.
The Downside of Toilet Training Your Cat
We aren’t fans of toilet training your cat, as you can tell. You may be curious as to our reasons for feeling this way. Let’s take a look at why we feel it is best to let your cat use a normal litter box and not your toilet.
The Inability to Monitor Your Cat’s Eliminations
If you’ve had cats in your life for a while, you know the importance of monitoring their litter box. This is the first sign of certain illnesses your cat may suffer from. Knowing how much urine your kitty is producing is difficult when they are peeing in a toilet. Here are a few of the conditions that can be monitored and detected from your kitty’s eliminations that using the toilet can hinder.
- Urinary tract infections
- Cystitis (bladder inflammation)
- Urinary obstructions
- Kidney disease
Anyone who has a cat in their home has heard of toxoplasmosis. It’s the reason pregnant women and children are told to stay away from the kitty’s litter box. Toxoplasmosis is a zoonotic disease that affects warm-blooded animals including humans. This disease is caused by the single-cell parasite Toxoplasma gondii. Wild and domestic felines are considered its definitive hosts, as the immature eggs of T. gondii, called unsporulated oocysts, are shed in the cat’s feces. Cats get infected when they eat mice, rats, birds, or other types of wildlife that are considered an intermediate host for the parasite. 24-72 hours after excretion, the oocysts sporulate and become infectious.
If your kitty uses the garden soil or the toilet instead of a litter box, this infectious form can make its way into local lakes, streams, and other bodies of water. Once there, the parasites can infect other wildlife and continue the cycle. Marine mammals such as sea otters, sea lions, and seals have been affected by toxoplasmosis. Endangered Hawaiian Seals and Sea Lion populations in California have suffered from nervous system symptoms and a weakened immune system due to toxoplasmosis infections. A high mortality rate in sea otter populations was also linked to this disease.
Kitty Will Need Constant Access
When allowing your kitty to use the toilet instead of a litter box, they’ll need constant access. This means the toilet lid must stay up, the seat down, and no one can be using the restroom when the kitty needs to go. If you only have one bathroom in the house and decide to take a shower, you can’t shut the door. If your cat needs to potty while you’re in there, and you limit access, they will find somewhere else to go. Most of the time, those places aren’t ones you, as a pet owner, would enjoy.
Agility and Odd Positions
Using the toilet isn’t the most natural thing for cats. To do it, they must jump a decent height and then perch oddly. You’ll also find that as your cat ages, things aren’t as easy for them. Keep this in mind, if you consider teaching your kitty to use the toilet. Eventually, it may become too difficult for them to manage.
It Takes Away Their Natural Instincts
Scratching and covering after eliminating is an instinct for cats. If you take away the litter box, you take away this act. While this may not seem like a huge issue, for a cat that has been routinely using the litter box prior it can cause them a great deal of stress.
While there are both pros and cons to training your cat to use the toilet instead of their litter box, we just feel like it isn’t the best decision you can make for your kitty. Of course, if you decide this is the right decision for you, discuss it with your veterinarian first. They can either give you suggestions on how to take on this task properly or explain to you why they feel it wouldn’t be the best decision for your kitty. Whatever you do, litter train or toilet train, remember to give your kitty time to learn what you want and show them lots of love during the learning process.
Featured Image Credit: RJ22, Shutterstock