Probably the only bad thing about having a cat in your life is the daily, or sometimes more, scooping of the litter box. Cats are definitely worth the effort, of course, and scooping some waste is nothing compared to the love and laughs our cats give us. But seeing how smart cats are, makes one wonder–can a cat be toilet trained?
The shorter answer is, perhaps. The longer answer is, probably an idea better left as theory.
While toilet training a cat sounds like a great thing, the reality is the cons far outweigh the pros for a variety of reasons. As the HSUS puts it in an article from The Dodo, it “does not recommend that people attempt to train their cats to use a toilet bowl due to the overwhelming number of cons.”
PRO: Pretty much the only pro of toilet training a cat is for the human–namely, not having to scoop the box and deal with the mess. But our convenience isn’t what having a cat is about–as any cat lover already knows!
So, on to the cons. It’s a pretty long list so here are just a few to consider:
CON: Some might think toilet training is a great idea to rid a cat-friendly house of unseemly cat odors. The reality is that even if you could toilet train your cat, it would be very difficult for kitty to flush–leaving your toilet open with some pretty stinky waste. Add to this the fact that toilet seats were made for people hineys, not for cats to balance upon while performing a delicate act, so you’re pretty likely to end up with kitty waste on and around, not just in, your toilet.
CON: Speaking of toilet seats being designed for people to sit on, there’s also the oil and water that are cats and water. Toilet seats are slippery and if kitty ends up in the water, your dreams of toilet training will likely be dashed as quickly as your cat will be shaking toilet water all over your house. For kittens, this can turn into an even more nightmarish scenario–there is a reason pretty much every cat advocate recommends keeping toilet lids closed when kittens are around.
CON: While sewer systems are meant to deal with human waste, they aren’t designed to treat for bacteria kitty may carry, including toxoplasma gondii. This parasite causes toxoplasmosis and if it gets into water systems, it can be deadly to cute marine critters like otters and seals. It can also be very dangerous for immunocompromised and pregnant humans so–why risk it?
CON: Then, there’s the issue of your kitty’s overall health. If your kitty does not have access to a consistently available, comfortable, and safe place to eliminate, you can run into a whole host of problems–from urinary problems to behavior issues. As Veterinarian Dr. Jason Nicholas of Preventive Vet details, the urine a kitty leaves in a litter box can also indicate health problems including “diabetes, hyperthyroidism, kidney dysfunction, bladder inflammation, dehydration, and urinary obstruction.” That last one, he also points out, can be fatal. Though it may be a pain, having a litter box can also keep you apprised of your kitty’s internal well-being.
Get creative! There are many alternatives to traditional plastic litter boxes and annoying kitty litter.
When it comes to litter boxes, there are many options to choose from. These include litter boxes that are practically robots to more hands-on (yet more hands-off than a plain ol’ box and scoop) so you can take your pick of creative solutions. There are also litter boxes disguised as furniture, modern-looking boxes, stainless steel boxes, and even self-cleaning electric systems. To explore these options in more detail, check out our review of the best litter boxes (and why they are so great).
Also try to experiment with kitty litter to find one that helps with the things you can’t handle–for most people these are odors, dust, and tracking. Many times complaints about kitty litter boxes have less to do with the cats and more to do with the behavior of the litter itself. Traditional clumping litters are infamous for their ability to track into every nook and cranny of your house. In addition, there’s the dust factor. Imagine all that dust being breathed in by your kitty and that should be reason enough to explore some alternative kitty litters. There are many types, including eco-friendly vegetable, wheat, and paper-based litters, that might make you feel so good about using them you’ll forget all about toilet training your cat.