Should Cats be Toilet Trained? One Licensed Psychologist Recommends it

By: Jo Singer, MSW, CSW, LCSW (Ret)

 

If you have been considering opening your heart and home to a kitty but just the thought of having to deal with “pesky” litter box chores could be a deal-breaker; not to worry! To bypass this nasty mess, just teach your kitty to use the toilet!

Cats who are trained to do their “nature calls” using a toilet instead of a litter box make it so much easier to own a kitty. Just think! No more outrageous litterbox odors wafting throughout the house. No longer will all those dreary and obnoxious chores such as scooping out stinky litter boxes, washing, drying and refilling them with fresh litter; or having to carry home heavy bags of litter up the stairs will be necessary. I tell you having a cat that is perfectly potty- trained is a cat that will endear himself to you beyond your wildest dreams forever!

At least that is what some feline “experts” are telling people who simply cannot abide the thought of having to scoop, clean and care for that essential litter box to keep their diminutive wild predatory feline happy and content.  But just about every savvy kitty keeper that I know finds it nigh impossible to understand this suggestion that some “supposed cat experts” are making which is so contradictory to the species’ instinctual needs.

Many cats, both wild and domesticated bury their waste instinctively to conceal themselves from potential predatory animals. Dr. Eric Brotman, Ph.D., the author of “How to Toilet Train Your Cat: The Education of Mango” (Bird Brain Press), says,

“Toilet Training makes a cat more secure because the smell goes away. It fits in with their hard-wiring.”

However many feline experts may disagree with the learned doctor who may not be giving sufficient credence to the importance of the cats’ instinctual hard-wired drive to bury their waste. How can a cat feel more secure when their instinctual drive to bury their waste has been thwarted by having to sit on a toilet seat? Additionally, should the guardian or a house guest happen close the toilet seat by accident, this would serve to both confuse and frustrate the poor kitty who might possibly find an unacceptable venue to relieve itself.

Arnold Plotnick, DVM, renowned feline-only veterinarian at Manhattan Cat Specialists in New York City, thinks that toilet training a cat is extremely unwise. He says,

“Cats should not be made or expected to use a toilet designed for people. It is completely unnatural for them. Cats instinctually dig and bury their urine and feces. Toilet training robs them of this instinct.”

 

Dr. Plotnick continues, pointing out that toilet seats are slippery. A cat might lose his balance and fall into the toilet. Cats have to jump up onto a toilet seat. Although this may not be a problem for younger cats, elderly, sick or arthritic cats may find this very painful. Why should these cats have to experience pain and discomfort when having to eliminate? Should “bathroom” time be stressful for cats? Stress can also lead to feline behavioral problems.

Additionally, it is essential for kitty guardians to monitor their cat’s daily output. Are there traces of blood in the urine or stool? It’s easy to observe this in the litter box. Dr. Plotnick says,

“Toilet training makes it impossible to see the urine output, and the water in the toilet may change the consistency of the feces, making it difficult to assess diarrhea.”

When cats are using the toilet, owners may miss important signs of serious illness. Additionally,  although toilet training a cat  may initially seem more convenient for their owners; it certainly isn’t for the cats.  Trying to force a cat use a toilet for the owner’s convenience is not only unfair to the kitty, it is downright unnatural. The litter box is a sanctum sanctorum for felines.  It is one of their most precious territorial areas and should never be withheld.

So, if litter box chores are much too disagreeable, perhaps having a cat isn’t the best choice for a pet.  Instead, consider adopting a dog. Walking your canine companion is an excellent way to get your exercise.

What is your opinion about toilet training cats? Share them in a comment.

Photo credit: Flickr User: Trainedcat

Jo Singer, MSW, CSW, LCSW, is a retired certified Social Worker and Psychotherapist. Her Master’s thesis was written on the subject of therapeutic horseback riding for the disabled. Jo is passionate about cats and horses and is politically active in animal welfare.

Jo lives with her husband Marty in Central Florida.. They are owned by three amazing kitties, Sir Hubble Pinkerton, (geriatric white Oriental Shorthair) and two youngsters, Aki ( blue-ticked tabby Oriental Shorthair) and Edgar Allen Poe, black Domestic medium-haired cat they adopted from Angels Have Whiskers, a no kill shelter in Central Florida.

Jo writes articles about cats for CATNIP ( Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine newsletter) and CAT TALK, (The Cat Fanciers’ Official magazine). In 2016 Jo successfully completed the Association for Pet Loss and Bereavement’s online course; receiving her certificate in Pet Bereavement Counseling.