Training your cat to use the toilet instead of the litter box is NOT a good idea. Here are 5 reasons why.
Cat lovers, rejoice! Imagine not having to scoop that stinky litter anymore, sounds great, right? Yes……..and no.
Although training your cat to use the toilet may seem like a great alternative to the litter box, training your cat to use the toilet is not effective, helpful, or healthy for your cat’s well-being.
How to train a cat to use the toilet? The most globally-recognized training kit to help cats adjust to using the toilet is the Litter Kwitter. A couple of years ago, this product was huge. And it’s probably likely still flying off the shelves. Unfortunately.
Even we were interested in training our cat, Yoda, to use the toilet. We thought it would be so cool. (Humans are silly). Read more about our experience below.
Why Would You Want to Train Your Cat to Use the Toilet?
There are several reasons why people might consider taking up this kitty toilet challenge.
For one, it seems cool. When Paul and I adopted Yoda, toilet training was the “thing” to do with your cat. But we quickly realized how selfish this decision was. We were putting Yoda’s comfort on the back burner in order to serve our ego.
Beyond the fact that it may seem cool, people think it’s actually a legitimate and healthy alternative to the traditional cat litter box. We also thought this at first.
At the time (circa 2015), there weren’t as many affordable and available biodegradable or natural cat litter options as there are today. Paul and I still wanted to be eco-friendly, even then, so we thought to take the litter and the litter box out of the equation was an eco-friendly choice. But again, we were wrong.
Another reason why you initially might be keen to train your cat to use the toilet is that it seems practical. No litter box means you no longer have to scoop the poop! That reason alone was enough to convince Paul and I. We thought it would be just so easy to flush Yoda’s pee and poop away. But for the third time, we were terribly wrong.
There are no real pros to teaching your cat to use the toilet.
- Your cat will develop behavioral issues.
- Stressful for cats (young, aging, those with health issues).
- Goes against a cat’s natural instinct to dig, eliminate, and cover.
- If hospitalized or boarded, they will need to be reintroduced to a traditional litter box.
- You cannot be flexible with your housing situation (or travel plans) if your cat needs to use a human toilet.
- The toilet seat needs to always be left open. If not, your kitty will find elsewhere to go.
- As your cat ages, it will prove more difficult to hop up and straddle the slippery toilet seat.
- Cats can become unnecessary stressed or confused, and going to the bathroom should not be stressful.
- Flushing your cat’s pee and poop several times a day (because they go often), is not eco-friendly.
As you can see, there are more cons than pros. Though training your cat to use the toilet seems neat at first, the overall benefits of it are not so appealing. If you care for your kitty, they will appreciate a clean right-sized litter box, so stick to what’s natural!
5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Train Your Cat to Use the Toilet
There are plenty more than just 5, but here are the top reasons as to why you should NOT train your cat to use the toilet instead of a litter box.
1. Making your cat use a human toilet is more harmful than helpful
Your cat must adapt to an uncomfortable position in order to use a human toilet.
And trust us, training them will cause accidental slips inside the water bowl which will stress your cat. Your cat will most likely start going to the bathroom somewhere else because they do not feel comfortable using a toilet. And even if they did…
2. Training your cat to use the toilet is not an eco-friendly choice
Like I said before, it’s just not an eco-friendly way to train your cat.
Now there exists a wide range of high-quality, biodegradable cat litters manufactured with the planet’s best interests in mind. Clay cat litters are more harmful on the environment, so stay away from those.
Flushing your cat’s litter is also not eco-friendly. We talk about this issue more in this article here.
3. Training your cat to use the toilet is neither practical nor reasonable
There is nothing practical about having to flush your cat’s excrement every time they go poo (which is frequent, if you hadn’t noticed).
Who wants to come home from work, or wake up in the morning, with a stinky cat poo in the toilet? And that’s if the turd actually goes in the toilet bowl, and is not left dangling on the toilet seat.
Not only is it extremely unpractical for your daily routine, imagine having to move houses, or wanting to travel with your cat? Are you going to take your cat out in the airport’s bathroom to use a human toilet instead of a travel-sized litter box?
On top of the inconvenience, there’s no argument in favor of training a cat to use the toilet that is 100% reasonable. It’s stressful for cats, it’s not eco-friendly, it’s extra work for you to manage, it’s inconvenient and ill-devised.
4. A senior or ill cat cannot use a human toilet
Your cat will age, and with age comes joint pain and limitations on movements. You can’t expect your cat to continue using the toilet. It’s just not comfortable for them.
Also, imagine your cat gets ill. Whether it’s a diet change or something else, you don’t want to be cleaning cat diarrhea off your toilet seat.
5. Using a human toilet goes against a cat’s natural instincts to dig and cover-up poop
We experienced it firsthand with our cat, Yoda. Cats simply have a natural instinct to dig and cover up their pee and poop. If you train your cat to use a toilet, your cat will be confused as it searches for new ways to “cover-up” their pee and poop properly.
You might find them scratching the walls or toilet around the toilet bowl. Even today, our cat will still try to cover up his poop by scratching around the outside of the litter box.
Training a Cat to Use the Toilet: Our Experience
Here’s a personal account of the toilet training system when we first welcomed Yoda into our home. As young parents typically are, we were very excited to give the best for our kitty.
We wanted him to be “the cool cat”, and by that, we meant teaching Yoda how to use the toilet. The YouTube videos make it look so easy after all! As crafty people, Paul and I did not buy the recommended training kit. Instead, we put our creativity to work.
First, to recreate the trays used in the training system, we found old, sturdy pieces of cardboard that we shaped and cut to fit under the toilet seat. We put a generous amount of used litter (so he could recognize his own smell) on the cardboard and introduced him to it.
He scratched around right away! We were thrilled and thought this project would be a complete success and in no time. Wrong.
As we began stages 2 and 3, fabricating the cardboard became more difficult. Now we were cutting holes, using ductile tape so the litter wouldn’t fall in as much, and once Yoda peed on it would soak it up and we would need to replace bits and pieces.
We were actually doing pretty good, Yoda was successfully pooping and peeing in the hole, as planned, but then he had a few foot-slips and got scared.
Yes at the time we laughed, but we quickly realized he became very uncomfortable using the toilet system and how wrong it was for us to try and train him to do something he wasn’t born to do.
Not only was he scratching the walls after he was done (the natural instinct to cover up), but then he began completely missing the toilet and finding more comfortable places to eliminate.
We stopped the training process soon after, as we were moving and would only have one toilet to work within the future. Since he was adopted, he was already used to the litter box, so he quickly re-adapted to using it afterward.
However, ever since we tried training him on the toilet, he got used to scratching the walls around him as well as the toilet lid, etc.
He does the same thing today. Each time he goes in his litter box, he scratches the box itself, and even the walls of the home-made furniture his box is in.
Now, for often what seems like 10-15 minutes, Yoda will scratch and scratch and scratch, trying to cover up his waste by scratching the litter box rather than actually covering it with litter. He eventually gets it though 😉
Final Thoughts: Don’t Train Your Cat to Use the Toilet!
Please, let’s not be unreasonable cat owners. Instead, let’s try to educate others by sharing the true cost of teaching your cat to use a toilet. In the end, it’s just not worth it.
We regret having trained Yoda, even for a very short while, to try and use a human toilet. It was simply egotistical of us to do in order to follow a silly trend. But we learned from our mistake and are hoping to teach others to avoid doing the same!
Thanks for reading. Leave us your thoughts and comments below!
Monday 1st of November 2021
Also, wouldn't there be an increased risk for toxic plasmosis contraction if the cat is sharing the same toilet as a pregnant mother? For families that are considering having kids, I would advise them against this method.
Monday 31st of May 2021
Great article! I still do worry about using litters made from grains, as almost 100% of dried grains contain mycotoxins, which can be deadly for cats (mycotoxins won’t normally cause sudden death though, but cancers). It’s difficult to find good data on the subject of sustainability, as I’m sure manufacturers are not eager to let us know exactly how much water or energy is consumed to produce and process grain or wood into “eco-friendly” litters... but it does seem that wood/grain requires more water and energy to produce and process into litter than a toilet takes to flush (1.6 gallons for modern toilets, up to 7 for antique toilets, and no additional* energy, as toilets are operated mechanically) not to mention the water and power that is consumed to produce the attractive packaging and labels for those litters. It is a difficult and complex issue though, to be sure, as I am deeply concerned about the mental and emotional health of my cat, not just the health of our planet. Maybe I’ll train my cat to use the toilet, but keep a blend of sawdust and wood ash available to her as well, so she doesn’t feel forced to use the toilet. Thank you for a great read and lots of helpful info! *Recognition of the water-energy nexus.
The Fluffy Kitty
Tuesday 15th of June 2021
Hey Kat! Thank mew so much for the detailed reflection and insight! We use recycled wood fiber litter now and think it's the best choice for both Yoda and our planet. It's called Cat's Best. We can only get it in Latin America or Europe. While in the USA, we use Feline Pine wood pellets from already-felled trees so no new trees are cut.
Wednesday 14th of August 2019
Thank you for the inspirational and helpful blog. I wish more people addressed methods for cat pee issues. My spouse wanted to return a kitty to the kennel when she wouldn't stop peeing. I was devastated, but finally found a solution. Hope this helps a desperate pet parent keep their beloved kitty. It's been a miracle for me.
Tuesday 24th of July 2018
I really like your advice to try bringing in an actual log for your cat to scratch her claws on, that way you won't have any problems with your cat scratching your furniture. My brother really wants to make his cat into an indoor cat, and he is having problems with their cat scratching on their wooden furniture! I will be sure to suggest to my brother that maybe an actual log might be helpful with house training their cat!