Should You Toilet-Train Cats?

CatChannel behavior expert Marilyn Krieger, CCBC, explains the potential downsides of toilet-training cats.

By Posted: June 17, 2011, 3 a.m. EDT | By Marilyn Krieger, CCBC

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Q: I am going to be introducing my 5-year-old Ragdoll cat to a toilet-training kit. How do I do this? Do you think this will be stressful to my cat?

A: Although toilet-training a cat at first glance might seem more convenient for people, it is stressful for cats and can lead to cat behavior problems. Some cats never adjust to using the toilet; other cats eliminate in the toilet for a while, but then find other, less-stressful locations to go to the bathroom. Usually, the people who live with these cats don’t appreciate the new cat-bathrooms.

I do not recommend toilet-training cats for a number of reasons:
  • Cats need to be able to dig and cover their excrement. Digging and then covering their excrement is an instinctual behavior that helps keep potential predators from locating cats. Additionally, covering or not covering excrement can be part of a communication system, helping to define the cats’ territories and boundaries. Since toilets, by their intrinsic nature, do not allow cats the satisfaction of digging and covering, cats can become stressed and resort to seeking other safer areas to go to the bathroom.
  • Balancing over a toilet bowl is not a natural behavior for cats. As cats age, they feel more vulnerable and find it more difficult to jump and cantilever on a slippery surface over the toilet. These cats often become stressed and start urinating on the toilet seat and then on the floor next to the toilet.
  • Some cats and kittens enjoy playing in water. When cats are toilet trained, the lid needs to remain up at all times so that the cats have access to the bowl whenever they need to eliminate. This can cause a whole set of surprising and unpleasant challenges for people with cats who are entertained by toilets.    
  • Cats need to feel safe when they eliminate.  Instinctively, cats try to avoid situations where they might be trapped by another animal. Cats can feel vulnerable in bathrooms because they can potentially be cornered while eliminating. Eliminating while perching on a toilet seat is stressful for a cat, it puts them in a vulnerable position and it is not a natural behavior.

Read more articles by Marilyn Krieger here>>

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Should You Toilet-Train Cats?

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Reader Comments

PFD    P-FD, MD

6/23/2011 2:19:34 AM

FKJD

PDS    P[DS, MH

6/22/2011 2:45:18 AM

OID

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

6/21/2011 11:50:33 PM

I think it all depends on the personality of one's cat.

My cats all go potty outside. Very convenient for all species concerned.

Anon    City, CA

6/21/2011 7:43:01 PM

I prefer the litter box method for my felines.

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