Quick Start Tips and Tricks Diary Stories

My Adventures in Toilet Training My Cats
Or
No More Litter!

April 2-Get ready. I will be in Houston until April 1 and when I get back, we'll get started!! Ok, I'm back and it's now really April 2. I was gone for four days and a friend came in every day to feed the guys but they were still pretty pissed at me when I got home. Since their routine has already been recently interrupted, this is a good day to just sneak in one more change. They have had two litter boxes (this is just so I wouldn't have to clean them out twice a day) - tucked next to each other on the floor of my bedroom closet. Just now, I emptied one, put the other in the bathroom just in front of the toilet and closed the closet door. I took them both into the bathroom to show them where the box is now. This afternoon, I'll vacuumed up all the litter that has spilled around the closet (I'd do it now but the only thing that freaks them out is the vacuumed cleaner and I thot I'd give them a break and do it later.) I have a spare toilet seat and I'm thinking of securing it to the top of the litter box. What I haven't decided is whether or not to do that before I start raising up the box to the height of the toilet or after it gets up level with the toilet. I'll need to decide that today to know what tomorrow's step will be... 

April 3 - Success! So far so good. The boys found the moved litter box - no sweat. When I went down to the basement to find the old toilet seat, I also found a plastic gizmo that fits between the toilet bowl and seat (for later in the training) that you put litter in... I may or may not use it... I did discover that the toilet seat is too small to attach to the litter box, so I've decided to gradually raise the level of the litter box as it is, first and then worry about the next step. Today it went up about 2 inches. I've got it on top of books... May come up with a better lifting scheme. Newspapers would be best, I think, but I get two a day but when I finish them I give them to my neighbors. Hmmmm 

April 4- Success! Litter box is now about 7 inches from the floor to the bottom of the box, so now they definitely have to leave the ground to use it. And, they seem to be pretty cool about it... My fingers are crossed. 

April 5 - Stable I decided to leave the box where it is for a day. Bubba used to like to straddle the box - front legs out and back legs in. I thought it would be better to give him another day to get used to hopping up. But, otherwise, so far, so good. 

April 6 & 7 - So far, so good!

The box is going up steadily... Today the bottom of it is nearly in line with the top of the toilet bowl. I'm thinking one more boost up until it is maybe just a bit higher than the toilet. Then the biggie and I'm still a little undecided about whether to move the litter box over on top of the toilet bowl, or go right to the special insert, or any one of the other ideas I've seen. My plan now is to NOT make this move until Tuesday or Wednesday just to sure they are completely with the program so far. I have to say it is MUCH easier to clean out the box with it raised up - but I still hate kitty litter!
  April 8 & 9 - Moving on... I decided. Early yesterday morning, I moved the litter box so that it is half on the stack of stuff and half on the toilet. I read that this interim step is important so that the cats get used to going near the water in the toilet bowl... they can gather in the smells, etc. All is well. I plan to hold steady today and possibly move it directly over the toilet and remove the stack later tonight. I am using a lot of duck tape to ensure as much steadiness as possible. One interesting thing that is beginning to happen is that there is less burying of product (how's that for delicate?). Jake, particularly, used to go and then spend hours burying his results in the litter. He now hops up and spends a good bit of time just futzing around but he's not doing too much burying. I'm taking this as a good sign as the burying habit is going to have to go when we remove the litter! 

April 10 - A Plan! Ok. Now I really have a Plan. Today I will move the litter box directly over the toilet and remove the stack. Tomorrow I will replace the litter box with a pan about the same size but much more shallow. If all goes well, then I make the big move. I bought a stainless steel mixing bowl that fits into the toilet itself.
I got this idea from another web page. I found the page via a search on 'toilet training cat'. I'd add a link - cause it's a cool page, but the author implies she'd like to give permission for a link and she hasn't answered my request of about a week ago... But, you can find it and it's an excellent source.
Anyway, following her directions, I measured the inside of the toilet at the widest part (after lifting the seat) and went to a restaurant supply store. For $4 I bought a bowl which sits right on the rim and allows the seat to rest on top of the rim. I will need to tape it down to keep it from dislodging, but I think it will make an excellent repository for litter and enable them to better get used to standing on the rim of the seat and actually using the toilet with the security of litter. I'm just sure this plan will work! Stay tuned!!! 

April 11-12-13 - Major Setback :( Yesterday morning I substituted the current litter box with a much shallower (?) one containing a lot less litter than they are used to. Except for the height, the dimensions of the new box (which is really an old broiler pan) is about the same.
It didn't take long (about an hour) for me to get the message that this step was not appreciated! One of the cats left me a little dump of a surprise on the bathroom throw rug. The litter in the box on the toilet had been visited but the rug was the place of choice.
I cleaned up everything and swapped the boxes back, returning the old litter box to the top of the toilet, but leaving out much of the litter. Then this morning I woke up to find that the litter box actually had been used but there was another little surprise on the rug. So at least now I know it's both of them. They apparently have no problem using the litter box for peeing but are drawing the line...
So, I cleaned up again and added more litter to the box and am standing firm. Oh, I also took the rug and threw it over the shower curtain. No more changes until they get off the rug!!!

April 14-15 - Holding Steady and Getting Ready So now, since Saturday, I've had the old litter box on top of the toilet seat but with VERY little litter (like barely enough to cover the bottom). So far, everything is fine. There is one unanticipated side effect - Before I started, they used two litter boxes each with about 3 inches of litter in them and both boxes were in a closet on top of carpet. I rarely even heard them use it. Now the toilet itself acts like the barrel of a drum - it amplifies the sound of their action in the box. They are still trying to pile up what little litter there is and I can hear every single paw stroke! I usually sleep through anything but now twice I've been woken by the amplified sound of PLOP! followed by massive scratching sounds. It cracks me up. At least I know they are using the box like I want them to.

The other big news is that I heard from Karawynn - the woman with the great toilet training page. She said I could add a link and here it is... How to Toilet Train Your Cat. Check it out - she is a success story and does a great job of walking you through her process!!!! I'm seriously thinking of starting with the bowl tomorrow!

April 16 - Major Breakthrough! Tonight I just decided to give the old bowl a try. Usually my messing with their litter draws no interest from either cat. (It's kind of like, let the maid do her work in private.) But, tonight I got the attention of both of them as I removed the tape from the box. Both watched carefully as I replaced it with the bowl, secured the bowl in and poured in the litter (little less than half the bowl). They looked at it a while and at me. Then I got this wild hair and put some cat nip in it.

They run hot and cold on cat nip. I find that if they don't find any for several months, they are fascinated with it. But after about a day they could care less. It's probably been 6 months or so since they've even seen any. Well, I'm not sure it was a good idea. They started to EAT it out of the bowl where it lay on top of their not purely fresh litter! YUCK.

Then they just milled around the bathroom still fascinated and sticking their heads in the bowl. I picked up Bubba (the one most likely to cooperate) and put his paws on the seat. Before I knew it he was PEEING INTO THE BOWL!!!!!!!!! Did I mention, you should keep your camera in the bathroom? Well I did and here is the proof!!!!

Bubba The Brilliant


I'm pretty darned excited. BUT I know that this is not the end of the road. Jake is not as easily convinced. I just got an opportunity to pick him up and place him on the seat. He didn't fall off or jump off immediately... poked around a little and then jumped off. He's not really impressed and we could still have some rebellion, but I'm a happy camper tonight!!!

April 17 - So far so good! My fingers are really cramped this morning as last night I went to sleep with my them all crossed. I honestly expected to wake up this morning with at least one or two nasties waiting for me in unexpected places. In fact, when I first got up, I looked around the house before I checked the new bowl. Finding nothing, I went into the bathroom and lo and behold, the little bowl was full of evidence that both Jake and Bubba had used it more than once!!!!!!!!!!! I can't believe it. I'm sooo proud and so pleased. It still has lots of litter in it and now I need to reduce it little by little until there is none, but I really feel like we've crossed the Rubicon here.

April 18 - Minor, I hope, setback... Well, this morning, I found a little pile of rebellion (am I getting points for my tasteful creative phrasing of otherwise tasteless terms??) on the floor behind the toilet. I'm fairly sure the culprit is Jake. Jake and Bubba have completely different personalities. Jake tends to be skittish and although usually interested in attention, will shy away if you lean down to pet him. He's only recently begun to cuddle in bed although he still generally sleeps down by my feet. (On the other hand, Bubba likes to sleep cheek to cheek with me and he's the one that snores!) So, I'm giving Jake extra special attention. I'm talking and petting him on his terms and just generally letting him know that I think he's a wonderful cat.

I know very little about animals and probably I'm foolishly hoping that if I can get him to believe he is my favorite cat (Bubba can handle it) then he will want to use the toilet to please me. I realize I'm probably kidding myself, but what in the heck have I got to lose? I'm still hell bent on being kitty litter-free!

I'm going to try and not make any changes to the situation for as long as I can - if I have to, I'll go back to the box-on-top-of-toilet stage, but I'm hoping that I won't have to.

Later same day...
Well, I had to make a step back anyway. Several times I had an opportunity to help Jake up onto the toilet seat (our recent bonding is paying off - he would have never let me even try a couple of weeks ago) and it's clear that he isn't getting the picture. And, I have reason to suspect that Bubba, while happy to pee from the toilet seat, isn't a true convert for all elimination (I'm running out of euphemisms). So, I made a change.

While Jake watched closely, I put the shallow pan back onto the toilet and fastened it down with duck tape. I put in about an inch of litter. I picked Jake up and put him on top (remember, last time I tried the shallow litter box he would have nothing to do with it)... This time he was one happy pee-er. I swear there was such a look of relief on his face...

So, we'll get stable with this for now and then try the seat again. I am thinking that it would be pretty cool if I could somehow come up with a platform that would extend from the seat. I just think that they would be more happy with that. I would too. I'd be far more happy with a platform than with the litter. I do have the advantage of living alone with two toilets - one for me and me alone and one for guests.

April 19, 20 - New friend, new hope... Please welcome Izzy and Ben to this saga - they are already part of the story. They live in Montreal and Izzy has been working with Ben (the feline part of the couple) for more than a month. She and I have been madly swapping notes, ideas, encouragement and experiences. She gave me two GREAT ideas just this morning and I've now got my next step firmly planned.

One problem she may well have solved is the one of treats. Neither Jake nor Bubba has ever been interested in any cat treats I have tried. Izzy reports that Ben is the same way EXCEPT for Hartz's Yum Yums. I got a pack and the odor alone, I know, will interest them. These are powerful bullets!

The next idea she gave me was a padded toilet seat. This makes sooooo much sense. I think it will give them a far more secure feeling as they stand on it. Plus, it is not slick - there are tiny (decorative) groves in it that will add to traction. I found mine at the local hardware store for $10.

Both boys are using the shallow pan now easily and regularly. So my next step is to remove the pan, install the new seat, install the bowl with litter and reward them with treats. May even do this today - watch this space! And, many thanks to Izzy and Ben. As Izzy points out, many of our friends - hard as it is to believe - are NOT fascinated by all the details of this adventure. It's nice to have a friend who is!!

April 21 - The poop barrier Yesterday about mid-day, I took off the shallow pan, installed the padded seat, put the bowl back in all while both Jake and Bubba watched carefully. I put Bubba onto the seat and he peed right away and got a treat. (Izzy was so right about those Yum Yums - Bubba has NEVER even sniffed at another other treat.) Then it was Jake's turn. Took a couple of tries with the treat but he did hop up onto the seat and got his treat for doing so. No other action, tho.

Last night, I managed to catch Jake actually peeing from the seat into the bowl!!! It was dark in the bathroom and I was afraid turning the light on would spook him so I couldn't tell how many of his feat were on the seat - three for sure but I'm fairly sure his fourth was in the bowl. He got a treat.

This morning (at 6 a.m. to be sadly exact), both boys decided it was elimination time. They both peed into the bowl and I got out of my warm cozy bed to give them their treats. Then during the next 30 minutes, they both left little piles in inappropriate places. Jake chose the living room and Bubba picked the bathroom floor. Working on yet another tip from Izzy (she's really been such a world of good ideas), I picked up each pile and the doer and carried both back to the toilet. I put the poop into the litter and showed them. Then I went back to bed. 15 minutes later, I heard Jake peeing into the bowl again! He's going to get fat on these treats!

Now I've just got to get them to understand that poop is also good for the bowl... I'm hoping that a session with the treats again tonight might help. Jake, meanwhile, is getting very chummy. He's right now sitting on my lap which he has never done before. Interesting...

Izzy's Ben, is having problems with his aim. She's apparently spending a lot of time with is paw placement and cleaning. I'm so impressed with her persistence and fairly envious that Ben at least knows where to aim from! And the beat goes on...

April 22 - Encouraging signs... No accidents to report!! Both Jake and Bubba have used the bowl for peeing. And, this morning, Bubba - bless his little heart - used it for his poop! I'm quite proud. I can tell that neither is really really comfortable yet with the situation but I'm also fairly sure that getting them comfortable is a matter of time. They are both basking in the extra attention they are getting and I may be crazy but I think that is going to end up being the secret here. I rarely leave this house since I work here and am such a home body. But, this morning I will be gone for several hours... I'm leaving with my fingers cross...

April 23 - Still good news... Both Jake and Bubba are now routinely using the toilet (with litter in the bowl) to pee. And, although I haven't caught them directly in the act, I have seen the evidence that they are both using it for the 'other' as well! Burned by past early celebrating, I am going to wait at least a day before declaring toilet seat victory. Interestingly, they seem to be losing interest in playing with the litter afterwards. They spend some time pawing the seat afterwards, but not moving the litter to cover the deed. I'm hoping this means they will not be thrown off by my removing it little by little and then altogether.

But the news is not all good. There is a set back on the Canadian front. Izzy reports that this morning Ben put his little surprise on the front door's welcome mat. Not funny, Ben...

April 24 - Moving on Everything seems to be under control. Both are using the toilet with the bowl of litter in it all the time now with no accidents in three days... So, it's time to begin the actual litter weaning. As they use the toilet, I scoop out the result from the bowl just as I used to do in the bad old days of the litter box. The bowl holds a whole lot less, though so I have been adding in some new with each scooping. No more. I'll now just scoop it out until there is nothing left.

P.S. Same Day Ok, so now I have learned an important rule of toilet training your cat. Three days of perfect performance is too soon to declare victory. Tonight I found a little pile of surprise on the floor beside the toilet. Bubba the Brilliant is tonight, Bubba the Boob! Geesh!! Back one step. I added a little litter to the bowl after all. Wonder what the magic number is? Four days? Five days? grrrrrrrrrrr


April 25 - New Friends! Katy lives in Atlanta and has a year old kitty named Niko. They are just starting their climb to the land of no litter! Today the box is 4 inches. Niko is leash trained which impresses the heck out of me - Bubba and Jake just crack up whenever I have mentioned the idea. When Jake was tiny, I gave it a go - he was young enough to not know yet that cats don't do leashes but he was also too tiny for any leash I could find. And Bubba always stood by heckling poor Jake about even thinking about going along with the idea. But, I digress... Katy also reports that Niko is quite feisty and bites her - sometimes in fun, sometimes not. So, she really has her hands full. I'll report her progress as well. With four different cats' experiences plus Karowynn's and any other reports we can find, we'll have a good compendium of Toilet Tricks!

Things on this front are still in question today. Both Jake and Bubba used the toilet this morning to pee. No other action to report... Stay tuned.

April 26 - No news is good news... The boys have been very good today - actually this morning... no action at all since then, but all deeds were done in the bowl. Bubba even came in and made his contribution this morning as I was blow drying my hair so I got a chance to watch him carefully. Perfect execution. Hopped up, four feet on the seat, job done, hopped off. He didn't even mess with the litter. He got a treat and Jake smelled it from the other end of the house. I had to do some fast explaining.

My sister's daughters (ages 7, 4 and 1) came for a short visit this morning. They were just astounded at the whole project. I showed them the picture of Bubba on the toilet and they were still giggling when they left. Guess I know what's going to be a big part of Show and Tell on Monday!

April 27 - Bubba Mind Games... Ok, so we now have a cycle. For two days, Bubba poops in the pot and on the third day he poops on the floor in front of the toilet! I'm not happy about this cycle... The thing that really has me worried is that it may be driven by less litter... By the third day, there is considerably less litter in the bowl. What he's not understanding is that less is the goal! So I guess I'll do a test of leaving the level of litter high for three days and seeing what happens. I am not going to fold. What he doesn't know is that even if we have to use the toilet bowl for a litter box from here on out, I like it better than the old litter box in the closet so I can definitely outlast him and I still haven't given up the dream of no litter!

April 29 - Strange days... Yesterday was a strange day and I'm not even sure about today yet. I woke up yesterday morning to evidence of pee from two cats in the bowl. Jake seemed to be happy. But, Bubba kept going to the toilet and trying to go. I mean he tried every 5 minutes all morning long and then slept until evening and continued to try for several hours last night. I would have called the vet except it was Sunday and I thought I'd wait until today - Monday. This morning I woke up and the bowl was full of pee and one cat's poop. The other cat's poop was on the floor in front of the toilet (Bubba's favorite spot.) This morning I caught him on the toilet again trying with no success. I'm not sure what to make of all this but he's happily napping now. I'll keep an eye on him and may yet call the vet.

 



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