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Ask the Vet: Three Reasons Not to Toilet Train Your Cat

Dr. Lee Pickett on

Q: I'm thinking about teaching Cameo, my newly adopted young calico cat, to use the toilet instead of a litter box. Are most people successful at toilet training their cats?

A: I don't recommend toilet training cats for three reasons.

First, my mom told me that when she visited her aunt, who had toilet trained her cat, the toilet seat was often wet. Mom quickly learned to look before she sat.

Each time Cameo misses the toilet bowl, you, too, may discover an unwelcome surprise, especially if you visit the bathroom in the middle of the night.

The second reason I don't advocate toilet training is that it's an unnatural behavior for cats, so it's likely to produce stress. In cats, stress often manifests as inappropriate urination.

Most cats dislike water, especially baths, so imagine how Cameo will feel if she slips into the toilet bowl while eliminating.

 

It's very possible for Cameo to be so traumatized by having to use the toilet that she will urinate on the floor instead.

Or she may "hold it" too long, increasing her risk of urinary tract infection.

Third, if you make Cameo use the toilet, you'll lose an important way to monitor her health. Scooping her litter allows you to notice if she starts passing large quantities of urine, a sign of diabetes or kidney disease, or many small spots of urine, which can signal an infection. In addition, scooping her litter lets you recognize diarrhea or constipation.

Rather than train Cameo to balance on a toilet seat and urinate over a pool of water, offer her litter that's similar to the soft, sandy soil cats are instinctively drawn to. Both of you will be happier.

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