FloridaWild Vet Hospital

Should Cats Be Toilet Trained? One Licensed Psychologist Says YES.

You are owned by a cat or two, perhaps even a clowder. You thoroughly enjoy petting, feeding, grooming and playing with them. However, just the thought of having to constantly deal with those “pesky” litter box chores certainly doesn’t rank high on your cat-caretaker loving list. But not to worry – you are not alone. Instead, teach your kitty to use the toilet and bypass this messy job.

Photo credit: Flickr User: Trainedcat

Cats can be easily trained to do their “nature calls” using the toilet. Instead of toiling over litter boxes, this makes cat caretaking so much easier. Imagine never having to deal again with those repulsive litterbox odors. You will no longer need to do all those dreary, obnoxious tasks such as scooping out malodorous dirty litter boxes, washing, drying and refilling them with fresh litter. And since you won’t have to buy any more litter, you will be saving money, and you will never have to drag those heavy, bulky litter bags up the stairs again.

Just reading all the perks mentioned above, you might be considering the excitement of a toilet-trained kitty. You might even think training your cats to use the toilet should be a no-brainer. However, before you go out and purchase all the necessary training tools and devices to toilet-train your cats, you must first carefully think through this decision and understand why the litter box is one of the most critical necessities of living correctly with cats.

There are a few cat “specialists” who suggest toilet-training is a panacea. Especially for those people who simply cannot abide by the litter box duties (scooping and cleaning) in order to keep their diminutive wild, predatory feline happy and content. Simply put, they simply just don’t understand the needs of the feline species. Just about every knowledgeable kitty keeper I know, finds it is totally impossible to understand this advice which these ill-informed “professionals” are offering. In fact, it is totally contradictory to the species’ instinctual needs.

Apparently, Dr. Eric Brotman, Ph.D., the author of “How to Toilet Train Your Cat: The Education of Mango” (Bird Brain Press), has opined that “Toilet training makes a cat more secure because the smell goes away. It fits in with their hard-wiring.”

Titan (FloridaWild patient)

Naturally, many feline experts disagree with the “learned” doctor who seems to give insufficient credence to the importance of the cats’ instinctual hard–wired drive to bury their waste. All cats, both wild and domesticate, bury their waste to conceal themselves from potential predatory animals. Therefore, how can a cat feel more secure when this instinctual drive is thwarted by being forced to sit on a toilet seat? Additionally, should the guardian or a house guest happen to close the toilet seat by accident, this would both confuse and frustrate the poor kitty – who would probably find an unacceptable venue to relieve itself.

Dr. Arnold Plotnick, renowned feline-only veterinarian (now retired), thinks this idea is extremely unwise. He says, “Cats should not be expected to use a toilet designed for people. It is completely unnatural for them. Cats instinctively bury their urine and feces. Toilet-training robs them of this experience.”

Dr. Plotnick points out that toilet seats are slippery. A cat might lose its balance and fall into the toilet. Cats have to jump onto the toilet seat. While this might be no concern for young, healthy cats, elderly, sick or arthritic kitties may find it to be painful. “Bathroom time” for cats should not be stressful at all. Additionally, it is impossible for guardians to be able to monitor a cat’s output and its quality if a toilet is used. Guardians will not catch the early sign of illnesses that litter boxes can reveal.

According to Dr. Plotnick, toilet-training cats is simply a convenience for the guardian – it is definitely not so for the cat. The litter box is the sanctum sanctorum for cats. It is one of their most precious territorial areas and should never be withheld.

So if litter box chores are too overwhelming, perhaps a cat is not the optimum pet choice. A small dog that needs walking several times a day gives both the pooch and its guardian some exercise – a win-win for both.

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

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