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Does my cat qualify for toilet training?

The method used in the book is dependent on your cat being altered and litter trained. Your cat should be at least 6 months old. A younger cat may learn faster, but older cats are good candidates for training as well. You can teach more than one cat to use the toilet. Start with the smartest and most dominant cat. He or she will lead the way for the others.

How does a cat learn to use a toilet anyway?

Cats are taught to use a litter box at increasing heights, give up their need to cover waste and finnaly balance on the seat. The secret to training a cat to do anything is patience on the part of the trainer.

Cats are not trainable because they are too independendent and not fully domesticated and don't need our approval or love. FALSE

Cats came to be with humans on their own volition and have decided that the relationship is a good one. It is a common misperception that cats are aloof and not emotionally responsive. A more plausible explanation of a cat's perceived indifference to us is it is behaving the same way it is treated. We get back from cats what we give to them. If we are responsive and pet and hold them, they will trust our affections and be happy to enroll in toilet training 101.

Cats are remarkably intelligent animals who can learn a sequence of behaviors with minimal effort. Just think of the movie Stuart Little. All those cats were successful in learning a complicated sequence of behaviors. Frankly, using the toilet is just not that complicated a challenge for most cats. Cats are very reponsive to rewards such as praise, petting and food treats. Don't miss the Real Time Video or Quicktime Trailer of Stuart Little and his mishap in the dryer. Toward the end of the video clip, Snowball, Suart's nemesis accomplishes a fairly simple walk to the dryer.

Cats can't balance on a toilet seat. They will fall in and drown. FALSE

Cats are nature's original Gumby. Their muscular skeletal system is so flexible they can arch and twist their bodies in ways we can't imagine. Their coordination and balance would make Shaquille O'Neal seem as if he had lead weights in his sneakers. Balancing on a round piece of plastic is absurdly simple for an animal that can vault fences and scramble up trees. Cats are so well adapted for grasping that, if need be, a cat could cling to a brick wall. We are not teaching cats quantum mechanics, just teaching them to jump onto a round piece of plastic on top of a ceramic bowl to "go to the bathroom."

So why do cats cover their waste anyway?

Training a cat to use the toilet is manipulating their innate instinct to cover their waste. Over thousands of years cats learned to cover their waste because it served a useful purpose of hiding their scent from predators. Covering the waste also prevents the spread of bacteria and disease to mother cat and her kittens.We are teaching cat to drop the behavior of covering the waste with his paws. Once he learns that using the toilet magically covers the smell, the behavioral pressure to cover the waste will diminish.

Using a litter box mimics nature more than a toilet. So cats will refuse to use the toilet. FALSE

It is certainly not nature's intent for cats to deposit their waste in a plastic box that is filled with chemically scented clay litter. A sensitive cat with its acute sense of smell is now dependent on our crude olfactory nerves to decide when the smell is too much to bear. By the time we become distressed by the aroma of the litter box, cat is reeling from the smell. A litter box with three days of cat waste is a cat's worst nightmare. A cat's security, comes from eliminating the smell, is compromised. Using the toilet solves the problems of reducing, if not eliminating, the smell and makes a cat secure, happy and safe from any predators real or imagined.

I noticed that when my cat did not have access to a litter box, she used the bathtub drain. She correctly recognized that the drain was the best way to rid herself of waste and attempt to cover the smell. She was right. Using the toilet is the next logical step.

Cats hate water. They won't go near the toilet. FALSE

Sure most cats don't like to take a bath or shower; probably because it messes up their fur and grooming ritual. I once had a Maine Coon who couldn't wait to jump into the shower when he heard the water. Cats are not stupid. They know using the toilet is for waste and not a whirlpool Jacuzzi.

I notice that my cat licks the litter off his paws after using the litter box. Can my cat become sick from ingesting the litter? TRUE

Sodium Bentonite is the naturally occurring clay material in cat litter that when exposed to water swells to up to 15 times its size. This is why it is used to seal dams, ponds, line landfills and a myriad of other industrial uses. This is great stuff for industry, but not something you want your cat to snack on. Now imagine what happens after your cat has used the litter box and then licks his paws clean. He is ingesting the litter. Inside the cat's digestive tract, the clay expands, forming a mass that causes dehydration and preventing the absorption of fluids. Your cat may then suffer from weakness, anemia and lethargy. See Marina Michael's well know article Clumping Clay Kitty Litters: A Deadly Convenience? for a thorough and thoughtful discussion of the dangers of using clumping clay litter.

Lisa Newman, a holistic health practitioner, writes that "there has been a rise in depressed immune systems, respiratory distress, irritable bowel syndrome and vomiting among cats… All had one thing in common...a clumping product in their litter box." Dogs who insist on snacking from the litter box are also at high risk.

Do humans who maintain a litter box risk contracting a disease? TRUE

Toxoplasmosis is a disease that is carried by cats and afflicts humans and cats. Cats are the only animal known to expel the parasite in its feces. Pregnant women who contract toxoplasmosis may become blind. Toxoplasmosis may also cause congenital defects, such as mental retardation in the fetus. Inhaling the dust that is stirred up in a litter box can transmit the microorganism. Anyone can contract toxoplasmosis. The symptoms of an acute infection are flu-like: fatigue, sore throat, swollen glands, fever, rash and blurry vision.

I heard that cat waste has worms? TRUE

Intestinal roundworms and hookworms are little critters that inhabit the feces of cats and dogs and can be transmitted through direct skin contact or ingestion. Larva Migrans, cutaneous (Creeping Eruption) is the result and can cause neurological damage and disease to the lungs, liver and other internal organs. Children's play habits and attraction to pets places them at high risk for infection. Dogs who insist on snacking at the litter box are also at high risk for contracting worms. See How To Prevent Transmission of Intestinal Roundworms from Pets to People from The Center for Disease Control for a more complete discussion of this topic.

Is the dust that comes from cat litter a health risk? TRUE

The only thing worse than eating cat litter is breathing it. All clay-based litter contains crystalline silica, which has been found to cause silicosis. Silicosis is a disabling, nonreversible and sometimes fatal lung disease caused by overexposure to crystalline silica. Inhalation of crystalline silica particles has also been associated with bronchitis and tuberculosis. The risk is primarily associated with workers who are in the sandblasting, drilling, mining, paint removal and construction fields. OSHA is very strict in its rules for workers who are regularly exposed to silica, and mandates the wearing of masks. I am not suggesting that cat owners who clean the litter box every few days have the same exposure as Kentucky coal miners, but why take the risk.

Cat litter is biodegradable.? FALSE

According to The U.S. Pet Ownership and Demographic Sourcebook their are 58.2 millon cats in the United States. According to the American Pet Products Manfufacturers Survey seventy-five percent or 45 million cats live indoors and are skilled at using a litter box. Since 90% of all cat litter sold is clay-based, most of these 45 million cats are unknowing conspirators in an environmentally unfriendly process. Four billion pounds of the stuff are trucked to our landfills where the waste languishes and does not decompose. Training your kitty to use the toilet is good politics.

The list of horribles associated with litter boxes goes on and on. If you decide not to train your cat to use the toliet and can't part with your litter box, try using a vegetable-based litter such as SWHEATSCOOP.

Training a cat to use the toilet is too much hassle and time consuming. FALSE

It does require work and commitment. You will be surprised how quickly a cat can learn. Some cats learn in two or three weeks. Others may take longer. The rewards are great. It is wonderful to have an indoor cat and not have to maintain a litter box. Just think of all the money you will save on cat litter. I used to spend about 25.00 a month on cat litter. People with more than one cat can easily spend more. Put that money away for your cat's IRA or college education. Our training manual is a super bargain that will pay for itself many times over.

Can I get sick from my cat if we both use the same toilet? FALSE

Your cat sits on the toilet seat and the waste goes in the bowl. Your cat's paws carry the dust and crumbs from your kitchen floor. Later that night you sit down on the toilet seat and those particles of dust are transferred to you. Can you get sick? Not likely. Unless your house is a biohazard you are safe. A practical solution is to keep sanitary baby wipes in the bathroom. Before you use the toilet seat just wipe it clean.

Is it really practical to train a cat to use the toilet; is this for real? TRUE

I was skeptical and nervous about training my first cat. Even now when I see my cat, Mango, jump up on the seat and use the toilet, I am amazed. For one or two weeks at the most your toilet is not practical to use without removing the training apparatus. If you decide to take the plunge, the only caveat is that you are now sharing your throne with your pet cat. On the bright side, your relationship with your cat may deepen as you both discover all the other things you have in common.

My cat is an outdoor indoor cat and uses a litter box in the house? Is my cat a candidate for toilet training? MAYBE

Theoretically, outdoor cats are not good candidates for using the toilet. There is no demand to give up the behavior of covering their waste. Each time they go in the dirt, the behavior of covering waste is strengthened. Now cats are funny creatures and don't care about my theories. I know an indoor outdoor cat that uses the toilet at night for urinating, and saves the rest for outdoors. We are in uncharted territory and I suggest you get the manual and experiment. You have nothing to lose.

My cat is lazy and fat. His favorite activities are eating and sleeping. There is no way he can be trained to do anything!

Cats crave novel stimulation. Sitting around the house all day can be a drag. What better way to break up the routine than using the toilet? Maybe you and your cat are in a rut and toilet training will expand the relationship. Let your cat decide. They make all the decisions anyway.

My cat is 12 years old. Is he too old to train?

As long as your cat is healthy age should not matter. Many people have reported good results with older cats

Can I teach my cat to flush? TRUE

Your cat can be trained to flush. You tie a string to the lever and on the other end attach a soft padded ball or favorite play toy. Your cat will play and pull on the ball causing the toilet to flush. Gradually shorten the length of the string until it is gone. Your cat may enjoy the action and sound of the flush. Beware, he may conclude that flushing is so much fun that he will flush the toilet all day long. Best keep this job for yourself. If you don't flush after your cat, any guest who looks in the toilet bowl may wonder about your health and diet.

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