Vol. 20: The Civilized Cat

Train your feline companion to use the toilet.

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  • Confident, approval-seeking cats typically take more readily to toilet training than skittish cats.
  • Wait until the cat is comfortable with each stage before advancing. If you rush it, the cat will get uncomfortable and may reject the entire process permanently.
  • Don’t try to force the cat to do anything it doesn’t want to do — you shouldn’t have to pick it up and put it in the litter box, for example. If the cat’s not figuring it out, use a treat to tempt it into modeling the correct behavior, and if it resists (or behaves for the treat but not on its own) you’ve moved too quickly from one stage to the next. Go back a step or two and proceed more slowly.
  • Indoor/outdoor cats are likely to hold it while inside and wait until they can go out, which can lead to urinary tract infections. If they don’t take to the training right away, give it up. (See warnings online.)
  • It helps if you’re around to be available for training. If you’re at the office 12 hours a day, your cat will make its own solution for relieving itself.
  • Flushing after the cat uses the toilet can help.
  • Once the cat is successfully using the system, reward it with treats after each success to reinforce the behavior. This is particularly handy from stage 4 on.

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