Toilet train your cat

Kick-LitterIn the last three years, we've adopted three stray cats. With that many cats in the house, the litter box is in almost constant use. If we don't stay on top of cleaning it, the smell gets overpowering. And even though we use an igloo-style litter box with a stair-step tunnel entrance, the cats have figured out a way to kick copious amounts of litter onto the floor. They seem to consider it a feline duty to scatter the filthy particles around.

I can't stand it any longer. I'm going to toilet train the cats, using the 9-step program outlined in this book, Kick Litter, by Perre DiCarlo.

The training method is so simple that it is explained in two pages. The rest of the book consists of photos of the author's cats and cutesy captions of what the cats "think" about the method. The book's cover jacket is an instructional poster you can remove and unfold, and contains everything you need to know to try this method.

I'll give it a try. If I'm successful, I'll shoot a video of my cats in action.

Kick Litter: Nine-Step Program for Recovering Litter Addicts


  1. It works! It really does. My neighbors trained their two Siamese to use the bathroom toilet. It took a few weeks. The house doesn’t smell like cat shit now. Couldn’t teach them to flush though, which is probably a good thing … I’ve seen those compulive flushers on YouTube.

  2. Apparently, cats also enjoy scratching in litter.

    My wife considered toilet-training our Siberian. However, she read that this may tend to make the cat even more neurotic than normal. She decided that a happy cat was worth the extra effort of scooping litter every couple of days.

  3. My boyfriend’s cat uses the toilet – which I found pretty insane at first. I just assumed it was because he was a Marine hard-ass BDSM dom type, but I guess now the secret is out.

  4. I did this with my 3 cats years ago. Unfortunately, one of them insisted on sitting at the back edge and so the toilet seat was always uh besmirched, or the floor underneath. The other two got it right though.

  5. I successfully toilet trained my cat using a CitiKitty tray. If your method doesn’t work out, you can try that. Good luck!

  6. Best of luck with that. We tried to train our (then) kitten to use the toilet. We had moderate success, but only if we loomed over him. We are all happier now that he has a good old fashioned dirt box.

  7. Your cats must have the same box as ours, and I also (incorrectly) thought those cute little stairs would keep them from tracking litter all over. They do seem to enjoy the extra privacy, though (being completely obscured by the igloo).

    And I agree with harrkev’s wife, or, at least can see how that’d be true. If I took away their litter, our cats would just find something else to dig in (i.e. the houseplants, the thick carpeting…)
    I’ll scoop litter daily to save my carpet from being torn to shreds.

  8. Although I did have a cat that used the commode with no training needed, it’s a lot easier to let them outside to do their business as nature intended. Local dogs will appreciate the snack too – gross I know!

  9. I’m in the middle/end of toilet-training my 8-yr old cat, using a commercial product:
    You remove the concentric rings one at a time, gradually reducing the amount of (flushable) litter in the pan/seat. We’re down to the last ring. I’ve been going slowly over 3 months, because she does get stressed out by change. I’m going to remove 1/4 of the last ring tonight.

    There is a story that most of the cast members and dancers in CATS had cats, and the touring company had all toilet trained their cats so they could travel with them and stay in hotels.

    Good luck with the project. It’s totally worth it.

  10. Our eight-year-old orange tabby Maxwell one day just decided that he would start using the toilet. No training whatsoever.

    We had always thought the big guy was a bit dim (he dearly loved dogs and would play very gently with tiny kittens, very atypical traits in a male cat) so we were totally gobsmacked.

    He never got incredibly good at it, because he was fatally mauled by a fox before he perfected his technique enough to avoid sprinkling the seat. (He never taught himself to flush, either, for which we are thankful.)

    I knew a guy in Bradford Pennsylvania who kept an enormous red-eyed albino hare for a pet, and he claimed he had trained it to use the toilet. How’d you like to find that in the bathroom late at night?


  11. I would have thought Mark’s rural-ish home would allow for the cat’s taking their bizness outside?

    1. Kitteh excrement is a notorious carrier of toxoplasma which can affect pregnant women and people with compromised immune systems (including babies and old people.) I would probably take my chances with adequate sewage treatment to protect the otters than killing off a family member via the litter box. But, then, I had a roommate who died from toxoplasmosis.

  12. I think they spread their toes when they get in the litter box. Then, they close the toes before jumping out of the box and tromp upstairs to the bedrooms and release the kitty litters from between their fingers.

    How else could mine bring litter across carpeting, tile, wood, carpeting again, and up 2 flights of stairs to my bed?!

    I like this toilet training idea. Looking forward to the results.

  13. My cat usually does his thing outside. One day, as I was watching TV, I heard a flush come out of the bathroom. I was home alone. Into the livingroom walked my cat, with a look of “Uh…yeah, don’t go in there for a while”. I was dumbfounded. He never did it again.

    I’ve been afraid of him ever since.

  14. If the toilet training does not work, with my Jane it was a disaster, try compressed pine cat litter.

    It really works as advertised, even with two cats in a 400 sq ft apartment.

  15. Funny how you only hear about the success stories. They never tell you about the cats who keep falling into the toilet and needing to be rescued.

  16. I feel I must add my two cents, alternate title, Tale of Kitty Toilet Training Woe.

    A couple of years ago my roommate and I also dreamed the dream of having no litter box to contend with, no smells, no grody litter bits stuck to the bottom of our feet. We purchased the citykitty kit online and eagerly followed the training regiment. My roommate’s cat was trained within days, acting like she’d never even heard of a litterbox.

    My cat, however, was more resistant. He eventually and begrudgingly started peeing in the pot, but never, EVER deigned to poop there. Instead he would not poop for many days until he couldn’t hold it anymore. He would walk around the apartment wailing in agony until he finally deposited a load on any loose article left on the floor, t-shirt, blanket, scarf, etc.

    To combat this we cleaned every inch of the apartment and removed any tempting piles. I came home soon after to find exactly in the middle of my perfectly made bed, a perfectly made turd (or as I like to think of it, a giant cat middle finger). I waived my white flag and reinstated the box.

    What I’m trying to say is, depends on the cat, me thinks…..

  17. you think you have it bad? We have 7 cats.

    we have 4 of those automatic litterboxes. almost no scooping, but they have to be emptied every day and a half or so.

    I suggested toilet training to my mom, but she refuses to even consider it.

  18. OK I’m reeeeeally close to being fully convinced, and just overnighting a CitiKitty kit … but I’m leaving for a 2 week vacation in less than 3 weeks so I think I’ll wait till next year.

    It’ll be a New Year’s Resolution! Toilet train the cats! Maybe now my husband will let me get more cats! (probably not)

  19. The low point of my career as a journalist came early on, when I was assigned to take photos of a cat using the toilet for an article in my newspaper’s pets section.

    When I arrived at the home where the toilet-trained cat lived, the cat’s human told me that the cat only sometimes used the toilet. We spent the next 40 minutes trying to coax the animal onto the toilet seat.

    The human was a smoker and had tossed a butt into the toilet bowl during this exercise, so when I got a decent shot of the cat sitting on the toilet seat, the butt was also visible, rendering the photo extra classy.

    The overarching punchline is that it happened in Catawissa, Pa.

    Get it?

  20. I’ve done this myself with our cat, Pepper.

    The first step was to place the litter box on top of the toilet.

    For the second step, we used this setup:
    Picture of setup:
    It’s a casserole (because it was available, easy to attach/detatch, and very stable) with a plastic bowl fastened with clothes-pegs. I used toiletpaper at the bottom of the bowl for easy emptying.

    The third step was like magic. One day when we forgot to place the casserole in the toilet, Pepper used the toilet without it. I think it took us about a month or two, but he still won’t poop without some litter and paper in the toilet. It has become sort of a night routine. The process frome here will be to use less and less litter each time.

    Picture of Pepper on the toilet:

  21. “I’ll shoot a video of my cats in action.”

    Dude, did you just promise your audience video of your cats taking a dump? Does that kind of pre-event buzz usually draw more activity to the site?

  22. The golden rule is that you’re supposed to have at least N+1 litterboxes for N cats. So, with three cats, you should have at least four litterboxes. Having more boxes means that no one box typically gets used a lot more than the others, but you do have to find space for them.

    The automatic litterboxes are nice, but they don’t typically fit into a bathtub, or you can’t get more than one into a bathtub. Most bathrooms are small, so you may be hard-pressed to get more than two litterboxes into the room without putting at least one in the bathtub.

    Of course, if the bathroom isn’t dedicated to serving the cats, then you probably don’t want to put a litterbox in the tub.

    Then there’s the whole Toxoplasmosis thing, because many sewer systems don’t manage to successfully filter that out. Pregnant women are particularly sensitive, and should not be allowed to change cat litterboxes. If you infect the city water supply with Toxoplasmosis, you could potentially endanger hundreds, thousands, or maybe even millions of women.

    Would you want that on your conscience?

    Would you want to accept the legal risk, if a larger number than usual deaths in the city resulted from Toxoplasmosis, so the police subpeonaed the records of everyone who bought products from (or wherever you buy them from), and then came knocking on doors to see who had cats with Toxoplasmosis? Or maybe they subpeona the records of all vets in the area to see who had cats known to have Toxoplasmosis, and then did a cross-reference of the two lists?

    What if someone decides to file a wrongful death suit against you, or maybe even a class-action wrongful death suit, and gets those two same sets of records, so that they know who to sue?

    There are serious legal liabilities here that you want to think about before you go down this road.

  23. >I suggested toilet training to my mom, but she refuses to even consider it.

    Guy, try a firmer approach. There’s no good reason for your mom to poop in the litter tray.

  24. ♥ Anonymous @ 33 – Where do you live that they don’t treat raw sewage before sending it back to your tap?

    ♥ If you have a long haired cat, you still have to wipe his ass for him even if he uses the toilet.

    ♥ And most importantly…turn the volume up for this one.

  25. as someone who has kept cats all my life, and cleaned their litter boxes religiously, i can confidently say to all you people who let their cats crap outside: i am certain that your neighbors secretly hate you. YOU may not have to clean up their crap, but your neighbors are finding it in their yards, their flower beds, and who knows where else, and they are probably wishing you’d move away and take your cats with you. in fact, if you are one of MY neighbors, i’m sure i’m one of them.

  26. Anon @ 33, are you suggesting that all of us who use flushable litter are potential criminals? I think your logic is a little derailed. Also, a large percentage of the population has been shown to already possess antibodies against T. gondii- it varies by region but I’ve seen it recorded at 2/3 of the sample population in some areas. It’s generally only dangerous if you’re immuno-compromised, and many people are exposed and develop resistance at a really young age.

    Back to the toilet-training of cats, both my sister and I have tried it, she with more success than I. I agree with the commenters who say it really depends on your individual cat. Our first cat was doing pretty well, but then we got a second cat and she would much rather sneak around and pee on clothes, bedding, etc, than put any effort into using the toilet. My sister’s cats occasionally go in the bathtub, but they mostly use the toilet. She does spend a lot of time hovering over them, though. If you work from home, it makes the process *MUCH* more feasible. It definitely helps if you’re there to coax and feed many yummy treats after the fact.

    1. The best thing about Toxoplasma is that it may do something to people’s brains that makes them like cats. Seriously.

  27. Kitty poop is very, very bad for sea otters, which are already endangered enough without your cat shit adding to the mix.

    Normal sewage treatment is NOT sufficient to kill of the toxoplasma creepy crawlies, and it is irresponsible to suggest this kind of thing on such a widely-ready blog without researching the negative effects first.

  28. echoplex @ 41 – if a cat keeper throws their cat crap out with the rubbish, it’ll probably end up in landfill and the parasites would probably be as likely to end up washing into the watercourses and ultimately into the sea as if the cats had crapped in the garden.

    The bbc article suggests breaking the parasite’s 2-host lifecycle by preventing the cats from getting infected, by keeping the cats from eating the secondary hosts. If a hatred of cat litter is preventing some cat keepers from keeping their cats indoors, then it seems to me that toilet-training a cat would benefit the sea-otters, whether or not what gets flushed is treated so’s to kill the parasites in the poo.

    Not as much as killing all the cats of course.

  29. I thought tertiary sewage treatment was supposed to get to high enough temperatures to kill oocytes? Or do they just run a pipe straight into the sea there?

  30. To all suggesting that just going outside is an option…outdoor cats have about half the life span of indoor cats, and for some of the reasons mentioned in this thread – wild foxes, dogs, cars, other cats etc.

    Your cat will live much longer, have fewer emergency room visits and be safer if he lives indoors.

  31. Anonymous @ 44 – half the lifespan but twice the life perhaps? The oldest cat I’ve known was a 26-year-old cat never denied access to the outdoors (she might’ve lived longer – she never wrote). I’ll concede that she lived in rural Scotland.

  32. Yeah, my indoor/outdoor cat lived for 15 years. My friend’s indoor/outdoor calico lived to be 21. My friend’s barn cat is at 12 and still going strong. Yet another friend’s cat died at 19 after a long life out in the garden. Some of these were country cats, and some were suburban/city (like mine).

    And I’ve known people with indoor cats who never made it past 7, due to getting trapped in a heater of all places, getting sat on, getting cancer, etc.

    Indoor or outdoor, you take a chance with having a cat. They are curious and intelligent and get into anything and everything. My current cat has outdoor access, runs from even the sound of cars, stays inside if he so much as smells a predator, and has never left the yard. I have no angry neighbors. In fact, I have grateful neighbors who do not have a rat problem anymore.

    Generalizations do nothing but make the generalizer sound like an ass.

  33. Slate’s Green Lantern addressed the problem of cat feces recently.

    You’re in San Francisco right? Go down and talk to someone at the Monterey Aquarium, they’ll be able to tell you what’s what. When I was there last year they had a sign posted about keeping cat feces out of the toilet.

  34. I just bought my cats a new litterbox because my older cat was peeing with his butt hanging outside the covered litter box and cat pee was getting all over the bathroom floor and making my apartment smell terrible (LITTRBOX—UR DOIN IT WRONG). Two days with the CleverCat box and the problem is solved. They can’t kick litter everywhere or pee outside of it, and if they did, I’d like to see that trick. This thing has changed our lives.

    Seriously, I believe that the top entry litterbox is the wave of the future.

  35. most sewage treatment is not set up for cat poo.
    this means that the toxoplasma gondii does not get removed. it infects the drinking water, and the environment.

    please don’t flush you cat poo, ask anyone in the water treatment world.

    as for the comments saying that landfills are leaching this into the water anyways, i just would like to point out that landfills are specially engineered to PREVENT leeching into the ground water and the watershed. there are a lot of worse things in those places the cat poo, and if they are leeching then we are in a lot worse trouble.

    good pdf:

  36. Antinous – damn you, I had almost been rid of that earworm for a whole 24 hours…

    …that, and you beat me to it!

  37. “Skeptics have pointed out that cats haven’t definitively been identified as the culprit. They note that only 1 percent of cat feces samples in one recent study carried Toxoplasma, that indoor cats are especially unlikely to catch the parasite, and that many infected otters may actually be dying of other causes.”

  38. clearly, there is a pressing need for cat poo plasma incinerators. Perhaps co-generation plants that handle equally toxic materials like dioxins and leftover republican propaganda.

  39. I’ve heard about the brain-altering ability of toxo, but I didn’t think cats needed a parasite to grow on you.

    The purring tends to work better.

  40. I think we all need to face facts – toxoplasma is just part of the cats’ plans to conquer the world! It’s inevitable, really, so…why fight it? :-)

  41. you just enjoy your lolcats

    “Correlations have been found between latent Toxoplasma infections and various characteristics:[17]

    * Decreased novelty-seeking behaviour[18]
    * Slower reactions
    * Lower rule-consciousness and jealousy (in men)[18]
    * More warmth and conscientiousness (in women)[18]

  42. I adopted a cat once (and by adopted I mean I left out a can of tuna and scooped him up and took him to get a microchip shot in his ass) and for the longest time I thought my senile father was forgetting to flush the toilet until I saw the cat hop off the seat one day.

    If only the cat could have told me to save $20 bucks in super fancy litter, litter bag liners, litter tray and litter scoop.

  43. We have 2 cats and 2 litter boxes. I think there should be one litterbox for each cat in the house. Our Cat One never made any mess, but after we got Cat Two, the litter started to show all over the place. So I think some cats are worse than others about this.
    The best litter box (to avoid the mess) is a “TOP ENTRY” one. The only top entry I’ve found so far is “Clever Cat” brand.

  44. The toxoplama issue seems like a good enough possibility to at least give the reader pause here and I think it’d be responsible of the editors to at least mention it on the main page. If it’s possibly affecting sea otters what other marine life is it affecting?

    Unrelated to that, I thought I was hallucinating the first couple times I saw my cat sitting on the pot. He’s mostly an outside critter but if he’s in long enough he’ll use it, if no one’s looking anyway. Wish he’d learn to light a match tho.

  45. Ok, not to be the crazy cat person (well, I am, but not just cats!) and discuss litterbox choices ad nauseum, but…

    – Motorized self-cleaning boxes pamper cats too much. Never tried one, heard too many horror stories. Cats will get used to having a pristine box exactly 5 minutes after they leave a steamer. In fact, they won’t even bother to bury it anymore. Also, the box will inevitably get jammed or lose power, and when it does, your spoiled cats will take a dump on your dining room table in protest.

    – Tried the breeze box, which uses non-absorbent pellets on top of a screen, and a piddle-pad in a drawer underneath: Meh. The pad isn’t as absorbent as it should be, the pellets break apart and track out of the box, and the refills are expensive. One of my cats is declawed (NOT my choice, she came that way) and the pellets were uncomfortable for her, so she didn’t always use the box. So that one was out. However, the other cat has claws, and didn’t seem to mind it.

    – The box we all settled on is this one right here: (You might find it cheaper retail)

    Elevated entry, so there’s minimal litter tracking, and the enclosure keeps dogs out. The gravity-powered cleaning mechanism is pure genius: When you roll the box upside down, the clean litter goes through a sieve. Clumps can’t, so they fall onto the top. When you roll it back upright, the clumps slide into the cup, which you pull out and empty.

    – You can have 2 cats, 1 box (snicker) but it depends on the cats. Mine happily share, even though they bicker like …ahem… catty sisters about everything else. (The younger one does tend to annoy the older one when she takes a magazine in there for an hour.)

  46. Just some notes from my own cat experiences…

    Most vets recommend NOT using covered cat boxes. Also- I’ve found those “cat pans” or “litter boxes” you get a pet stores are woefully inadequate, especially for multiple cats.

    First- the covered cat boxes create a very-very-VERY unpleasant experience for the cat. Have you ever been in an old-fashioned outhouse? Multiply that smell about a dozen times- and that’s what the cat experiences in a covered litter box. They have very sensitive noses- and if YOU think it stinks- imagine how they feel.

    Contrary to popular belief- covered litter boxes do not reduce the smell or litter mess in your home, and can actually increase it. Cats naturally want to cover their excrement, however- in a covered litter box- they will skip covering it just to get out. They are also more likely to avoid the box because it is so unpleasant, and use things like your plants, blankets, and furniture instead. They will also tend to scatter more litter- because they will run in and out as fast as they can- kicking up litter (and other things) in the process.

    I use a couple of large storage totes for litter boxes. The high sides catch litter from even the more enthusiastic of my cats, and their size gives them a lot of room (and litter surface) to work with. You can also generally buy two of them for the cost of one “cat pan”, and the lids make great place-mats for water and food bowls.

    Lastly- cats don’t actually want “privacy”- that’s just us trying to impose our feelings on them. Cats like to see their surroundings to be alert for predators (which don’t generally exist in the home- but that’s still how they are “wired”). They prefer to be able to see around them, than to be stuck in a dark, stinky cave to do their business.

    Just something to think about. I know of several people (including me) who resolved multiple cat litter box issues by throwing away the covered boxes (or at least the cover). Lastly- you really should have one litter box for each cat. They won’t necessarily each pick out their own, but that provides the optimum real estate for their toilet needs. Of course that’s not practical if you have a lot of cats and minimum space.

    So- I hope you have luck with the toilet training. I don’t know anyone personally who actually has, but I know there are a lot of success stories out there. If it doesn’t work- please consider the above.

  47. Our cat uses the loo, I wouldn’t have her any other way. But one has to be very strict. If she messes up, she is locked in the bathroom until she uses it again correctly. In my experience, cats respond best to restriction of space as a discipline (rather than food as a bribe). The person who trained our cat trained one other, but also had two that just wouldn’t do it. Some cats simply refuse. We keep telling him he should toilet train cats as a business, bet he could make $1000 a cat.

  48. My old roommate posted the #27 comment and I thought I’d send you the clip of my cat doing the deed… we caught this on video:

    (this is during the training with the city kitty kit so there is still the litter tray under the seat)

    ummm… and if that embedding didn’t work:

  49. My cats hate their water bowl. They prefer to find water elsewhere: in my drinking water glass. In my guest’s drinking water glass. Drippy faucets. The shower floor after I’ve showered. And, favorite of all, the toilet bowl. In their eyes, this is their personal and renewable water source. I doubt I could ever train them to shit where they drink.

  50. Get your cats a Drinkwell or similar fountain. Cats love running water.

    Mine would play hockey with the water dish until I got the fountain. Damp floor every day. Now they just paw at the stream a little.

  51. Has anyone ever used plain old dirt for a cat litter box? I’m so fed up with all the commercial options, I’m about back to that. I’m thinking I could go to our rock/soil supply place and buy a 50lb bag of high quality soil for under $10 and even if I changed he dirt everyday, it’d be far cheaper than cat litter, and I think the kitty would prefer it. Whenever she goes out, she looks for an area without plants, where it is easier to dig. Could I then put this in the citywide greenwaste containers? Seems like I could, so instead of polluting the sewage system/bay or adding to the landfills, it would be composted. I imagine in commercial composting the temperatures would get so high as to kill bad bacteria in the cat feces.

    But my main question is is there anything wrong from a health and safety standpoint to using dirt, particularly if I buy high quality soil (but not potting soil)?


  52. Just make sure you don’t eat the dirt, cuz you know what you can get from ingesting potting soil? You guessed it: toxoplasmosis.

    You can also get it from eating infected pork (oh that pork, is there anything it CAN’T give you?). Which begs the question:

    If you’ve been infected with toxoplasmosis (from wherever), should YOU poop in the garbage instead of the toilet?

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