Mia Shulman, Managing Editor
Friday, November 7, 2014 9:00 AM EST
Years ago, my family enjoyed the absurd discovery of our cat using the toilet. No one had trained him (I hate to think how he learned from observation…) but one day, while puttering about the kitchen, my father heard the distinct sound of, well, the toilet being used. The bathroom door was slightly ajar, lights off, and as my father peered in, our dear family cat, Cookie, a wild and brilliant thing, stared back, as if to say, “Can I help you with something? Do you mind?” Needless to say, we were immensely proud.
At the time, I chalked it up as bizarre but it turns out there’s a growing camp of pet owners who are actually training their pets to use the toilet. My brother is one of them. I suppose Cookie gave him the idea, but a quick search on Amazon.ca provided a full kit to guide him through the training.
A quick rundown: a plastic tray is placed on the toilet bowl and held down by the toilet seat, with litter sprinkled in (this will draw the cat towards the toilet). As the cat becomes comfortable using the litter tray on the toilet, slowly over time, pieces of the tray can be punched out. A small circle to start, that gets larger as you punch out borders of the circle. The cat will continue to adapt to less and less space until finally, all that’s left is the toilet seat.
I recently went to visit my brother to see the training in action. As my brother, his girlfriend and my mother and I gathered round the toilet, watching anxiously as his cat slowly stepped up onto the tray and sniffed around, I asked my brother when his cat would graduate to flushing. “It’s definitely a possibility,” he replied “but you run the risk of them enjoying the sound and visual of a toilet flushing, and then your water bill goes through the roof!” They’re still pets after all, I guess.
While my brother’s cat has proven to be a stubborn student (she flat-out refused to use the litter toilet tray, holding her bladder for almost 24 hours until my brother finally gave in and pulled out the litter box, and she nearly exploded) there’s plenty of proof online that training is possible, even for small dogs. Check out Ping Pong, the Corgi puppy, who happily uses the toilet (despite a hiccup going up the stairs…):
So, toilet training pets: genius or crazy?