By David Aaron Moore,†Networx
The thought of a†feline urinating on a ceramic bowl generally reserved for the passing of human waste seems to conjure up endless reams of laughter among most individuals Ė both cat lovers and non.
Call it toilet humor if you like and throw in a joke or two about†scatology if you feel so inclined, but for many cat lovers, teaching their four-legged friend how to use a toilet like us humans is serious business. “There are issues to consider when you have a kitty that uses a traditional litter box,” says Richard Johnson, a cat owner who lives in†Houston, Texas. “Itís important to stay on top of it constantly. Thatís why I chose to toilet train my cat.”
Feline fecal matter, especially when mixed with moisture from cat urine and traditional†clay-based cat litter can potentially become a veritable breeding ground for bacteria. Itís easily tracked out of the litter box, throughout the house and can ultimately be†harmful to humans and other pets.
Depending on whom you talk with and your individual cat, toilet training for felines can be a breeze or a hellish, screeching, claw-fest nightmare. “My efforts attempting to train a mixed breed stray that I adopted after he showed up at my door one day was a miserable failure,” recalls Montreal resident Thomas Monture. “I tried the method everyone suggested, but my cat Pierre just never really caught on. Perhaps he was too old, or maybe he just wasnít clever enough. Every time we broached the subject it began and ended badly. Eventually, I just gave up.”
Although Montureís efforts with Pierre were a failure, that doesnít have to be the case if you decide itís time for your furry buddy to use†indoor plumbing just like the rest of the household. “Some cats just arenít as smart as others,” says Deborah Tiganila, the owner and operator of†Aristocat Bengal, a Bengal Cattery and obedience school in Charlotte, N.C.†
“It can be difficult if the cats arenít bright, but I think any cat can eventually be taught to use a toilet instead of a litter box,” said Tiganila, who once worked for the CIA and trained dogs. She said, “I use the same method to train the cats as I did with dogs. It is better to start younger, but you want to avoid accidental falls into the toilet bowl.” Like with dogs, “You demonstrate and repeat. When they learn the behavior properly you reward them with a treat or a snack, just like you would a dog.”