How to toilet train your cat

Is it truly possible to toilet train your feline companion? Yes…as long as you use the right approach and have plenty of patience.

Imagine not having to scoop a litter box anymore, or lug heavy bags of cat litter home from the store. Imagine not having to worry about feline odors permeating your home, or bits of litter tracked over your floors. It might seem an impossible scenario – that is, unless you toilet train your cat.

You’ve probably heard about cats using human toilets, or seen videos about it on YouTube, and wondered how in the world they learned to do it. You might even wonder if it’s really possible, and if so, how you’d go about teaching your own cat to do the same.

With patience and the right approach, it can be done. And given that 662 pounds of kitty litter per cat ends up in landfill every year, it also makes good environmental sense. While you can certainly buy eco-friendly litters nowadays, there are still a lot of non-biodegradable products making their way into landfills.

Easy does it

Teaching cats to use a toilet is easier than you think. Cats of any age can learn. But you will need time and patience to allow your cat to adjust to the change. Wait one week before moving on to each new stage. Every cat has his own pace, but it’s best to move ahead at the slowest learners’ level. This prevents the frustration of back-track training.

1. Start by placing your cat’s litter tray on top of a sturdy wooden box or small step stool, to get him accustomed to jumping up to the level of a toilet. Do not move the litter box from its existing location until he’s used to having it at a new level. If your cat has trouble jumping, place a smaller box or stool nearby so he has a step up.

2. Once your cat is comfortable with this change, gradually move the raised litter tray from its current location closer to the bathroom. Keep doing this until the litter box is next to the toilet. Take your time. A sudden and drastic change in litter box position could upset your cat and lead to inappropriate elimination.

3. Place the kitty training device of your choice on the toilet and fill it with flushable kitty litter.

4. Let the old litter box become soiled, so your cat will be encouraged to explore the fresh new toilet training system. Yes, this means your bathroom will smell rather unpleasant, but it’s only temporary.

5. After a week, remove the old litter box and just use the toilet training system. Keep the flushable litter clean and fresh to discourage “creative” potty alternatives around your home.

6. Each litter training system has a cutaway device that enlarges at each new stage, exposing more and more of the open toilet seat, and training your cat to balance on the existing toilet. Eventually, you will be able to dispose of the training product entirely and your cat will be using the toilet.

Keep in mind….

Training your cat does come with a price tag.

• While you’re training him, you and everyone else in your family will have to remove and then replace his litter “potty” each time you want to use the toilet yourselves, although once your cat is fully trained, this will no longer be an issue.

• Even after your cat is trained, everyone in the household will have to remember to leave the toilet seat up at all times, so your cat can access it when he needs to.

• Geriatric or arthritic cats may have some difficulty getting up to the toilet. In cases like this, keep a cat-sized step stool by the toilet.

• Since your cat can’t flush the toilet after he’s used it, you’ll have to do it yourself. While you might consider teaching your cat to flush (and some do learn!), it can cause a problem if he gets so fascinated by the rushing water that he start flushing repeatedly and wasting water.

At the end of the day, the benefits of having a toilet-trained cat outweigh the drawbacks. We’ve trained our own kitties to use the toilet, and although it took time, patience and some experimentation with different products, we have no regrets.


Mary Ellen “Angelscribe” is an award-winning photojournalist, author and animal newspaper columnist. Her column “Pet Tips 'n' Tales” is filled with knowledge, inspiration, humor and warm-hearted stories ( internationally known swimming cats have appeared on Animal Planet’s Must Love Cats. She is the author of Expect Miracles and A Christmas Filled with Miracles.