Ramses, the original Relaxed Cat, sparked a revolution in toilet training.
Today Ramses goes the bathroom like so …
His training story is reproduced here.
We had Ramses’ setup in place when he arrived home (age 12-weeks). For the next six days, he cried before every trip to the litter container. I think he had trouble getting comfortable. Compared to what he had at the bengal breeders’, it was high and small, and even though he was only twelve weeks, and had a stool, there wasn’t much room for him to turn around inside.
So for the first six days, he dug in the litter, positioned, squat, cried, re-dug, etc. Sometimes he jumped down from the litter container and needed encouragement to jump back in. We did this verbally and by scraping at his litter. Every time he went the bathroom, we treated and praised him like crazy.
He’s a really good kitty. He hasn’t had any accidents, and it helps that he meows every time he needs to go, so we can direct him toward the bathroom.
13-week-old Ramses (4lbs 2oz) is less clumsy now, so we taped the real-toilet lid up, and let him watch when we cleaned and flushed his pee and poo. This fascinated him! There’s no better show on earth, folks! Daily, he got halfway in the toilet and smelled the water after his excrement flushed. To do this, he put his front paws on the inside of the bowl and lowered himself in to touch his nose to the water, getting his paws wet in the process, of course.
Ramses hasn’t cried before going the bathroom this whole week, and he no longer digs around frantically looking for the perfect spot. He seems totally comfortable. Although, two times this week, I’ve moved his back paws more directly into the litter so his eager pooing didn’t hit the toilet seat. We’re doing good.
Up until day 6 of Week2. At midnight, Ramses dug in the corner of our room and then on our feather comforter. After he squatted on our bed, I picked him up and took him to his litter container, where he promptly peed.
I didn’t know what to think! Was he protesting because I let his litter level get low from cleaning without replenishing? (I always take his pee/poo out immediately and flush it.)
I added lots of litter. I won’t make that mistake again. Disaster averted.
14-week-old Ramses (4lbs 8oz) discovered a salt shaker, halfway full of water, buried in the front of his litter container (where he usually doesn’t poo/pee). Distracted from going the bathroom, he dislodged the container, dug around it, and tried to push his nose and paw in.
I pushed the litter back to support the salt shaker. Ramses continued to poke at it for two minutes and then relaxed, put his front paws on the toilet seat above the salt shaker, and went poo, aiming nicely into the litter. Lots of praise and treats!!
After I flushed his poo in the real toilet, Ramses took three trips between the real toilet water and the salt shaker with water. He seemed to be processing that the toilet seats were the same and both places had water. This is going to be a cinch!
But four days went by and Ramses wasn’t going to the bathroom as often, twice he dug up his salt shaker and left it in the middle of his litter, and, WORSE, he dug on our bed and squatted, TWICE. We caught him both times before he went the bathroom, but obviously we were going way too fast, and RAMSES WAS PROTESTING!
He was past trying to communicate subtly. Since we didn’t listen, he provided a clear signal. (Enter imaginary pile of poo on our bed. Well, not yet.) It’s typical for any place a cat has scratched and squatted to become a future toilet.
We decided some changes were in order. We switched out our down comforter (Fabulous Temporary Sacrifice from Husband). Along with bean bags, down is one of the most tempting alternate-defecation-areas. We also locked Ramses out of our bedroom if we weren’t supervising (temporary).
And then we got really serious and took the salt-shaker out of his litter container, moving him back to STEP 1, a time he was more comfortable with the set-up. This is one of the only ways to stop a protesting cat and continue the training. It’s one of the reasons some commercial setups turn into nightmares: you can’t go backward if the cat isn’t happy with the change.
We were also uneasy about the height of Ramses’ mock toilet (18″), so just to cover all my bases, I got out the soldering iron and blasted a new hole through a shorter (12″) storage container. After bleaching the sitz bath (do this 1x per week, but make sure you rinse off all the bleach and dry it (toxic to cats)) and transferring it to the new container, Ramses ran back and forth from the bathroom to the living room three times, getting used to the bleach smell and the new height/look.
Then he went pee for the first time all day. He had been holding it. (He usually pees 2x/day.) Thirty minutes later, he was back in the bathroom to do a poo. I praised and treated him like crazy. “Good boy!! Good boy!!”
He was obviously delighted with our concessions. And so was I. There’s no sense in pushing matters. If he has one “accident” (pee/poo outside the litter container) it’s likely to set us back at least 2 months. We’re hoping to avert disaster. I guess we’ll keep the new setup unchanged for at least one week. If he doesn’t threaten to protest (scratch/squat on our bed, floor, etc.) then we’ll move forward. We’re going SLOW here, folks.
BACK TO STEP 1
Husband didn’t think you’d want to see this. So I’m warning you, if you watch this, you’re participating in gross gawking!
In this video, Ramses goes #2 with two paws on the seat. This is super great because we haven’t put his water container back in yet, limiting the space, but he’s already putting his paws on the seat! Smart kitty!! I think he’s going to be a breeze to train. 🙂 And then we’ll never have to deal with cat waste again! It will be SO worth it!!
HIGH POSITION (POO) *Husband says this video will make you chunder. Don’t watch it!*
Obviously, it’s more challenging to get into the High Position on a narrow toilet seat. So think “padded” or “wooden” seat for your cat, and wait for the soft, well-formed stool before you start your training. Note: you can’t train with a constipated cat either, so make sure your cat food doesn’t have beet pulp (a hardener) or artificial fillers. The typical nearly-hard poo you’re used to with commercial cat foods is caused from beat pulp and dehydration.
In this next video, Ramses goes #1 with two paws up.
LOW POSITION (PEE) *Husband approved*
What doesn’t show in the video is what happens after I scoop and flush. Ramses is learning that the smell disappears under water. He’s fascinated by the toilet and watching his waste go down. This is important because one of the difficulties cats have with toilet training is not being able to cover up their messes. When they realize the water takes away the smell even better than litter, they chill out. (Ramses has also figured out the handle makes the toilet flush, but we don’t want to pursue that. Cats that know how to flush the toilet (usually with a looped string they can pull on) sometimes flush for hours daily, sky-rocketing water bills!)
Ramses hasn’t threatened to go outside the litter box since we took out the water and reduced the height of his litter container. Yay!! It may be slow, but it will be worth it!
TRAINING ON HOLD
Ramses is 5.75 lbs and 4 months old. We didn’t change the setup this week because he has the screamin’ wheemies (aka diarrhea). Cats can’t toilet train if their stool isn’t soft & FORMED. Happily, we haven’t had any “accidents” (or even threats), so he should be ready for the next step when his stool returns to normal.
STEP 2 (again & modified)
It’s that time again!! We added water back into Ramses’ mock-toilet today! (His stool has been normal for almost 48 hours.)
Last time we added water, he threatened to pee on our bed and in the corner of our room (scratch/squat), so we backed up, waited, and this time we’ve made the water container smaller: a test tube. It’s actually an empty tube of catnip from PetSmart.
How did he react? See the video: at first he wanted it out of there! But I anticipated this, and duck-taped it to the litter container. Then, mysteriously, after tugging on the test tube, he had a look inside the toilet. I’m hoping this means he’s made a connection!!
Were there any problems, like refusing to use the litter container? Oh no. Within 2 minutes of installation, he went #1. Forty minutes later, he went #2.
Here he is going #1 with the test tube of water.
So far so good, but we’re keeping him out of our bedroom unless he’s supervised.
STEP 2 & 3 AND TRAINING ON HOLD
Ramses flew through Step 2 and 3 (not pictured, sorry) and then developed a horrible case of the screemin’ wheemies (aka #3), and we spent every waking hour with our new vet. Thankfully, he’s stabilized on a steroid, and hopefully it doesn’t come back.
I should note that normally when a cat is sick, you should take away the mock toilet and give back the litter box, due to toilet training stress. We don’t own a litter box, so we didn’t fall back so far. That said, if he’d been crying about getting on the mock toilet or avoiding the bathroom, we would have bought a temporary litter box.
Ramses’ stool was solid, so we returned water container #3 to the mock-toilet. This was a shocker after having no water in his Mock Toilet. He cried about using the bathroom each time he went for the next 24 hours. He also held one BM. This worried us, but then he went the next morning and stopped complaining. Disaster averted! If he’d held it longer (12 hours), we would have removed the water container.
Cats can develop toxic (life-threatening) buildup if they hold #1 or #2, and they will hold it if they’re upset and unwilling to use your floor (it’s awesome they don’t want to go on the floor, but you absolutely can’t use this against them due to health concerns). Ramses usually does #2 twice a day, morning and evening, and #1 at least as many times, usually more.
TRAINING ON HOLD
At the end of week 8, Ramses’ diarrhea returned with a horrible bloody vengeance. We transferred all our records and went to vet 3, one that specializes in cats (1 hour drive), and she gave us a battery of advanced tests as well as steroids to give Ramses’ intestines a chance to heal. She told us that Ramses’ breed is known for having these types of issues.
STEP 4 (again)
Ramses was stable! Yay!! We kept water container #3 in his litter box, and not only did it not bother him whatsoever, our little kitten had a personality transformation!!
We didn’t realize how crappy he’d been feeling until we saw him feeling good!! His energy level went through the roof; he stopped grumbling and cursing at us, and he got even more affectionate. I love our happy, healthy kitty!!
Bonus video: Ramses plays fetch with grass from his fountain (forgive the unfinished basement)
Ramses remained stable!! So we added water container #4 to his litter box! He didn’t even wince. He sniffed it and went about his business! Happy Ramses is so flexible! He even peed with all four paws on his Mock Toilet seat!!! Correct position!! Perfect Aim! What a boy!! I couldn’t believe it. There was still plenty of room for him to squat on the litter, but he moved up. I’m so proud.
*Note: I thought maybe he didn’t want to touch the litter because it smelled like vinegar, but that theory flew out the door in Week 11. (The reason it smelled like vinegar is because I caught him trying to lick the water in his litter box. Not cool. We had the same problem with the toilet water, so after every flush, we started adding a few drops of vinegar. And, as you know, when a cat uses the litter box he’s bound to scrape litter everywhere, including into the water container. Rather than waste clean litter, I’ve been dumping the water container back into the litter after he scrapes the heck out of it.)
Ramses finished his medication and remained stable! We added water container #5.
He didn’t bat an eye and did #1 with FOUR-PAWS-UP again! Perfect Aim!! What an amazing kitty!! Tra-la-la!! I’ll try to catch him in the act now that I’m expecting it, so you can check out his fabulous stance.
(By the way, I think this method would have gone much faster for us if Ramses had healthy stool, obviously. But even so, it’s so worth it!! And no accidents!! We’re rock stars!!)
And, to inspire you on your own quest, behold the following:
STEP 7 (No footage, but it was easy.)
STEP 8 (Lazy with the footage, but it was easy.)
STEP 9 (I know. I’m sorry. )
STEP 10 (I suck.)
The first few days Ramses yelled at us before using the setup. More dramatically, he held his “heftier business” and only went #2 once each day for the first 5 days. (He went #2 twice per day before.) His #1 was unaffected.
We were thrilled when he used the real toilet twice!! Both times I was cleaning his mock-toilet, and the seat was lifted. He didn’t feel like waiting. No meowing protest or hesitation. #1 hit the mark!
Today I raised the mock-toilet’s height by 3 inches, so it’s level with the real toilet.
When we’re 100% sure he’s comfortable, we’re going to bathroom-stalk him!
As he jets to the loo, we’ll chase him down, make his mock-toilet unavailable (by lifting or covering the seat), and encourage him to use the real toilet. When he stops fussing, we’ll remove the mock-toilet from the bathroom.
Wish us luck!
(8 Reasons to Skip Around Happily)
1. Ramses trained in only 5 months. This breaks all kinds of records, and he’s done it with multiple pauses in training.
2. Ramses had ZERO accidents (almost unheard of for a toilet training cat). He ALWAYS goes in the mock-toilet. If he feels the urge, and he’s outside on his leash, he still runs in the house to find his mock-toilet. *applause please*
3. He pretends to cover his #1 and #2 by scraping the toilet seat. (He does this before leaving a particularly delicious half-eaten meal, as well. Fake covering: so precious.)
4. Sometimes he yells before he goes #2, so one of us will follow him to the bathroom and pass out the treats. (It’s the only time he gets them, and he’s addicted.)
5. He’s learning to spend his pennies in tiny steps because a comfortable cat = a defecation-free-home .
6. We’ve gone S L O W because Ramses frequently had #3 (the screamin’ weemies). But we’ve sorted that matter out. Thank heavens.
7. This is a non-commercial method, and it’s working! He’s mastered the smallest room! He’s a scatological champion! We’ve thrown out the nappies! (Text here should sound like Bill Murray in What About Bob: “Ahoy! I sail! I’m a sailor! I sail!!!! Isn’t this a break-though, that I’m a sailor, out on the boat, on the lake, way far away from the dock, the wind in the sail and everything!?! Ahoy!”).
8. Behold how close Ramses is to graduating in this video of #1 and #2. While the water is discolored, you won’t see any actual #1 or #2. Note the low stance (#1) compared to the high stance (#2). Note the toys in the bathtub and 2-L bottles blocking the back of the real toilet. Notice the lack of rug and shower curtain. These are the tricks-of-the-trade.
STEP 11 (USING BOTH: MOCK & REAL)
I let you know last time Ramses was holding #2 and only going once per day. He did that for 5 days and started going #2 twice per day again. Yay!
On Friday while husband cleaned out Ramses’ mock toilet, Ramses had an urge, so he jumped up on the real toilet and went #2!!! #2!!! That’s supposed to be the hardest one! He didn’t even care. No big deal.
When we woke up this morning, he’d used the real toilet instead of the fake toilet to do #1.
I bet we could take away the fake toilet. He seems indifferent and totally chill with both. But I want to hold on to it for another week: let him move over on his own, since he’s taking the initiative!
12.6 pounds and 9 months old, but Ramses still manages to fit in the sink:
STEP 11 (Can you tell I’d rather be safe than sorry?)
Quick Update, more to follow:
Last week we didn’t push Ramses at all, and he spontaneously decided that the real toilet was his favorite place to go #1. Every #1 went in the real toilet. Every #2 went in the mock toilet. Because, hey, he’s a cat with properties, and he’s going to visit all of them! Might as well segregate the smells, the functions, live the high life!
He did attempt to go #2 on the real toilet, but he had a hard time positioning himself. Strangely, he assumed the # 1 low stance, meowed, re-positioned, meowed, and then went back to his mock toilet, where he had no problem with his high stance.
This week we decided to push things along a little; we covered up his mock toilet! He’s yowling about using the real toilet for #2, and he’s slowed to one bowel movement per day, but he’s doing it.
I’ll let you know as soon as he’s doing two duties per day again. Then we’ll remove the mock toilet from the bathroom entirely. (Even though it’s covered up, I figure it’s a comforting presence.)
We’re still accident free!
Ramses has graduated from toilet training without any accidents!
He is toilet trained!! Ramses has been comfortable on the real toilet for the last week. He is going #2 twice a day again, and doesn’t meow before using the bathroom.
All we do is enter & flush. I’ve been trying to catch him in there, but he’s so quiet about it that I haven’t been able to get video yet.
That will be coming soon!
Thanks for your support and encouragement!! It’s wonderful not to buy litter and have a clean smelling house!
Yayayay for Ramses!!!!
LOVE & A TOILET TRAINED CAT
Yes. That’s what permeates the house when you don’t have to scoop poop. Love: pure, unfeigned, and glorious.
Here are the videos I promised. It’s been hard to catch him in the act.
Video #1 = #1 joy
Video #2 = #2 poo (yes it shows real poo)
Video #3 = Ramses wants to do #2, and eventually does, but he gets the seat wet and slippy and declares war against the toilet LID (2 weeks ago)
If we were going to do this over, I would keep the lid on our mock toilet.
As you’ll see in the 3rd video, Ramses feels crowded by the lid; it’s in the spot he liked to go; it gets in his face; and he doesn’t know how to position himself with that constraint.
Fortunately, he’s gotten over his lid issues, but every once in awhile I hear an annoyed meow, and I know the lid is getting all up in his business again.
I love that we did this with Ramses. Love it. Ramses quickly learned to move his position, so the lid didn’t terrorize him. He never ever complains about using the bathroom. He still goes #2 twice per day and #1 a few times. He’s fabulous and loving, and it’s so easy to treat & flush. In fact, the only meowing he does is when we’re on a different floor of the house, and he wants us to follow him, so we can see his magical poo and give him a treat. This got slightly annoying, so we also started treating whenever we found something in the toilet (like when we woke up in the morning). He’s not so adamant about getting his treats now, since he knows we’ll come through. We keep the toilet nice and clean. When we go on trips, we leave Ramses with friends he knows and loves, and he uses his mock toilet in its final form at their house. When we take him on a drive, we pop the mock toilet in the back of the car. I also love that I can check up on his health more easily. I can check consistency, color, etc. I know if he’s “regular.” If I need a sample for the vet, it’s not contaminated with litter. It’s just so so easy. And it only took a few months of patient scooping and flushing. And now I’ve got at least a decade to look forward to. A decade with no litter costs, better feline health, and no smell. This will be great when we decide to add a baby to our family. (You know about pregnancy and litter boxes, right?) Just think. You’re scooping anyway. Might as well scoop your way to the fun house.
For free advice on toilet training, browse this site and contact Marian at firstname.lastname@example.org.