Can I go on vacation during training?

Remember the frenzied way your cat greeted you after your last vacation? “I thought you were dead! -purr- I must be in your lap! -knead-knead- Don’t ever leave me again!” And then the pouting silent-treatment ensued: “You abandoned me. Don’t touch me.”

Your cat missed you. She worried. Everything was all wrong. And stress + change typically = “accidents.” Almost all vacationing toilet-training owners, who try to continue the training while they are gone, come back to accidents that back them up for months, even though they left the house-sitter fabulous instructions and gave the kitty an extra big kiss goodbye.

Consistency and structure make your cat feel secure while transitioning to the loo. If you’ve got a vacation planned, start the training when you get back or give back the litter-only Mock Toilet. Your kitty will love you for it (and so will your carpet).

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“Accidental” Communication

When he has an “accident,” the message is clear. “I told you how much I hated your new toilet fetish, and you obviously didn’t  listen. I tried to be patient and reasonable, but you ignored me. Now do you understand? Do you? Do you?”

An “accident” is his attempt to communicate. It should be responded to by meeting his needs, going backward, and nurturing him. Remember, he’s letting you know he’s stressed, and that’s sad. “Accidents” should never be punished. Punishments backfire. (Just ask this girl I know. She tossed her naughty cat out in the snow, and he responded by running back into the house, pulling down her favorite leather coat, and peeing on it. You never win a cat fight.)

Cats love interesting new things and feeling smart. Toilet training is fun. Watch his cues, so you can keep the peace and graduate accident-free. It’s so worth it: rewarding and gratifying. And just think, if you nurture great communication with your cat, you can save the therapy $ for your other relationships. Now that’s an achievement!

Can I train my cat faster?

We recommend going slow. It’s simply not worth causing her stress. Stress = fecal-floor.  Fecal-floor stinks. You were planning on scooping poop all her life, so what’s a few more months?

Still eager to speed up the process? Watch carefully for the following signs:

1. Complaining. Yelling. Carrying on.  In moderation this is okay. But it should decrease and desist after a few days.

2. Avoiding the toilet. If she’s not going as often, watch carefully. Cats can require emergency vet care if they don’t go the bathroom for several days. Avoid battles of will. If she’s too uncomfortable to use the toilet, you’re going way too fast. Slow down, Bronco.

3. Scratching & squatting in non-toilet areas (sinks, bathtubs, behind the toilet, rugs, towels, beds, etc.) Red flag. Retreat. Back up. Go back to a step she loved, and thank your lucky stars there wasn’t an accident. Accidents can set training back months.

You want training to be enjoyable and rewarding for you and your cat. And it can be. Avoid drive-through training.

Multiple Cats

They’re either swatting, wrestling, or hissing. Now you want them to share a toilet?

Okay. There’s cuddle time, too. But handling multiple cats is tricky training.

Tricky, but you can do it!

Tragically, the more cats you have, the more difficult it is to train. Training takes longer because it’s more complex.

But you want to do it anyway, right?

Rule #1: Always move as slowly as the slowest cat. (Otherwise you’ll have potty closet. Yes. That’s when there’s potty in the closet.)

Rule #2: Be on hand to mediate territorial issues. Use treats & praise. (Every cat gets a treat when any cat goes, so they’re all winners.)

Rule #3: Get your cats on the same eating & pooping schedules.  (Active play for 30 minutes after meals.)

A family with this situation needs to be hyper-aware of each cat’s experience.

If you have two or three cats, it’s definitely worth it. For four or more cats, you may need to put in a video monitor and/or stakeout the bathroom.

Outdoor Cat(s)

“Can I still toilet train?”

Unless you can work out a really cool incentive program (like clicker training), it’s hard to toilet train indoor/outdoor cats.

Why should they learn a fancy new trick when the flower bed is so inviting?

There are exceptions. Ramses, the original Relaxed Cat, is allowed outdoors on a leash, but due to training young, he prefers to come inside for his bathroom breaks.

Scratching, drinking, & playing in the Loo Water?

Can you blame her? That’s fun stuff!

But haul over to the grocery store and buy 1 gallon of white vinegar anyway. It should cost about $3.00.

After every flush, put a tiny amount (a spoonful or so) of vinegar into the toilet water. Put an even smaller portion into the Mock Toilet water.

Behold your cat’s aversion.

Behold the sanitary training conditions.

It may take weeks, but once you break her of the habit, you should be able to leave off using vinegar.

Maniacal Covering/Scratching

And by maniacal scratching, we mean scratching until the water container is stuffed full of litter? Soggy litter is gross.

Well, that’s normal.

But no worries. There’s no need to waste the litter. Simply remove the water container, drain off the excess water, and dump the wet litter back into the clean litter pile. Rinse out the container. And Replace.  (Hopefully you’re not at the taped-to-the-side test tube stage. But if you are, it won’t last long.) The litter should dry out.

You’ll be Removing, Rinsing, and Replacing throughout the process (cats must scratch–it’s instinctive & soothing), but the amount of wet litter decreases over time, and eventually–with no litter in your house–soggy litter episodes will seem like a small price to pay.

Note: You might be tempted to use less litter, so the cat can scratch around more freely without litter spreading around the room, but Resist The Temptation!! Litter Love will keep your cat’s doo in the loo. And a stress free cat = an accident free home.