STEP 1, WEEK 1-4 (4 Weeks)
Gustav comes home to a mock toilet. He communicates clearly when he needs to use the facilities, so I simply raise the lid when it’s his turn and lower the lid to keep Ramses out.
Gustav is reluctant to use his mock toilet high up off the floor, but he’ll adjust soon. Here is a video of his very first # 1:
His first #2 includes a lot more digging, positioning, and yelling, which is typical. What’s good is that he’s not too discouraged to stop trying. He doesn’t leave the mock toilet and look for another place, and he figures it out.
[**Note: This kitten is 11-weeks-old, still adjusting to the world and in an “accepting” phase of life, yet he’s still very frustrated. Imagine the exponential frustration of an adult cat. An adult cat expects stability in their world, and a tiny, high litter box is not part of it. Your adult cat may not be vocal, so you should anticipate and mediate their stress. e.g. Move the litter box to the bathroom slowly. Reduce the size of the litter box slowly. Change to a new litter slowly. Raise the litter box to the height of the toilet slowly. Then add the mock toilet. Always watch your cat’s behavior for stress, and expect progress on a scale of weeks and months.]
As Gustav needs to be isolated from the older cat for awhile, I rotate the mock toilet between the bathroom (overnight), his own bedroom (evening), and a high school classroom (day). We’re accident free!
Gustav whines two or three times before going #2, so I haven’t made any changes. He has no reluctance going #1. I make sure to keep the litter as deep as possible, which means it often ends up on the floor –he digs voraciously before and after #2 (Messy! Messy!). Cleanup is easy and well worth keeping the kitten happy.
When either cat goes the bathroom, I give both cats treats and praise, so they don’t develop any competitive behavior. Any poo is good poo. We’re accident free!
STEP 2, Week 5 (1 Week)
Step 2 was Gustav’s first experience with water in his litter! Gustav sniffed the test-tube of water once and proceeded to ignore it thereafter. Watching me flush his pennies down the toilet is his new favorite activity.
Ramses had a hate/hate/hate/love relationship with baby Gustav for an inordinate amount of time. So I waited to move up to STEP 2 until Week 5, when I felt safe keeping the mock toilet in the cats’ bathroom full-time and giving the baby free range of the house.
This means Gustav can enjoy watching Ramses use the real toilet (AKA: learn from). Sometimes he gets splashed he’s so close.
Sorry, no video. See next week. We’re accident-free!
STEP 3, Week 6 (1 Week)
I moved up to stage 3, and Gustav had no issues with #1. Usually he does his #1 with 2 paws up and his #2 with 3 paws up.
He’s ultra chill unless he can’t get into the right #2 position–then he’ll fuss and dig for 30 seconds or so. (By the way, this cat is tremendously vocal. He talks when he wakes up, when he sees something, when he’s eating, when he wants a fly, when he’s chewing on a toy, when a light is turned off or on . . . basically, if he’s awake that mouth is a motor. So, I expect he’ll be talking throughout this process, and I’ll just monitor talk-type and degree for stress.)
*Annoyance? When the cat digs, it’s bound to fill the water container with litter. This needs to be emptied and rinsed daily. It becomes less tedious as the container sizes increase. We’re accident-free!
*Note: Ramses, the trained cat, kept trying to use the mock toilet. I finally stopped fighting it and allowed him free use. He uses it off and on. No harm done. We’re accident free!
STEP 4, Week 7-8 (2 Weeks)
I kid you not. This cat has zero regard for water. He couldn’t care less, so I took his temperament into account and moved up to Step 4 today, putting in a 2×3 inch container. This video catches his first response to the new container.
Gustav was in such a rush to go the bathroom, I don’t think he even realized the larger water container was there until he covered his business. The cat in the background, Ramses, is also a Big Talker and wanted Gustav to come back outside and play, as Gustav had abandoned Ramses to rush to the toilet.
Gustav goes #1 with 4 paws up.
Gustav goes #2 with 4 paws up–very awkwardly, the poop is scooped and flushed, and both cats get treats.
STEP 5, Week 9-13 (5 Weeks)
I managed to catch Gustav’s first sight of step 5 on video. He had no reaction whatsoever and immediately went #1 and #2. As you can see in the video, I did a poor job of burying the bowl, and he upset it.
At this stage, he learns to balance with four paws up consistently. Some cats learn how to aim for the water during this step (nicer cleanup!), but Gustav chose a spot on the seat away from the water bowl, and I decided to keep the litter where it was familiar, so he’s not THAT advanced yet, and the mess can be half-in and half-out (as in this absolutely DISGUSTING video you should NEVER watch).
I kept him on this stage for 5 weeks because he sometimes whined at me before #2 and was still mastering 4 paws up 100%. He just didn’t seem quite ready to move on, so I held steady.
STEP 6, Week 14-15 (2 Weeks)
I caught Gustav’s first reaction to step 6. You can watch it below. He was happy to go #1, and he initially avoided #2, leaving the toilet 3x within 5 minutes before returning and yelling about it (4 piercing meows). I’m keeping the litter as high as possible, so it frequently ends up in the water.
Day two, he had no reluctance with #2. My goal now is for his poo to start hitting the water, so he realizes the water covers the smell and begins aiming. This is essential for litter-weaning. For now, a good 4-inches of litter keeps him happy.
We’re accident-free, friends!
STEP 7, Week 16 – 17 (2 Weeks)
Wonder of wonders! Today I had the video camera out to show you how to make the changes for Step 7. Gustav felt the urge, found his mock toilet unavailable, and so he jumped up on the real toilet and started sniffing around. You can imagine. I held my breath, turned the camera toward him, and away he tinkled, just like a pro!
He slipped a little afterwards. I haven’t traded out the seat yet, but I will.
He complained for one week before his #2s (2 piercing meows), but he didn’t avoid the bathroom, and for the first time, he seems to be understanding how well the water covers the scent, as he doesn’t bury so much.
We’ll continue going slow. He’s accident-free.
Gustav hadn’t complained about Step 7 for a week, so I decided to move up to Step 8. He wasn’t too happy, as you can see in his first reaction here:
I ran him around the house, chasing a toy for ten minutes, and he was ready to try again. Behold. (Or just take my word for it. It’s actually a pretty nasty #2.)
We’re accident free.
STEP 9, Week 20 (1 week)
The bowl in the last step was large enough that I simply stopped using litter during this week and kept the setup the same.
After his twentieth week of training, Gustav graduated accident-free. I removed the mock toilet from the bathroom, and the only alternative was the real toilet. It was an easy five months because we never progressed unless he was 100% comfortable.
#1 is a complete breeze.
It takes him a minute to adjust to #2 and figure out his new favorite spot, but he won’t be complaining within a day or two.
Both cats will continue to receive treats for their bathroom performance. We’re accident-free. Training is finished!
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