Thursday, February 7, 2013

Potty Training

Not the kids. They’re long past that! I’m talking about toilet training the cats. Yes. I am serious.

Our cats share a litter box because they are siblings and prefer it that way. Even when I had two boxes, they shared one. This is good and bad. Handy to only have one, but that one has got to be changed very regularly!! It is often difficult here to get litter that clumps well and controls odors too. Now, don’t get me wrong. I don’t expect a litter box to smell nice. I HATE perfumed litter too, so, we can expect only so much ‘help’ from the box itself. Also, we feed our cats healthy kibble which helps to cut down on the litter stink. I try to avoid all cat foods with artificial flavor and color. I avoid buying cat food that has a grain (rice or corn) as the first/primary ingredient. They get a lot of fresh water and a can of wet food every 2-3 days too (one can to share between 3 cats). Healthy tummies result in a less toxic litter box and healthier kitties. It’s worth the slightly higher expense – but – litter boxes still stink. It’s poo, and poo stinks.

We have smart cats, so I looked for a kit. I’ve heard of toilet training kits before, and have not been impressed. They usually seem flimsy and impractical. By chance, I came across the Litter Kwitter system. It is more expensive than others, but it is made of very sturdy and washable plastic – a ring that fits the bowl plus a number of inserts. It fits into the toilet seat very well, so is very solid and sturdy (doesn’t wobble and scare the cats). Unlike other systems, it’s reusable. Meaning, if I push too far too fast, we can back up a stage, unlike other systems where, if you punch out a section of the insert too early, you can’t put it back. Here’s a photo from their website: 

I’d suggest heading over to their site and checking out all their info and testimonials and videos. We are not yet a ‘success story’ so I haven’t any photos or anything yet. I suppose I could post a photo of what we have, but it’s basically the white ring with the first stage tray – the red one with no hole – set into it, with litter.

We placed this in the cats’ bathroom (a bathroom we do not use except for the cat box) and I did not watch the DVD and did not exactly follow instructions. I did not start this on the floor and work up. I skipped ahead and simply installed it on the toilet a couple weeks ago. Within days, the cats were using it as an alternative litter box. Usually just urine, and they usually aim right for the center too – the spot which will be removed when we switch to the orange insert. Sometimes they get on the edge, and once, one of them even tried to pee in the gap between the back of the white insert and the back of the bowl! With three cats, I cannot actually tell if all of them are using it, if one of them is using it a lot, or a couple are using it whenever, but it has been used regularly, every day, all week.

I sacrificed a cheap spoon to scoop the used litter as a regular litter scoop won’t work. For now, I am using normal litter, as it doesn’t go in the bowl at all, but I have some flushable stuff for when I start them on the other inserts. I check the tray often and scoop it whenever they use it. I also call them in and show them the litter tray on the toilet… I do NOT put them in it, but encourage them to check it out on their own, and all three have done so. Daily I remove the whole insert and clean the whole thing. I have only been scooping their box once a day, so it’s been a bit more smelly, hopefully to encourage their using the tray.

Today, I removed their litter box. It was a matter of some concern! They haven’t been pooping in the tray regularly, so I may be pushing them a bit. We did have one accident, and I may end up needing to reverse course and give them more time, but I thought it worth a try. They are smart.

This is a work in progress, so I have no final results, yet, but here is the summary.

Pros -
The system is sturdy. Hard plastic does not sag, wobble, wiggle or move when our cats leap onto it. Does not scare them, or spill litter.
The insert can be removed from the ring for cleaning.
Litter doesn’t get in the bowl when using the red ring.
I was worried that the cats would dig and make a mess. That really doesn’t happen, but then again, they don’t scatter litter madly from their box either.
Peeing in the center (where the hole in the second insert will be) seems to be easy and natural.
They are using it!

Cons –
None really. I anticipated having some confusion over which cat was actually using it, with our having three cats, so no surprise there. They are using it as an alternative box and they did so easily and on their own after being shown. No tricks or dumping them in the tray! I didn’t think about what to scoop with in advance. I’d anticipated just dumping the whole insert and renewing the litter, but that would have been so wasteful! Much of the litter is untouched!! They often aim right for that center bit and that’s all I have to scoop. This will really matter once we get to using the flushable litter as this has to be obtained by mail. Fortunately, I had a cheap, strong-enough, spoon to do this job – one I don’t mind throwing out later.

Wish us luck, and I’ll try to remember to give more reviews and tips on our (hopefully positive) experience!


Daniela Swider said...

Hi Connie,

I have been thinking about potty training our two cats but wasn't sure if they aren't too old. They are 10. How old are yours? Look forward to hearing more. Best of luck!

Connie said...

Ours are 3yo siblings and have always shared a litter box. The two girls are quite bright, their brother a little less so, and they have mixed abilities with this thing, but we are progressing. They are all consistent with urinating in the tray, but working on the poop. I think they are trying though and so I still feel that the work is worth it. I'll definitely write more later and let you know how it goes.

betty-NZ said...

I have nears of these things but never knew anyone who actually used it. Keep us informed. I'm quite curious!

Connie said...

We are still working on it with about a 80% success rate so far. I think that having three cats makes it tougher. One cat totally gets it. The middle cat mostly gets it. The other, about 50%. It's a big change so we're not expecting to move fast.

It is a sturdy system, and cleans easily. That is definitely a 'pro'.