By Eloise Hands
Last Updated February 26, 2021

We’ve all seen the photos of cats going to the bathroom like a human on the toilet. While many cat owners think it’s funny, even eco-friendly, we’re here to tell you NOT to do it. In fact, we have seven reasons why cat toilet training is not a good idea. Not only is it humiliating and uncomfortable for your cat to have to use the toilet like a human, but it is cruel, dangerous, and completely unnatural. Here are the reasons why.

Cat looking for something interesting

Why You Shouldn’t Toilet Train Your Cat

To help clarify why toilet training your cat should be avoided at all costs, we’ve put together a list to explain the hazards, while also debunking the misconceptions behind this unfair practice. Take a look!

It Causes Unnecessary Stress

There’s no reason to go out of your way to teach your cat to use a human toilet. It only makes them stressed, anxious, and uncomfortable. Surely you wouldn’t be able to do your business, either, with someone standing in the room watching you. That’s exactly how cats feel. As you can’t leave your cat alone on the toilet due to the high danger risks, it puts them in an awkward position while they’re trying to take care of business!

Cats are very high strung creatures. Adding extra anxiety while they going to the bathroom is a no-no. Perching on the toilet can actually cause cats to become constipated. For them, it’s better to hold it in than balance over that bowl of water!

It is Not as Eco-Friendly as They Say

Many people seem to think that, when you train a cat to use the toilet bowl instead of the litter box, it is actually more eco-friendly. This theory is purely myth. The training kit and materials required for cat toilet training are often made using plastic and other non-recyclable materials. Rather than being used over and over again (as a litter box would be), these items are thrown into the trash when they are no longer needed.

Not only that, but you are having to flush the toilet at least 5x more a day than you normally would. In what world is that eco-friendly? Cat toilet training results in more water waste with every flush and increases the amount of plastic waste ending up in landfills. Maybe not so eco-friendly after all. Perhaps it is best to just stick with the litter box!

They Can Get Seriously Hurt

Toilet training can put your cat at serious risk of injury. Cats may be nimble, but they are not made to balance on slippery surfaces. This kind of bathroom training forces them to balance precariously over a toilet bowl any time they have to relieve themselves. Remember: Cats are a lot smaller than you. To them, perching over a toilet bowl can feel like perching over a waterfall. Toilet-trained kitties are likely to injure themselves at least once during their training, sometimes even multiple times afterward.

If you were to leave the toilet seat up, or if your cat were to miscalculate its jump or lose its footing, they could knock their head against the porcelain. Worse, they could fall into the toilet bowl and get stuck! With no way to properly grip, your cat could very easily twist their leg and struggle to climb back out.

It is Completely Unnatural

It is in a cat’s nature to dig. Without a litter box, they will likely go outside to find the perfect (and private) area to relieve themselves. Once they are done, they will bury it with available debris. This behavior is what they are born to do. Burying their excrement provides them with a sense of security, as it masks the smell and makes them harder to track. Being taught to relieve themselves out in the open, with no way to cover it up and nowhere to dig, is unnatural for them. It will only stand to stress them out.

You Could Miss Something Important

Possibly the most important reason not to toilet train your cat is that you could be flushing away vital evidence that there is something wrong. There is a wider range of health problems indicated by your cat’s urinary habits that go beyond something as simple as an infection (which you would also struggle to identify in the toilet). Here are some other examples:

  • Kidney dysfunction
  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Dehydration
  • Cystitis (Bladder inflammation)
  • Diabetes
  • Urinary Obstruction (potentially fatal in a short space of time)

The frequency, color, and volume of your cat’s urine are all vital to figuring out if they could be suffering from one of these problems. If they relieve themselves out of sight and into the toilet bowl, then you have no way of checking that your cat is still healthy.

It is Impossible For Senior or Severely Ill Cats

Kittens may be limber and nimble, but older or ill cats are not as agile. These cats will have issues getting up onto the toilet and keeping their balance. Even if they were able to, it is still a cruel and unfair process to make them do it. The act will likely cause them pain or discomfort, when all of that could be avoided simply by using the litter box or going in the yard.

Your older cat’s joints will likely struggle with the effort of using the toilet and balancing on the edge of the toilet seat, even if you have been toilet training them their entire life. It is better to adapt to your cat’s needs and ensure they are happy and healthy.

Related Post: Cat Toilet Training Kit

A Bengal cat pees in its cat toilet. The process of potty training

It is Dangerous to More Than Just Cats

Toxoplasmosis is a nasty disease that can cause cysts to develop in the cat’s body, often the heart, muscles, and brain. Infected cats don’t often show symptoms for a very long time, but they can shed cysts carrying the toxoplasma gondii parasite inside their excrement. Unfortunately, toxoplasmosis is not removed through the typical wastewater treatment. Moreover, by allowing your cat to use the toilet and flushing this bacteria away, it can result in infecting rivers, lakes, and streams instead. This in turn carries a high risk of infecting wildlife.

The Logistics Don’t Add Up

To be frank, going against your cat’s natural instinct and toilet training them just doesn’t make any sense. Toilet training your cat only stresses them out. It creates needless waste, risks injury for them, and could potentially harm wildlife. Additionally, cat toilet training wasting both of your time.

FAQs:

Q: Is it bad for cats to use the toilet?

A: Yes, absolutely. A cat should not be using a human toilet for any reason. Period. When a cat uses a toilet, it only risks injury. Plus, it embarrasses your cat (you have to remember that cats are very clean and proud creatures). They don’t enjoy being forced to perform stunts simply to relieve themselves! It also goes against every natural instinct they have.

A cat’s standard toilet routine does not often involve balancing on round, slippery porcelain! Cats are far better off using litter boxes, which can be placed in a discreet corner of your house. They can even be covered up, if you’re concerned about the smell. Furthermore, cats are also comfortable relieving themselves outside, in a natural environment, just as they would do in the wild.

Q: How do I stop my cat from excreting in the house?

A: One of the big reasons that people become frustrated with their cat is due to difficulty during the potty training phase. When your cat can’t seem to adapt to a litter box, they may relieve themselves elsewhere in the house. If this describes your situation, here are few tips on what not to do, and what is best to do, when it comes to effectively potty training your kitty:

What Not to Do

Knowing how to handle an accident is the first step in encouraging the correct toilet behavior. When you give off certain, negative responses to an accident, it can cause a lot of stress to your cat and do more harm than good. Instead, try to be gentle. Use plenty of positive reinforcement. Here’s what to avoid:

  • Never rub your cat’s nose in its own feces or urine.
  • Don’t physically drag your cat to the litter box or force them to use it.
  • Absolutely never yell at your cat in response to an accident.

What’s Best to Do

In order to encourage your kitty to use their litter box (instead of the living room rug), here are a few key points you will need to keep in mind:

  • Think about the placement of their litter box: Keep it away from their food. Place it in a discreet location, to give them some privacy.
  • Keep their litter box clean: A litter box needs cleaning out at least twice a day. If it is too dirty, your cat will find somewhere else to go.
  • Consider changing the litter box: Maybe they would prefer a hooded tray, with higher or lower sides, and easier access. Consider changing the litter box out for another one if it seems like they don’t like the one you currently have.
  • Cats to litter box ratio: Do you have several cats? If so, it is best to give each cat its own potty box. That way, the cat to litter box ratio matches up.
  • Change their litter: They may not like the litter you have chosen. Maybe it gets stuck in their paws or has an off-putting scent. Consider changing their litter and watching how they respond.
  • Negative association: If your cat has been upset or frightened while using their litter box, they may not want to go back to it. This is where positive reinforcement is key to get rid of the negative association.

When All Else Fails

After all this, and if your cat is still having accidents throughout the house, it may be worth calling your veterinarian for some additional advice. Some cats struggle with incontinence due to a variety of health problems. Perhaps they want to use their litter box, but simply can’t make it in time. Either way, it never hurts to contact your vet!

Q: How do you train a cat to use a litter box?

A: To litter box train your cat, you will need to have the right equipment for the job:

  • A litter box: First and foremost, you’re going to want somewhere for them to go. Take a look at some of the available cat litter boxes and pick the best one for your kitty.
  • Cat litter: Kitty litter can be a hard thing to get right. You may find you have to change it once or twice before you find the one. With cats, perseverance is key. The right litter will make potty training much easier.
  • Litter mat: Not something that many people tend to think of when planning to potty train their cat, but a kitty litter mat with save you the hassle of clearing up tracked litter. Furthermore, it gives your cat its own little toilet area. Perfect for any nervous kitty!
  • Cleaning tools: You may choose to use a sifting litter box, or go simple and buy a scoop. Either way, you’re definitely going to want a cleaning tool assigned only to your cat’s litter box. Wouldn’t want to use a kitchen spoon on accident!

Once you’ve acquired all the essential tools, you can begin the process of training your cat to use their new litter box. You will undoubtedly experience some cat stubbornness along the way, but just keep going, and they’ll soon figure it out. Even if it’s on their own terms.

Q: Can you train a cat to use the bathroom outside?

A: You can, actually! In fact, it’s almost the same as potty training a puppy. Teaching your cat to go to the bathroom outside certainly reduces the risk of indoor accidents. Without a litter box to clean, your home is sure to be cleaner! It is probably the most natural process for your cat, too. Their animal instincts tell them to bury their excrement and urinate as a way to mark their territory. By allowing them to go outside, you are encouraging that behavior, just not in your home. That means less spray on the furniture – if you get our drift. Certainly a win-win for you both!

How is it done?

Training your cat to go outside, however, is not always an easy process. Much like with dogs, outdoor trained cats can save you a lot of hassle later down the road. To start, you’ll want to slowly move their litter box closer to the back door, until finally, it’s outside. Remember to provide plenty of positive reinforcement during the early training stages!

DO NOT shout at your cat! If you do this, then they will become afraid of the litter box, thus spoiling the training entirely. Let them finish and then immediately put them outside in a spot designated for them with used litter. This should help them understand that it is your preferred spot for them to relieve themselves. They’ll get it soon after that!

man playing the cat outdoor in summer day on cat's first walk

Save Yourself and Your Cat The Trouble

When there are so many alternative options to potty training your cat, it doesn’t make sense to put them through the stress, embarrassment, and potential injury of toilet training. Instead, teach them to go outside! Keep them comfortable and give them the freedom to go where they want. A simple litter box also does the trick nicely and allows them to do it in private. If you love your furry little bud, then don’t make them use the toilet bowl. Besides, that’s your territory. So let’s keep it that way!

  1. Litter Box Problems, American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals
Eloise is the owner of a Malamute/Akita cross, a first-time mum, and an animal enthusiast from England. She comes from a family which has never gone a day without a pet (or 3!), and over the years has learned all the best tips and tricks to raising a difficult pet. A knowledge that she has put to good use, to help others navigate the limitless world of pet care.

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