Cats/Cat Toilet Training Gone Wrong
I have had cat companions my whole life (50+ years). For a long time, I’ve wanted to train a cat to use the human toilet. But it wasn’t until recently that I got that opportunity. However, I have not yet been successful, and bad consequences have resulted from my efforts.
My domestic partner Steve and I recently adopted a 9-month-old kitten/cat from the local humane shelter. Kahlua Pumpkin (aka “Punkie”) is a neutered male with the appearance of a seal-point Siamese. I was told, however, that he was the product of a mixed litter, and there are various reasons to believe this was the case. He does not behave like a Siamese, according to what I have read/heard about the breed. He is not very talkative, and is not at all aloof, but very affectionate and loving. As a young animal, he does have a ton of energy and runs around like a mad-thing. He loves to be a “play-cat,” which sometimes includes nipping the humans, but he is rapidly learning to use “soft” paws and teeth to adjust to our pathetic human lack of fur.
We play with him, often to the point where he is panting. He has a giant cat tree, parked directly in front of the front window, outside of which I have two bird feeders and a squirrel feeder that I keep loaded up for his entertainment. There is a large bird feeder and a suet feeder on the back deck, which he can see from the patio door. He also has lots of toys, several scratching posts, etc.
I feed him a mix of high-end dry food (e.g., Chicken Soup, Fromm’s, Innova) and wet food (human-grade, like the dry stuff). He has a water fountain which recycles water through a filter.
So . . . Punkie was my guinea-pig for toilet training, once he had fully settled into the household. He seemed fascinated with the toilet anyway (liked to drink out of it, for one thing), so I thought things would work out well. I read two books and got a training kit. Things did go well at first, as I gradually moved his litter box into the target bathroom, replaced a large litter box with one about the size of the toilet, and finally removed the small litter box and showed him the new litter container in the center of the toilet. I rewarded each of his successful performances with lavish praise and a treat.
He did fine, in fact, until we came to the step where you cut out a small hole in the litter pan over the toilet. I gathered from Punkie’s behavior once he’d gotten up on the litter pan, that he did not approve of (or was scared of) the hole that opened onto the water beneath.
All of the sudden, for the first time ever anywhere outside a litter box, Punkie went into the bedroom, hopped up on our bed, made digging motions, and deposited a truly awesome amount of pee. We were surprised and freaked (not that we lack experience with cats peeing on the bed). I knew what to do to clean the bed, but not what to do about the break in Punkie’s training.
I moved backwards to having the small litter box in the bathroom. After about three weeks, with us keeping the bedroom closed off, I repaired the small hole in the toilet training litter pan and removed the litter box again. This arrangement did not last long, however, because Punkie snuck into the bedroom and peed on the bed again and my human companion was very upset.
So I decided to give up, at least for the time being. I restored the large litter box to the room across the hall from the bathroom, where it had originally been. I felt like a failure, and even this capitulation didn’t solve the peeing problem. It seems like Punkie just lives for the chance to sneak into the bedroom and pee on the bed.
Finally, I can get to my question(s). By far the most important one is: How can we get Punkie to stop peeing in the bed? I don’t want to keep him out of the bedroom (in fact, I’d like to let him sleep with us), but I can’t watch him every minute. I work full time, and my partner is disabled and has memory problems, so he is usually the human the cat slips past. I would reluctantly give up my desire to have a cat that does his business in the toilet if we could just get back to the point where he does not pee in the bed whenever the door is open. I don’t know what to do. Punkie really needs the run of the house, and Steve and I need to be relieved of the need to be constantly vigilant about closing the bedroom door.
But I also have to ask: Must I just give up on the idea of having a toilet trained cat? I am about 99% sure that the bed-peeing was triggered by the training. I apparently didn’t go slowly enough. But the books say that when this happens, you just need to go back a step and then proceed more slowly. I tried to do that. But once he started peeing, he wouldn’t stop.
Any suggestions, advice, or instructions would be very much appreciated. If I’ve left out critical information, I will be happy to follow up with whatever you need.
I am not a big fan of these feline toilet training kits! I have found that the web sites laud the successes but do not mention the failures. You are not the first person to have felt a frustration with these devices. Some cats take to them and some do not. Given the catastrophe that has befallen on the attempt to train your cat to do something against his nature, I would give it up and see if you can correct the damage.
It is unfortunate that you cannot keep your kitty out of the bedroom. If this bed has been peed on before, I would expect some has gotten to the mattress, so it would be the natural place for Punkie to go as the only other place he had was not to his liking (i.e. the toilet training apparatus with the hole).
A couple things you might try is to get some plastic "sheeting" like a shower curtain and use that as a bed cover over top of the normal bedding. You will have to batten it down, so Punkie cannot get underneath, so if he should sneak back in, he can do not real damage.
For cleaning things us. I would use an enzyme based cleaner specifically for cat stains and odors suitable for use in the laundry product (available from your friendly neighborhood pet supermarket). Even though you may not be able to detect any odor, Punkie sure can!!!!!!
It may take a while to get Punkie over the bed peeing habit, as, often, once they start a behavior like this it can be difficult to stop. Usually cats do not like to pee on hard surfaces, especially if the pee bounces back up and hits them, so let's hope the shower curtain idea can help.
I am also assuming, Punkie is the only cat, which should simplify a return to the "old ways" of bathroom behavior.
If you find Punkie peeing where he is supposed to, reward him with a special treat!!!!!!
You might also check out: http://jacksongalaxy.com/2012/08/02/does-your-cat-pee-outside-the-litter-box/
for some really in depth approaches to the problem.
The bottom line is that, if Punkie is uncomfortable with the litter pan arrangement, he will find his own, which may or may not be to your liking. Sometimes, getting them to go back is not as easy as it seems.
Please let me know how things go.
Seasonal regards... Norm.