Monday, December 15, 2008

Hot Mess

This is what the multitude of cat toilet training instruction manuals refer to when they remind us to take a deep breath and remember why we're doing this.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

One Month

The header now says "in three months or less"

I did some rethinking and found out that it will probably take about 2.5 - 3 months to complete this task, and that's if there aren't any complications - complications like Rex deciding he'd rather drink from the toilet, or ... Rex not agile enough to stand on the toilet seat without his leg falling in.

In order to prepare for moving the litter pan INTO the toilet, I'll need to secure it and purchase a few more things.

I will need a better step stool that is a little taller and sturdier. Something like a step stool.

I will need to either get no-slip pads for my toilet seat or a new seat that's flatter, thicker, and more tactile. My current one is rather old and kind of slopes down towards the bowl. It's very thin and made of slippery plastic. Pascha is capable of hopping around on it, but Rex's weight is distributed differently throughout his body and he has a harder time.

The biggest worries I have involve the cats getting wet. If they poo and there is splash back, then it's over - at least for a while. I want to make sure it's all in place and everything is figured out before I make my next move. Thoughts?

Behold: The Step Stool

Temporary, but effective! Yes, it is a shoebox.

Please excuse my horrible photo quality but my camera broke on election night and now I have to resort to my phone.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Small Litter Pans Smell Trouble!

Warning: when using a small litter pan (like this freaking 9 inch disposable turkey roaster!) be prepared to clean it at least 3 times a day.

This morning, before I had a chance to clean the litter box, I caught Pascha as she discovered the dirty litter box, only to change her mind and hop into the bathtub. I saw her pawing at the drain and I knew what was coming. So I quickly cleaned the box and placed her in it. She did not like the idea of being back in there so she hopped out, lept instead into the sink and proceeded to pee there!!! I didn't know what do do so I waited. I thought she was finished but she raised herself like she was going to defecate. I picked her up up gently and placed her into the now-clean litter box, but she lept out and instead pooed on the floor in the corner of the bathroom.

I feel defeated. And now I have a lot of sanitizing to do.

But the good news is that eventually we won't have this problem. This would have happened to any dirty litter box and the difference is that before this small one I had an enormous one that only needed to be cleaned once a day. Nine inch turkey roasters are not suitable for 2 cats.

This does, however, reinforce the notion that the cats just want to go to the bathroom in a sanitary, smell-free place. I'm pretty sure Pascha will be happier when she won't ever have to worry about dirty liter pans again.

By the way, if your cats do this then please do not, under any circumstances, scold them. I wanted to so badly and in fact I did ignore Pascha for a little while afterwards. Ignoring is not the same as scolding (blowing off steam is more like it!), and negative reinforcement just does not work with cats. In reality, any human would have done what she did. I will make sure to praise her wildly next time she uses the litter box. Wildly.


Thursday, December 4, 2008

Moral Thoughts on the Subject

Lately I've been reading opinions from people saying that potty training your cat is a bad thing to do. Reasons given are similar to the following:

1) It can kill sea otters
2) It makes them jump which can be uncomfortable
3) It's not natural for them

I am very concerned that I don't want to do anything that could hurt them, so I welcome feedback to flesh out these concerns. As for these three, I do agree that they all could do what they say, but I believe there are ways to explain why they aren't necessarily relevant.

For instance, the poo can kill sea otters because of the parasite Toxoplasma gondii, whether they use the toilet or you use "flushable litter." It is not a given, however, that your cat will have the parasite, and this is very easily tested for. If your cat does not have the parasite then there is no reason to worry.... especially if your cat is indoors and will most likely not become exposed to it. More on this problem here.

To solve the second problem I will do what I have been planning on doing all along - I will get for them a very easy and comfortable step stool. No jumping necessary, not ever. I'd like to find a stool that folds up easily and is portable, incase we ever are out of the house.

The third problem has been the most concerning for me. I don't want to force them to do anything they don't want to, so if it goes that it is not natural for them in the end I will gladly move them back to litter.

But the reality of house cats is that much of their lifestyle is not "natural," yet they live longer, happier lives indoors (assuming they have stimulation and room to run around). If we truly wanted them to live "naturally" then we would make them hunt for their food. We'd also keep them outside, which I know some cats are used to. If Pascha suddenly roamed around outside I fear she wouldn't last a month.

Anyway, I'm not blindly going into this. I ask questions, seek answers, and definitely keep my mind open to the possibility that this may not be best for them as individual felines. But there's one thing I do know: my cats hate the smell of the litter box, they hate being in the litter box because it can be dirty, and they may just enjoy the experience of being able to go to the bathroom and not have the smell linger in their paws and nose. For this reason, and the obvious personal benefits to training them, I am going to keep at it.

What do you think?

Moving On Up!!


Happy Thanksgiving to all, and speaking of which I need to say that the holidays totally screwed up my previously very meticulous attention to schedule.

So, this endeavor will probably take longer than two months, but it will still be tracked properly. I am moving at a slower-than-expected pace because I want to make sure that the cats are comfortable. I don't want to rush them..... and I forget to pick up newspaper. :-/

Sunday, November 23, 2008

Unsophisticated or just Uncomfortable

Note: this post is all about poo.

Rex has a problem that Pascha does not. After he defecates, often times he'll find the nearest carpet (aaak!) and scoot his butt along it in what I thought was a very unsophisticated way of cleaning his rear.

Pascha has never done this, and I ignorantly never questioned the difference. I guess my subconscious thought she was better taught than that.

But when Rex did it today I decided to look it up. Maybe find a way to stop it, since, I really don't want that stuff on my carpet.

It turns out he may have a problem with his anal sacs, and he'll probably need to go to the vet to have them treated.

More on that HERE, in case you ever noticed this about your pet.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Photos when they're not in the Bathroom

We need a little balance in this blog. More to follow. Videos too!

Rex's head has not caught up to his body yet.


Day 12

Hooray for Duct Tape!

My tower of toilet training kitty litter has grown taller and taller, and is now completely stable thanks to the help of duct tape.

No more spilling, no more pooping and leaving it uncovered for fear of the litter box moving around too much. Things are much more under control.

Also, I had another recent revelation. Up until now, I've kept the toilet seat DOWN because it's safer for the cats and easier for them to jump on. If I'm going to get them comfortable going to the bathroom in the toilet, I need to also get them comfortable with the toilet seat up.

This has caused issue.

Pascha loves to play with water, and this now includes the water in the toilet. While my toilet is clean and it's cute right now, I have a feeling this could be Big Trouble once the toilet training is complete.

I am asking for suggestions to help me train her to keep her paws out of the toilet. So far spraying Fooey (Bitter Apple, a non-toxic spray used to keep cats away from things like cords) on the water does very little. Anyone?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Day 6

Everything is going smoothly, except for the more frequent cleanup of litter on the floor. The cats are using the litter pan about 4 inches from the ground, still way too low for them to need to jump.

I am thinking that in order to make sure they are entirely comfortable I will eventually buy or make for them a little step stool. That way they wont ever have to jump if they don't want to.

I also need to find a way to secure the litter pan to the ground or the papers while it is getting increasingly taller. Any suggestions on how to do this?

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Day 3

Today I decided to start the process of raising the litter pan. I went to Whole Foods, got myself a delicious cookie and snagged about a dozen week-old Austin Chronicle magazines. They are perfectly sized, free, and no one will miss them since Thursdays are new issue days. I'll head back next Wednesday for more.

Here's the height I raised it for today. It's practically unnoticeable, but I guess that's the point.

The cats are always interested in what I do with the litter box. Usually Rex likes to hop in for a quick pee as I clean it. Inevitably, one of them will decide the perfect time to use the litter box is right after I've cleaned it. One of the things I need to look out for is that the cats don't look for other locations to relieve themselves (i.e. the sink) as I increase the height of the pan. As this becomes more of an issue I will take more cautious measures to try and combat that temptation. Water and foil tend to help. More on that later.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Day 2

Day 2

Just to make things clear, the date on the post might be a different day than the actual day of the context of my post. This photo, for instance, was taken yesterday. This post is about Day 2.

So, my cats like to kick litter around!! This was expected, but the constant cleaning was something I was hoping not to encounter.

I am continuously telling myself that this will be worth it, even though I cleaned the litter box approximately 4 times yesterday.


Monday, November 10, 2008

The Pan

For this challenge, I bought flushable litter (Swheat Scoop is very good) and a heavy duty roasting pan that fits inside the diameter of my toilet. It's quite a change from the previous bathtub-sized litter box they enjoyed. The pan is slightly larger than Rex's ass, but it will have to do.

And, here we go.

The Setup

For my instruction, I am using the book Potty Talk by Toast by Trisha Yeager Menke. I found her book to be the most honest and true to everything else I had read on the subject. If this doesn't work out, I will in no way put the blame on this book but rather my misunderstanding of the instructions.

So, as you can see we have the current litter box next to the toilet. It's been here for a while and the cats are very used to using it in this location.

Day 1

This blog is going to be a no frills, no long paragraphs, simple walk through of my process training my cats how to use the toilet.

First of all, I should introduce you.

On the left we have 1 1/2 year old spayed Pascha, and on the right we have 7 month old neutered Rex.

Pascha is very outgoing and loving, though very shy around strangers.

Rex is basically the same constant cool all the time. So surprises.

I am curious to see who teaches who in this process, or if they just do it at the same time (or, gasp! not at all!)