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?

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