maine coon using the toilet

Should I Toilet Train My Maine Coon?

A quick search of various platforms, whether cat forum sites, youtube or google and you might come across a craze whereby you train your cat to use a human toilet. Is this a good idea though? Plenty of people seem to think it is.

In short though, this is something I don’t do as I think the cons outweigh the pros of doing so. Whilst being a fun thing to show people, and may even be fun to learn for your Maine Coon, I somehow can’t get my head round the idea that the cat somehow benefits from it. To me, I think that you are training your Maine Coon to do something unnatural, and ultimately I’m not convinced it helps. That said, it probably doesn’t do it any major harm either, so it may be a case of ‘owner decides’.

What Is Toilet Training a Cat?

Simply put, toilet training, as I understand it, is the process whereby you teach your cat to use the toilet, rather than a litter box or outside spaces. Everytime your Maine coon wants to go to the toilet in future, it will make a beeline for one of bathrooms, and perch appropriately.

You probably acquired your Maine Coon with different types of training in mind. This includes teaching them to use the litter box, avoiding scratching furniture, and maybe how to walk with a leash. At least this is another option for you to consider.

Less Litter, More Money

It might sound like an outstanding idea. You could save tons of money by not needing to buy cat litter. It’s definitely not the most fun item on a cat owner’s to-do list I am betting though.

Although there are some of the plus’ you can enjoy by training your cat to use the toilet. Just don’t make a rash decision! It’s important to know what this process involves and how to train your Maine Coon properly.

Get all the information you need and make an informed decision. Maybe your Maine Coon has expressed an interest, and looks at the toilet with curiosity. It’s not unknown for cats to copy their owners in this regard. I would avoid immediately tossing out your little box though. We’ll come back to that specific issue later.

It’s important to ‘potty train’ your Maine Coon effectively, especially if it’s a kitten. Here’s why. If you fail to do that you could end up with various behavioral problems if your cat gets confused and stressed out. Keep in mind there are no toilets in a cat’s natural habitat.

The point being, don’t do it instead of training it to use a litter box, but additionally if you feel you need to.

If your cat has behavioral issues about where he/she should relieve themselves, it could also cause frustration for you. Maine Coons have a very easy going nature about them and should adapt to a shared litter box well.

Litter Boxes vs. Toilet Seats

I can easily understand the impulse to do this however. The truth is litter boxes are messy and smelly. One of the top reasons people want to toilet train their cat is so they won’t have to deal with these issues.

This typically involves scooping out liquid and solid waste from the litter pan one or two times a day, then changing all the litter every week or so. Sometimes you’ll still have to deal with the smell of cat urine.

Is potty training your cat a good alternative to cleaning up an unflushed toilet? That’s basically what a litter pan is.

If you’re willing to put in the work, it’s possible to keep a litter pan clean and fresh. If not then Plan B could include toilet-training your Maine Coon.

maine coon on toilet bowl

 

Why Would You Want to?

A big question might be: why would you even consider training your cat to use the toilet? If you watch your cat or kitten use a litter pan then it might seem like it’s second-nature to them.

Any cat comes with an inbuilt instinct to dig and cover their own waste.

Digging and Covering

A cat’s instinct is first to dig a hole, eliminate their waste, then cover it up. The litter pan provides a small version of the natural environment they’d live in.

If you’ve seen “Meet the Parents” (2000), then you probably remember the toilet-trained cat owned by Robert De Niro’s character. Jinxy has actually inspired the potty-training system Litter Kwitter that includes color-coded training trays. This system is based on the fact that cats mostly bury their waste to get rid of the smell.

In fact, you can even recreate cats’ natural elimination habits by using natural clay litters. They provide various benefits involving granule size, good clumping, low-dust, and odor control.

Since cats are used to burying their waste, it might seem odd to ask them to go to the bathroom as humans do. It’s normal for households to treat their pets like family members, but it’s debatable what the limits are. Should they be using bathroom toilets?

Labor of Love

One of the main reasons people hate cleaning litter boxes is needing to scoop out the feces and urine from the litter box. It’s fair to say it’s not the highlight of cat owners’ day.

In today’s world of smart homes and virtual assistants, it sometimes seems like modern life has become too easy. Is there really anything wrong with rolling up your sleeves and scooping out your furry friend’s waste once a day?

Personally it’s not something that worries me. I have an indoor Maine Coon so need to clean the litter box often. Obviously it’s easier if your Maine Coon is allowed to go outdoors and explore at will. Aaah, the benefits of cat flaps.

Self-cleaning Litter Boxes

You can even avoid the whole rigamarole of toilet training with a self-cleaning litter box. These mechanical units provide several benefits. They make cleaning easier since you’ll just have to dispose of the waste that’s collected. It’s more efficient so you can save money on big bags of cat litter. These units even help to reduce or eliminate the scent of cat urine.

The robo litter boxes can provide benefits you can’t get from traditional litter pans. For example, you can go on a weekend getaway in the mountains and won’t have to worry about returning to a super-messy litter box.

a maine coon outside

Pros of Toilet Training

So, if you are trying to assess whether it’s a good idea or not, it’s probably a good place to start with your individual cat.

You know your own Maine Coon best. Will it be something they would want to learn. Are they stubborn and will resist all the way.

Teaching your cat to use the commode can provide various benefits and here are some of the main ones:

More Sanitary

When cats use the toilet, it helps to eliminate some of the negative results of litter pans in terms of cleanliness. We obviously shouldn’t expect cat waste to smell like a bed of roses. However, even if you keep a litter box clean and tidy the area around it might get smelly from urine in particular.

In fact, it’s worth noting that humans can contract infectious diseases or parasites from cat waste. That includes nasty ones like tapeworms and ringworm. While you’ll want to keep your pet cat healthy, it’s also important to keep you and your family safe. One way to do that is to teach your cat how to use the commode.

Save Money

Cat litter is relatively cheap, but the costs can add up quickly. The actual cost for a bag of litter is based on factors like the brand, type, weight, etc.

Depending on how many cats you have you could easily spend $100s per year on cat litter alone. If you have multiple cats, you should have at least one litter box for each feline. That’s just the start. You’ll also need other supplies like scoops and filters.

This obviously makes more sense for an indoor Maine Coon. An outdoor one has the whole world to think of.

No Litterbox Placement

When picking a place for the litterbox, it can be tough because the possible places are limited. You won’t want it anywhere near the kitchen, dining room, or living room, for example. That narrows down your choices to ones like the bathroom, utility rooms or garage.

Less Mess

Replacing litterboxes with toilets can provide several benefits in terms of the mess. You won’t have to worry about your cat tracking litter all over the house. If the cat litter is sitting on the carpet, you also won’t have to vacuum up litter that gets kicked out of the pan.

No Litter Bags

This might seem obvious but not dealing with them can provide several benefits. You won’t have to buy and lug around heavy bags from the store to your car, then from your car to your home. If you toilet train your cat, you also won’t have to worry about storing the litter in your home. Bags can get damaged and cause litter to spill out, which is another issue to think about.

Cons of Toilet Training

There are also some drawbacks of toilet-training cats, including:

Bathroom Door/Toilet Lid

If your cat is using the toilet, you’ll have to keep the bathroom door open and toilet lid up at all times. What’s the big deal? If someone forgets to do one or the other your cat will be unable to use the toilet. This could result in your Maine Coon becoming frustrated and urinating on the rug, for example.

My main issue is that it could well stress the cat. Leaving the door closed, or just as bad, you are occupying it instead could cause the Maine Coon to assume it’s OK to use anything from carpets to your laundry.

Health Monitoring

What does using the toilet have to do with your cat’s health? When you clean your cat’s, litter pan you’ll be able to notice changes in your cat’s waste. You could observe issues like diarrhea or constipation, and more series issues like blood in the feces or urine.

It’s important to monitor your cat’s bathroom habits for certain signs like:

  • Kidney failure
  • Dehydration
  • Diabetes
  • Over-active thyroid
  • Bladder inflammation

Could you notice these problems if your cat is sitting on the toilet? It’s possible although it will be more difficult to detect. It’s important to pick up such changes in your cat’s waste elimination as soon as possible. He/She can then get needed treatment for the health problem.

It’s a Big Jump

The distance from the floor to the toilet seat isn’t really that high. However, it’s another story if your cat is old or has issues like arthritis. In fact, 90% of cats 12+ years old have this condition.

Additionally, it’s an odd perch for a cat, especially a big one to make the right body positioning. It has to be agile, and there is a risk of your Maine Coon slipping into the toilet bowl.

Bad Smells

This is actually one of the reasons people potty train their cats. The problem is training them to use the toilet will help the problem but won’t eliminate it. Remember the lid will still be up so the area will still be smelly until someone flushes.

In these cases, you’ll have to retrain your kitty-cat to use the litter pan again. This could be somewhat difficult for senior cats.

So how about training the cat to do that? It’s an option, but there’s a caveat. The cat might keep flushing all day, which probably isn’t as amusing at 2am.

Toxo Parasite

This is a nasty bug that can infect cats when eating animals like rodents or birds. Basic water treatment doesn’t kill the microorganisms. If your cat “misses the mark” the toilet seat could also get contaminated.

Portable Potty

If you bring your cat with you to visit friends and family, you could technically ask if your cat could use their toilet. If they’re not “cat people”, it could get awkward.

Personally, I take Alita out a lot and am non too keen on her, if she wants to go to the toilet, becoming frustrated that she can’t see the bathroom. I am aware that my Maine Coon, although a bright breed can’t read the English word ‘restroom’ in coffee shops.

Anti-Instinct

Cats naturally bury their urine/feces mostly due to the smell. They do this so predators can’t track them by picking up their scent. So, while you might be able to train your cat to use the toilet, it goes against their natural instinct to dig and bury.

This can actually cause other problems. Your cat might get stressed out or act abnormally if it’s unable to do digging and burying.

This is the main one for me. It being an unnatural instinct, I worry that I will be putting stress into my Maine Coon unnecessarily. Should anything unthinkable happen I will have bred out instincts that I want her to have.

Should You Want to Here Is How to Do It

After agonising for a while, you may have settled on it, and might want to give it a go.

Remember, this a process, not a race. Each Maine Coon will be different and has their own learning timeframe.

cat training equipment

Here are the basic steps.

Step 1: Prepare the bathroom

This includes picking the bathroom that offers the easiest access for your feline. Then move your cat’s litter box to the bathroom you’ve selected. Place is next to the toilet and get your Maine Coon used to going into the bathroom to use the litter box.

Step 2: Collect the supplies you’ll need

There are some key items you’ll need. For example, you can use a cat training seat (yes, it’s a thing) that’s placed over the toilet bowl. It includes a small space in the area that includes flushable litter.

Here’s how it works. As you progress with the toilet training, you make the center hole larger. The goal is for your pet to eliminate waste directly into the bowl instead of the litter. You can find several cat training seats on the market or turn it into a DIY project.

Step 3: Raise the litter box a little each week

This will help your cat transition from the litterbox to the toilet. Use stuff like cardboard, old magazines, and newspapers to raise the litter box 3 inches a time. Personally I’d wait until the cat had got used to it at a certain height before I raised it. I wouldn’t raise it too quickly.

Obviously, make sure it’s a stable platform.

After a while it will be level with the toilet seat so your cat will use the commode instead.

Step 4: install the litter box atop the toilet seat

Leave it there for a couple of days. That’s how long it will take the cat to start using the litter box in its new position.

Step 5: Substitute training seat for a litter box

These units have a hole in the middle that you can fill up with flushable litter. This will allow the cat to transition from the litter pan’s litter.

cat litter in a toilet

 

Step 6: Gradually make holes in the center

Start with small holes then as your cat’s training advances make them larger. You should also start decreasing how much litter you put in the center. Every time your cat uses the pan add a little less litter.

cat litter in a toilet with hole

Step 7: Remove the cat training seat

You should keep increasing the size of the middle hole for about 2 weeks. After that period the cat should feel comfortable eliminating into the toilet instead of in a litter box.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind

  • This process will take a while so if you don’t have the time/patience a litter pan is better.
  • There’s a chance your cat won’t like being potty trained so you might have to backtrack a little.

Conclusion

Should you toilet train your Maine Coon? It does end the need to clean litter boxes and spend money on litter. On the other hand, it also goes against the cat’s instinct to dig and bury waste, and the training process will take weeks.

You have a third option. If the main problems are the time, effort, and smell involved with cleaning litter boxes, then a self-cleaning litter box is a practical alternative to potty-training.

The Maine Coon is an intelligent cat and will learn tricks quite easily, so in theory at leat, and individual cats aside, it should be a good breed to take up the training.

Ben Stiller and Robert de Niro have a lot to answer for.

I will end with, personally I don’t do this. I don’t mind clearing up after Alita, and I somehow feel that I am doing a disservice to her to get her to override her own instincts. I am in no way casting aspersions on people who choose differently, just personally, it’s not for me.

 

About the Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *