Sure, toilet training your cat sounds amazing, but is it really a good idea? Here are the pros and cons on toilet training for cats.

By Karen Weir-Jimerson
August 24, 2020
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Cats are very smart animals and they can be trained to do many things. For example, you can teach your cat to do a high five. Or jump through a hoop. Or play the piano.

And you can also teach your cat to use a toilet instead of a litter box. But just because they can, should they? Here are the pros and cons of training your cat to use a toilet.

Why People Like the Idea of Toilet Training a Cat 

Of course, all pet owners want to hit the easy button when it comes to care (in fact, we all want to hit the easy button for our own care). If your cat did her business on the toilet (and flushed!), you could avoid litter box cleaning—which is nobody’s favorite chore. In fact, you wouldn't need to dedicate a spot in your home to set up a litter box. You’d even save on the cost of buying litter in the first place. 

Sean Savery Photography / Getty

Cons of Toilet Training a Cat

While teaching your cat to pee and poo in the toilet may seem like an attractive solution, it’s not necessarily the best thing for your cat’s health and happiness. There are strong arguments against doing it. Maria Delgado, PhD, CAAB, UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and Zazie Todd, PhD, owner of Companion Animal Psychology, disagree with toilet training cats for several reasons. Here’s what they say about why teaching your cat to use the toilet can be harmful to your pet. 

  • Your cat can’t scratch and cover. “I see no benefits to being toilet trained for a cat,” Delgado says. “Cats naturally want to dig and scratch before and after they eliminate. Toilet training deprives them of these natural behaviors,” she says.
  • Your cat has to assume weird body positions. Delgado also points out that a cat has to be a bit of a contortionist to use a toilet. “Toilet training forces cats to eliminate in uncomfortable, unnatural postures,” she says.
  • Your cat may be stressed (and decide to pee in other places).  “I regularly get requests for help from people who have ‘toilet trained’ their cat, and their cat is now urinating on their bed,” Delgado says.
  • Your cat can fall into the toilet. Todd points out the obvious: “There is a risk of your cat falling in.” Of course. Toilet edges are slippery. Cats hate getting wet. So toilet training your cat is a disaster waiting to happen.
  • You could miss the symptoms of a medical problem. If a cat uses a toilet, you never see how much she is peeing or the condition of her poo. “If you monitor your cat’s litter box (and its output),” Todd says, “you may see something like extra urine, which may be the sign of diabetes.”
  • Some cats just can’t do it. Toilet training might work for a young, agile cat, but as the cat ages and/or gains weight, balancing on the edge of a stool may become something they can’t pull off. “An older cat will face challenges in climbing up on a toilet,” she says. Which can lead her to do her business in places you don’t want her to. 

While it’s tempting to teach your cat the nifty trick of using a toilet (you can even buy toilet training kits), training your pet to potty without a litter box can cause unhealthy, unhappy habits. You’re better off using her smarts to teach her to bring you your slippers.