This site was last updated 05/03/15
Texas Star Bengal Kittens
How to Toilet Train your Bengal Kitten!!
Excuse me!! But can I have some privacy. Please!!!
My F1 Bengal kitten, Hero, just turned 6 months old. I knew from the time he was a tiny kitten that he was a very smart kitty, and he had all the Bengal traits Stacy describes here on this site, including a love of water!
Since I had read that in the wild, Asian Leopard Cats often eliminate in streams, ponds, or other water, I wanted to take advantage of Hero’s natural inclination to do that and decided to teach him to use the toilet. We love our kitties, but let’s face it, nobody is a fan of the litter-box…the smell, the scooping, the cleaning and upkeep…not to mention the expense of a lifetime supply of cat litter!
Since my training was successful and relatively easy, I wanted to share some tips for getting your cat to use the toilet, if you’d like to teach him.
I have heard that cats of any age can be taught this behavior, but I took advantage of Hero’s young age and started his training when he was just a baby. There are commercial products that may be helpful to you in the training…I won’t mention any brand names of the products, but you can google “toilet train your cat” and see for yourself. I decided to use a modified, home-made version of one of the products.
Step 1. Instead of a traditional rectangular-shaped litter-box, when Hero joined the family as a small kitten, I found a shallow, round-shaped plastic pan - the kind you use under a potted plant for drainage - and filled it about halfway with flushable cat litter. I set this round litter-container right next to the toilet I used regularly, and instinct told Hero that here was where the potty was. He naturally scratched and eliminated in the round container. I scooped it out regularly so it was always fresh for him. This way, he got the idea that “the potty is round” early on.
Step 2. After a couple of weeks, when he was more used to his new surroundings, I went to the hardware store and bought a regulation toilet seat for about $8. I unscrewed the lid of the new toilet seat and removed it. Then I set the seat on top of his round plastic litter-pan. When I saw him head toward the litter-pan, I showed him how to perch on the rim of the “seat”…since most cats do perch on the side of a litter-box when eliminating, he got the hang of this easily. I praised him whenever I was around to see him use “his” toilet and continued to scoop it out. Whenever possible, I scooped it immediately after he used it and then flushed the clump of litter down the toilet for him to see.
Step 3. Patience. Give your kitty plenty of time at this stage to understand potty habits in general. My guy often wanted to use “his” toilet when he saw me using mine, and I would always acknowledge that, telling him, “Yes! This is where we go.” So you may have to get used to the idea of having the cat’s company when you’re using the toilet yourself! Believe me, it is worth it in the long-run! Be sure to wipe down the cat’s toilet seat regularly - I used disposable Clorox wipes for this. Also remember to leave your bathroom door open at all times - even if it’s just open wide enough for a cat to slip through. You want to make sure he has access to his potty whenever he needs it.
Step 4. As your little friend grows bigger, (which happens so quickly with a kitten!) you’ll want to switch out the shallow plastic litter-pan with a deeper one. Make sure it is sturdy enough to support your cat’s weight plus the weight of the toilet seat. I chose a Tupperware-style cake-keeper, turned upside-down. For stability, I filled it up to about 1/3 to ¼ with the flushable litter so the container was well weighted. Place the cat’s toilet seat on top of the new, deeper container. It might help to set the whole thing as close to a wall or corner as you can, for extra stability, as long as it is still close to the toilet that you use yourself.
Step 5. More patience. I feel that one of the secrets to teaching your cat this skill is to not rush the process with him. Kittens especially are learning so much, so fast! Make sure you give him enough time to get completely comfortable with “his” toilet and continue to praise him whenever you see him using it. At this step, it helps even more to be able to flush the litter clumps or solid waste as soon as you can after the cat eliminates. This will help teach him that it isn’t necessary to scratch and ‘bury’ his waste, although he may still continue to try. That’s fine. He’ll eventually learn he doesn’t have to scratch-and-bury. By now he’s getting the idea to step or hop UP onto the toilet seat in order to use it.
Step 6. When you determine that your kitty is completely comfortable with “his” toilet and when he’s consistently and naturally using it to do his business, put something additional under the round plastic container to raise it up even closer to the height of the ‘real’ toilet. I used a square, wooden plant-stand - the kind with casters on the bottom - and locked the casters in place so this new base didn’t move. You can try books, a box of some sort, or anything sturdy to raise the cat’s toilet a little higher up.
At this point, you’ll re-visit Step 3. Praise him affectionately and often - “What a good cat! You are so smart!” - whenever he uses “his” toilet. Scoop it frequently and keep his seat wiped down.
Around this time, if it hasn’t already happened, your cat will probably start to show curiosity about “your” toilet, perhaps putting his paws up on the seat when you flush it to watch the water swirl away. You’ll want to let him go ahead and watch, so he’s not afraid of the flushing sound or the whoosh of the water. If he tries to put his paws in the toilet bowl (or even tries to climb in! yikes! Well it happens.) gently place him on his own seat. I used to ask, “Do you have to go?” sometimes he will, other times he won’t. Again, patience is the key. You and your own cat will establish your own ways of communicating about the toilet and what happens there.
Now, as we know, Bengals are naturally attracted to the water. When I found out Hero liked to play in the water, I would fill the tub with a few inches of water and toss in something that floated, like and empty plastic bottle, and he loved to “go fishing”…he would catch and retrieve whatever toy I put in there.
Sometimes, the warm water would put him in mind to have to urinate. When I saw him walk toward the drain area and assume the position, I grabbed him out of the water and placed him on the toilet - (his, or when he was big enough, the REAL toilet) - then scooped or flushed when he had finished urinating. You want to give your cat the idea that the TOILET is where we eliminate…NOT the tub!
(note: I did make an exception to this a few times when Hero would hop in the shower with me when I was bathing - I turned around to catch him squatting directly over the drain to “sneak a tinkle”! *haha!* I did not scold or punish him for this.)
Step 7. One day, completely on his own, Hero hopped up onto the regular toilet, positioned himself, and began to urinate. I praised him to the high heavens! So smart! Who’s a big boy now! What a good cat! I think he was just finally big enough to feel comfortable balancing over the water, and that is when he naturally made the transition from his toilet to mine naturally. I removed his old round “toilet”/litter container that day, and he continued to use the regular toilet ever after that.
Within another few weeks, as it so happened, I bought and moved into my own home (I had been renting an apartment) and of course I had my fingers crossed that Hero would keep his good potty habits. I’m happy to say that he uses the toilet every day with absolutely no accidents or ‘mistakes’. When I arrive home after work, I just go into the restroom and flush whatever he’s left that day, and flush again in the morning if there’s anything else. We are both happy, and I love never having to buy cat litter or clean out a litter-box!
Margin for Error: two extra tips to help your Bengal cat.
At one point, Hero was using his raised toilet regularly with no trouble, and over one weekend I decided to try to transition him to the “real” toilet by taking his away, hoping he would just start using the real one. However, it was too early for this - Hero was still physically too small to properly balance on the rim of the toilet without falling in the water! After one day, I replaced “his” toilet when he seemed uncomfortably searching for somewhere to eliminate. He gratefully resumed using his special toilet until he was big enough to switch on his own.
Also, there was a brief transition time after he had started to use the “real” toilet when he would climb all the way into the toilet bowl - he only did this when he had to eliminate solid waste. However, I didn’t lose my temper with him, (I would say with humor, “What are you doing?! You don’t need to climb in there!”) but rather placed him on the rim and positioned his feet so he could squat and eliminate. And of course it was no trouble to get him to hop in the shower or tub to “rinse off” afterwards. This only happened a couple of times before he stopped trying to climb in.
All in all, your Bengal kitty wants to stay clean, and likes to have a clean toilet to do his business in. He also loves you and likes to please you, so he’s happy when he knows you’re happy! It took about 3 to 4 months to train him from start to finish. That may sound like a long time, but consider that your cat will be with you more than 10 years, if luck is with you! Toilet training your cat will save you tons of money on litter-boxes, litter, and all the other paraphernalia that comes with traditional litter-box use.
With “so far, so good!” as your motto, and plenty of patience and love, you too can enjoy a litter-free home and a happy cat!
TOILET TRAINING YOUR KITTEN By Bridgett Wood
Thank you Bridgett! This should help my clients and anyone that might want to teach their Bengal kitten toilet training...
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This site was last updated 05/03/15