Don’t bug the cat now, don’t rush him, because you might throw him off.
August 15, 2013 11:04 AM   Subscribe

Charles Mingus trained his cat to use the toilet. Toilet training your cat is not a new phenomenon, as Youtube will testify. Everyone* has an opinion on how best to convince your cat to use the commode instead of a litter box. This week, the Billfold explores the possibility of saving money on cat litter by getting Muffin to use the commode. But the buried treasure in the article is Charles' Mingus' guide to toilet training your cat.

Added mingusmingusmingus.com bonus: Come for the cat poop advice, stay for the awesome posters and more.

*Not everyone
posted by chesty_a_arthur (45 comments total) 31 users marked this as a favorite

 
The thought of Charles Mingus--Charles Mingus--patiently and gently coaxing a cat to shit in the toilet blows my mind. You have to wonder if he was just one of those people who had infinite reserves of patience and kindness for animals and none for humans or if he's omitting a few "slap that cat upside the head if it looks at you funny" steps from his instructions.

I mean, I love Mingus's music, but he was a difficult, difficult man with a hair trigger temper.
posted by yoink at 11:09 AM on August 15, 2013 [9 favorites]




Lily the cat just hauled off and started using the toilet one day without being trained or anything. We had her from kittenhood, too, so it's not like some previous family trained her beforehand. I think she just got sick of sharing the litterbox, noticed the apes had a setup she liked better, and copied it. Smart as a whip, that cat. Also loved to drink black coffee and Diet Coke, no matter how we tried to keep it away from her.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 11:10 AM on August 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


Not to show off, but I have a signed copy of How to Toilet-Train Your Cat: 21 Days to a Litter-Free Home by Paul Kunkel.

The biggest issue that one faces is that you really need two toilets to make this happen.

Also patience for litter everywhere in the bathroom.

And to have cat shit and piss all over the toilet seat.
posted by wcfields at 11:13 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


And to have cat shit and piss all over the toilet seat.

That happens already since the kids leave the lid open and Benny jumps up there to wipe his paws in the toilet water after climbing out of the litter box. I've been thinking Benny's a candidate for toilet training.
posted by resurrexit at 11:20 AM on August 15, 2013


I still think of moonmilk's cat toilet training comment every time the subject comes up.
posted by burnmp3s at 11:20 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]




Apparently this is not a thing to do anymore because toxoplasmosis gondii is now brainwashing the sea critters or something.
posted by entropicamericana at 11:29 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


This was known on mefi as far back as the img tag-laden days of 2005.
posted by Aizkolari at 11:36 AM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


Do it gradually. You’ve got to get him thinking.

This may be the best cat advice, ever. It can supplant "Cats are weird" as the go-to advice on AskMe.
posted by GenjiandProust at 11:37 AM on August 15, 2013


This may be the best cat advice, ever.

I don't know. The last think you want might be for your cat to start "thinking". The next step is probably "plotting."
posted by yoink at 11:39 AM on August 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


Don’t be surprised if you hear the toilet flush in the middle of the night. A cat can learn how to do it, spurred on by his instinct to cover up. His main thing is to cover up. If he hits the flush knob accidentally and sees that it cleans the bowl inside, he may remember and do it intentionally.
posted by memebake at 11:40 AM on August 15, 2013


Don’t be surprised if you hear the toilet flush in the middle of the night. A cat can learn how to do it, spurred on by his instinct to cover up. His main thing is to cover up. If he hits the flush knob accidentally and sees that it cleans the bowl inside, he may remember and do it intentionally.

I once heard a story and I don't know if it was true, but a person had a cat. They also had a water bill that all of a sudden was astronomical. No leaks or other obvious causes were immediately found until person stayed home one day and heard the methodical, repeated flushing coming from the bathroom. Cat had learned how to flush and was mesmerized watching things go swirling down into the watery abyss. Toilet flushing pretty much non-stop = large water bill.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 11:45 AM on August 15, 2013 [5 favorites]


entropicamericana: Apparently this is not a thing to do anymore because toxoplasmosis gondii is now brainwashing the sea critters or something.

Yes, Toxoplasma gondii is bad, and sea otters die due to it, but flushed cat poo isn't the culprit, it's more likely to come from feral and outdoor cats.
posted by filthy light thief at 11:49 AM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Our cat drank out of the toilet (as did the dog), and he learned how to flush the toilet, just for fun. He also learned how to dangle toilet paper from the roll into the toilet, and then flush the toilet. Just for fun.
posted by KokuRyu at 11:49 AM on August 15, 2013 [4 favorites]


I'd like to point out that the article from The Billfold is not really about the financial costs of training your cat to use the toilet so much as the hygenic costs.
posted by maryr at 11:50 AM on August 15, 2013


My great-aunt had a cat that used the toilet. I'm afraid that if I train one of mine to use it, they'll flush and never stop. The automagical litter box (it scrapes clumps of litter and poo into a reservoir for easy removal) has fascinated kitty watchers every time it goes into action. Flushing would be even worse!
posted by immlass at 11:58 AM on August 15, 2013


This is the subject of my favorite episode of the Vinyl Cafe with Stuart McLean.
posted by mannequito at 12:06 PM on August 15, 2013


When I was a kid, we had a cat my parents were teaching to use the toilet, using some pre-packaged kit that had a plastic rim or something that would sit on (under?) the toilet seat and was filled with cat litter--the idea being that this would be familiar enough to the cat that they would get used to using the toilet.

It was around this time that I began getting up in the middle of the night to pee in the kitchen garbage can.

I think my parents would have considered it a reasonable compromise if the cat would use the toilet and I would use the cat's litterbox. But the cat, in the end, was not really cooperative, and it was sometimes difficult to explain to guests where I was going when I would stumble, groggy eyed, from my bedroom in our small apartment, given my early bedtime and their entertaining schedule.

Cat and son were both retrained successfully.
posted by Admiral Haddock at 12:10 PM on August 15, 2013 [3 favorites]


Nightlife is such a cool name for a cat. Especially for Charles Mingus' cat.
posted by Ice Cream Socialist at 12:10 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]




Charles Mingus...he's the guy that made Mingus Dew, competitor to Mango Reinhardt, the thinking man's pop, right?
posted by zombieflanders at 12:21 PM on August 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


The Black Saint and the Pooping Kitty. Dig it.
posted by Harvey Jerkwater at 12:28 PM on August 15, 2013


Nightlife is such a cool name for a cat. Especially for Charles Mingus' cat.

My childhood piano teacher had a cat whose name I believed was Jazzman. I thought it was such an awesome name for a piano player's cat! It wasn't until I learned that all calico cats are female and asked the teacher why she named a girl cat "Jazzman" that I found out I'd been mishearing "Jasmine."

She used to sit and grab-grab at the cord on the wall phone all through my lesson, like she was going to call someone to come save her from the kid with the crappy left hand.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 12:57 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


Apparently there's a compromise available: get the cat their own flushing toilet.
posted by ambrosen at 1:02 PM on August 15, 2013


I wonder if I could follow this advice in potty training my toddler.
Take the boy's underwear and gradually move it towards the toilet. You've got to get him thinking.
posted by Slarty Bartfast at 1:12 PM on August 15, 2013 [6 favorites]


What is sad is that I've had that last link saved for what now must be at least five years, waiting and hoping for the day that I eventually get a cat.
posted by stillnocturnal at 1:36 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


We haven't tried to toilet train the cat; in fact, we keep the lid closed. His litter box is next to a toilet, though. If I don't latch the door when I go in to take a leak, he'll shove it open and take one of his own in the litter box. Bonding, I guess. Or maybe he's trying to get me thinking...
posted by Kirth Gerson at 1:41 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


If I don't latch the door when I go in to take a leak, he'll shove it open and take one of his own in the litter box. Bonding, I guess. Or maybe he's trying to get me thinking...

Anything you can poo, I can poo better!
I can poo anything better than you!

No, you can't.

Yes, I can.

No, you can't.

Yes, I can.

No, you can't.

Yes, I can, I'm a caaaaat!
posted by The Underpants Monster at 1:51 PM on August 15, 2013 [9 favorites]


I'd train my cat to use the toilet, but I just know the little asshole would just flush a whole roll of paper and plug the lines just for laughs.
posted by Thorzdad at 1:53 PM on August 15, 2013


You can have your cat tested for toxoplasmosis! I did not know this until I started training under NYC's Grand Master Cat Ladies. Anyway, cat poo might be okay to flush if your cats have tested negative and are indoor-only critters. Just a thought, stillnocturnal, for when you get a cat soon. :)
posted by brina at 2:38 PM on August 15, 2013


Well, first you have to declaw them, so you don't get the toilet seat all scratched up.

Discuss.
posted by HuronBob at 2:53 PM on August 15, 2013


Previously discussed Mingus cat toilet training here.
posted by Daddy-O at 2:56 PM on August 15, 2013


Apparently there's a compromise available: get the cat their own flushing toilet.

One of my housemates has one of those for his cat. It's certainly more convenient in most respects, but I'm not totally sold that it's an improvement to have a litterbox with its own set of error messages.
posted by strangely stunted trees at 4:07 PM on August 15, 2013


a litterbox with its own set of error messages.

I cannot help but read 'error messages' as a euphemism for 'cat poops,' and even though I know that was not the intent, I will start using it that way immediately. 'Hey, housemate, your cat left some error messages in the laundry room again!'
posted by hap_hazard at 4:29 PM on August 15, 2013 [2 favorites]


That billfold link has me thinking it's only a matter of time till we get a self cleaning litter box on the market that has a built in camera which uploads pictures of Mr. Fuzzybottoms' pootsie rolls to a tumblelog somewhere so you can stay lazy and still see if your cat has the kittyshits.
posted by mcrandello at 5:19 PM on August 15, 2013


My cat loves watching the toilet being flushed. She sits on the counter next to it and looks intently back and forth between the flush knob and the bowl until you press it for her, and then she jumps down onto the seat and sticks her head into the bowl to try and figure out what is going on. Then she gets back up onto the counter and starts again. If you stop flushing, she starts meowing to let you know that is Not Okay. Our water bill is quite high too.
posted by lollusc at 5:53 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


We have five cats and three dogs (yes, we are crazy). One night my gf and I had just turned the lights out to go to sleep. We are both lying in bed in the dark. No one else is home. All of a sudden we hear the sound of someone peeing in the toilet. We are both like wtf?. I get up, go to the bathroom, turn on the light, and there is one of the cats, sitting on the toilet, peeing away. We figure that she watched us do it for her first few years and then decided to try it herself.

I also read that shortly before he died, Jerry Garcia taught his cat to fetch.
posted by freakazoid at 6:42 PM on August 15, 2013 [1 favorite]


I have friends who toilet trained their cat using this http://www.citikitty.com/. It's basically a modular version of Mingus' cardboard box. The cat also plays fetch, which it seems to have picked up on it's own.
posted by billyfleetwood at 8:14 PM on August 15, 2013


Our cat fetches, without any training. He doesn't do it reliably, though. it's part of his showoff I'm-incredibly-agile-and-can-snatch-things-out-of-the-air bit. When he stops returning his little shark, it's with an air of "if you can't throw better than that, I won't play." Cats - what can you do?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:57 AM on August 16, 2013


My neighbor whose cat walks on a leash says that the best way to train a cat is to find something that cat already kind of wants to do, and then encourage him to do it.
posted by The Underpants Monster at 5:15 AM on August 16, 2013 [2 favorites]


my cat is fascinated with, um, wiping. no joke: once the toilet paper comes out, his eyes are fixed on that paper, um, where it goes and what is done with it. it creeps me out a little, the intensity of his curiosity.

So now I mock his cute little face: Yeah, I use paper, and you use your tongue. On your butthole. You clean your ass with your tongue. Still he stares.
posted by angrycat at 6:32 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


Since I moved to the suburbs, one of my cats (FiFi, a big female longhair tuxedo) has taken to coming with me on the final late-night dog walk. She walks alongside us half the time, and stalks/hunts us the other half. Like The Underpants Monster said, when she first started following a little, I encouraged her to join; now it's part of our ritual.
posted by Mister_A at 8:15 AM on August 16, 2013


The Underpants Monster: "...the best way to train a cat is to find something that cat already kind of wants to do, and then encourage him to do it."

QFT.

we've had that cat for exactly 3 months, he's 6 years old, and to the best of my knowledge he'd never been on a harness before in his life. He's better leash trained now than many dogs I've had.
posted by lonefrontranger at 10:24 AM on August 16, 2013 [1 favorite]


...the best way to train a cat is to find something that cat already kind of wants to do, and then encourage him to do it.


This is how I trained my cat to sit for treats.
posted by maryr at 11:03 AM on August 16, 2013


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