I left my cat alone in the house for a few days with my housekeeper popping in to feed and entertain him. He had a little over 2 day spell on his own at the end when my housekeeper couldn't come in. When I arrived home I discovered that our housekeeper had accidentally closed off the door accessing his litter box. I searched the house looking for the mess but couldn't find anything.. until I went to the bathroom and found that he had taken upon himself to use the toilet. He's definitely gone up in my esteem since.
All to say that some cats don't need any kind of training to use the toilet.
This is true. My cat definitely pees in the sinks and bathtubs sometimes even when his litter is fresh. He poops in the litter with no issues, so I don't think it's a location problem. My best educated guess is that he simply finds the sinks more convenient than hiking down to the basement.
I have no doubts that he would pee in the toilet as well, but I can't leave the toilets open because we have dogs around.
(Although, now that I'm typing this, I suppose we could install cat-doors on the bathroom doors to let the cat in, and keep the dogs out...)
The sink/bathtub peeing is definitely gross and not ideal. But, not as gross as it sounds. He very very precisely pees directly down the drain. The smell is almost unnoticeable. So unnoticeable that it took us a lot of time to figure out he was even doing it, since he sometimes pees in the box as well. The main danger to him peeing in the sinks is that it will make it difficult for us to know if he has a blockage as we can not monitor his urine output.
(I am not "noseblind" to cat pee smell, as far as I can tell. The litterbox is in the basement and if I neglect to clean it on a given day and there is pee in there, I can smell it from upstairs. I've also asked trusted people like my brother to verify there's no cat pee smell in the house! He's not afraid to give me harsh opinions...)
Wait wait, what's this about being noseblind? Is that a thing?
It's a non-scientific term for a commonly-accepted phenomenon. Like a lot of other stimuli, the brain gets pretty used to filtering out constant background smells.
A lot of pet owners don't seem to realize the pet smells in their house because they're so used to them.
You see this a lot. People who live near smelly garbage dumps, in smelly cities, near farms that use a lot of manure, etc. They get used to it and stop noticing it.
I think we all experience some level of this. Everybody's home has a distinctive (usually benign) smell. But you usually don't think about it or notice it. Until you step into somebody else's home.
Hmm yes, I've noticed that with my old house. Oddly, the only time I could smell it was when I put my shirt over my nose for a while (so I could smell the inside of my shirt) and then took it off.
Hopefully my current flat doesn't smell like cat pee.
Hopefully my current flat doesn't smell like cat pee.
The only real solution may be brutally honest friends and family with decent senses of smell :-)
But I mean, if you're emptying and changing the litter regularly I'm sure it's fine! At least that's what I tell myself if my brother hasn't been around lately...
> but I can't leave the toilets open because we have dogs around.
As someone who's never been a dog owner, what's the problem with dogs and toilets?
Dogs like to drink from toilet bowls. I've owned lots of dogs and it has never been an issue aside from one dog as a kid and we just accepted it
Yeah. It's not exactly the end of the world if a dog drinks from the toilet bowl, but we're the type of dog owners who have a lot of physical contact with the dogs, so we'd definitely prefer them not to be dripping with toilet water.
Especially if the cat doesn't learn to flush like Charles Mingus' cat.
If this is really a big problem I wonder if a brand could come up with a mix of Bitrex (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Denatonium) and one of those deodorizers/fresheners you put hanging on the edge of the toilet bowl.
My cats also drink out of the toilets.
I’ve never had a cat that didn’t drink out of the toilet.
My cats will use the sinks or tubs if they have a UTI.
Did they continue using the toilet after that?
For folks who are like "who is that guy again?".... Mingus was one of the most important jazz bass players in 20th century and a key figure in both bebop and free jazz. And quite a character. This is but one of his legendary achievements!
I saw the title and thought "you mean the Jazz musician, Charles Mingus?" And sure enough, it is, which kind of makes sense. A random person named Charles Mingus explaining cat toilet training isn't interesting; it's the esoteric intersection of a genius who helped shape an entire genre of music and the mundane things people do in everyday life.
Not just a bass player but a legendary composer.
Here's one of my absolute faves, Pithecanthropus Erectus.
I got into Charles Mingus through "Mingus Plays Piano", I particularly like piano jazz when working, but any bop oriented jazz is good. Newcomers should give "Myself When I Am Real" a listen, it's a lovely composition.
Absolutely beautiful album, and Myself When I Am Real is one of the best tracks.
The whole record has little bits of studio talk before and after some of the recordings and you can hear Mingus feeling really shy and vulnerable playing alone. You can even hear it in his playing, I think. Pretty remarkable. Love that guy.
Love Myself When I Am Real and Black Saint. But I had trouble finding other songs as enjoyable.
Is there anything else similar in his catalog?
Black Saint and the Sinner Lady is one of my top albums of all time.
The poop of the jazzman’s cat is some jive-ass shit.
Winner. That's some inside baseball shit, lol.
haha, yes it is
("The shoes of the fisherman's wife are some jive-ass slippers" being the title of a Mingus composition)
Indeed, and how could I resist reading an article with that title?
Mingus, Mingus, Mingus, Mingus ...
There are even special litter boxes sold that are intended to go on the toilet seat for this type of training. But as cool as this is, I believe it can be dangerous, especially for owners of male cats.
Cats' urinary habits are important to keep an eye on. A change in urination volume or frequency can be the sign of a critical issue that requires veterinary attention. You just can't easily track urine volume if the cat is going to the toilet, even if they don't flush.
With a litterbox, you can get an idea of what their normal clump size is and notice if that changes. Regarding frequency, maybe you can hear your cat jump on the toilet, but I'm not sure it's as reliable as hearing them repeatedly scratching the litterbox. If you are out during the day and come home, with a litterbox you still notice the pee clumps to get an idea of how much they've peed - unlike with a toilet.
One aspect where the toilet may actually be better is that you _might_ be able to spot blood easier in the water.
I also wanted to train my first cat to use the toilet, until he suffered from a urinary blockage as a kitten. If he'd been using the toilet, I likely wouldn't have noticed that anything was wrong until it was far too late. Blockage is more likely in male cats, and it is _not_ an uncommon problem. It is already far too easy to not notice if a cat is blocked if you're not careful, and it doesn't take long at all to become life threatening. I believe a toilet would only exacerbate this risk.
If I see blood in the litter, no clumps, or clumps that are smaller than usual (or heck, even much bigger than usual), I know to pay extra attention to my cat and either book a vet appointment or go to the emergency room. It's allowed me to catch bouts of infection, crystals, and idiopathic cystitis early (all of which he is now more prone to after his initial urinary problems). A cat's kidneys and urinary system can also be impacted by stress levels, with unexplained straining and bladder inflammation thought to be in some cases caused by stress. Having them pee in a toilet in my opinion decreases visibility of a very important and sensitive health factor.
My extended family has always had a ton of cats, and I don’t remember the last one that was seriously ill without it being due to old age. Most of them were “outdoor cats” in a small country town.
Is there something in modern cats’ diet / habits that makes them more susceptible to disease? These concerns read like hypochondria, coming from this background.
I wouldn't call something hypochondria just because I personally haven't had to deal with it. It's really great that you've never had this issue and I hope you never have to, but if we're going by anecdotes, there are several in this very thread from people who have.
Diet can be a contributing factor, yes. I mention it a bit in this comment, with a link to a journal issue that talks about these issues in dogs and cats, including some information on frequency and contributing factors: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=29864189
I don't know about the indoor/outdoor thing w.r.t. UTI incidence in particular. But for those of us not living in small country towns, outdoor cats are not generally a viable option so it's all about giving them the best indoor life.
Generally speaking, indoor cats tend to live much longer. Generally they make it well into their teens. Of course it all depends I guess. Indoor/outdoor cats living in an ideal rural situation probably have the happiest and healthiest lives of all. (Although, of course, depending on local fauna they may eat a lot of birds, so there's that cost to consider too...)
Doesn't a urinary infection cause that?
For an indoor cat, I strongly suspect there's a problem with canned food sometimes. When I had a cat a long while back, every so often you'd open a can of cat food and it'd have worms, or the cat would (after being extremely excited as you were opening the can), sniff and propel himself away from the food. You'd look and notice it was off (like it had something crawling in it).
Wait, cat food is not pasteurised and sealed in the tin?
It should be, but there's likely not the same level of quality control as there would be with food for litigious and/or cautious humans.
Since we're trading anecdotes...
My experience with six cats over the last 25 years is that the outdoor cats lived much longer and got sick less than my inside cats.
I have no idea why, but i don't think it's diet, because they've all eaten the same food.
> they've all eaten the same food
Heh, that's what you think...
Ever watched one of those lighthearted documentaries where they GPS tag and attach cameras to a whole neighbourhood's cats? They mostly wandered around eating each other's food :D
Just like with humans, exercise is a major factor in health. Outdoor cats generally get way more.
Another factor for this observation (that I also made) could be genetics - generally "pure-bred" (aka more likely to suffer from disease linked to genetic factors) are more likely to be strictly-indoors while outdoor cats are more often "mongrels".
In my case, they were all mongrels, except for the current one, who is an indoor cat. Fingers crossed!
>Is there something in modern cats’ diet / habits that makes them more susceptible to disease?
The cheap supermarket dog/cat food can hardly be called a food. It is an epitome of bottom line optimization. Grain and the "by-products" - frequently the 1st/2nd ingredients - which is hides/hooves/beaks/horns/etc. flooded with industrial chemicals back at the China's giga-meat-factories and powdered.
I'd just want to add that, I in general don't think it's a good idea to train cats to learn behaviors that are unnatural for them. One could say that, eating processed cat food and living with humans are already unnatural, which is true. But to the extent that's possible, I want to provide my cats the freedom to act as naturally as possible.
On this particular cat toilet training trick: cats are in fact quite particular about litterbox -- where it's positioned, how safe it feels inside it, how it smells. A human toilet is decidedly an unnatural setup for cats, and who knows what can happen. Maybe the cat learns to use it but constantly feels anxious about it (e.g. slipper surface). Maybe it will avoid pooping until it gets really uncomfortable. All of these can't be good for its health.
I think you're ignoring the ways the toilet is better than the litter box. For example, it's also unnatural for a cat to have to smell its old poop and also touch it while burying new poop. A toilet removes that source of stress and potential disease.
Although it's worth noting that there are other non-toilet alternatives as a middle-ground that also let the cat perform natural burying behaviour without there being old poop in there - like a self-cleaning litter box.
I have a cat genie, it's great, if you put it in a well ventilated outdoor space, have it run automatically after every time the cat uses it, and toss in a handful of citric acid every week to let it clean itself. Then every three months, take the whole thing apart and pressure wash everything.
It's better than scooping litter every day, by a factor of 3-5x. But it's not magical and wonderful.
The failure mode on self cleaning litterboxes is worse than normal litterboxes or toilets.
We had one, and, as usual, got busy and forgot to clean it. The end result was a spotless, odor free and empty self-cleaning litterbox (all the litter had been auto-removed) and a male cat with a urinary tract infection.
You’re exactly right. Cats have an instinctual urge to bury their poop so other animals won’t smell it. The toilet is counter to their instincts.
Also, if a cat falls in the toilet, it’s traumatizing, and they may start pooping and peeing in other places which you don’t want.
The modern housecat is just about as natural as a naked human living wild in the forest. It has been selectively bred to perfection for cuteness and sociability with low aggression and diminished survival abilities. Some can't even tolerate the natural climate where their owners live.
I totally support "healthy", but natural, what is natural for a species that has evolved to use intelligence to prevail over the natural world (in this case, the intelligence of their owners, but still)?
No my friend, our purpose on this earth is to co-evolve the most unnatural cat to the point where they are ready to take over as the dominant inteligent species of this side of the galaxy.
"The modern housecat is just about as natural as a naked human living wild in the forest. It has been selectively bred..."
I think it would be better to say "The modern housecat is just about as natural as a modern human living in a modern house". Both species adapted to modern human environment.
If God meant for people to be naked, they'd be born that way!
And if you have a male cat it’s important to also make sure they’re getting enough liquid, especially if they’re on a dry food diet. My cat almost died while I was out of town because he stopped drinking from stress I guess and was only on a dry diet. Now they’re on a can diet and healthy.
Very good point. My cats get wet only. The male I mentioned in my other comment is underweight since he never regained his full appetite after his urinary issues, so at some point I started allowing him to snack on a bit of dry food at night to get his weight up. A month or two later he developed urinary problems. This ended up being caused by crystals in his bladder, which are associated with not taking in enough liquids. Now, I'd rather he be a little skinny than risk that again. Water fountains help, but aren't enough.
There are interesting sections on Feline Idiopathic Cystitis and blockage, which talk about water management as well. On page 23, there is a table called "Table 1. Clinical features of cats diagnosed with cystitis with (n = 8,220) or without (7,862) concurrent
pyuria in 2012."
At the bottom of the table are a few rows on diet. ~3.5% of cats in the sample were on a canned-only diet. ~19.2% were on a mix of dry and canned food. 77.3% were on a dry-only diet (percentages slightly varied for those with pyuria).
Yep. My cat was dry only, and almost died from a blockage. He’s been wet only, and no issues, since
When I hear other cat owners feeding only dry I tell them this. They don’t usually want to change, likely believing that wouldnt happen to their cat, but at least they’re informed.
This is one of those things I thought of as well. A pet generally won't know how healthy it is or if it feels unwell why it does so. What you can do as a pet owner is monitor behaviour and check what goes in (food, water) and comes out (poop, urine, vomit) as a basic indication of health.
My cat got blocked one time. It just happened one day. Came home from work and he was meowing painfully, and kept doing it. So I took him to ER.
Did you notice warning signs in days prior? I typically don’t check litter every day so possible I missed subtle signs earlier
Prior to this there were likely signs.
* Frequent litter box visits
* Excessively grooming "down there"
* And finally the yowling that you heard
Sometimes they will attempt to pee in sinks or hidden places which are not the litter box. One of mine reacts poorly to stress and can't eat kibble or she gets a UTI, and I've gotten very good at identifying when something is going to be a problem before it gets out of control.
Sorry to hear about your cat. I hope he's OK now.
It was really unfortunate because mine was blocked after an otherwise routine surgery, after which the vet warned us that it might take him longer to go to the litter box! So at first we thought nothing of it and thought him not having peed yet was normal post-surgery recovery.
But I did learn to recognize the signs after that, since they kept sending him home while he was still blocked. In general, the potential signs of a blockage are pretty much the same as potential signs of infection or other urinary issues. I suggest watching/listening for the following:
* Frequent trips to the box. If a cat keeps going in repeatedly, something might be up. They either can't get pee out, or have some irritation that is making them need like they need to keep going to the box. This can start with just going a bit more frequently than you're used to and escalate to stepping in and out of the box every few minutes. Note that this can also be a sign of constipation, which can also be bad (but tends to be less critical than urinary blockage in the beginning). Usually cats have a different stance when they pee vs poop, so you can kind of tell what they're trying to do if you pay attention. Sometimes, if they keep straining to pee and can't, they might actually resort to trying to poop instead, which won't help and just keep them coming back to the box.
* Low or no volume. These frequent trips, in case of blockage, will result in no pee coming out, or maybe just drops. This _could_ also mean that the cat simply has no pee left in them and it is some other urinary tract irritation causing them to feel like they keep having to go, but that is really only safe to assume if you've _seen_ them pee a good amount recently. Usually when they are just irritated, they'll still get _something_ out when they go back in. If when you get home all you find is abnormally tiny clumps or drops, it can be a sign that something is off.
* Vocalization. If they are vocalizing more than usual, especially in or around the box. It can be a sign of pain (this sounds like what you used to catch it, which is great).
* Blood in the urine. I know it can be hard to see with many litters, but sometimes you can spot blood either in the urine, drops on or around the box, or even on the cat's fur after they go. This is more a sign of bladder irritation than blockage, but the two often go hand in hand, and one can progress to the other, so it's time to see a vet.
* Trying to go outside of the box. If they are in pain or unable to pee in the box, they may resort to trying to find another spot. If you find your cat peeing or trying to pee outside of the box when they're otherwise litter trained, something might be wrong.
* Repeated licking of nether regions, especially coupled with one or more of the above. If they are in pain or irritated, they may keep licking and fussing with the area.
* Eventually, not going to the box at all. The bladder gets distended, and nerves are damaged. This is very dangerous. The bladder is full, but the cat loses the ability to feel when they need to pee. My vets have said that as a rule of thumb, if a cat does not pee at least once in 24 hours, to get to the emergency vet asap.
There can also be cat-specific, individual signs of irritation or pain that you'd know best as the owner. For example, I noticed when my cat has trouble comfortably peeing he will start drinking a lot more water. I am not sure if this is common for all cats, but it's one thing I keep an eye on: if he keeps going between the box and the water bowl, I know something is up.
In general, a lot of it is quite individual. Cats do sometimes just change up their pee schedule. I might come home and find that mine hasn't peed at all when he normally would, but that doesn't mean I need to rush to the emergency just based on that one thing. I judge by how he looks, how he's acting, and just keep an extra eye out for any additional signs (and pay attention for when he pees next).
We can also learn to feel the fullness of the bladder through the abdomen, and many cat owners (especially those dealing with disabled cats) do. Apparently it's quite easy, and my vet would do this pretty regularly when needed, but I unfortunately never managed to get the hang of it myself (though I still try sometimes if I suspect something is wrong).
When it comes to cat health and preventative care a lot can be gleaned from the book The Forever Dog (https://foreverdog.com). There is a lot we can do as care takers to prevent health issues and not just monitor for them.
The summary of the book is "Eat less, eat fresher, and move more and more often"
Perhaps with cats the movement part maybe not be as applicable, but the eating fresher (no processed foods) and eating less would make a huge difference it a cats life. Maybe someone will write Forever Cat?
I think that largely makes sense, but also think the _biggest_ jump in cat food quality isn't so much the jump to freshness but the jump away from dry. Cats who eat primarily dry food are at risk of chronic dehydration. They simply do not end up drinking enough water to compensate for the low moisture content in their food. Water fountains help entice some cats to drink more, but in the end it's usually not enough to compensate.
For my cats, I usually opt for variety. I try to pick high protein wet food of different types, including nutritionally balanced raw, within their individual requirements and tastes. At the same time, I follow my vet's advice and always have urinary wet food handy. Usually they get one pouch of urinary food that helps prevent and dissolve a certain type of bladder crystal in addition to normal wet food each day.
OTOH it might be easier to take a urine sample from a toilet trained cat. For litter trained cats you need to use special non absorbent litter or leave the cat at the vet so that they collect the sample themselves.
That can be true, but I think you can also get the cat used to sample collection by hand as they go into the box.
I've had to collect so many samples over the years, and the easiest way is to hold a measuring cup/spoon under the cat when he/she goes into the box and squats. When I hear mine go to the box, I just walk over slowly and chill in the area (act casual). Then, when he looks committed and gets into position, I squat next to the box and hold the cup under him. You can collect a good amount of very clean urine this way (of course not sterile like cystocentesis, but for most purposes it is perfectly fine). It takes some practice to find the right place to hold the spoon depending on your cat's anatomy, as you have to estimate where the pee will end up going.
In another part of this thread I mentioned having a Litter Robot, which this technique is not really possible with. I bring out a backup open litterbox when I need to collect a sample, for easy access.
> One aspect where the toilet may actually be better is that you _might_ be able to spot blood easier in the water.
One thing that's cool is there are special cat litters now that change color when blood is present.
Similar to how one gets a backend developer working on "full-stack" - by slowly moving tasks context.
I think I just realized that my wife has been doing this to me for years. Eh, I respect her game.
Appreciating the full stack rather than just focusing on the backend is very important to a marriage.
Given that the strip is now (ouch) almost 19 years old, it occurs to me that some folks may not have seen Nightlife Mingus' appearance in the web comic Achewood:
This is the strangest intersection of my interests I've ever experienced.
Man look at that early 2000s simple text-based web header & web design.
It often strikes me that nothing has aged as well as solid colour backgrounds/widgets when it comes to user interfaces.
If you'd told me this site was made in 2021 I'd believe you.
Another example that comes to mind is the intro screen at the start of The Running Man, crisp white text on a red background. Looks as modern as the day it was made: https://i.imgur.com/wCRSDK0.jpeg
I wish I could extrapolate from this to figure out what else will age well when designing UIs.
I've always been intrigued but the risk/reward seems too high. I don't want to mess with the bathroom habits of my cat who has never previously relieved himself outside his box. I scared to try to fix what isn't broken at this time.
Our neighbor when I was growing up had a cat that would use the toilet and flush. I was amazed as a kid.
Not sure I want to share the bathroom with our cats.
We just got a litter robot last week it's pretty amazing. We set it up in a hall closet to get the two litter boxes out of the laundry room. It should pay for itself in 3-4 months by using less litter than our two traditional litter boxes (yesterdays news litter).
I've been looking at getting an automatic cleaning litter box for a while now. Would you mind recommending the type that you bought if you are so happy with it?
I'm not the person you're asking but we use the same brand, the Litter Robot 3 (without wifi) and think it's great. Both our cats took to it very quickly.
It does require a small amount of maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Separating and cleaning the main pieces every 2-3 months is all I do (nothing that requires tools to disassemble, but a good 15 minutes of cleaning+vacuuming)
Our cats were always very stinky with traditional litter boxes (even on different diets) and the litter robot did cut that down significantly... but what made a huge difference was using a litter that was a combination of clay, activated carbon and silica granules (we use Biokat's Diamond Care Classic - it is expensive, previously I manually mixed in carbon+silica into cheaper clay litter with moderate success).
We only have one cat now, and only need to replace the bag once every 10 days, but even so I can't detect any cat smell in the house (and am quite sensitive to it) nor can any of my friends/family -- but they all have cats so there may well still be some base level of smell that all our noses are innured to.
To a sibling commentor's warning, neither of our cats are worried about it cycling (in fact, our sphynx races over to watch it cycle any time she hears the motor start up). It has a weight sensor as well as a pinch sensor to prevent the cat being injured in case they jump in while it's running -- so far nobody's tried to, but good to know it's there.
I found it quite good for our older cat, too: one of our cats had a bit of arthritis in later life and needed the set of steps to comfortably get up and into the litter box which does increase the already pretty significant footprint of the device. It also has an automatic low light that comes on when it gets dark that helped her get around when her eyesight was failing.
A sibling comment noted that it's pretty expensive and may not be worth the cost - I think that's probably true, although I've no regrets (and even bought a second one) because of the amount of scooping it's saved me.
Our cats were always very stinky with traditional litter boxes
As a compromise solution I've had pretty good luck placing air filters next to the litter box. The commonly recommended ones (Coway, Winix) are $100-$150 on sale and have both particulate filters and charcoal odor filters. Filter costs are ~$25/year and electricity cost is ~$5-10 per month.
That's probably more expensive over a large enough number of years relative to a robo litter box, but you're also removing other indoor allergy causes as well, so it's doing other work which may be beneficial.
Also the fan noise from the filters is very gentle; actually a plus for many.
Just make sure you're cats never see it turn itself on, two of my three cats refuse to use it after watching it cycle and I'm back to having a separate box for them that I clean everyday, honestly thinking it selling it if I can talk anybody into buying a used poopbox
For the one cat though it is definitely great, he's kinda fearless though so your cats may not quite be brave enough to face the beast everytime they go to the bathroom.
Edit - my name is Zircom, I have a litter robot 3 for the record, and I recommend it as long as you don't have scaredy cats.
I have a litter robot. Takes normal kitchen trash bags and is able to keep up with two adult male cats. Very happy with it, had it for over two years. I think the cats would mutiny if they went back to a normal box.
It does take a little learning. You have to learn how to not overfill it. How to do a full break down clean of it (not hard just more involved). It doesn't keep the smell down significantly more than a traditional litter box imo.
Pretty sure ours paid for itself in litter savings in about a year.
I've had a Litter Robot for nearly a year and also really like it (wrote a more detailed review here), although it's definitely not perfect. Mine is the Litter Robot 3 with the WiFi functionality (lets me keep an eye on how often they go even when I'm not home). I do believe the price isn't worth it for _most_ people, but do not regret the purchase.
Thanks for the review. Would you say it cuts down on smell? That is my biggest issue with cat ownership and I've been looking for ways to further reduce it (beyond better litter, baking soda, etc.).
Edit: Thanks for all the replies. I am still on the fence about it, and may try further options to reduce the smell (at least enough so that a cat-person like myself can live with it ;))
I wouldn't say it cuts down on smell, unfortunately. In fact, it has the potential to make it worse, since the waste is gathered in a bin for longer periods of time (as opposed to flushable litter in a normal box).
There is a carbon filter that sits on one end of the tray to help minimize scent, but it's not very effective in my experience. I'm currently experimenting with putting various nicely-scented objects in that tray, in front of the filter (like those little scent blocks you can hang on the side of your toilet bowl, for example).
The scent will also largely depend on the cat's digestive system. My cats tend to not have very smelly or soft feces so it's not bad at all, but if one of them gets diarrhea you bet I'm emptying that litter bin right away. Likewise, if a guest is coming over I'd probably suggest emptying the litter bin beforehand just in case.
I know you already know of better litter and baking soda tricks, but there is a powder you can purchase and sprinkle into litter, which gives off a fresh scent. I found using it also helps, as does sprinkling some of it into the bottom of the litter tray itself (into the litter waste bin). I don't have the name of it on hand, but I think there are a few brands out there that are pretty common.
Edit: the _majority_ of the time there is no smell I can easily detect until I open the tray to remove the garbage. But as someone else mentioned, no smell to a cat person may not be a reliable gauge.
Another Litter Robot owner here (we are onto our second one) and I feel it does cut down on the smell.
The litter won't stay in the open part for more than 10-25 minutes and then it is cycled into the drawer which is relatively contained and has a charcoal filter on it.
We have two cats and end up changing the drawer every 2-3 days. I have a friend who manages not to change the drawer for a week and I do think it starts to smell then.
The main benefits are that we don't have to tend to the litter tray that often and when we do we only need to pull out the plastic trash bag, tie it up and replace with a new one. I also think it uses a lot less litter as we never have to fully change it out like you do with normal cat boxes.
It's an expensive item but I think it's definitely worth it. Get a reconditioned one for $50-100 less as they are perfectly clean and they will get messy pretty quickly anyway.
We pair ours with Nature's Miracle cat litter which has baking soda and other deodorizer in it.
One thing I've done to help with the smell is put a smaller air purifier on low next to it running continuously. This really helps a lot in my experience compared to having nothing. It can still smell a bit if the robot is full and nothing is cycling or one of the cats has just used it, but other than that there is largely no smell. The other thing that helps a lot is changing the carbon filter on the robot on a regular basis, maybe every couple or few months, since once that goes a lot more smell leaks out.
It does not cut down more on the smell. Since the waste is basically sifted out quickly to the lower try and not left buried by the cat, it can get smelly. Litter type, cat, and how often you chant the lower tray will change that, but overall, I would not put it in a living space.
My air purifier is next to our cat litter and there’s no smell at all. I strongly recommend one (on top of helping with allergies, dust, covid, etc..)
I wonder if you mean “no smell to a cat person” or if you mean no smell to everyone else. Because I’ve been in enough cat people’s places to know the former is a real thing.
I've done the air purifier thing as well, paired with some unscented litter like Dr. Elsey's Ultra Litter and it genuinely doesn't smell most of the time, unless they've recently used the box or its not cycling due to being full.
Would you mind sharing what air purifier model you use next to your Litter Robot?
Sure, I use a Coway Airmega AP-1512HH set to low permanently. It doesn't move a ton of air on the low setting, but it is very quiet and the size fits pretty well next to the robot. I think getting something quiet is key as to not spook your cats, as one of mine hates the sound of loud white-noise-ish sounds.
I will say I think this one works well, but you could likely find something cheaper because you don't need to much air circulation for a litter box. I just happened to already have this one.
Thanks. I have read good things about that model, but don't think it's available in my country. But I was looking into a Coway Storm AP-1516D last year, and didn't end up pulling the trigger since there were just too many options to choose from. This reminds me to look into them again.
We use a system called ezi lockodour here in Australia. I believe the US name is Purina TidyCats.
Made a huge difference to the smell when we switched.
I love Mingus.
The Watts Towers complex has a museum to Mingus attached, as well as another museum of local artists attached. I'd highly recommend a visit. It's a beautiful neighborhood full of very nice people.
As if I didn’t have enough reasons to love Mingus.
Thanks for the museum suggestion. I haven’t been to the towers since 1979 when I made my parents take me after they played in a tennis tournament at USC while I hung out at the Boys and Girls Club in the nearby park.
I've seen this tutorial almost word for word before, and I even know a few people who have trained their cats using this method. It wasn't until today that I realized that this was method was created by one of the most famous jazz musicians in the world (and IMO the best bass player that ever lived).
There are commercially available kits to do this that are concentric rings that work very well. The kit coupled with flushable litter makes it very easy to toilet train a cat.
However, I can confirm you will get into a bathroom stare down with your cat every once in a while.
You have to teach the cat to close the door.
Funny story: I knew someone who trained their cat to do this. It was all going well, the cat had been using the toilet successfully for a number of weeks. That is, until the cat fell in the toilet one time. From then on it refused to use the toilet, but had become accustomed to going in the bathroom... So the cat started popping in the bath. And no matter what he tried he couldn't stop the cat from doing this. At least the story is funny from the outside perspective. Perhaps less so if it was your bath and your cat haha.
On a more serious note, I believe it is not advised to put cat poop down the toilet, since our sewage treatment systems are not capable of dealing with toxoplasmosis from cat faeces
Do you think Mingus might actually be infected by a brain-altering parasite that is causing him to betray us? He does sound kinda sus.
I have a friend who never trained their cats for that, yet the two cats seem to prefer the toilet. The cats even have two spacious litter boxes away from food and noise. Every time I go to his house my friend reminds me to put the lid down after using so the cats don't use it.
Out of curiosity, why would he not want them to do that? Seems very convenient and saves on cleaning the litter box manually.
Does toilet training your cat introduce a significant health hazard through toxoplasma gondii into the surrounding environment? It's so hard to tell if your local wastewater plant takes care of this...
I could have sworn I read something to this effect, that this is ill advised because waste treatment plants aren’t really equipped to handle animal parasites
Yeah this is my understanding. Sewage treatment cannot destroy toxoplasmosis
I considered training our cat to do this, but there's a bunch of advice out there saying that it may be harmful to your cat, and may be difficult as the cat gets older. So please consult with your vet before going this route.
I know this article is about his cat-training program, but I can't resist the opportunity...
Even if you are not a jazz fan, listen to his record Mingus Ah Um. It is mind-blowingly brilliant. There is just nothing quite like it!
I wonder if animal trainers have tested this method again and again. I suspect that not all cat will be able to be trained like this.
The tone and approach here is exactly what I'd expect from a man whose chief complaint as a band leader is that jazz musicians interpret his music too much and classical musicians follow it too literally.
I love how Mingus is so in tune with how his cat (Nightlife) thinks, sensing how to encourage him, how to avoid freaking him out, how to lead him along.
Some of Mingus's best known works (Mingus Ah Um, Black Saint and The Sinner Lady, etc.) are organized group improvisations, with multiple wind instruments playing improvised lines at once. It's different from big bands like Ellington's where you have featured soloists and everybody else playing charts (even if the rhythm section does some improvising), and it's difficult to achieve balance of the various elements under such circumstances. I get a sense from this article how Mingus manages to get inside the heads of his collaborators, to keep their trust, and lead them towards a shared vision.
If you have a cat which uses the litter box without any problems, count your blessings and call it a day. Having a cat use the toilet is counter to their instincts to bury their business from other animals. If they fall in, they’ll be traumatized and start doing their business in other unpleasant places.
I’ve used the litter robot, and honestly I think a plain old litter box is easier to keep clean, and in general better for all parties.
Our cat spontaneously unlocked this achievement at about 5 years of age... We heard a little noise in the bathroom for a couple weeks and could not figure it out until we actually caught her in the act. Hilarious, and quite convenient!
I'm so happy my cat goes outside to do her business.
My last cat used a litter box and when she got old and demented, she would sometimes sleep in the box, so I had to clean her regularly.
Poor baby! Thank you for taking such good care of her into her old age.
Yes, her last year was heartb breaking. But at least she had a few good days every week until the end.
Seeing that she was able to steal some food from a table when I was out of a room when she was already blind and deaf warmed my heart.
I wonder if this is a joke or an actual technique. I'd be very interested to see someone reproducing this.
I successfully got 2 middle aged cats to do this. They have both since passed and I have two new cats. I haven't bothered to train them, but I think it's because my wife cleans their box and I haven't thought about it.
The first two cats did this almost effortlessly. They didn't give us any trouble because we changed steps slowly.
I believe you, sounds like a bit of a bother to train the new cats as well. Makes me wonder though if once one cat was trained, if you got a new kitten whether it could pick up the behavior from the trained older cat. That'd be pretty great - the gift that keeps on giving.
Cats exist that do this, and I haven't seen anything implausible from a cat psychology standpoint. Seems legit. Dogs can too
It's not a joke.
I've never tried it, but I've seen plastic products selling on the internet that replace the cardboard.
Thanks for sharing this post
Excellent use of adaptive learning, zone of proximal development, etc.
Reminded me of how we tend to forget that even the most outstanding people are just as ordinary as we are. When at home, legendary jazz musician Charles Mingus is just an ordinary guy, training his cat to use the toilet.
Anybody want to take a shot at figuring out the year?
1972 it looks like, from googling the better original title The Charles Mingus Cat-alog
I've changed the title (from "Charles Mingus Cat Toilet Training Program").
Then a cat does "business" in whatever that triggers similar response as toilet e.g. your shoes, pots etc. It's also not fun cleaning the cat that fallen into toilet bowl (and all the splashings around).
Who does the flushing?
I've heard that if the cat learns to flush, it will flush your toilet all day because it's fun.
Kids do this and cats are smarter.
Some cats learn to flush, which is absolutely nuts, but it happens.
You could technically automate it. Training the cat is the hard part. Detecting that a cat (or frankly, anything else) is on the toilet is easy with some electronics.
apparently the cat can learn to flush if the cat hits it by accident
My cat learned how to turn on the tap nearly wrecking the well. Now he's an outdoor cat. Seems happier too.