Toilet Training Your Cat…More Information May Make It Okay

Fri, Nov 14, 2008

Litter & Hygiene

This is a follow-up to the original post Toilet Training Your Cat…Flushing Feces May Be Harmful to Wildlife. Please note that I made some modifications to the original post, including changing the post title and changing the headline “Flushing cat feces is killing sea otters” to “Flushing cat feces *may be* killing sea otters.” I also added a note at the bottom of the post with further clarification about cats and the parasite.

. . .

Thank you so much to everyone who sent in emails or left comments on yesterday’s post about the possible connection between flushing cat feces and dying sea otters. It is definitely a controversial topic and I’m glad we can have an open forum here where everyone can contribute and hopefully come to a better understanding of the situation.

As pointed out in the original post, there is scientific evidence that the parasite Toxoplasma gondii can be found in cat feces and that the same parasite has caused the death of sea otters in California. However, saying that flushing cat feces is killing the sea otters may be a bit extreme. Several things have been pointed out:

  • Not all cats carry this parasite.
  • Cats contract the parasite by coming in contact with infected rodents.
  • If a cat becomes infected, they only shed the infectious oocysts (egg stage of the parasite) for a short period of time, somewhere between 10 days and three weeks, according to various sources.
  • After this period, apparently the cat’s feces is no longer infectious.
  • Outdoor cats are more likely to become infected by this parasite.
  • The parasite may actually be killed by sewage treatment, although I’ve seen arguments on both sides of this issue. If this is the case, however, it could be assumed that the majority of parasites being passed into the ocean are from feral and outdoor cat waste being washed into storm drains, not from flushing the feces of uninfected indoor-only cats.
  • I read in a couple of places that the parasite is not found in human or dog feces, only feline.
  • Apparently, when infected feces is deposited into a landfill, it does not leach into the ground water because landfills have a protective barrier preventing toxic debris from leaving the landfill (disgusting, but that’s an entirely different topic and problem.)

So what does this mean?

If you have your cat’s feces tested for Toxoplasma gondii and it comes back negative AND your cat is indoor only AND any other cats that you bring into your house test negative for the parasite, it is probably okay to flush your cat’s feces, either by scooping or by toilet training your cat.

How else can you help?

  1. If you find cat feces outdoors from strays, ferals or indoor-outdoor housecats, DO NOT hose it down the storm drain. Instead dispose of it in the trash.
  2. GET INVOLVED with a local TNR (trap/neuter/return) program to help reduce the number of stray and feral cats in your area. Help to find homes for the cats who are adoptable and sterilize the feral cats so they don’t produce more homeless kittens. Someday EVERY cat will have a loving home (but that’s a completely different topic, too!)

Thanks again and please keep the comments coming!

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8 Responses to “Toilet Training Your Cat…More Information May Make It Okay”

  1. 1
    Jason

    Nothing to do with sea otters, but the unbelievably amazing bassist Charles Mingus managed to toilet-train his cats, and he left detailed instructions:
    http://www.mingusmingusmingus.com/Mingus/cat_training.html

  2. 2
    Alexis

    I am attempting to do it right now! I would love feedback and comments on how to improve this process. Both of my cats are only indoors (shelter cats tested), and I am hoping that by taking pictures and explaining to people my process I can help others learn from my experience.

    http://www.catsintheloo.blogspot.com

  3. 3
    Goma+sachie

    Hai!! Thanks for your coverage of litter week! I enjoyed it all week long yey! It is very good to know all this information about cat feces because I do not want cute sea otters to die!! I will never flush cat feces ever again even though Goma may not have the parasite…

    sachie

  4. 4
    katy

    my only worry about a cat using a toliet is that many times cats are very good at hiding illnesses and sometimes litterbox behaivor and what is left or not left in the box are the first signs that something is amiss.

  5. 5
    Sandy (Parent of Boo and Shadow)

    I’m now using a biodegradable litter, however hesitate to flush it as we have a septic tank, we live in a very rural area, no city sewer connections. When I was growing up back in the late forties and all of fifties our cats were indoor/outdoor and had no litter boxes whatsoever. Even in later years I had two cats who went out in the mornings, came in and out as they pleased, came in at night, but didn’t used a litter box and didn’t potty elsewhere either. If they went to the door, they were let out and did their thing and came in. I don’t remember ever having to call them to come in either, they just did, guess it was because they were raised that way. Now my boys prefer the litter box to using outside dirt!! Especially Shadow – he doesn’t like to get his feet dirty!! This is the kitty who was feral one year ago! He loves his new life!

  6. 6
    ellen miller

    Am I losing my mind? I wrote in related to this topic in 2008…..Well Rosie STILL wants to be toilet trained.

  7. 7
    Elda

    Me and my husband, we tried the litter kwitter method for one and a half year before giving up. When we where trying to help our cat to poo in the toilet, we where always angry – he didn’t want to do there, although he knew how to do it, so any time he could, he’d poo in the floor.
    Now, after several months trying, we gave up for real. He returned being the sweet cat he used to be, and no more poo in the floor. I am sad it didn’t worked, but I really prefer to see my adorable cat happy. I can be green in other areas, and recycle even more, to compensate, but I don’t intend to try again… sadly.

  8. 8
    Hannah Yarbour

    wow it never occured to me that cat poo might be more of a problem than just kitty litter in my toes. my husband wants to potty train our peanut kitty, but i suppose before that happens we are going to get him tested! thanks for the heads up


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Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzI2LUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTNfTmV3T2N0MjAxMi5wbmciO2k6OTtzOjgxOiJodHRwOi8vd3d3Lm1vZGVybmNhdC5uZXQvd3AtY29udGVudC93b29fdXBsb2Fkcy8yNS1IZWFkZXJfNzAweDkzX05ld0RlYzIwMTEtMy5wbmciO2k6MTA7czo4MToiaHR0cDovL3d3dy5tb2Rlcm5jYXQubmV0L3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMjQtSGVhZGVyXzcwMHg5M19OZXdEZWMyMDExLTMucG5nIjtpOjExO3M6ODE6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzIzLUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTNfTmV3RGVjMjAxMS0yLnBuZyI7aToxMjtzOjc5OiJodHRwOi8vd3d3Lm1vZGVybmNhdC5uZXQvd3AtY29udGVudC93b29fdXBsb2Fkcy8yMi1IZWFkZXJfNzAweDkzX05ld0RlYzIwMTEucG5nIjtpOjEzO3M6Nzk6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzIxLUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTNfTmV3RGVjMjAxMS5wbmciO2k6MTQ7czo3OToiaHR0cDovL3d3dy5tb2Rlcm5jYXQubmV0L3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMjAtSGVhZGVyXzcwMHg5M19OZXdEZWMyMDExLnBuZyI7aToxNTtzOjc5OiJodHRwOi8vd3d3Lm1vZGVybmNhdC5uZXQvd3AtY29udGVudC93b29fdXBsb2Fkcy8xOS1IZWFkZXJfNzAweDkzX05ld0RlYzIwMTEucG5nIjtpOjE2O3M6Nzk6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzE4LUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTNfTmV3RGVjMjAxMS5wbmciO2k6MTc7czo3OToiaHR0cDovL3d3dy5tb2Rlcm5jYXQubmV0L3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMTctSGVhZGVyXzcwMHg5M19OZXdEZWMyMDExLnBuZyI7aToxODtzOjc5OiJodHRwOi8vd3d3Lm1vZGVybmNhdC5uZXQvd3AtY29udGVudC93b29fdXBsb2Fkcy8xNi1IZWFkZXJfNzAweDkzX05ld0RlYzIwMTEucG5nIjtpOjE5O3M6ODA6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzE1LUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTNfTmV3SnVseTIwMTEucG5nIjtpOjIwO3M6ODA6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzE0LUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTNfTmV3SnVseTIwMTEucG5nIjtpOjIxO3M6ODA6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzEzLUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTNfTmV3SnVseTIwMTEucG5nIjtpOjIyO3M6Njg6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzEyLUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTMucG5nIjtpOjIzO3M6Njg6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzExLUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTMucG5nIjtpOjI0O3M6Njg6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzEwLUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTMucG5nIjtpOjI1O3M6Njc6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzktSGVhZGVyXzcwMHg5My5wbmciO2k6MjY7czo2NzoiaHR0cDovL3d3dy5tb2Rlcm5jYXQubmV0L3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvOC1IZWFkZXJfNzAweDkzLmpwZyI7aToyNztzOjY3OiJodHRwOi8vd3d3Lm1vZGVybmNhdC5uZXQvd3AtY29udGVudC93b29fdXBsb2Fkcy83LUhlYWRlcl83MDB4OTMuanBnIjtpOjI4O3M6Njc6Imh0dHA6Ly93d3cubW9kZXJuY2F0Lm5ldC93cC1jb250ZW50L3dvb191cGxvYWRzLzYtSGVhZGVyXzcwMHg5MC5qcGciO2k6Mjk7czo1ODoiaHR0cDovL3d3dy5tb2Rlcm5jYXQubmV0L3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvNS10ZXN0LmpwZyI7aTozMDtzOjc1OiJodHRwOi8vd3d3Lm1vZGVybmNhdC5uZXQvd3AtY29udGVudC93b29fdXBsb2Fkcy80LU1vZGVybmNhdExvZ29fMjAweDIwMC5qcGciO2k6MzE7czo2NzoiaHR0cDovL3d3dy5tb2Rlcm5jYXQubmV0L3dwLWNvbnRlbnQvd29vX3VwbG9hZHMvMy1IZWFkZXJfNTIweDgwLmpwZyI7fTwvbGk+PGxpPjxzdHJvbmc+d29vX3ZpZGVvX2NhdGVnb3J5PC9zdHJvbmc+IC0gU2VsZWN0IGEgY2F0ZWdvcnk6PC9saT48L3VsPg==