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Ablution Beginners

Burmese cat Bugatti is so clever he can open doors. Does this means he's smart enough to learn how to use a toilet?

My cat Bugatti (or Bug as he is known) is a Mandalay Burmese who enjoys the high life. Like most of his breed he is clever (knows how to open doors), playful and social. He squeaks hello (he can't really meow) to his human friends when he enters the room, and loves to sleep for hours in the sun. Burmese are a very social breed, and although he can hang with my flatmates when I'm away, Bug gets very lonely when I stay with my partner Jess, which I usually do for half a week, every week.

We've decided the best way to keep Bug happy is to bring him with me when I go to stay at Jess' place. As there is a busy road near-by we've decided he will be an inside cat when he is there. Safety is one reason to keep cats inside but there are others, like protecting native wildlife from these nocturnal hunters. Bug is not renowned for his hunting exploits (he is somewhat cross-eyed which may explain this) but we want to make sure he's safe and doesn't wander off anywhere.

Becoming an inside cat will mean Bug will need to perform his ablutions indoors, and because we really don't like the smell and hassle of litter trays we've decided to train Bug to use a toilet – just like the rest of the family.  With a bit of patience and perseverance, most cats can be trained to use a toilet. And according to the makers of the City Kitty training system I bought online, the process should only take a few weeks.

City Kitty works like most other training systems. It consists of a plastic tray which is filled with litter and placed on the toilet with the seat up. It resembles a litter tray so is relatively familiar to most cats.  The tray has concentric rings that can be removed one-by-one, making it progressively smaller as your cat becomes more comfortable with using City Kitty, until eventually there is no tray at all.

In theory it sounds straightforward and given Bug can open doors, I'm thinking this will be a breeze. As added motivation I laid down a challenge to Jess' son Tim, aged three, to see who would be the first to master the toilet. I'm not sure Tim quite understood the concept but he seemed game. Surely Bug would win, I thought. He is smart, hates going out in the cold and winter is coming. Then again, he is a cat.

Baby Steps

Bug checks out City KittyBug showed promising signs when I revealed the City Kitty package that arrived by courier. As soon as he could he began ripping it to pieces. I later reflected this was probably because there was catnip inside the box, which the manufacturer claims helps get some cats interested in using the system. Always one to be in the heart of the action, Bug looked very keen to know what was going on when I poured out the litter.

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