Why You SHOULDN’T “Toilet Train” Your Cat
There is a growing trend to “toilet train” cats, so that it learns to go in the toilet instead of its cat box. But there are hidden dangers lurking in their faeces you may not know about.
It’s quite absurd that such a thing exists in the first place.
Surely, it seems like a great idea on the surface… If you teach your cat to use the toilet, it’ll save you cleaning out the litter box, they can go as and when they please, and it looks funny / cute!
But in reality it is a terrible idea.
I tried to explain this to a Facebook friend of mine when he got a new kitten. He proudly showed photos of his cat learning to use the toilet, and I had commented that it was a bad idea. But I was ignored, and others congratulated at his cat’s new-found skills.
Why is it so bad?
Cat Faeces contain a parasite called “Toxoplasma Gondii” (T. Gondii).
It is a parasite that can live on many mammals, but cats are the only mammals that can carry the ones that sexually reproduce, and can lead to “Toxoplasmosis”
Sounds scary right!
Cats are the only mammals that can be the “hosts” of this parasite.
Basically (and my explanation will be very simplistic!) if a cat ate a mouse that carried the parasite, that parasite can reproduce while inside the cat and infect the cats intestinal linings.
The linings would shed into the faeces and remain inside the “poop”.
The poop goes into the litter box!
According to the NHS:
The infection is common worldwide, including in the UK, but it’s rarely reported because there are often no symptoms.
Around 350 cases are reported in England and Wales each year, but it’s thought the actual number of infections could be as high as 350,000.
In a normal, healthy person, the immune system can cope with it, and usually there are no problems.
However, a person with a weak immune system, such as a person on Chemotherapy is at risk of an infection, that could spread to a vital organ.
And have you ever heard that pregnant women should stay away from cat litter / cat faeces ? This parasite is the reason why. Toxoplasmosis in pregnancy can lead to a miscarriage, stillbirth or lead to congenital toxoplasmosis, where the infection spreads to the baby and can lead to further complications.
So now you know of the dangers of the parasite that may be lurking inside the litter box, why shouldn’t you flush the cat faeces?
The human sewerage system that we use for our “deposits”, treats and kills bacteria, and removes the waste, so the remnants can go back into the freshwater system, and back into the oceans ultimately. But they are not designed to kill off this parasite.
As mentioned before, if you have a healthy immune system, chances are you are fine. However, what about other species?
T. Gondii has been found in the oceans, and is damaging sea life.
Sea Otters (link) and Endangered Monk Seals are just two of the species that have been found in the oceans.
According to this link from the “Scientific American” back in 2010(!), Monk Seals were killed by the parasites. A parasite that can only be transmitted via cats, (and it’s highly unlikely that a cat pooped directly into the ocean)
Aside from directly flushing there are other ways that the parasite can get into the water, for example if a cat poops outside, near a freshwater system (river, stream), the parasite could end up there that way.
However, the growing trend of “training” your cat to use the toilet, is one that is a dangerous one.
If you go on places such as Amazon, or eBay, there are lots of “training toilets” that can be purchased, where you start with a litter tray in your toilet seat, and then take away part of it, so eventually the cat learns to go to the toilet, in the toilet.
Cats aren’t designed to use our toilets, their nature is to dig, and cover over their deposits. It is not in their nature to poop in water, or cats would have been doing that by themselves.
It’s not cute, it’s not sanitary, and its downright dangerous to marine life, and possibly human life, as the water will eventually be in our systems again at some point, and the parasite will be there.
How can you help?
- Do not flush cat faeces
- Do not flush cat litter
- Do not buy “toilet training” devices for cats
- Inform others
- Ask your local pet shop to stop selling the devices
- Keep pregnant women away from cat litter boxes
- Wash your hands with soap after cleaning out cat litter boxes.
- Sanitise cat boxes with antibacterial wipes or spray when cleaning.
- Try to keep your cat inside when it poops.
- Do not encourage your cat to eat wild mice / rats ..
- Do not put cat faeces into your local refuses “composting” bins (if you have them)
- Throw away any faeces with your normal “black bag” waste.
So the next time you see someone bragging that they have toilet trained their cat, maybe educate them that they aren’t doing the right thing, not only for wildlife, but for your cat too.