Slowly but Shirley

Yeah, yeah, I know. I think I’m smarter than everyone else, and I think my cat is smarter than everyone else’s cat too. Surprise surprise!

The LitterQwitter instructions clearly state that you must remove the litterbox when you introduce the kit, but I didn’t. Why? Because I think I’m smarter than the creators of this genius product? Probably. Basically, I didn’t want to freak out Zena unnecessarily, and I thought she was smart enough to transition to it on her own. It did have litter in it after all!

I gave her over a week to notice it and try it out, but she wasn’t interested, at all. I frequently picked her up and sat her down on the kit with the red tray inside, praising her saying, “Good girl!” She just stared at me and jumped into her litter box instead-repeatedly. She literally jumped over it to get into her litter box, even when I let her litter box get dirty enough to inspire her to try the kit.

I finally sucked it up and dumped her litter box and turned it upside down so she would HAVE to use the new litter tray instead. It took her about a week to get comfortable enough with it, and I was about to move it up to the toilet when I realized I was already almost out of flushable litter. Now we’re having to use the regular litter in the tray until more flushable litter is delivered tomorrow.

Lessons I’ve learned already:

  1. My cat might be smart, but she still needs to be forced/pushed to try new things. She is a creature of habit after all.
  2. You can’t really tell if the litter quitter has been used, and I dumped a ton of good litter in the trash trying to see if she had actually used it or not. The tray is too small to scoop, and excrement sticks to the tray, so you have to wipe it down every time with non-ammonia based cleaner. (Ammonia is in urine and the cat will think it’s dirty it smells like ammonia)
  3. Being gentle matters. Zena hasn’t had any accidents outside of the bathroom, and the one time she spilled over the side, I didn’t get upset. I just cleaned it out and washed the mat underneath, and she hasn’t missed the mark since.

None of her other behaviors have changed, and she seems to still love us. I’ll report back when we’ve moved the tray onto the toilet, finally. I’m at least 2 weeks behind in the process now, because I didn’t want to take her litter box away at first. That’s OK though, sometimes my pace is slower than hers, and I’ll be gentle with myself too.

I’ve been mentioning this little endeavor to friends and co-workers over the last month or so, and I’ve had a mixed bag of responses. When you say you’re “potty training a cat” people always ask, “You mean, like, on the toilet?” “How do you teach them to flush?”

Some of the more amusing responses have been:

  1. Ewww, I don’t know if I could share my toilet with a cat.
  2. What will your visitors say?
  3. What if they fall in?
  4. Is that hygienic? (Which is funny, because litter boxes are gross, and litter gets tracked all over your house when you have one.)
  5.  :: Blank Stare ::
  6. Good luck!

I love the reactions I’m getting, but my favorites are the requests I’ve received to train someone else’s cat after I’ve taught mine. This inspires me to continue to build my own business helping people have more meaningful experiences with their pets. I’m still in the early planning stages and don’t have a real company yet, but you’ve got to start somewhere. My next step is to become certified in Pet First Aid and begin offering classes. More to come!

First things first though. I need to get the ball rolling with Zena’s training. We’ll start conquering the red tray on the toilet tomorrow, and after she’s comfortable with that, we’ll start switching out the trays. It’s also worth noting that we haven’t actually shared the toilet with her yet, and I suspect I will have some truly hysterical details to report back next week. Wish us luck! We might need it.

Sidenote – The title of this article is inspired by my fiance who ALWAYS responds to the remark, “Slowly but surely,” with his age-old, clever quip, “Don’t call me Shirley!”


3 thoughts on “Slowly but Shirley

  1. I knew what was up worth the title as soon as i saw it! I’m married to that guy, too!
    I wish i could say that pets are so worth the effort… but right now they aren’t! But i do enjoy pics and posts about animals. We do have a neighbor with a beautiful chocolate lab who thinks she lives here so we get all the benefits of a dog with none of the expense or responsibility!
    Great article!

  2. For the record, the responce “Don’t call me Shirley” was in the movie Airplane! circa 1980 so I can’t take all the credit 😉

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