So I waited. In the mean time, I learned how annoying litter can be. I got the automatic LitterMaid Elite Mega Advanced Automatic Self-Cleaning Litter Box which scoops the poop every time the kitties go. I got it lightly used from a craigslist.org posting. It was worth the money and I didn't become too much of a slave to the litter box. Even though I didn't have the burden of all day scooping, I started noticing that litter traveled. I saw little litter granules beyond the laundry room (original location of the litter box). I 'd see it track out from the laundry room door and occasionally see a granule or two on the kitchen floor or on the couch. I know cats are clean animals, but litter granules on the couch can't be very sanitary.
So, as they started pushing their 6th month of life (Tanya was 6 months, Chanel was 5 1/2 months), I decided to start their training to use the toilet. I love my kitties, but I hate the litter. They are super smart, so I think they will pick it up quickly.
I'm writing this blog on Tanya, Chanel, and the Toilet so you can keep up with their (and my) daily progress (or lack thereof). I am by no means an expert. But you can see pictures and watch the brief videos that chronicle their status and the methods I've used.
You can start from Day 1 by scrolling to the bottom of the page.
We made the move! We drove from North Carolina to Boston.
I am really impressed by how well Tanya & Chanel got accustomed to the new toilet! We had one night stay at a hotel in South Jersey and I gave them a make-shift litter box (they only used it for #1).
At first I was nervous because they didn't use the bathroom at all for the first day once we arrived at the new apt. Maybe they were to preoccupied by the new place. I put the Litter Kwitter with the Green disk on the toilet--no changes-- and made sure they saw it. It took about a day for them to go #1 and almost 3 days total for them to go #2!
Now, they seem to be doing okay! So cats CAN shift to a new toilet!!
I hope they keep it up because they will be moving 2 more times before we are finally settled in NYC in September!
Once again, my favorite color is green.
I moved to the Intermediate Green tray (again) yesterday.
I did this because there is less clean-up and less times the LK itself was soiled with #1. When the LK is clean, it is used properly.
I kept one of the tube barriers in the front and the flat sheet barrier in the back. Therefore, the only free space is on the sides.
So far, things are going great!
If I can get a video this week, I will.
Well, I've been writing less because there really hasn't been much change.
Chanel had been the same. She does well when I'm around and not well when I'm not.
This morning, I woke up to poo on the seat.
We have been on Amber for ages now and I don't know what else to do.
I rigged the set-up a little to see if it helps. I needed to restrict the areas that she likes to side-stand without prohibiting proper use. It was tough, but I came up with something. Here's a picture. I used the empty cardboard roll from wrapping paper.
Tonight, Chanel used the set-up pretty well tonight. Let's pray for consistency
Tanya doesn't aim anymore. She just stands completely on the seat and goes. It's great, except for the extra clean-up.
I can't believe it has taken us this long. I will be moving in 6 weeks, so I'm not sure what will happen. It will probably be more difficult to use a new toilet.
This is a video update on how things are going.
She almost gets it, but then changes her mind and requires an intervention.
Sometimes she will stay in the right position and go properly. But I don't know what happened this time. She must have known I was recording her and wanted to give you guys an interesting show :) Tanya was standing by the door and distracted her a little--that's when she looked up and moved to a different spot.
But this is closer than we were before! It's still better than a litter box, that's for sure!
Here's Tanya's impeccable aim :) It's great not to have to scoop.
Chanel is still doing okay. I am not ready to let her "fly" on her own yet. I position her for #2 every time. One time, I got there too late, but upon seeing me come in, she stepped forward into the right position. Another time, when I almost got there too late, she was standing sideways, like she did before. So, I think we on the cusp now.
Chanel is actually getting better! I was losing hope for a while a couple weeks ago when I was at my wit's end.
But she is really getting better. It has just taken time. Going back to Amber was the best thing to do.
Today, I didn't have to move her into the right spot. She did it herself.
She is used to getting a copious amount of treats after a proper #2. She goes straight to her treat dish (another product from my pottery class) and waits for the 3 varieties of treats coming to her.
If she keeps this up for the next couple of days, I'll try to get a photo or video of her. But for now, my hands are poised to position her when or if it's needed.
It's been 1 week and the toilet training is actually going very well.
I'm using the Amber disk, so the hole is big enough for just about everything to go through and into the toilet. Both Tanya and Chanel aim into the toilet for #1, which is great. Tanya also aims into the toilet for #2--also great! I am positioning Chanel for #2 every time. I've found that it's much easier to encourage the correct position with the Amber disk than with the Green. She is responding much better. I'm going to continue doing this with the Amber disk for a while, until Chanel is positioning herself.
Looking back, I realized that she never positioned herself correctly on the Amber disk before. I sort of pushed her along to the Green disk hoping that she would work herself out. I think sometimes that will work, but it didn't for us.
It was a nice warm day today. I took a break from my laptop to take Tanya & Chanel outside. I'm only going to put the harness on when we go outside or on the balcony. I had to put a leash on them so I could keep them close. We went to the picnic area on the apartment grounds and they just explored. Tanya was the most exploratory. It was tough to take them both at the same time, but I can't separate them.
As for the toilet training, things are a little better.
Should I talk about about the fun topic or not-so-fun topic first?
Let's start with the fun topic of the hour: harness training. Chanel has accepted the harness and eats and plays freely in it. Tanya still isn't thrilled. Yesterday, I swear she clasped my leg with her paws while I was washing my face. It was as if she was pleading to me to take the damn thing off. I've never seen her like that before. She looked pitiful. This is what she looked like on the first day. She would throw herself on the floor and walk with a limp. (video is sideways. don't know how that happened, sorry!)
She's better than she was, but she still won't move around much.Putting the harness on before meals, giving treats, and playing have not been strong enough associations. So, I decided to take her outside (holding her the entire time). Then, I took them both for a short ride--to Walmart (to buy a cheap leash). It was about 11:30pm and they stayed in the car. They were so captivated by everything, I think they both forgot they had the harness on. They were so cute! I hope going out will be a more exciting harness-association.
Okay, as for the not-so-fun topic of the hour, there isn't much to say. We are using the Main Amber instead of the Intermediate Amber. They both actually aim through the hole for #1, so it's a much easier clean-up. I'll keep positioning Chanel until she gets it. If I'm not around and she goes back to her side-standing-on-the-seat-and-pooping-on-the-floor position, I will go back to a tray where she will aim centrally.
I took away the Red tray underneath last night and replaced it with the Main Amber.
Tonight, Chanel did the same old thing. I didn't go in to check on her like I usually do. I walked in afterwards and saw skid marks again.
I don't know what I am going to do next. I'll probably stop stacking and just use the Main Amber until I can get some advice.....
To get away from toilet training a little, I started to harness train. Chanel is so small, I had to return the first harness that I got for her. Right now, they keep the harness on for a little while when I get home, before dinner. Chanel has taken to it faster than Tanya. After 3 days, she is playing and running with her harness on. Tanya, still isn't very happy. She doesn't want to walk or do anything in it. She has gotten a lot better. On the first day, she would throw herself on the floor in protest.
I got back yesterday morning. NYC was great.
I was so happy to remove the huge automatic litter box from the bathroom. It was gone within the first 30 minutes of my stepping into the apartment. I put the Litter Kwitter back with some changes. I stacked the Main Green tray on top of the Red tray. There was no water exposed, so I had to scoop everything. I had forgotten how labor intensive scooping out the Litter Kwitter was!
So far (for the past 2 days), the pattern of Chanel standing sideways on the seat for #2 has been broken. (YEA!!) Everything is deposited centrally now! If she does well with this, I will switch the Red tray for the Main Amber one tonight or tomorrow and see what happens. I am hoping that Chanel will continue to face the right way on her own.
BTW, any DRex people out there who can tell me why Chanel's fur looks like this? She is shedding her longer hair from the sides up. Maybe she's loosing her "baby hair"? I don't know. I looks a little funny.
I am at my wits end now.
I am leaving for NYC tomorrow morning until Sunday and I was hoping that Chanel would have learned to turn around by now. I have been positioning her for the past few weeks. But even yesterday and today, when I wasn't home to position her, there were skid marks on the Litter Kwitter seat and poo that had fallen to the floor. She still stands sideways and it looks like it's becoming a habit. I don't think she is getting it and I don't know how much longer I should continue trying the same thing.
Tanya is completely toilet trained and doesn't need the Litter Kwitter at all!
So, for Chanel, I decided to push a virtual reset button. While I am away, I am going to remove the Litter Kwitter and reinstate the automatic litter box. I may or may not still leave the toilet seat up for Tanya to use. When I get back, I will go back to the early trays and see if she will aim centrally again for #2. I'm up for any suggestions....
This picture keeps me hopeful, but a lot of coaching went on before Chanel stood like this. I am still hoping that she will eventually get it without me there. I bought one more bag of litter today--a small bag. I hope it will be the last--but I've said that for the past 2 bags now!! Can't always predict what will happen.
Not much has changed in the past couple days. All #1s are going into the toilet! If cats only did #1, I would be set! :) HaHa, would that it were!! All Tanya's #2 goes in the toilet. We have not had any more accidents since drastically reducing the amount of pumpkin puree in her food and giving her more privacy. They still haven't gotten the 1 play cube back. Maybe I'll get them a 2nd one this weekend so they can have two again.
Now all I'm waiting for is Chanel to put herself in the right place for #2. Please send her some good vibes. I think it will help. It looks like I'll be heading to the pet store today for yet another bag of litter. *sigh*
Tanya and Chanel love barley grass. I made them this little planter in my pottery class.
Today is Day 118 of toilet training but Day 80 using the Litter Kwitter.
A fellow blogger is training her kittens, Mist & Smoke, with the Litter Kwitter now and she asked how long I was on the Amber disk. I'll sum up how much time we were on each disk.
Red: 6 days (because we had already established success at this stage with my pre-Litter Kwitter method)
Intermediate Amber: 1 week, 4 days.
Regular Amber: 3 weeks
Intermediate Green: 2 weeks
Regular Green: 4 weeks (yesterday)
I'm not quite ready to remove the Green tray yet. I must wait until Chanel is consistently positioning herself in the right direction. The barrier is still in place and I have placed no-slip strips on the Litter Kwitter seat.
Yesterday was another very early and very long day. When I got home, I simply passed out on my couch. I had no strength to check what anybody was doing that night. This morning, I went into the bathroom and there was poo on the floor. It looked like it had fallen down from the seat. I'm positive it was Chanel standing on the seat in her sideways pose--apparently, a little more outward than inward. So much for letting her figure it out by herself. Today, after a positioning session, she placed herself correctly. It will just take time for her to get it consistently. I'm not going to worry about it. Tanya is smooth sailing at this point and doesn't need the Green disk at all.
Happy New Spring!!
I was a little nervous about coming home today. I had to wake up at 4:30am to leave home at 5:30 for an hour and a half drive to work. It was brutal. I gave Tanya and Chanel their wet food meals for the morning/afternoon and left. I didn't have time to train Chanel for her morning ritual.
I got home late, about 8:30pm and worried about what I would find in or around the toilet.
What I found wasn't too bad as you can see (daisies are stepping in to represent). They both did really well! Just a little on the Green tray, the rest in the toilet. It's not perfect yet, but it's better. Tonight, I heard Chanel scratching again, but decided to stay away. I peeked in and she stood with 3 paws on the seat, but still a little sideways (just like in March 6th entry). It all landed on the tray.
Even at this moment, as I write these words, I hear twinkle-tinkle in the toilet from the other room. I don't know who it is because I stopped peaking in. They do #1s fine--no need to check on them. I started giving them treats for it again, if I happen to be there.
The play cube tent (only 1 left) is folded up and in the laundry room (the original location of the litter box). No surprises anywhere, thank goodness. Actually, everything is going really well. Right now, I hear scratching, but I see Chanel next to me, so I'll stay put. When Chanel is in there scratching away for the pre-#2 ritual, I go in to position her. I am hoping that with everytime, she will get a little closer to doing it by herself. At this point, Tanya is all set is basically completely toilet trained (yea!!). I don't have the guts to remove the Green Disk yet--for Chanel's sake.
Happy St. Patty's Day!
The luck of the Irish was certainly not with me this morning. Considering that I'm not Irish, I was at least hoping for a little spill-over because of the holiday.
I woke up this morning to Chanel scratching away. I was hoping that she would remember how to position herself, but she didn't. She did her usual sideways stand and I placed her correctly after the point of no return. I was a bit discouraged, until I walked out of the bathroom. I walked into the living room and became really frustrated. Check inside the red cube...
Tanya didn't even try to run away. She let me pick her up and place her in the bathroom while I cleaned up and threw away play cube #2. There's only one cube left now and they won't see that one back for a while. When she was released from the bathroom, she sulked around a bit. Then, all she wanted to do was sit in my lap as I worked. She ignored breakfast and Chanel chowing down in the next room. She was acting genuinely regretful and apologetic. Later, and off schedule, she went into the bathroom and was able to muster up another #2. She did it perfectly. No more pumpkin puree for her.
Tomorrow will be 4 weeks on the Regular Green Tray. Things are going okay, no great leaps. I can't believe we have been on the same tray for a month now....
One very good thing is that Tanya uses the toilet completely again. I think the changes I made helped. Now, she only gets pumpkin puree with one wet meal a day, instead of two. I also try to give her as much privacy as possible. I don't peek in on her anymore. I started keeping the bathroom door only slightly ajar instead of wide open. I think it makes her feel more secure to do her business (oh gosh, I can't believe I just wrote that!). She sure is a modest kitty. The good thing is that I don't have to worry about her. In fact, if I only had Tanya, we would have been done by now.
Chanel still needs to be positioned. She does the side standing thing with bum facing out. I have been working with her everyday since I've been back (about 1 week). She was doing it correctly before, and now she doesn't. I hope one day soon it will click. I'm starting to grow weary... Could it be me and my presence there? Should I do an eyes-off and hands-off approach? Perhaps I will.
I would like to give a mention of support to my fellow blogger, Shelly. Unfortunately, she also got a bit of grief from the Cats T-Training Yahoo Group moderator(s). She decided to stop toilet training and return to the litter box for her two cats, Eleanor and Sunshine. It is definitely more difficult to train two cats. I know her frustration. Best wishes to you!
March 10, 2008
I have never been so anxious to see poop in my life! Tanya had not gone #2 since yesterday morning in the play cubes or, as Jenny has dubbed them, potty cubes. :) I arrived home from work today wondering if an offensive odor would hit me as I walked in. No odor. 'Okay, that's good', I thought to myself tentatively. I walked into the bathroom and was so relieved to see poo in the toilet. Yea!! I will keep everything the same. Chanel has regressed a bit and requires frequent positioning for #2. I think my trip might have set her back a bit. Hopefully with consistent attention, she will place herself reliably.
I gave them back the play/potty cubes. The cubes were barely popped opened and attached together before Chanel and Tanya started jumping and tumbling in them! (see photo above) For now, their cube privileges will be restricted to times when I can supervise-- especially after reading that Anya's kitty habitually peed in his! The video below is from December, but it shows how they really tumble that thing around (please excuse the to-go-out garbage bag in the background--the rest of that stuff are toys, believe it or not). :)
I was in the bathroom this morning getting ready for something and Tanya walked in the hopped on the toilet. She scratched around like she had to go #2. Then she jumped down and left without going. 30 min later or so, I walked into the living room and smelled an odor. My nose lead me to their play cubes. Inside was #2. As soon as I looked at her, Tanya bolted. I know it was Tanya because as I was was cleaning up, Chanel jumped up on the toilet to commence her #2 routine. She needed to be positioned. Her stance would have lead to everything on seat. Thankfully, everything Tanya did was confined to the cube, so I could just detach that one and throw it away. BTW, they love these Sport Pet Play Cubes. They are super cheap and can be found at Walmart for under $4!
So, my assessment of the situation is that Tanya really had to go, but wanted to go in private. I think she had a little diarrhea again, so that didn't help. I suspect that she has a delicate gut and can't take as much pumpkin puree in meals as Chanel. So, I'll give this one more shot before I change the set-up. If I'm in the bathroom and she looks like she needs to go, I will leave and close the door. Also, I will reduce the amount of pumpkin puree in her meals. She can do it correctly, I've see her do it. For some reason, she has twice chosen not to. It is so out of character for her.
I got back a day later than expected because of a delayed flight and missed connection. The report back from my friend was that Tanya and Chanel did well while I was away. On the first day, she saw some poo that appeared to have fallen from the seat. After that day, everything was hitting the water or the tray.
When I got home, there was #2 in the bowl already. Tonight, I watched Chanel place herself in a 3-paws-on-the-seat-and-poo-in-the-bowl position by herself! I was actually waiting for her to go after a nice moist meal. But I was in the shower, so could not have intervened even if I wanted to.
Today is Day 12 on the Main Green Disk and Day 63 using the Litter Kwitter. I am not going to make any changes anytime soon. They will stay on the Main Green for at least 3 weeks.
I'm in Nashville now helping a relative in the hospital. In the rush, I didn't have time to update you, until now.
On Friday night, I came home from a work event at about 11pm. I noticed a really strong odor as I walked into the apartment and hoped it wasn't what I feared. I walked into the bathroom and to my shock, there was a large deposit of loose poo on the floor next to the toilet. I couldn't believe it because it was so out of character for both of them. Of course, I suspected Chanel. Wouldn't you? No one got punished, but they both got ignored for a while. Then, Chanel went into the bathroom and started her #2 ritual. I helped her get into the right position and she went. So, if she just went, then the poo on the floor had to be Tanya's! Why in the world would she do that? Perhaps she was uncomfortable because she had loose stool/diarrhea. I don't know. But I was leaving the next morning and was, at that point, even more undecided about what to do.
My friend who usually kitty-sits agreed to check on them once or twice a day, clean up the set up, put fresh litter on the tray, and flush.
So, dispite the accident, I decided to leave them with the toilet while I'm gone. I don't know if it's the right choice or not. I can always help them out again when I get back. Overall, I think they will be okay. I'm still waiting to hear back from my friend to get an update...
February 27, 2008
By Jove, I think she's finally got it! I almost can't believe it. For the past 2 days, I have been placing Chanel in the correct position before she is able to start her #2 business. Today, after correcting her once, she moved herself into place: front paws on the seat and back paws on the Green tray. Everything went right into the bowl!
Unfortunately, I have a potential problem coming up this weekend. I have to leave town for an urgent family issue. I'll be gone for 4 days. My friend who usually kitty sits is not available. I absolutely dread bringing back the LitterMaid litter box. I'm trying to find a way to keep them on the toilet while I'm away. If Chanel can consistently position herself and go through the hole, then I can have a friend just stop by to check on them and flush. I'll also start looking into an automatic flusher. I can't bear to think about putting them back in the litter box after so much progress.
I don't have a picture of Chanel yet. But here is Tanya-3 paws on the seat. No, she doesn't poo daisies. :)
Last night I put up a barrier in the back of the toilet seat. I used a sheet of light corregated plastic, similar to syrofoam. I used a small amount of duct tape to keep them from pushing it off.
Chanel was the first to avoid it for #2. She held it for about 24 hours. This morning she gave up the fight (with a little help from a soft breakfast). I heard her scratching around and then leave the bathroom without doing anything. I brought her back into the bathroom and closed the door. She dug for China as usual and was put off by the limiting barrier. Every time she jumped off or tried to play under the shower curtain, I put her back on the toilet. As she dug around the Green disk, she would stop as if she were about to go. She was standing sideways on the seat. Before she reached 'no return' I placed her front paws on the seat. She moved out of position quickly and dug some more. Again, when she stopped, I put her front paws on the seat and her back paws on the Green disk. This time, she didn't fight it or move out of position. She went with 3 paws on the seat. !!Treats galore!! They only get treats for #2 now. Somehow, they were able to muster up a pee every time I was in the bathroom. Those kitties, know how to work the system (me). So now they only get verbal and tactile praise for #1.
Chanel is used to this intervention because I did it a lot with her while on the Regular Amber disk for #1s. Not every cat will allow you to adjust them before their 'point of no return'. Tanya would not allow it, for example (thank goodness I've never needed to). But Chanel is docile and easy going enough to not be flustered or insulted by it (especially when I know she has to go). After the 'point of not return', I don't think she learned anything because I did everything for her.
I hope the intervening and the barrier will get her to think more about putting herself in the right position.
February 24, 2008
I have some good news and bad news.
Let's start with the good news!
Friday night, the Regular Green disc/tray went into place. In doing so, the hole enlarged from 12 cm to 15 cm across. Chanel was the first to jump up and use it. I think she had been waiting for me anyway. Her first time on the Regular Green seemed like a replay of the last switch, as you will see in the video.
The last 2 days have been very smooth. Tanya has been going through the hole consistently with either 2 or 4 paws on the seat. Chanel started using all 4 paws on the seat today--I could hardly believe it! That was for #1. Her #2 positioning needs some attention. I will start putting her in the right position repeatedly. They are on a regular feeding schedule, so their #2's are predictable and tend to be when I'm home in the morning and evening. I might even place some sort of barrier at the back of the toilet seat to keep her from standing sideways back there.
Okay, now for the bad news. I was kicked out of the Cats T-Training Yahoo Group last weekend. I received a hostile email from the Cats T-Training Yahoo Group Moderator(s). They accused me of sharing information on my blog that was privy to and the property of the Cats T-Training Yahoo Group members. They accused me of using the websites, book titles and blogs from their group and putting them on my blog. They accused me of advertising for Litter Kwitter. They also accused me of dishonestly posting the same questions on both the Cats T-Training Yahoo Group and the Litter Kwitter Group Forum.
I believe I was targeted because I use Litter Kwitter and it's resources. I have always given credit to the Cats T-Training Yahoo Group when it was applicable. The sites listed on my blog were obtained independently from extensive internet searches, most of which were published prior to joining the group. I like the Litter Kwitter product because it is working beautifully for Tanya and Chanel. It is very disappointing that being a member of one cat toilet training group will prevent me from participating in another. We live in an information age. Although I agree with and respect copyright laws, performing bullying tactics to prevent the sharing and giving of ideas is wrong.
I will keep the link to the Cats T-Training Yahoo Group on my blog because I think the group members as a whole have a good wealth of knowledge and can support and offer advice to anyone venturing into the task of cat toilet training.
As promised, here's a video of Chanel on the Regular Green tray.
Here's a picture of Chanel and Tanya watching a flush!
As I was driving home today, I was thinking that it was actually a good thing that I hadn't received the Regular Green disc yet. This would force me to stay on the current stage for another week or so and keep it slow on the Intermediate Green.
Guess what showed up at my door today? The Regular Green. As I stared at the disc, I wondered if they could handle the change.... It will be 2 weeks tomorrow on the Intermediate Green. Hmmmmm. If I do switch, tomorrow or Saturday would be the best time. It would give me the weekend to monitor how they adjust to the change. If they don't transition well, then I can always go back to the Intermediate Green.
Watch how Chanel is using 3 paws on the seat now!
February 20, 2008
We are moving along pretty well at our current stage. I'm mostly paying attention to how well they have been aiming for #2. Still hit or miss for both of them, but it's better. Got one roll-off (onto the floor) episode yesterday from Chanel. No biggie.
I got a new job that will be taking me to New York City! I am so excited to move to the most fabulous city in the US, in my opinion. I came across an article on NY Daily News about a kitten named Georgia who escaped from her carrier in the NYC subway after her carrier door popped open on the platform. Miraculously, she was found 25 days later! Thank goodness it was a happy ending. I couldn't imagine losing Tanya or Chanel in the depths of the NYC subway tunnels! Sadly, the odds of finding your lost pet in NYC who is not micro-chipped or collared is terribly low according to the NY Daily News report. Tanya and Chanel don't have collars because they are strictly indoor cats. They are micro-chipped, but I think I'll also get a collar for the times we leave the home. I'll also have to get them this cute t-shirt from just4pooches. I love NY!
Happy President's Day!
Unfortunately, I didn't have the day off.
But it's a great day because we are on Day 10 of the Intermediate Green tray!
It has been a good few days on the Intermediate Green. I can't sweat the mistakes and I haven't since Day 82/44. I have actually tried to let Tanya and Chanel figure it out on their own. So, even when I hear the sound of scratching, I don't peak in or move them. I'll wait to see how they turn out in a few more days. I need to remember what happened when I was away for 10 days in El Salvador! I'm hoping that as long as they aren't aiming completely outward, things will sort themselves out when we move to the Main Green tray. I am in fact still waiting for the Main Green tray to be delivered. I've been waiting for about a month now.
Since last posting, there hasn't been any more poo on the floor. It lands on the Litter Kwitter seat, on the Green tray, or in the bowl. I'll just let it be for now.
Also, I realized that the Arm & Hammer Cat Litter Deodorizer powder also deters Chanel from drinking the water. I have been sprinkling a little in bowl after flushing--it's more fragrant than the alternative. They are very used to that smell being in the litter--I've been using it since the LitterMaid (gosh, remember that enormous thing?).
Thank you Jenny and Shelly for your suggestions over the past week.
I am just perplexed as to how to help Tanya and Chanel get to aim centrally for #2. I thought Tanya got it, but she is hit or miss. And Chanel? Well Chanel just plain misses. She stands completely on the seat and goes on the seat (which could then drop on the floor) or sideways stance which also goes on the seat. The pic shows Tan with a hit--all 4 paws on the seat for #2 !
I put the actual toilet seat down for the past couple days. I did this when they were using the Amber tray and it kept Chanel from peeing as far to the edge as possible. But putting the seat down this time made everything worse. For the first time, Chanel held her #2 for a good 24 hours--until I put the seat up. Tanya also avoided going. Today, again, I put the seat down. When I got home, the Litter Kwitter was clean--all #1 through the hole. But later, I walked into the bathroom and there was poo on the floor and bath mats. I was so upset. I lifted the toilet seat and choose to ignore them for a while. Beckoning meows fell on deaf ears for a good hour total. Was I punishing them for something that was essentially my fault? As I confess all this, it does seem that way. Sorry kitties....
After an hour of the silent treatment, I gave them their wet food dinner as usual. I was still barely paying attention to them when I heard Tanya in the bathroom. She had deposited a #2 perfectly in the bowl and came out to get me. It was ahead of schedule. She was obviously trying to make up. It worked. :)
So, the toilet seat will stay up. I'll just have to wait it out and see what they end up doing by themselves and with a bit more 'coaching'. I had to get more litter the other day. The difficult decision was: Which size bag do I choose?. The small one or the big one? Of course, my wishful thinking encouraged me to get the small one....
After a few days on the Intermediate Green, I've come across a few Crisis moments. Don't get me wrong, I am at a better stage. Tanya and Chanel are moving along very well. But this Intermediate Green tray comes with it's own set of issues...
Let's start with Chanel. The whole is bigger, yes? Apparently, it's now big enough for her to comfortable stick her head through and lick the water!!! YUCK!!! Hasn't she been paying attention to what goes on in that bowl? That ain't drinking water, little girl! Granted, she only did it after the toilet was freshly flushed, but still! I couldn't stop her with "no's" or by pulling her head out of the hole.
I've read many posts on the Cats T-Training Yahoo Group about putting vinegar in the bowl after flushing to keep kitty from sipping. I bought a huge jug of white vinegar and splashed a bit in after flushing. Didn't work!!! She still put her head through and licked the water! EEWW!!! What next?? I had some apple cider vinegar in the bathroom (great for mixing with clay masks (instead of water) for a good exfoliating facial peel). I opened it and it definitely had a more repelling odor. I splashed that in the bowl and she instantly stopped. I'll have to post that one for everyone's FYI. BTW, I also leave the bowl unflushed for #1s so it's just dirty enough for her not to drink it. Plus, my county is in a drought--so I'm trying to preserve water.
That solved, we come across the problem of both Tanya and Chanel having a difficult time aiming centrally for #2. #1's are perfect--just perfect. Tanya could use no tray at this point for #1 and I haven't seen Chanel side-saddle once. However, #2s end up often on the seat (this is when I'm glad I'm not using my own seat!) or on the tray. I promptly clean it up (which could be adding to the issue). In fact, when I hear a lot a scratching, that's my cue to peer around the corner to observe and to clean up afterward. If they catch me watching, they shoot me a WTF are you looking at stare, stop what their doing, and run away. If I'm not there, #2s end up on the seat or on the tray. When I am able to observe, I notice a lot of side standing with one side of their body (front and back paw) the seat and the other side on the tray.
Last night I did an experiment. Since they don't want me in there, I'll leave them alone and let them deal with their #2 on the seat/tray for a while. I left it for an hour (remember, there is not enough litter for anything to be buried). I don't know if it worked, but this morning, #2s were in the bowl. Coincidence? Perhaps. I'm hoping that they will get uncomfortable enough with poo on the seat that they will aim centrally and "bury" their waste in the water. Will keep you posted on that one.....
Today I feel proud to show what day of toilet training we've reached.
There are different emotional stages that one reaches on the road to kitty toilet training. In the beginning (I'll call it, 'The Opening Stage'), you feel ambitious, hopeful, and excited about the project and the ability to be litter-free. You may even start a blog so you can share the great experience with the rest of the world. You think it will be a smooth, eventless road that will take only 21 days--or 8 weeks at most (thanks to the commercial training kits and books that boast this).
Then you hit the bumps and potholes in the road ('The Crisis Stage'). Something happens, whether it be kitty rebelling, poo on the floor, pee in the sink, both in the bathtub, kitty not pooing for days, kitty objecting unless you are right there coaching her on, or (in my case) one kitty peeing on the other kitty's favorite faux Chanel scarf. Whatever it may be, the challenges will indeed happen. You feel frustrated and sometimes at your wit's end. You start buying and trying various things that you think will help. These challenges make you ask yourself "why the heck am I doing this again?" and "why did I have to tell everybody I was doing this and write a blog about it?"
Eventually, through the support and advice of others, you learn how to cope and modify your set-up so that you and kitty are happy ('The Resolution Stage'). You become content with the progress you and kitty have made. You feel accomplished. And most importantly, you learn (or remember) that this is not a race to Day 21 or even to week 8.
I think it's common to cycle between Crisis and Resolution stages during the training. Over time, however, Crisis stage becomes less frequent as you remember to slow down and learn tricks to adjust. I think there is even a blending of these two stages at times.
Right now, I am feeling the confidence of the Resolution Stage. Last night, we moved up to the Intermediate Green tray and I am loving it. I am absolutely loving it! :)) Just about everything is falling into the toilet. I'm no longer a slave to the Litter Kwitter!!!
Much less litter fits on this tray. In fact, so little that most of it is easily scratched away and into the toilet. This will be good for weaning them away from having litter there.
Tanya and Chanel took to it right away. I didn't do any stacking of trays before this switch. #1's are great and mostly go right into the bowl. Chanel has stopped side saddling because there isn't enough space. Tanya has gone back to #2's with two paws on the seat and going through the hole. Chanel doesn't quite get it yet for #2 and will need some time. The video below shows her first time on the Intermediate Green Tray. At least she got 1 paw on the seat....
Today is Day 73 of toilet training. Week 10 sounds better, don't you think? :)
I finally got a video of Chanel. She actually had 3 paws on the seat when I took this!
I really do think Tanya has regressed. I need to watch her closer. Today, I saw #2 on the floor in front of the toilet. It was apparent that it had fallen there from the Litter Kwitter seat. I can't be certain that it was Tanya, but I suspect so. For some reason, she has stopped aiming toward the hole for #2. I wonder why.... Backspash maybe? I'll do some searching for solutions for that. Or it could simply be the 'hit or miss' that just happens during training. It's best to ignore the mistakes and give them treats anyway.
I've been able to observe Tanya and Chanel over the past day or two since returning from my trip. I'll keep this tasteful and not give too graphic details about their excrement (let's face it, no one is really that interested in what comes out). That said, I will say that they both perform #1 in a great position every single time (see Tanya on the left). Even Chanel is finding it more comfortable to place front paws on the seat. I see her squat in weird positions initially and then eventually move herself into the sweet spot. But #2 needs some work. Even the sitter mentioned that she thought Tanya was regressing. When I left, she was going with at least 2 or 3 paws on the seat--bum facing centrally. But now, I see her with all fours in the litter tray.
Chanel also keeps all fours in the litter tray for #2, but I'm not as surprised by that. It is normal for cats to have more success with #1 than #2 through the hole at first. Hit or miss is common. The question that comes up again is....when do I move them along to the next stage? Tanya is for sure ready to move on. Is Chanel?
I will hold off switching to the Intermediate Green tray at least until Friday (in 3 days). This will give me the weekend to keep a watchful eye out for potential objections to the set up. According to the Litter Kwitter Training Booklet: "Once your cat is regularly placing both front paws and at least one of its rear paws on the seat and squatting approximately over the hole; this is your cue to move to the Green Stage." I think there is a little wiggle room on that because I will be moving to the Intermediate Green tray instead of the Main Green.
It's really nice to be back. Our group got to help a lot of people, but it was an exhausting week. I was looking forward to seeing how Tanya & Chanel were doing. I was especially curious to see what Chanel would be doing after 10 days.... Would she have 4 paws in the litter or 2?? They have been using the Main Amber tray for 2 weeks and 2 days.
I had a live-in sitter who took care of them and the Litter Kwitter. I gave her the instructions to make sure the Litter Kwitter was always cleaned after being used. Otherwise, there was a risk of the kitties finding another place to go. She did a great job! There were no problems at all. In fact, check out the picture of Chanel--completely un-messed with.
She put herself in this position and went right through the hole--without a hand or look from me! Wow and thank goodness!! I don't know if the intensive positioning that I did for an extended weekend helped or not. But, she's doing it by herself now. Whew!!! She doesn't always get it through the hole, but I've seen her with two paws on the seat everytime.
Tanya, on the other hand, looks like she's getting a little confused. It seems like she's trying to put all 4 paws on the seat AND 'go' through the hole. But, the hole is too small for it to happen. So, she ends up re-positioning herself to put all 2 or 4 paws in the litter. I think she's ready to move along to the Intermediate Green tray. Chanel might be ready, too.
I have decided to give them a couple days under my watchful eye before I graduate them to the next stage--the Intermediate Green Stage. I haven't gotten the Main Green tray from the Litter Kwitter company yet. It has been a while. Looks like I might need it within a month.
I am currently at the Miami airport waiting to board my flight to El Salvador for a volunteer medical service campaign. I left Tanya and Chanel with the Main Amber tray and I am confident they are at a stable stage. I think it will be good for them to have some time to get more comfortable with the set up without me meddling. I actually wonder what Chanel will look like when I get back. Will she still be squeezing herself between the hole and the seat? Will she learn on her own to put her front paws on the seat?
This morning, before I left, she came into the bathroom while I was at the sink. She placed herself in the usual position. I looked over at her, and she looked up at me. All of a sudden, she moved herself and placed her front paws on the seat. Aww! What a good girl & sweetheart she is! The next 10 days will be a good experiment to see if she only positions when I'm around. I notice her watching Tanya more, too.
If I get any updates from the sitter, I'll post them on the site. But I'll be back with pictures and a report of how they're doing when I return after Feb 3. Check in again!
It was overall a very good weekend. We are into Day 4 of using the Main Amber tray and I have to really put things into perspective. Tanya and Chanel are doing wonderfully! Tanya still does 3 to 4 paws on the seat. Hearing her twinkle-tinkle in the toilet has become a morning routine. It's better than an alarm clock because she prances into my room to vocally announce what she's done and forces me to wake up. I dutifully get up to reward her. :)
Chanel is also using the Amber tray 100% of the time. She is a bit more fascinated with the hole. She often sticks her head through it and paws at the space and water underneath it. They both love watching everything flush away. Already things are cleaner and I love it!
I have made some small changes to the set-up. I lifted the toilet seat to expose the Litter Kwitter 'seat' again. And I removed the green trays from underneath the Amber tray.
I need to admit, my "hands-off" approach lasted for about 2 and a half days! On Sunday, I started moving Chanel to face outward. I decided not to wait until she reached the 'point of no return' because I felt like it was futile by that point and she didn't learn anything. Now, when I hear or see her go into the bathroom, I also go in and close the door. Every time she positioned herself sideways, I would gently put her front paws on the seat and swing her butt around. At that point she would pause and then move to another spot and stand sideways. Again, I would gently put her front paws on the seat and swing her butt around. She would again pause, maybe purr a little, and then move to a new spot and stand sideways. We went through this cycle several times, and at first (on Sunday), she would eventually just remain in the position in which I placed her and use the toilet. On Monday, she eventually moved herself into the correct position! It has taken as long as 15-20 minutes and I often bring in some reading material. She is, of course, rewarded generously. This was probably not the best way for me to honor Dr. MLK Day, but I made up for it with some self-improvement resolutions.
Today--actually, just a couple minutes ago--I stopped writing to follow Chanel as she went into the bathroom. We did the usual routine, but only for about 2 minutes because she placed herself perfectly and peed through the hole!!! I was shocked that it didn't take longer! I didn't have time for a picture, but I'll try to get one this week.
Instead, here's a picture of Chanel getting caught trying to open a bag of treats. I don't know how she got the bag in the bathtub.
I made the switch. I was a little nervous to jump to the larger hole, so I created an intermediate step by stacking the trays again. I put the Intermediate Amber tray at the bottom, then a green tray, and the Main Amber tray on top. I put the green tray in the middle so that there would be a noticeable drop down that they would want to avoid. They weren't phased at all by this change, so I decided to try the full Main Amber tray.
They took to it well. Tanya shocked me when she put all 4 paws on the seat and peed right into the bowl! I gasped out loud! It was wonderful, but totally unexpected! Chanel...well you can look at the pictures to see what she did. At least she didn't go on the floor and she is trying. I just don't know what to do for her. I will probably spend the extended weekend (Dr. MLK day on Monday) thinking about how to manipulate the Litter Kwitter set-up so she will turn around on her own. At the same time, I don't want to create something that will hinder Tanya from perching correctly. Since I'll be going away in a week (for 10 days), I'm undecided about what to do. Should I just leave her alone for now and see what she looks like when I get back? Should I try to do as much as I can to turn her around before I leave? What do you think?
Well, you can see the difference in the paw positioning between my two kitties. Tanya is on the left, Chanel on the right. For now, I have chosen a "hands off" approach. The reason is mostly because I think it distresses Chanel too much. If I happen to catch her before she has started and move her, she stops completely and looks stressed out. I would hate to stress the poor thing more than necessary. So, I must clasp my hands in order to keep them from meddling with her.
Tanya is progressing well. This morning I woke up to the wonderful sound of titter-tatter tinkle in the toilet bowl! I was so proud. I actually broke my usual routine of staying under the down comforter until the very last minute and got up to give her a treat. At this point she has either 2 or 3 paws on the seat. Of course, the final goal is to get all 4 paws on the seat.
Tomorrow, I will start a trial with the Main Amber tray. This one has a larger hole. I don't want to push them too hard, but I will be going out of town again next Friday for a week. I will have a live-in kitty sitter (yes, my cats are spoiled), but I want them to be on a stable stage for the sitter. Starting tomorrow will give me the weekend to monitor them and go back to the Intermediate Amber tray if needed.
You may have noticed that I stopped making my entry title the 'day of toilet training'. As the number got higher (today is Day 50!), so did my anxiety about how long I've been doing this. What happen to only 21 days like the book says?!?! After reading stories on the Cats T-Training Yahoo Group, it could take months before Tanya and Chanel are fully trained. So instead of listing a number that brings up my own anxiety, I'll just put the date of entry :) I'll go as slow as I need to, as long as they are on the right track.
I have gotten some good advice from a couple members from the Cats T-Training Yahoo Group about positioning (thank you very much). Two people have said not to worry too much about it yet--Chanel's paws should move outward as the hole gradually enlarges. For now, I feel comfortable just letting her get comfortable with the set up. Here's a funny video of Chanel trying to find her spot and clumsy Tanya getting in the way....
We are now onto the complete Intermediate Amber tray. I removed the Red tray from underneath it yesterday morning. There is still curiosity about the hole, but not to the point of complete distraction. And paws aren't falling in anymore.
No big changes thus far. I am focusing on getting Chanel more centered and positioned. I put the toilet seat down to guide her away from the periphery.
Now, the challenge is to get her to put her front paws on the seat. I move her every chance I get, but she doesn't do it by herself yet.
I'm thinking about removing the red tray underneath in a couple days and see how they do with the hole again.