Many people decide to get a Savannah cat due to their incredibly unique personalities. As they’re a hybrid species, they can behave rather differently than domestic cats. This leaves many owners wondering if they can train a Savannah cat to use the toilet.
The 5 steps to training a Savannah cat to use the toilet are:
- Gradually move the litter box to the bathroom
- Elevate the litter tray
- Place the litter box on the toilet seat
- Replace the litter box with a training pan
- Remove the training pan
- Have patience
This article will help determine if toilet training is right for you and your Savannah, as it’s not always the right thing to do. First, we’ll take a look at why you might want to train your Savannah cat to use the toilet in the first place.
Why Train A Savannah Cat To Use The Toilet?
One of the main allures of being able to train your Savannah cat to use the toilet is to eliminate the need to clean their litter box. The thought of not having to deal with kitty litter, an unsightly box, and worst of all the potential smells is like a dream come true for many cat owners, Savannah cats included.
In truth the only real reason someone would want to train their cat to use the toilet isfor themselves. There are no benefits for your Savannah to using a toilet and it’s merely to remove the need to clean a litter box.
Eliminating Bad Smells
If you know that you don’t manage to stick to cleaning their box at least once a day, this could be a good reason for you to toilet train your Savannah. Dirty litter boxes can make for many bad smells around your house. While using a toilet isn’t completely smell free, it can help reduce the smell a lot, and your cat’s waste will be flushed more often than you would scoop.
Another reason you may opt to toilet train your Savannah is to avoid using clay litters as they can have a serious impact on the environment, as well as affect you and your Savannah’s health. Clay litters are known for having carcinogens that can harm both of you when inhaled and have been linked to feline upper respiratory disorders. Clay litters also fill up landfills and are not biodegradable.
While there are other natural litters using corn, recycled paper, or even pine, they are also usually more expensive. Believe it or not training your Savannah cat to use the toilet will cost you less than using any type of litter when you compare how much water is used versus how much litter is used.
Some cat owners opt to toilet train their cat to reduce the potential risk of contracting toxoplasmosis, a parasite that can be contracted by humans if they come into contact with cat feces. Most cats will contract the parasite by eating wildlife such as a mouse or other small rodent, and the parasitic eggs are then passed through their body and deposited when your Savannah cat uses the litter box.
Once the eggs have left the body and are present in the litter box, they take 1-5 days to incubate and become infectious. If you are someone who does not clean the box often you can potentially put yourself at more risk of contracting the parasite, which can cause great discomfort for several weeks.
While this is generally an issue for Savannahs that spend more time outdoors in say a catio or fenced yard, it is still possible for rodents and other small carriers of the parasite to end up in your house, where your Savannah might catch them. If contracting toxoplasmosis is something you fear will be a risk for you and your family then this could be another reason to toilet train your cat.
Accidents Can Still Happen
During the training process it can be very messy, and accidents are more likely to occur, forcing you to potentially have more contact with your Savannah’s waste than desired. Even after training, cats are not always the best at aiming and can sometimes miss the bowl, leaving you with a mess to clean up!
Whatever you choose to do, just to be sure that you are making the decision to toilet train not just for you but also your Savannah. If toilet training doesn’t seem to fit your cat or if they are having an extra hard time adjusting, it may be better to just let them do things their own way. There are many great electronic scooping litter boxes out there for those who are against scooping!
When Not To Train A Savannah Cat To Use The Toilet
As we have already discussed, the main reason for toilet training a Savannah cat is for the convenience of the owner. There are in fact many cat behaviorists and veterinarians that are adamantly against teaching a cat to use a toilet, as it goes against their natural instincts and behavior.
For example, cats naturally have the urge to dig a hole and then bury their waste, which stems from a wild instinct to evade other predators by covering up their scent. This urge to bury their waste is the very reason humans started using litter boxes for their cats in the first place. Even in the absence of litter your cat may still attempt to bury their waste by scratching at the toilet.
This act of scratching is also a way for your cat to mark their territory and leave behind their scent, making them feel more comfortable and at home. The problem with this scratching is that your toilet seat may suffer some damage, especially if it’s made from soft materials.
For some cats this false sense of burying their waste may not last and could potentially cause them stress. Various types of stress in cats can unfortunately lead to different behavioral problems including finding somewhere else to do their business. This could mean your Savannah chooses to go in your bed, laundry, or other unwanted areas instead of the toilet.
While these unwanted areas do not offer litter to bury, they more often than not have something else such as a blanket or clothing that your Savannah will scratch at and use to cover their waste. This can be quite frustrating and cause you more problems. Some cats just will not accept this unnatural way of going to the toilet.
It Might Be Hard For Them
Another issue you might run into is that, over time, using the toilet will become physically difficult for your Savannah. Most felines, including Savannahs, will develop arthritis at some point in their lives, sometimes as early as 8 years old and almost always from age 12 and older. This can make it difficult to make the jump to the toilet seat without the assistance of steps or a ramp.
Even with assistance getting up to the bowl, the balancing act that is required to use a toilet can be challenging for a senior cat. The position in which they need to prevent themselves from falling off or even into the bowl can put a lot of pressure on their joints, making using the bathroom quite difficult and painful for your Savannah cat.
This unnatural position which your Savannah must take to use the toilet even at a young age can speed up the process of developing achy joints, leading to early onset arthritis. If your cat is in pain when it uses the toilet it can turn the whole experience into something traumatic and stressful.
Two Big Problems
If your Savannah doesn’t feel comfortable while using the toilet one of two things could happen. On the one hand you could end up with a Savannah that refuses to use the toilet due to pain and will do their business elsewhere. On the other you face the problem of your Savannah refusing to go to the bathroom all together.
By refraining from urinating or defecating your Savannah can put themselves at risk of urinary blockages or infections, as well as just becoming backed up and uncomfortable. These risks can put your cat in serious danger if they are not addressed immediately. Blockages can even be fatal if not caught in time, and even if they are it can cost thousands in vet bills.
If you plan on toilet training your Savannah kitten, just be prepared to have to substitute with a litter box at some point in their later years. With that said, you should never attempt to toilet train an already geriatric cat (7 years or older), as they will have a much more difficult time physically.
Monitoring Their Health
Another reason toilet training is often discouraged by veterinarians and cat behaviorists is that you are flushing away a useful health monitoring tool. Most pet owners can tell a lot about their animal’s health just based on their waste.
Your cat’s waste can tell you a lot about their health, and by flushing it away you may never be aware of your cat’s underlying health problems. Diarrhea or constipation can be signs of a variety of different health problems and can tell you if your cat is dehydrated or holding onto water. Parasites can also be visible in your cat’s feces, but you are less likely to notice if it’s in the toilet.
Urine is another great indicator of your cat’s health, even if you are not around when they are doing their business. With a litter box you will notice if there’s any discoloration in their urine or if there is more or less urine than usual. A lack of urination can be a sign of a URI or urinary blockage that can cause kidney stones, making things very uncomfortable for your Savannah.
Sharing The Toilet
Remember you are also now committing to sharing your toilet with your Savannah, and that can have someconsequences. While you may be able to patiently wait while your cat visits the bathroom, they may not show you the same courtesy and opt to go next to the toilet or elsewhere in the house. This is especially true if you only have one bathroom in the house.
As a final note on the disadvantages of toilet training, it’s difficult to travel with your pet if they are toilet trained. If you will be staying with friends or family, they will need to be okay with your Savannah sharing the toilet. It may be a good idea for you to have your Savannah trained for both box and toilet if you plan on bringing them on trips.
Ultimately, it’s best to discuss toilet training with your vet and see if it’s a viable option for you and your Savannah. Your cat’s health is your number one priority over the convenience of never having to worry about a litter box. However, there are still many Savannah owners out there that have had a lot of success with toilet training and avoided the drawbacks.
How To Train A Savannah Cat To Use The Toilet
1. Gradually Move The Litter Box To The Bathroom
You want to first start out by slowly moving your cat’s litter box closer to the bathroom and ultimately closer to the toilet. Depending on where you currently keep your litter box this could take some time, but if you already have your box located in a bathroom, things will be much easier. Ideally you want the box to be as close to the toilet as possible.
2. Elevate The Litter Tray
Once the litter box has been next to the toilet for a week or two, you want to try raising it up a level. Don’t raise it too much at once, as you need to remember this is a game of patience. The goal is to ultimately keep raising the litter box until it’s at the same level as the toilet seat.
3. Place The Litter Box On The Toilet Seat
Here is where things start to get tricky with sharing your toilet, as you must now place the litter box or pan on top of the toilet seat. Remember, unless you have multiple toilets you will now have to remove the box every time you need to use the bathroom. While only temporary, this can be a dealbreaker for some. This step usually lasts about 1-2 weeks depending on your Savannah.
4. Replace The Litter Box With A Training Pan
During this step you can now use a toilet training kit. This gives you the option to essentially insert a pan into the toilet secured by the toilet seat. This pan will still contain your Savannah’s litter of choice for now.
If you opt to use a training kit, most come with multiple inserts with varying sized holes in the middle. The initial insert has a small opening in the middle or no opening at all, and as you gradually progress the hole gets bigger, simulating what a normal toilet requires. You can accomplish a similar effect by cutting larger and larger holes in a chafing dish while saving some money.
The goal of this step is to slowly get your Savannah used to having to balance themselves on the edge of the toilet seat. It also gradually removes your cat’s litter, allowing them to adjust to a litter free lifestyle.
5. Remove The Training Pan
Each insert could take up to a week to replace, ultimately taking up to four or more weeks depending on the number of steps your kit comes with. Once you have reached the last insert and your Savannah seems comfortable balancing themselves mainly on the edges of the seat you mayremove it. After removal try and monitor your cat closely to ensure they have adjusted to it.
6. Have Patience
Savannahs are known for their intelligence and training abilities, but every Savannah is uniquein their own way. Some may be able to graduate through the training process with ease, while others may need some more time. If you find your cat has not quite adjusted take a step back to their last successful insert.
Remember to take your time with each step and realize that the times given by this article and others you might find online are just guidelines. Ultimately it will be up to your Savannah how long their training will take and whether or not it will be successful.
It’s also important to reward your Savannah for a job well done. If you see them using their training kit or the toilet without assistance, give them a treat or play with a toy. Your Savannah will ultimately associate your rewards with their actions in the bathroom.
As a final tip it is not recommended to show your Savannah how to also flush the toilet on their own. While this may seem tempting as a way to remove all contact with your cat’s potty time, it could also backfire on you. Flushing the toilet could become a very entertaining game for your Savannah, leading to water waste and higher bills!
If you have decided to take the plunge into training your Savannah to use the toilet it is usually best to start when they are young. However, you do not want to start them younger than six months as there is a lot more potential for them to fall into the toilet. Falling into the toilet as a young kitten can be very dangerous, especially if you’re not around when it happens.
Tools You Need To Train A Savannah Cat To Use The Toilet
The tools needed for toilet training are pretty basic and don’t require a lot of investment. Most owners will already have a litter box, as even if you are training a kitten, you’ll still need one to start out. If you are training a kitten, you can get a pretty cheap litter pan or even a chafing dish, as long as it is large enough for your kitten to do their business while burying their waste.
Because you are starting out with a litter box you will need to pick out a suitable litter to use in the meantime. It’s best to avoid using a clay-based litter, based on the health risks we discussed earlier, and to instead opt for a more natural based litter such as corn, newspaper pellets, or wood pellets. Farm supply stores often have cheap natural wood-based pellet litters.
You’ll also want a cat toilet training kit or some type of disposable pan (like a chafing dish) that you can insert into the toilet. There are quite a few toilets training kits on the market now usually costing between $25 and $75.While they are definitely the pricier option they are usually very well made and come with detailed instructions on how to use them.
If buying a kit seems a bit too pricey or if you just prefer to do things yourself, you can purchase a few disposable pans that you can cut various hole sizes in to simulate the store-bought products. These pans can work just as well but may need to be replaced more often than the sturdier inserts found in the kits.
Toilet training may be more convenient for you, but it can ultimately go against your Savannah’s natural instincts to bury their waste and remove a valuable way of monitoring your cat’s health. However, if you decide that toilet training your Savannah cat is the right thing to do, just follow the 6 steps we outlined above!