Toilet-train your cat this Christmas for the gift that keeps on giving. You'll save $200 a year per cat on litter. You'll also save time on schlepping to the store.
Oh yeah, there are other reasons to ditch the litter box. "There's feces and urine in it," Rebecca Rescate (right) told WalletPop. "It's disgusting."
Rescate is the founder and president of CitiKitty, which produces $29.99 kits to teach cats to do their business in the toilet within four to six weeks. Rescate's popular display was located closest to the entrance of the No Place Like Home Pet Product Showcase in Manhattan -- but it probably would have received a lot of attention anyway. Novelty, convenience (after some diligence by pet owners) and cost-effectiveness are apparently making CitiKitty catnip for a certain customer base. Rescate said she has sold 40,000 units since starting her company in 2005.
Several years ago, Rescate was living in a 500-square-foot Manhattan apartment with her husband and cat. The couple decided the place was too small to fit a cat box, so Rescate hit the Internet to research cat toilet training. She successfully converted her cat, Samantha, to the commode. At age 19, Samantha still goes in the bowl, Rescate proudly reports.
In a wacky historical oddity, Rescate discovered that jazz great Charles Mingus wrote a how-to guide on kitty toilet training. (Now we know that Mingus truly was a hepcat.) CitiKitty and competitors such as Little Kwitter generally riff on the Mingus principles. You slowly move the cat box toward the bathroom and gradually elevate it to toilet height. Then, over time, you place the box on the toilet seat. As the cat gets acclimated going above ground, you reduce the surface area of the box a little at a time from the center outward, until the cat can comfortably perch itself on the rim. The CitiKitty comes with removable plastic ovals that enable pet owners to strip away the cat box area one oblong doughnut at a time. Obviously there's more involved, but that should give you an idea of how it works.
Feline potty training has been gaining attention over the last few years, in part because of the green movement. Approximately 8 billion tons of cat litter choke landfills each year, according to thecatsite.com.
Wall Street Journal reporter Anne Marie Chaker wrote she was able to toilet-train one of her cats while another struggled. She added that the practice does have its detractors. Some animal behaviorists say it defies a cat's nature and can lead to feline acting out. There's a medical concern, too. Those who attempt pussycat potty training should keep their cat from going outside because it can pick up a certain parasite that might survive even in the sewage system.
But for sparing time, money and mess, it's an intriguing proposition.
To Rescate's customers, it's the cat's meow. "They're so proud of their cat, they send me photos," she said.
Toilet-Train Your Cat, Flush Less Money Down the Drain