The Cat Toilet Training Days

Whoever said that you can’t train cats obviously didn’t have a year of free time and at least eight hours for their cats. I have a officially toilet trained my cats Darla and Ezri (yes, we are that nerdy). Since they are one-year-olds, I am hoping for at least 19 years of kitty litter-free living. For those cat owners whose heart just skipped a beat, yes it is possible. But don’t run for your credit card just yet.

It was about this time last year when my wife’s sister told her about this cat toilet training system called CitiKitty. My wife and I had just adopted kittens so we figured that it would be an excellent time to toilet train. With a little research, the product not only was cheap, it also seemed easy:

Unfortunately my cats didn’t watch the video. The next year of our life would be officially known by historians as “The Year of the Poop.” That’s of course assuming historians were paying attention to me and more specifically my cats. But with all the  cats on treadmills and cats batting at faucet stream videos on YouTube, historians probably really will look at cats from our time.

History Teacher: The cat was revered by ancient societies. Their historical archive called YouTube had more cat videos than anything else.

Student: Didn’t they also have videos about people getting kicked in the balls?

History Teacher: Historians believed ball kicks were sacrifices to the gods. They had a day of worship called Monday Night Football. Foot… ball.

Students: Ahhhh!

Another Student: But what about awful music videos? Those were also pretty popular.

History Teacher: But the most popular video of all time was the Gundam Style Friday Cat getting kicked in the balls.

Students: Ooooh!

“The Year of the Poop” started simply enough. We bought the CitiKitty training system and flushable cat litter. You’d expect flushable litter would be in every store but for some reason only Target carried it. We put the litter on the toilet for about a month before we started to get them used it and went to Germany. We decided to start the training coming home from Europe.

So the next few months were rather smelly and messy but not the most difficult part. If you watched the video, it seems simple. Keep punching out rings in the cat litter until there’s none. It seemed easy but what they didn’t tell you is that a thin litter pan gets dirty very quickly so I had to scrub, every night. Of course the cats would force me to scrub every night because they would except no less than a clean pan.

Ezri: He’s not cleaning the pan.

Darla: Time to pee in his bed again.

Ezri: Wait till he’s sleeping in it.

We learned pretty quickly that training cats is like teaching your grandparents to use Facebook from a smart phone.

Grandma: It’s not working.

Me: It’s working, you have to enter the unlock code.

Grandma: The unlo-what?

Me: The code we setup when you got the phone.

Grandma: I didn’t set up a code. It’s making that noise again.

Me: It’s because your grandchildren have tagged you in a picture.

Grandma: Can they do that? Is it legal?

Me: Hi folks, I’m from the Elderly Against Smartphone Commission. You’ve probably had this same conversation with your grandparents week and after tedious week.

Grandma: I heard that.

Me: Please do yourself a favor and if you want to stay connected to your grandparents. Go visit them and don’t get them a Smartphone for fuck’s sake.

Grandma: I heard that too.

So needless to say, cats don’t change very easily. My wife’s sister and her girlfriend had to abandon their quest after the cats developed an affinity for peeing on the bathroom rug. Thankfully, my cats learned proper pee technique pretty early. The cats will eventually learn what you want them to learn, you just have to have more patience than Jesus. And Jesus has a lot of patience.

Jesus: Could I get a Big Mac meal?

Street Vendor: That won’t be invented for about 2,000 years.

Jesus: I’ll wait.

The secret to training your cats is positive reinforcement rather than negative.  When the cats would poop in a location that wasn’t the toilet (such as the bathtub), we’d spray them or scold them. The scolding would only end up making them scared to poop. So we bought treats to give to them for pooping. And covered the wrong places for them to poop with the electric fence for kitties. We filled the bathtub full of water. The first and last time she jumped in the bathtub was followed by a splash and a hilarious yowl. I really wish I was faster on the smart phone draw for that one.

Our more social cat, Darla, seemed to pick up the training very quickly. Her accidents were few and training seemed to stick. Ezri, the cat whose idea of a good time is hiding in the back room until someone sits at computer desk then venturing for a few moments of lap time, was a different story. She decided the toilet water is the litter. So she scraps the water before and after she uses it. For example:

When something jars her small world, like fireworks in July, or a friend staying in our guest room, she becomes convinced that the toilet is an abomination and will hold it until she has the hallway to herself at night. So we were determined to not have come so far on a dream. Martin Luther King’s first draft of the “I have a dream” speech was about his cats:

MLK: I have a dream that one day, cats will use toilets.

Buddy: Um… you may want to rewrite that.

MLK: But I bought this CitiKitty…

So in order to prevent night poopings, we locked the kitties in the bathroom at during the wee hours (Ha! I made a funny!). They surprisingly like being in the bathroom at night. When I pulled the cat tree into the bathroom, they sit on it and wait for me to tuck them in. I am assuming they like it for the same reasons dogs can be cage trained. But they probably really like being in the bathroom at night for other reasons.

Darla: The humans are asleep. Pull out your iPad.

Ezri: Got it.

Darla: Open your Cats Will Rule the World app and connect to the Southwest meeting.

So after about a year of picking up the cat and putting her on the toilet when I see her scrapping invisible litter in the hallway, and using kitty mind control (dehydrated shrimp snacks),  Ezri “Two Shrimps” Karas-Frale finally uses the toilet.  So perseverance does pay. Now, if I can only teach my cats to flush…

My wife: Hey Aaron, why do we have a $3,142 water bill?

Flush… flush… flush… in the background. I shrug. Laugh track and freeze frame.

More Than a Pot of Gold at the End of This Rainbow

I feel obligated to report on the toilets in Ireland after I make a big stink (HA! I MADE A FUNNY!) about travel writers not writing about bathrooms enough. I also hope that I am the first writer to take notes about the bathroom experience. So here is a little Irish Bathroom Experience in 3D! Poop flying at you from… The editors would apologize as we have discovered the Irish Bathroom Experience in 3D is on the list of banned 3D experiences. We’d like to continue this in regular D and possibly even blurry D or even no D.

This is the only picture I've reused. What does that say about me?

Ireland had the short, round bowls. American toilets have the longer bowls to let men feel better about themselves.

Let’s start with the logistics and history. I thought that it was going to be like Germany because in the Dublin airport, they were labeled WC which stands for “Water Conda”. They are called “Water Condas” because back in the olden days, giant anaconda’s used to rise out of the toilets and muscle burgeoning men like Arnold from Conan the Barbarian had to wrestle them into submission. The muscle burgeons would then allude to the snake being the actual size of their penis and the chicks fell for the bullshit. They made babies and we had musclemen pretty much ruling the world in the middle ages.

Nerdy skinny guys now rule society today because they invented toilets with holes too small for the anaconda’s to fit through. The musclemen didn’t want to compare their penis size with anything small even though the steroid abuse the eighties reduced their penis to size of something you’d study in a biology class.

Student: Mr. Finklestien! Conan the Barbarian is sticking his penis in my microscope slide again!

However, when we got out of the Dublin airport, the bathrooms were labeled toilets for the most part. Most places marked the men’s room as Gents and the women’s were labeled “those other people without rights such as abortion.” While I can’t verify the women’s, the men’s bathrooms were really clean in Ireland. There was the occasional pub here and there that could use a cleaning but nothing like in America where men pee on the walls as if they were a sprinkler system.

But I think that brings me to the big cultural difference of Ireland versus the US – the urinals. In the US, men have barriers between themselves when they pee. There is also the code. You never pee next to someone else unless you can avoid it. Never look towards someone else while you pee-especially in the eyes. And never, ever try to talk to them.

American One begins to pee. American Two comes in and starts to pee two urinals down.

American Two: Tiger is at -6.

American One turns into Cthulhu.

Cthulhu: You have unleashed the powers of darkness! I will engulf the world. The raw power of evil unleashed-

American Two: Whoa! I’m going to need some expository dialogue. How did I do that?

Cthulhu: The magic that bound me to my mortal imprisonment said that if a man speak to a another stranger during the sacred time of pee, Evil shall rise up and destroy the Earth.

American Two: That’s  stupid.

Cthulhu: Tell me about it. My cousin is slumbering from a magic that will be broken if a woman uses the men’s room even if there is a long line to the women’s and the men’s bathroom is a single person one anyway.

American Two: Wow. That’s weird.

Cthulhu: Ancient slumbering evil has a lot of rules and regulations. I remember when you could just slaughter indiscriminately.

American Two: Those where the days.

Cthulhu: For sure! So true.

HP Lovecraft's Ancient Evil Poop

“Who forgot to flush? That’s so disgusting that I can’t really describe it and would have you, the reader, imagine the horror I’m experiencing.”

In my experience of Ireland, men had no problem with a little bathroom conversation. It’s probably because there were really no privacy barriers between urinals and in some cases no urinals-just a pissing wall with a time release water flow to rinse off the wall. With my American sensibilities of privacy, I found myself hiding out in the stall and avoiding the urinals-which made for over hearing interesting conversation.

Irish One: Tiger is up by two.

Irish Two: There should be rain tomorrow.

Irish Three: Does anyone know how to get to the Ferry?

Irish Four: Strait up the road to Galway keep the ocean on your left.

The Irish are the best small talkers on the planet. Everyone is super friendly and willing chat. Maybe it’s the shared sense of urinal space that encourages small talk. Maybe other men’s wangs flopping freely in the bathroom makes people from any culture uncomfortable. What better way to dispel discomfort than small talk?

As an American traveling in a country that strongly influenced the culture of the US, maybe Americans are just like rebellious teenagers. “They don’t have dividers in the urinals, we’ll show them! We’ll put dividers! How are you going to small talk now! I’ll listen to my music as loud as I want too!” Or maybe I’m reading too much into it and I’m putting more thought into the bathroom than the inventor of the toilet.

Sir Edgar Toilet I: I am Sir Edgar Toilet the first and I am severely offended by this. I think a lot about the toilet. My offspring now have a pretty shitty dynastic connection… no pun intended. Either way, I demand the immediate cessation of this article. Why are you looking at me like that? Because I said cess? Cess is a normal function of everyday life. Why can’t we talk about it? I swim in cesspools at least twice a week. It connects me to nature.

Kind of looks like a mug shot...

“Hey sweet cheeks, you want to make a movie?”

The editors would like to apologize for the interruption and would like to return to the Oscar winning movie Argo (already in progress).

Iranian Solider: You expect me to believe that you are really making a movie.

Solider turns around and Ben Affleck has his clothes off.

Iranian Solider: Oh… it’s that kind of movie.

Queue music… Solider unzips…

The Worldly Poop

Comedy writers always ask the tough questions. Or at least the questions that nobody else asks. Is it just me or do people grunting while pooping make you uncomfortable? I always feel a little weird when the stall next door is full of:

For added fun, track your poops during the week!

Now you know the types of poop. You’re welcome.

Phtttttp.

Ahhhh…

Phhhhtttp.

Errrr…..

Phhhhhhhhttttttttpppppppp…

AHHHHHHH!

 SPLASH. SPLASH. SPLASH.

YES! YES! YES!

And of course you get the picture.  It’s like they have to prove their manhood over the shit. It sort of weirds me out to hear someone grunting away like they are wrestling a bear in the next stall over. I always thought men were noisy poopers.  That was until I went to Germany. Life was much quieter in Berlin. My wife and I noticed the noise difference right away. We would be in a crowded subway platform and hear noises like the rustle of a newspaper or scuff of a shoe on pavement. In New York, the equivalent subway platform crowd would sound like Muppets being squeezed in the Death Star’s trash compactor.

Kermit: Shut down all the trash compactors on the detention level!

R2Animal2 and CFozziO are smoking a joint. R2Animal2 blows out a big puff of smoke.

CFozziO: Waka… waka… that’s funny shit man.

Sounds of Muppets death permeate the room.

CFozziO: Deep man… fucking deep.

R2Animal2 drools.

The volume level is just lower in Germany. My wife and I started talking quietly while we where there. We talked at what would be conspiratorial levels in the USA because if we talked any louder, we would stick out. And judging by the fact that a man asked us to sign a petition on the subway platform, I think we did a good job blending in. Well, at least until they heard us talk.

Me: Svien Curry Verst Bitter mitt pomme French fries.

Translation: I’m an American. Give me anything and I’ll smile and nod.

I wonder what search terms will lead to this post?

We need a new poopography plan. It’s all going to Antarctica.

The German pooping experience was completely different from back home. I’m used to the apocalypse happening in the stall next door back home. In Berlin… nothing. A crowded bathroom. And truly no noise. Sure, there was the occasional rustle of toilet paper and maybe a shift but it was truly a place where you can poop in quiet. I loved it. I never felt awkward while the heavy breathing guy in the next stall ruined what should be a relaxing poop.

I’m not really the travel writer but why don’t the travel blogs and shows cover pooping? Pooping is quite literally something we all have to do, every day! Wouldn’t it be nice to know what to expect. I mean Germany was a five star poop-not only were they quiet but they were pristine as most of the toilets were self cleaning!  Whereas I’ve been to other places hovering over the seat and wondering what kind of foul poop dwelling bugs could jump.

So Lonely Planet, if you are reading this post, write more about places to poop! We clueless travelers need to know! Or pay me to travel around the world and I’ll poop in every country. Either way, I think this is a very important issue. Write your congress person today! Tell them you care about poop and not about these stupid issues like debt ceiling, gun control, and healthcare.

The Flush Mob

Science has reached a new pinnacle. They have answered the question that keeps everyone up at night. What if every toilet in the US flushed at the same time? Considering the year is 2012, I’ve always wondered how it will all end. If we could choose the way go, 350 million toilets flushing at the same time would be my choice.

The Flush Mob In Action

Swirl of civil action

So I urge everyone to get together to make the first ever “flush mob”. We can start small in public restrooms with a boombox blaring out YMCA and move to larger displays such as the 1812 Overture in large stadium bathrooms. But rest assured, we will not stop until the entire US is part of the “flush mob.”

Why bother galvanizing the people to get together to help the environment, end violence, bridge the class divide, or other such silliness?

Bystander: He’s going to say it.

We need to start a grass poops movement…

Bystander: (sigh) He said it.

Toilets are the most important issue facing the world today. We should dedicate all our energy and our efforts. I would start a petition for such a noble cause but I am too busy flushing my toilet and giggling. How does the water know which way to go each time? Amazing!