Charles Mingus: Trailblazer in Feline Toilet Training

Zooillogix knows you depend on us for the latest in groundbreaking cat toilet training research and technology. Today we bring you sage advice from the father of feline toilet training. Since when does Zooillogix bring you two stories about regular house cats defecating in the same week you ask? Since Charles Mingus stepped on the scene. That's right, "The Angry Man of Jazz" shares his methodology for training his rapscallion of a kitty, Nightline, below (reproduced from here)

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Cat-Toilet PicFirst, you must train your cat to use a home-made cardboard litter box, if you have not already done so. (If your box does not have a one-piece bottom, add a cardboard that fits inside, so you have a false bottom that is smooth and strong. This way the box will not become soggy and fall out at the bottom. The grocery store will have extra flat cardboards which you can cut down to fit exactly inside your box.)

Be sure to use torn up newspaper, not kitty litter. Stop using kitty litter. (When the time comes you cannot put sand in a toilet.)

Once your cat is trained to use a cardboard box, start moving the box around the room, towards the bathroom. If the box is in a corner, move it a few feet from the corner, but not very noticeably. If you move it too far, he may go to the bathroom in the original corner. Do it gradually. You've got to get him thinking....

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Then he will gradually follow the box as you move it to the bathroom. (Important: if you already have it there, move it out of the bathroom, around, and then back. He has to learn to follow it. If it is too close to the toilet, to begin with, he will not follow it up onto the toilet seat when you move it there.) A cat will look for his box. He smells it.


Now, as you move the box, also start cutting the brim of the box down, so the sides get lower. Do this gradually.

Finally, you reach the bathroom and, eventually, the toilet itself. Then, one day, prepare to put the box on top of the toilet. At each corner of the box, cut a little slash. You can run string around the box, through these slashes, and tie the box down to the toilet so it will not fall off. Your cat will see it there and jump up to the box, which is now sitting on top of the toilet (with the sides cut down to only an inch or so.)

Don't bug the cat now, don't rush him, because you might throw him off. Just let him relax and go there for awhile-maybe a week or two. Meanwhile, put less and less newspaper inside the box.


One day, cut a small hole in the very center of his box, less than an apple-about the size of a plum-and leave some paper in the box around the hole. Right away he will start aiming for the hole and possibly even try to make it bigger. Leave the paper for awhile to absorb the waste. When he jumps up he will not be afraid of the hole because he expects it. At this point you will realize that you have won. The most difficult part is over.

From now on, it is just a matter of time. In fact, once when I was cleaning the box and had removed it from the toilet, my cat jumped up anyway and almost fell in. To avoid this, have a temporary flat cardboard ready with a little hole, and slide it under the toilet lid so he can use it while you are cleaning, in case he wants to come and go, and so he will not fall in and be scared off completely. You might add some newspaper up there too, while you are cleaning, in case your cat is not as smart as Nightlife was.


Now cut the box down completely until there is no brim left. Put the flat cardboard, which is left, under the lid of the toilet seat, and pray. Leave a little newspaper, still. He will rake it into the hole anyway, after he goes to the bathroom. Eventually, you can simply get rid of the cardboard altogether. You will see when he has got his balance properly.

Don't be surprised if you hear the toilet flush in the middle of the night. A cat can learn how to do it, spurred on by his instinct to cover up. His main thing is to cover up. If he hits the flush knob accidentally and sees that it cleans the bowl inside, he may remember and do it intentionally.

Also, be sure to turn the toilet paper roll around so that it won't roll down easily if the cat paws it. The cat is apt to roll it into the toilet, again with the intention of covering up- the way he would if there were still kitty litter.

It took me about three or four weeks to toilet train my cat, Nightlife. Most of the time is spent moving the box very gradually to the bathroom. Do it very slowly and don't confuse him. And, remember, once the box is on the toilet, leave it a week or even two. The main thing to remember is not to rush or confuse him.

Good luck. Charles Mingus

Why and when did Charles Mingus write this down and how did it make it on the internet 25 years after his death? This is up there with crop circles and Stonehenge.

Thanks to our Deep Throat, known only as "barney", for sharing this with us.

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This is just freaky weird. I mean, you just don't expect to find pet care advice from long-dead jazz greats on the internet. What's next? Tips for house-breaking your new puppy from Thelonious Monk? Maybe some recommendations for canary care from - who else? - Charlie Parker...

I've heard rumours about this for years, but never read it until now.
Is there anything that man couldn't do?

I can only second G's comments - that's full-on weird. I really did think I'd seen it all, but this takes the biscuit.

That cat's the only cat who knew where it's at.

I wish I could remember where I heard about Mingus's cat-training experiments in the first place. It was probably somebody's show on KALX 7 or 8 years ago.

Our 9 month-old daughter has a book entitled "Charlie Parker Played Be-bop" (link) which admonishes the reader to "never leave your cat alone," but I'm not sure how this ties in (she will have to wait a few years before she learns that Charlie Parker shot smack).

I had no idea about the Mingus connection. Cool dadio.

If my cat wasn't already in her twilight years, I'd so be using ANY method to get away from cleaning the catbox. I think she's a tad set in her ways. She's liable to start relieving herself in my closet if I start changing things nwo.

Perhaps Coltrane has insights into dog training we've never heard of? ;p

By arachnophile (not verified) on 05 Dec 2007 #permalink