A friend's cat is going to live with me for the next few weeks while my friend is out of town. This cat is used to using the bathroom in showers, which her usual owner simply cleans out regularly. This has been the cat's routine for years.

However, I only have one shower, and the thought of cleaning out the cat's refuse and then stepping into the shower afterwards is uncomfortable to me. So I bought the cat a litterbox. How can I convince the cat to use the litterbox while she's staying with me?

I know I can't force her to use the litterbox, so I don't plan on punishing or getting angry with her if she doesn't do what I want. And I understand that she might be more determined to keep her habits than I am to retrain her, so if I can't convince her, I'll accept the status quo. I'm looking for the approach that gives me the best chances of retraining her without causing her any pain or discomfort along the way.

The cat is 15 years old and in good health. She's very friendly. I've only seen her a couple of times, but we got along very well, so aside from this one issue, I expect we're going to be completely happy with each other's company.

  • 1
    Given the current world crisis, it very well might be recommended that your friend not go on this trip at all unless absolutely necessary. Even if where you live is not currently under lock down, those places that are have become locked down very rapidly. I would be worried your friend might not be able to even come back in the foreseeable future if they really went away for several weeks.
    – Kai
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 16:54
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    @Kai That's the reason my friend is going on the trip. She wants to weather the pandemic with her family instead of in town, where she'd largely be on her own. I'm prepared to take care of her cat as long as it takes for her to return.
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 20, 2020 at 17:40
  • @Kevin in that case - you may have the cat for many months.
    – user6796
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 12:38
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    @YvetteColomb Yep, I understand that and am willing to take care of her for that long if that's what's needed. (I've been wanting a cat of my own for years, so I'm enjoying myself!)
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 15:42

4 Answers 4


Cats have an instinct to bury their waste. So it's likely that if you simply make the litterbox available, the cat will use it, at least for poop. You might even consider putting the litterbox in the shower, and moving it whenever you want to shower.

Other than that, I think any type of training you do will simply create confusion for the cat, and problems for the owner when they are reunited.

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    The cat used the shower for the first couple days she spent with me. I just left a litter box out, though, and after a while, she started using it on her own with little prompting from me. Thank you for the advice! :)
    – Kevin
    Commented Mar 27, 2020 at 20:04

I personally feel like there's a good chance this will not go well at all for you. Cats are highly territorial, and so transplanting to a whole new space will be very stressful, which can lead to litterbox problems on its own. Furthermore, the cat is quite old, and older animals tend to not deal with change and stress as well as young animals.

The other concern I have is that there's a decent chance the cat doesn't necessarily think shower = where it should eliminate. It might think that particular room is where it should eliminate, but doesn't necessarily generalize that to other bathrooms. Given nothing familiar, it may very well pick any of your rooms as its new spot. It would be an easier task to retrain the cat to use a litterbox in the space its already used to. Then you could start by placing a large lid-less litterbox in the shower, so that it will have no choice but to use that, and then try to very gradually move the box to a more convenient location.

Lastly, you should be aware that cat urine in particular is extremely difficult to fully clean. Even if you think it is clean, the likelihood is that residue is still there, unless you went out of your way to make absolutely sure it is clean. Your friend's bathroom is likely very unsanitary from years of having a cat urinate in it. It is never recommended to simply allow the cat to use anything other than a litterbox.

If I were you, I would try to care for the animal in your friend's home instead. If your friend is concerned about the cat being alone so long, you might even consider offering to just live there and housesit while they are gone.

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    "I would try to care for the animal in your friend's home instead" Considering that it's entirely possible that the OP's area might go into a lockdown that prohibits leaving the house..."
    – nick012000
    Commented Mar 24, 2020 at 6:11

Cats learn their entire life, so please do not worry about the litterbox. Most likely you will only need to show her the litterbox and how to dig a little.

To show her how to dig, you simply put the cat onto the litter and take her paw and dig a little. You will need to take the lid off the litterbox and leave if/or until she understands what you want.

The thing you want to do is to put the litterbox in a quiet place of your house, so she can do her stuff undisturbed.

If the cat has problems finding the new litterbox, she will let you know. You might want to leave the lid off the litterbox for the first day or so, until she starts to use it.

It might be best if you close the shower or she might use it, I find it strange that the owner lets her use the shower as a toilet.


Given the cat's owner is going away for sometime, it's entirely possible for you to train the cat, but time and patience is key.

Start by using a shallow tray type litter box and keep it in the showers. Once she is in the routine of using it, you can move it out of the shower and place it next to the shower.

Bit by bit you can gradually move the litter box.

I'd recommend not complicating the issue by using a deep litter tray or one with a roof. The cat needs easy access to it and for it to be apparent that is has "diggable" substance in it, conducive to burying waste.

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