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Pets Aboard: And Now for Something Completely Different (Plus, Train Your Cat To Use the Head)


Donatello the ocicat has a personality similar to that of a dog. He must always keep track of his humans—even if that means going to sea. But Donatello has a talent few dogs will ever master.

Donatello, whose full name is Donatello Oscar delle Macchie (“of the spots” in Italian), accompanies Scott and Phillip on their Greenline 33 Abfab on trips in and around Sweden, Denmark, Germany and the Baltic.

“We all find a litter box unpleasant and inconvenient, therefore Donatello uses the head, just like his humans,” Scott says.

Donatello is the first cat to be featured in Pets Aboard, and hopefully he will inspire other cat lovers to share their pictures, too.


First a little about the ocicat, courtesy of Wikipedia, then a lesson in how to train your cat to use the head like Donatello, reprinted with permission from Wikihow.

 The ocicat is an all-domestic breed of cat which resembles a wild cat but has no wild DNA in its gene pool. The breed is unusual in that it is spotted like a wild cat but has the temperament of a domestic animal. It is named for its resemblance to the ocelot. The breed was established from Siamese and Abyssinian stock; later, American Shorthairs (silver tabbies) were added to the mix and gave the breed their silver color, bone structure and distinct markings…

Ocicats are said to be a very outgoing breed. Most can easily be trained to fetch, walk on a leash and harness, come when called, speak, sit, lie down on command and a large array of other dog-related tricks. Most are especially good at feline agility because they are very toy-driven. Some even take readily to the water.

Ocicats are also very friendly and sociable. They are not often shy around strangers. This makes them great family pets, and most can also get along well with animals of other species, although they are likely to assert their dominance over all involved. Ocicats make excellent pets for people who want to spend a lot of time with their cat, but they do require more attention than cats who aren't so people-oriented.

How to train your cat to use the head from

  1. Move the cat's litter box so that it is positioned right next to the toilet. Keep it like this for at least a day, or for as long as you think is needed for your cat to grow accustomed to the new toileting arrangement.
  2. Gradually raise the litter box up by placing phone books (or something similar) under it. Repeat daily until the box is of equal height to the toilet. Whenever you raise the box, take a little bit of the litter out of the box. You may need to secure the litter box to the phone books or whatever it's sitting on so that it doesn't move when the cat jumps onto it.
  3. Move the box over 1 inch (2 1/2 cm) onto the seat. Repeat daily until the box is directly over the seat. Continue gradually decreasing the amount of litter in the box until there is only a thin layer (less than 1 inch/2.5cm) of it left.
  4. Replace the litter box with a "training box". You have a few different options here, but the important thing to remember is to make sure the "training box" can hold your cat's weight if he steps or jumps onto it:
  • Lift the toilet seat and tape a piece of wax paper over the hole so that the toilet looks like a drum. Lower the seat over the wax paper.
  • If you can, add flushable litter.
  • Lift the toilet seat and tape a bowl or aluminum pan to the edges. Put the seat down so that it holds the bowl in place. (See video below.) If you can, add flushable litter.
  • Alternatively, use a commercial training device, sold specifically for this purpose. Ask at your local pet store for advice.
  • Clean the litter in your training box after each use and sprinkle some catnip in the clean litter.

5. Transition into the cat using only the toilet. If using wax paper or an aluminum pan, cut a hole about one inch (2.5cm) in diameter in the center and gradually increase the size of the hole until it is almost gone.

  • If you're using a training seat, remove the rings, one at time. This is done to gradually get the cat used to urinating or defecating into water.
  • Simultaneously, no matter which method you're using, reduce the amount of litter so that there is no litter when the paper, bowl, or device is removed.

6. Flush the toilet after your kitten urinates. Not only is this sound hygiene for all members of the household, but some cats are shy about defecating onto urine. Do not teach your cat to flush. Although it is possible, once they learn, many seem to enjoy it and will do it all the time, even when it's not appropriate to do so as no business has been done. This wastes water.&

7. Try rewarding the cat or kitten with treats after a successful toilet experience. This will positively reinforce a job well done.