Outdoor Potty Guide

In this guide you will (hopefully) learn everything you need to know about going potty while adventuring!

Most indoor cats are used to using a litter box with a specific type of litter, and can be particular about it. Cats will generally pee 2 – 4 times a day, and poop once a day, depending on your cat’s toilet habits. This means that they can generally hold their pee for around 6 hours, and can hold their poop until the end of the day. If your adventure trips are much shorter than this, there’s a good chance that they won’t feel the need to go potty when outdoors.

If you go on longer trips, its a good idea to make sure they know they can go when they need to, especially if you don’t want to be carrying around a litter box.


Why should I let my cat poop outside?

Having a cat who is comfortable going potty outside can make your adventures much easier. You won’t have to worry about how long they are holding it, and you won’t have to carry a litter box around. In fact, I don’t keep a open litter box in my car, and never have – Teddy just waits until the next stop to find a nice spot if he needs it.

Cats are generally picky with where they do their business, so even if they are used to going outside, they are very unlikely to have “accidents”. They will always try to find a suitable spot where they can bury, such as soil, grass, or snow, which is typically not found in any indoor spaces.


How can I train my cats to potty outdoors?

Unfortunately, there isn’t really a way to “train” cats to potty outdoors. They will go when they feel the need, and don’t really go on command. However there are some things you could do to encourage them:

  • Find areas of softer soil or sand, as opposed to hard ground like concrete pavement. They will prefer texture similar to the litter they are used to.
  • Find a quiet spot, so they will feel safe enough to go. If they are over stimulated they won’t feel safe enough because they feel like they need to run at any second.
  • Find a familiar area, such as a park close to home where the cat visits regularly. They might feel safer and more comfortable.
  • Encourage them to dig, which might help them associate with using the litter box. You can do this by digging with a stick or using your shoe.
  • Stay outdoors for longer, so they’ll feel the need to go. Otherwise they’ll just wait until they are home.
  • Bring a poop bag or two, always! You never know when they’ll suddenly decide to poop outdoors and always pick up cat’s poop.

If your cat still won’t go potty outdoors, you could also bring a travel litter box with you. You could try to put the litter box outside and see if they will use it. Over time your cat may realize they prefer using nature’s litter box.


What should I do after my cat peed or pooped?

Being a responsible pet owner means to always pick up after our pets, and not leave any poop or poop bags lying around. Don’t leave it on the ground, even if it is biodegradable. Cat poop can have a parasite called Toxoplasmosis, which is harmful to wildlife. It also isn’t very pleasant to see cat poop lying around.

For cat pee, there’s very little we can do to clean it up, especially if its in soft soil, since it is absorbed quickly. If your cat peed on a sidewalk, you could try to wash it out with some water,

For cat poop, make sure you are bringing poop bags and picking the poop up. This requires watching the cat closely and scooping the poop up before they bury it. Sometimes they bury it too fast and you have to dig it back up, so its best to catch it before they bury it.


How will you know when your cats need to go?

Cats are individuals and there are no universal signs to know when they need the toilet. Over time, you will recognize their habits and know when they need to go. The possible signs to look for include:

  • Meowing loudly or meowing in a specific way
  • Sniffing the ground as they walk
  • Digging many holes in the ground
  • Trying to walk off the path to find a good spot

For Teddy, he will wander off the side of the trail, and keep sniffing the ground. He will paw at the ground to test the soil quality, and when he finds a satisfactory spot, he will squat and go. I can tell if its a pee or a poo because he squats differently.


Potty Gear

If your cat will go potty outdoors, always bring poop bags. I use one from Earth Rated which hangs off my backpack, and has a clip to hold a full poop bag. I tie a knot in the bag, and it hangs off the holder, until I can find a bin to dispose it.

Hand sanitizer is a great idea after dealing with cat poop for hygiene reasons.

If your cat does not go potty outside, or if you are staying somewhere indoors for more than a couple of hours (for example, hotel stays), then bring a portable litter box. I have two recommendations for travel litter boxes:

  • Foldable litter box (example: Amazon link here) and a zip lock bag of litter
    This is a good option for when you are travelling light and don’t want to bring a full sized litter box. The litter box folds flat, and you can carry the litter in a separate zip lock bag. The disadvantage of this is you will have to clean and empty out the litter back into the zip lock bag when packing up, and could get a little messy. These foldable litter boxes are also generally on the smaller side.
    I use this for when packing light, including plane travel, and camping.
  • Plastic container with lid (example: Canadian Tire link here)
    This is a good option for when space is not an issue, for example, when you are travelling by car. Look for a plastic container with latching lid (so it doesn’t fall off), and it would be best if the lid was sealed, so litter doesn’t fall out. The size of the container should be no smaller than 11″x17″, and have sides of at least 5″ height so your cat won’t kick the litter out when burying.
    I use this for when I want a proper litter box and space is no concern, including hotel stays, and hanging out at a friend’s house.

Some other accessories to bring include:

  • Litter scoop (example: Amazon link here)
    Just like cleaning the litter box at home, you’ll need to bring a litter scoop to clean it out.
  • Poop bags (example: HomesAlive.ca link here)
    To dispose of cat litter, you can use poop bags.
  • Small dustpan (example: Canadian Tire link here)
    If your cat makes a mess when burying their poop, you may want to bring a small dustpan to clean up after then.

How Teddy learned to do his business outside

I never purposefully trained or encouraged Teddy to go potty outside. He was always very good at holding it in, and at the time, our trips were rarely more than a few hours. One day, we were walking at a local park, when Teddy suddenly stops walking and sits weirdly. I thought he was just taking his time walking and tried to pick him up, but he was holding his body weirdly. That’s when I smelled it… He had diarrhea and had to go right then, and was still pooping his diarrhea out on my jacket as I was trying to pick him up! I had to get that jacket dry cleaned afterwards. Thanks, Teddy.

After that incident, Teddy seemed to have picked up that outside was a good place to use as a toilet. Depending on where we are, he has used the soil, grass, sand, and snow as outdoor toilets. He can be quite picky with the location and will dig around 10 holes before finding a satisfactory spot.


4 thoughts on “Outdoor Potty Guide

  1. Teddy is a pro at going outdoors! Thanks for sharing your tips and experiences.
    I really appreciated the disposal system you suggested and like that the Earth Rated bags are biodegradable.
    We previously brought Zara’s entire litter box in the car, which was annoying since it’s open top, but a plastic bin with a lid seems great! Our cat carrier bag came with a little travel litter box that she’s used before when out at a park, but our adventures are pretty short and close to home.

    Like

  2. This is such helpful information. I honestly felt a little foolish asking about this, so I feel much better knowing that this is a common question, especially amongst newer adventurers. All of your wonderful posts have really helped Ziggy and I learn so much. Thank you ❤️

    Like

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