Bottom Line Equipment

No problems here. The aim of toilet training your cat is to eliminate the mess, odor, labor and cost associated with using a litter box. The CitiKitty Toilet Training Kit consists of a training seat that's supposed to fit any toilet, plus a training guide, tip card and a cat treat to use as a reward during training.

The training seat has a series of rings in the bottom, designed so the owner can gradually enlarge the waste hole as their cat learns to balance on the toilet. Initially, the training seat lacks any hole at all, so it amounts to a toilet-mounted litter box, requiring the use of flushable kitty litter. Once the cat becomes accustomed to using the litter box, the first ring can be cut away to open a small waste hole in the base. As training progresses, the hole should be enlarged. Several users complain that if the cat regresses, the rings cannot be reattached.

  • Sturdy
  • Eliminates litter box – when it works
  • Fits all toilets
  • No warranty
  • Training period can be messy

A few owners say the rings are difficult to punch out, but most report no serious issues. "It is a little difficult to punch out, but I don't see why there [are] so many complaints on this," writes one owner at Amazon.com. "I used a pocket knife and it took a whole 2 minutes to punch out the first hole."


Messy learning curve. Reviews say the CitiKitty Toilet Training Kit does work for some cats -- as long as the owner is willing to devote the several days or weeks that training can require. Some cats take to it right away; others don't. One owner sums it up well: "Bottom line, it's not just the product. It's your cat, and your dedication."

It's also important to note that you'll need to use flushable kitty litter during the initial training period, and training is easiest if you can devote a toilet solely to the cat's use – which may be a tall order for people who only have one bathroom. Also worth noting: Most owners say their cats can scatter quite a bit of litter around the toilet during the initial training period.

Unfortunately, it seems to be impossible to predict which cats will succeed with the CitiKitty. We found many reports of cats that will urinate in the toilet, but insist on defecating elsewhere. Based on reviews, the CitiKitty kit looks like a 50-50 bet; only about half of owners seem to be happy with it.

We found the most reviews of the CitiKitty Toilet Training Kit at Amazon.com, where nearly 275 owners comment on their experiences. The far fewer user reviews at Walmart.com echo the same pros and cons. TV station WZZM (Grand Rapids, Mich.) publishes a review that includes a video, and we found even more detail written by a blogger at LittleGreenCat.com.

Customer service

Mixed reviews. We could not find any guarantee or warranty for the CitiKitty. The official product website states that returns are only accepted for unopened products within 30 days of receipt.

Of the customer reviews we read, only a handful mention seeking customer service or attempting to return the product. Of these, about half received friendly, helpful service, and the rest found customer service unresponsive.

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Our Sources

1. Amazon.com

CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2013

Review Credibility: Very Good The CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit is reviewed by more than 420 owners, receiving an average 3.3 stars out of 5. Many reviewers say it is effective, but some report minor issues. About half of the reviews score it 3 stars or below.

2. WZZM (Grand Rapids, Mich.)

Can You Really Toilet Train Your Cat? Try the CitiKitty, Lauren Stanton, July 21, 2011

Review Credibility: Very Good This local TV news review includes a useful video, discussing one couple's negative experience with the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit. The cat's owners dislike having to share a toilet with their pet, and the feline refuses to use the CitiKitty all the time.

3. New York Post

Taking Care of Business, Amanda Kelly, March 11, 2012

Review Credibility: Very Good This witty article documents, stage by stage, how a couple tries the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit with their cat. Problems include the cat flinging litter around the bathroom and using the toilet kit inconsistently, resulting in some accidents. The couple gives up by the end of the first month.

4. PetSugar

The CitiKitty Toilet Diaries: Part One, "PopSugar Beauty", Dec. 6, 2011

Review Credibility: Good This recent blog article describes the author's attempts to train two cats to use the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit. As with other owners, this reviewer's cat refuses to use the toilet consistently.

5. GreenLittleCat.com

CitiKitty's in the House -- Time to Toilet Train My Cat, Holly Tse, Jan. 21, 2010

Review Credibility: Good This blogger documents her 27-day attempt to train her cat to use the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit. Reviewer Holly Tse eventually gives up, because the cat won't use the toilet consistently. Tse notes that the CitiKitty might work for pet owners if they are willing to devote a lot of time to the training process and to clean the tray every day.

6. KittyToiletTraining.com

CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Experiences, Editors of KittyToiletTraining.com, Not dated

Review Credibility: Good This review summarizes one cat owner's experience. The reviewer says that despite training, the cat may not use the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit consistently.

7. Walmart.com

CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of February 2013

Review Credibility: Good Only about a dozen owners review the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit, with most quite enthusiastic about it. One owner suggests attaching a child's seat to the toilet, giving small cats an easier place to balance.

8. Apt8H.com

Litterbox Methods Review, Michael Gibbs, Sept. 17, 2010

Review Credibility: Fair This brief comparison review recommends a more expensive competitor, the Litter Kwitter, over the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit, noting that the Litter Kwitter is both sturdier and designed to be reusable. No actual usage is documented.

Doggy Steps
Bottom Line

Doggy Steps is a miniature, portable staircase that allows smaller pets and pets with mobility issues to climb from the floor to furniture surfaces. According to the manufacturer, Doggy Steps are the perfect height for pets to reach sofas and beds, or to step into vehicles.  

Most consumers who buy Doggy Steps say the product works as advertised. They also say the steps are easy to assemble and their animals have no problem using them. Most people who buy Doggy Steps do so for small pets that can't reach the furniture or for older pets that have mobility issues.

  • Easy to assemble        
  • Works for most pets
  • Doesn't always stay in place
  • Too short to reach higher furniture
  • Too flimsy for heavier pets

Of the few customer complaints we found, the most common one is about the lightweight plastic that Doggy Steps is made out of. These pet owners say the steps sometimes shift and slide while being used, which causes their animals to become afraid of using the product. The plastic is often too flimsy to support heavier animals, and a few users say the steps are too short and don't reach the top of their furniture.

Pet owners posting at the online community ZooToo.com give Doggy Steps an overall glowing review. Customers on vendor sites Petco.com, Amazon.com and Target.com also give mostly positive reviews, with only a small percentage complaining about the product. A handful of reviewers on InfomercialRatings.com are also primarily positive and find that Doggy Steps work just as advertised.

Our Sources

1. ZooToo.com

Deluxe Doggy Steps, Contributors to ZooToo.com

ZooToo.com is an online community for pet owners to find and share information on all things pet-related. More than 80 members review Doggy Steps, giving it a very good overall rating. They say that Doggy Steps work great for older pets with arthritis or other mobility problems, as well as for smaller pets who have trouble jumping onto furniture. A few say their pets refuse to use the steps, and some animals become scared of the steps because they sometimes shift when in use.

2. Petco.com

Deluxe Doggy Steps Customer Ratings and Reviews, Contributors to Petco.com

Petco.com is a vendor site that sells pet merchandise and allows customers to post reviews of their products. More than 50 customers review Doggy Steps, and the majority says they would recommend it to a friend. Most say the steps are easy to assemble and allow old or small pets to join their owners on furniture. While most consumers are happy with Doggy Steps, a few complain about the steps' construction, saying that they aren't sturdy enough for some animals and have a tendency to slide around when being used.

3. Amazon.com

Deluxe Doggy Steps, Contributors to Amazon.com

More than 40 customers review Doggy Steps on Amazon.com, and most echo the consensus that it works easily for most pets. A handful of people who buy Doggy Steps complain that the steps are flimsy and too lightweight, so they have trouble keeping the steps in one location.

4. Target.com

Deluxe Doggy Steps, Contributors to Target.com

More than 20 customers review Doggy Steps on Target.com, and most are happy with how the steps help their pets reach the furniture. A small percentage of people who buy Doggy Steps complain about how lightweight the steps are, and a few say the product is too short to be of any help to their pets.

5. InfomercialRatings.com

Doggy Steps Reviews and Ratings, Contributors to InfomercialRatings.com

More than a dozen customers review Doggy Steps on InfomercialRatings.com, and most of the reviews are very positive. Like most other customer reviews, the steps work well for most pets while a few customers are disappointed by the lightweight material.

Emery Cat
Bottom Line

It's an idea that seems to have merit -- a scratch pad that actually trims your cat's claws. Unlike regular scratch pads made of cardboard or sisal, the Emery Cat has a honeycombed, emery board-like surface that is supposed to safely file down cats' claws, saving you from trimming them. The product has an arched design for stretching and scratching; also included are a feather toy attached to the base and a free bag of catnip.

According to a great many reviews, however, the concept may be too much of a good thing. A large percentage of cat owners posting reviews to Amazon.com and other sites say that the Emery Cat can hurt cats' sensitive paws, and several mention that their cats actually seem to be in pain after scratching on the rough board. Perhaps, some say, this is why their cats walk away from the Emery Cat after using it only once.

  • Includes cat toy and catnip bag
  • Might keep your cat from scratching other things
  • Many cats don't like it
  • Can be rough on cats' paws
  • Prone to tipping
  • Refills can be hard to find

Amazon.com users overwhelmingly dislike Emery Cat; out of 120-plus user posts, half give it a 1-star review. Most users say that their cats simply don't like it, and speculate that this may be because it's way too rough for Kitty's paws. Likewise, Grand Rapids, Mich., affiliate station WZZM shows a video where Emery Cat is tested with three cats: two use it once and then never go near it again; the other cat never touches it at all, a scenario mentioned repeatedly in Emery Cat reviews. Reviews on other sites mainly echo those on Amazon.com, with as many low ratings as high ones. In the end, it's a 50/50 bet whether or not your cat will use the Emery Cat.

Another complaint comes from those who've ordered the Emery Cat through its website. Customers say that the Emery Cat web page won't let them review their order total before it goes through. In addition, customers complain that it's too easy to accidentally order multiple sets, for which it is hard to get a refund. These complaints are detailed on sites such as ComplaintsBoard.com and ConsumerAffairs.com.

Our Sources

1. Amazon.com

EmeryCat Emery Cat Board, Contributors to Amazon.com

Out of more than 125 user reviews, the majority of Emery Cat owners aren't happy with the product, saying their cats tried it once and never went back or never tried it at all. Others say they suspect the Emery Cat was painful for their cats to use. Of owners who are mainly happy with it, some credit it with saving their furniture.

2. Does-The-Product-Work.com

Does Emery Cat Really Work?, Contributors to Does-the-Product-Work.com

There aren't too many reviews here for Emery Cat, but one poster who fosters cats in her home claims that only one cat in 20 would use it. However, users who get their cats to use it claim that the product is a fun way to dull a cat's nails.

3. WZZM (Grand Rapids, Mich.)

Try It Before You Buy It - Emery Cat, Matt Campbell, July 1, 2010

This local news report features a video where the Emery Cat is tested with three cats: two use it once and then never go near it again, in spite of the fuzzy toy; the other cat never touches it. The report concludes that "felines are finicky" and that there is no way to know if your cat will use it or not. The owner of the tested cats states that she is happy she didn't waste her money, since her cats are still clawing away at her steps.

4. TheCatSite.com

Emery Cat Forum, Contributors to TheCatSite.com

This cat-oriented message board features 12 pages of discussion about the Emery Cat. User posts are extremely negative. One poster tried to donate their unused Emery Cat to the local vet, who wouldn't take it after hearing complaints that it pulls out cats' claws.

5. ComplaintsBoard.com

Emery Cat Forum, Contributors to ComplaintsBoard.com

Posters on this consumer board complain of Emery Cat's confusing ordering process, and claim that they were misled as to what they were ordering and how much it would cost.

6. Walmart.com

As Seen on TV Emery Cat Board, Contributors to Walmart.com

About half of the 30 user posts recommend Emery Cat, with users saying that their cats love it and use it often; for some users, however, locating refills is a problem. However, the other half say that their cats won't use it and don't like it; these users speculate that it may be too rough for Kitty's paws.

7. ConsumerAffairs.com

Emery Cat, Contributors to ConsumerAffairs.com

Many of the negative posts about Emery Cat have to do with the ordering process, but several posters mention that their cat ate part of the included cat toy and got sick, while others complain that the surface is too rough for their cats' paws.

Bottom Line

The PetVac is a grooming tool designed to remove loose fur and dander. You attach the PetVac's 15-foot hose to your vacuum cleaner, and then groom your pet far from the noisy vac, which tends to disturb most cats and dogs. The pets in the infomercial appear happy, and the results are predictably impressive.

However, the PetVac doesn't fare nearly as well in real-life testing. Reporters at TV stations in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa., all test the PetVac, either on their own or with the aid of professional dog groomers. The results are unanimous. The PetVac is described as mediocre at best, and the grooming unit doesn't dig deep into fur. Although the PetVac is not supposed to be noisy, all three TV reporters say it's quite loud, which bothers many of the pets used in the reviews.

  • Picks up some pet hair
  • Noisy
  • Most pets don't like it
  • Inadequate suction

Even when the unit works, reviewers say the PetVac collects only small amount of pet hair, suggesting that it isn't doing a good job. A professional groomer that tested the PetVac for Pittsburgh's KDKA says, "I think it's a waste of money... a hairbrush would get that much hair out and in quicker time."

Our Sources

1. KGO (San Francisco)

The PetVac Gets Put to the Test, June 6, 2006

A reporter at KGO tests the PetVac at a San Francisco pet boutique. Most of the dogs seem frightened by the rubber device, and the professional groomers say regular brushes are a better grooming tool.

2. KDKA (Pittsburgh)

Does It Really Do That? PetVac, Yvonne Zanos

A pet groomer tries out the PetVac on a cat and dog that are accustomed to professional grooming. She says the vac is noisy and doesn't pick up all that much pet hair. Her verdict: "I think it's a waste of money... a hairbrush would get that much hair out and in quicker time. On a rate of 1 to 10, I would give it a minus 1."

3. WICU (Erie, Pa.)

Pet-Vac, Aug. 30, 2007

In its test of the PetVac, a WICU reporter echoes the conclusions of other reviewers: This gizmo is too noisy for nervous pets, and even when it seems like it's doing a good job, a quick check of the attached vacuum shows that it picks up only small amounts of pet hair.

Bottom Line

The Shed Vac is a portable vacuum powered by three AA batteries (not included), designed to loosen pet hair and suck it into a built-in canister while gently massaging the cat or dog. Functionally, it's very similar to the PetVac (*Est. $20). The manufacturer claims it's quiet enough not to scare pets, yet powerful enough to pull hair up from the undercoat to solve shedding problems. The removable canister collects the pet hair for emptying later. The Shed Vac can also be used on clothing, furniture or corners where pet hair has collected.

Reviews of the Shed Vac are mixed when it comes to how much pets enjoy the experience: The loud motor scared some pets during testing. Most owners say it lacks suction and is largely ineffective. It's possible to collect some pet hair with it, but reviewers dispute the manufacturer's claim that the Shed Vac removes loose hair from the undercoat. The verdict: Providing your pet doesn't mind the noise, it will remove some hair, but it's not going to eliminate a shedding problem.

  • Portable and lightweight
  • Removes some hair
  • Clear, removable canister
  • Can be used on clothing and furniture
  • Loud motor may scare pets
  • Ineffective for many
  • Doesn't remove hair from undercoat
  • High shipping and handling fees

We didn't find any objective tests of the Shed Vac on cats, but we did find two involving dogs. Reporters at two TV stations, WXIA (Atlanta) and WPCO (Cincinnati), ask volunteer testers to try the Shed Vac on their dogs, with very mixed results. We found about 30 reviews from cat owners at Does-The-Product-Work.com. Least credible is the review at JennyReviews.com, an apparent affiliate site that doesn't document any testing.

Viatek FurAway PetVAC
Buy from Amazon.com
from Amazon.com
New: $8.49   
In Stock.
Average Customer Review:  

Our Sources

1. WXIA (Atlanta)

Try It Review: Shed Vac, Oct. 20, 2010

Susan Tauber tests the Shed Vac on her two Labrador retrievers, who shed so much that she has to vacuum twice a day. The device is gentle and doesn't bother either dog; they seem to enjoy the vac's massaging action. However, after comparing the Shed Vac with another de-shedding tool called the Furminator, Tauber says the Furmintor picked up a lot of hair that the Shed Vac left behind. She concludes that the Shed Vac doesn't pull enough hair from the undercoat to really solve a shedding problem. "It stirs up the fur but doesn't really do a deep cleaning, which is what causes shedding," Tauber says.

2. WPCO (Cincinnati)

Try it Out Tuesday: Shed Vac, Suzanne Murray, Sept. 7, 2010

Lance Barry, a volunteer tester, tries the Shed Vac on his Labrador retriever. The loud motor scared the dog, and she kept running away whenever the device was turned on. The Shed Vac does collect some hair, but reporter Suzanne Murray questions its claim to have a calming effect on pets, considering how loud it is.

3. Does-The-Product-Work.com

Shed Vac, Contributors to Does-The-Product-Work.com

About 30 owners rate and review the Shed Vac here, and most say it's junk. They complain of flimsy construction and inadequate suction, or say it scares their pets. A few say they're happy with the Shed Vac; even satisfied owners say it took a while for their pets to get used to the noise, however.

4. JennyReviews.com

Shed Vac, Editors of JennyReviews.com

Although the Shed Vac earns a perfect 5-star rating, no testing is documented. This seems to be an affiliate site for the products reviewed, not a true testing site.