Legendary bassist’s cat potty training method put to the test
By Mindy Rochwerg
December 4, 2014
Charles Mingus wasn’t only an expert bassist; he was also an expert on training a cat to poop on the toilet (and maybe even flush it).
Back in the ‘50s, when he was recording The Greatest Jazz Concert Ever, with Dizzy Gillespie and Charlie Parker, Mingus was also working on a guide for toilet training a cat. The bassist took on the project after (allegedly) potty training his own cat, Nightlife, whose photo is on the cover of the resulting catalogue – The Charles Mingus CAT-alog for Toilet Training Your Cat.
The very detailed step-by-step guide was available for purchase by mail, but can now be found online.
Recently, reporter Jody Avirgan put Mingus’ method to the test with 5 ½ month old kitten “Dizzy,” whose owners, Kevin and Nicole, played a lot of Mingus for Dizzy during the training.
Reporting for Studio 360, Avirgan had this to stay about the Cat-alog: “As you flip through the catalog, you can interpret it in two ways. One – It’s the work of a crazy musician stuck in his railroad apartment. When I listen to Mingus’ music, sometimes I think of it as a sort of a map to his fevered mind. The pamphlet – it reads the same way. But it also tells a second story – that of a creative mind in overdrive – that nagging urge that led to his cat training obsession is the same thing that drove his musical genius.”
Here is the first part of the first step of the training:
“First, 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.)”
According to Mingus, the “main thing to remember is not to rush or confuse it.”
So how did Dizzy do? Well, after three months, his owners reported that the method had been a failure and had also been “somewhat of a hassle,” but Kevin told Avirgan there “certainly is a benefit to it, both spiritually and logistically.”
Now you purchase a kit online that will help you do somewhat the same thing. Kevin and Nicole invested in one for Dizzy, but Avirgan doesn’t tell us how that turned out.