Can guinea pigs be potty trained?Well, not typically or easily, but we can work with their natural instincts to provide an optimal setting to make it much easier for you to manage.
Guinea pigs are prey animals and when eating and pottying, most prefer to do so in safety. One of their biggest threats in the wild is predatory birds overhead. A cage with a lot of wide-open space without a nice balance of hideys and cover can be intimidating and uncomfortable for them.
Humans generally prefer to potty and eat in safety as do most animals. Guinea pigs generally eat and potty in the same place, too. Our Cavy Cafe Kitchen is designed for exactly that. Some space to eat, drink, munch on hay, hang out and potty. The idea is to use disposable bedding in the cafe, such as Carefresh, pine shavings, etc., and fleece in the rest of the cage. We like to call this our Hybrid solution. This bedding combination contains the poos, urine and hay as much as possible in the kitchen area, helps keep the fleece cleaner longer, and reduces the need for daily poo pick-up.
The Cavy Cafe can be easily lifted out and the loose bedding is just dumped out into a garbage bag right in front of you. Then, you just spray and wipe it as usual with a bottle of half white vinegar/half water and add new bedding. That is the litter area. You put the water bottle, food bowl, and hay rack or hay bag in this area as well.
The Secret SauceThe key to success is providing the proper enticement. What is that? You need to have a roof over their head. They need something of a cave-like feeling. If you have a two-level cage, then mission accomplished! You put the Cavy Cafe under the upper level. Done. If, however, you have a single-level cage, you really should provide cover over the intended litter area -- the Cavy Cafe. The lowest fuss and coolest-looking solution for that are our new Cavy Canopy™!
Our special grip hinges allow the top to easily lift open and swing away for easy access. It swings gently back down for a lovely awning look. The shape is reinforced to hold its position well. This top is not designed to be weight-bearing. It is feather-light and easy to lift. It gives your guinea pigs the coverage they need for a sense of security and peace -- an essential component for cage enrichment for guinea pigs.
We also offer an optional Kitchen Backsplash that comes with accent portals that can be used for water bottle spouts if desired. The Backsplash provides protection from hay and bedding falling behind the cage wall. We've also bundled all three items together as the Cavy Kitchen Suite--The Cafe Cafe, the Cavy Canopy, the Kitchen Backsplash. We love our work! We hope you like it.
Cavy CanopyWe have been steering people informally in this direction for years. As we update our recommendations on our various sites, we will be adding this aspect to the definition of a proper guinea pig cage. Studies, as well as experienced cavy caretakers, agree -- they need more than just a hidey in an otherwise wide-open cage. The area that gets covered by the Cavy Canopy solution is a comfortable and recommended amount of coverage.
The stress levels and stress hormones go down and this keeps them healthier and longer. It's what they desire and we should provide it for them.
There are a lot of creative ways you can do this yourself including just draping some fabric over that end of the cage. We encourage you to provide a bit of cover (if you haven't already) for your guinea pigs.
When it comes to fleece cozies and hideys in cages, we consider a Fleece Forest to be an essential item for every cage -- or something similar, of course. Fleece Forests provide some awesome benefits! They don't take up any running space on the floor. The cavies can run through them when they want to. No aggressive guinea pig can trap another in this hidey -- there is always a way out (great for males). The strips aren't lying on the ground, so this stays clean for quite a while. They are easy to replace. You can put any potty pad or plush bed under it for even more comfort. The Corner Curtains function much the same way. A couple of Fleece Forests can provide good security enrichment as well.
A great combination is a Kitchen area at one end of the cage and a Fleece Forest on the other. These are popular configurations not only because the guinea pigs love them, but it's also easy to maintain, too.