As a cat owner for the past several years, I have to admit every time I empty out a litter box, I'm more and more intrigued by the idea of seeing just what it would take to get my two trained to use the toilet to do their 'business'.

I've seen the videos of people successfully potty-training their cats but must admit I'm still a bit skeptical.

And while the thought of getting cats potty trained may seem like a bit of a stretch, it's nothing compared to the prospects of getting a cow to pee in a designated area.

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But that's exactly what's happening in New Zealand, where a group of researchers is working to try and transform the seemingly impossible into a reality.

The Conversation is reporting that a pair of University of Auckland professors are attempting to use behavioral psychology to train young cattle to urinate in a particular place, all in an attempt to combat pollution and climate change.

The main culprits are nitrate from urine seeping into water sources, and nitrous oxide, a long-lasting greenhouse gas that is 300 times more potent than car dioxide and is released when urine is mixed with cow dung.

Using funding from the Volkswagen Foundation (not affiliated with the car company), the professors, alongside Germany’s Federal Research Institute for Animal Health and Research Institute for Farm Animal Biology, are using an old-fashioned technique to get the cows to change their peeing habits.

They're bribing them with food.

Working with young calves, researchers confine the animals to a 'toilet area', where they are 'rewarded' with their favorite treat every time they successfully pee in the correct spot.

So just how successful have they been?

Over a 15-day period, seven of the eight calves they worked with were successfully trained, which is a considerably higher rate than most parents have potty-training human toddlers.

Things are going so well that the research team has published the results of their work in the journal Current Biology.

Do you ever think you'll see the day when South Dakota farms have potty-trained cows?


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