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You are on the right track in that bell-training or anything incorporating that concept is an absolute godsend, or it has been for my family at least. I think it just has to be tweaked to make it a bit more cat-proof.

I'm no electrician, but I'm wondering if you can't somehow install some sort of a doorbell or buzzer beside the door. Alternately, maybe one of those desktop bells would work as well? I'll rack my brains, hopefully others can throw out some more workarounds in the meantime.
Agreeing that bell training (or some variant of it) is the way to go. You can usually get doorbells for ~$15 at Home Depot or Lowes, and with a little work, the dog can learn to target the doorbell button. It takes slightly more work than the windchime/hanging bells version, but it's definitely possible and we'd be glad to coach you through it.

Really, you can train the dog to do any behavior to indicate that they need to potty by consistently and immediately taking them to potty after they do the designated behavior. Pick one (relatively unlikely) behavior that will always, 100% of the time, result in you taking the dog outside to potty. So something like "sit" or "down" doesn't work because the dog is going to do that in non-potty situations. You could get one of those recordable stuffed animals (hey, post-Valentine's Day sales start in the morning!) and record "I need to potty!" into it, then teach the dog that squeezing that toy = instantly go outside to potty.
 
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