Yup. I’m afeared, all right. And all you cat lovers out there will know exactly what I’m talking about. We know that, of all the animals, cats are the most misunderstood creatures. They do like people. And they are affectionate. Just on their terms, is all. But there is one thing you never do to a cat. Never. Ever. Come on, I know you know what it is. Work with me, here.
That is correct.
You do not, I repeat, you do not mess with their litter. This is not negotiable. You hear me? You do not mess with their litter. Or their litter boxes, by the way. They take all matters concerning their ‘toilette’ very seriously. As I found out the hard way, not all that long ago.
My intentions were honourable. I was walking through a very upscale shopping mall near where I live. Amidst all the designer boutiques, there is a pet store. Yes, a designer pet store. You would not believe the stuff they have in there. As you can imagine, they cater mostly to dogs. But over the years they have added some items, for those of us who fancy felines as companions.
In the window, next to a pet-sized, ruby-hued, tufted, velvet chaise, were the most fabulous litter boxes. They were covered (a must unless you’re crazy enough to love vacuuming). They came in an array of fabulous colours. And they were not in that shiny plastic that we’re used to. Whatever they were made out of, the finish was matte and frosted. The ‘pan’ was much deeper than usual. And the cover swung back and forth, from front to back. So you didn’t have to take it off, to clean the inside. They were very futuristic looking.
My first impression was, “WOW! Those are johns I’d love to have, if I was a cat.” They were the TOTO of cat boxes. As I stood there, gazing at them, I could just hear my little darlings: ”Buy them for us, Mommy. Please, please, please. Buy them.” I still had three little darlings then, so I bought two. To replace the two I already had, which were the plain, utilitarian versions available at every hardware store and every pet shop.
Absolutely nothing wrong with them. They’d served me very well for many years, and several cats. They’re just not in this league.
I couldn’t wait to get home. Cats are curious, so you can imagine the flurry of activity when I opened the door and they saw my arms were full. I took the covers off and turned them over, so they couldn’t climb in and use them before they were filled with litter. I had decided I’d dispose of the old ones first. Finally we were ready for a test drive, as it were.
At first they all just stood there. They stared at each other with quizzical expressions on their little faces. As if to say, “What the hell are these?” Then they looked at me. And not with the expressions of glee and gratitude I had imagined. But I hadn’t fully twigged to the severity of the situation yet. I know that cats don’t particularly care for change, but I was sure they’d be happy as clams shortly. Who wouldn’t be, after all?
They just needed a bit of time. Then they sniffed, pawed, walked around them, climbed in, climbed out, climbed on top. And then left. Without so much as a backward glance.
Not the most auspicious beginning. But I went on, about my business. Oblivious to the conspiring that was going on, in the other room. Or the punishment they had in store for me. Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, I was taught a lesson I will never forget: I woke up to find a turd at the foot of my bed. I was greeted by another one, strategically placed right in front of my toilet. Another rested beside a food dish. Theirs, thankfully, not mine.
A combination of allergies and bad sinuses have taken their toll on my sense of smell, but when I came back home after several hours away, there was no mistaking it. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff, sniff. You got it. Urine. With trepidation I walked around examining the floors, the sinks and the furniture. Also my bed, which had been so pointedly targeted the night before.
Way too predictable. Cats are clever, lest we forget. They’d never be that obvious. They wouldn’t repeat themselves. About an hour later, while I was down on all fours in my bedroom closet, I found a pair of slippers and boots that were suspiciously wet. And it was only when I backed out of there, still on my knees, that I saw the baskets. Four in all. One for their toys and three lined in sheepskin. One for each of my ‘treasures’ to curl up in.
Well, they wouldn’t be doing that anymore. Nor would they ever be playing with those toys again.
“Okay”, I said, holding back tears. ”I surrender. Nothing fancy. I get it”. Obviously, the store wouldn’t take back the Neiman Marcus version of litter boxes. I asked around, but my friends were all afraid to tempt fate. My vet didn’t want them. I put a notice up on the bulletin board in the building where I live, to no avail. I would have given them away for free, just to avoid throwing them away. But in the end, the dumpster was where they ended up. Just before I ran back to the hardware store to pick up the plain, plastic litter boxes we’ve all been using for ages.
So what has me all a quiver?
We’ve been using the same litter since I adopted these kitties, many moons ago. Everyone’s very happy with it. Very happy. I found out yesterday that it’s no longer available in Canada. Nowhere. I called every store that’s ever sold it. Got the same answer.
I am thinking I need to wrap everything in plastic wrap, just in case. Everything. Take everything off the floor, that’s on the floor. Stock up on rubber gloves and garbage bags. Put my shoes in plastic boxes, on the balcony. Maybe even move out there, myself. Thinking ahead, and strategically for once, I am also trying to introduce them to the new litter gradually. Thank God I still have some of the old litter left. So I will mix the two together, for a couple of days, and gradually move to just the new one. Yeah, right.
Who am I kidding? Let’s face it, folks. I am screwed. I am SO screwed!