May 9, 2005

Litterbox Blues

No, I didn't kill a man in Memphis. And wouldn't admit to it even if I had.

I'm talking about litter boxes for real here. Plastic tray, clay pellets, and cats. See, as I may have previously mentioned here, I share the house with 5 cats. And currently one outside stray and her three furball offspring, but they won't come down out of my attic, so let's call it five. And you see, when you have five cats, even with the latest advancements in cat food, where the amount of, shall we say, 'solid waste' is at a minimum, that's still...well, let's say it. That's a lot of cat crap.

Nature did us a wonderous favor in making cats, and specifically felis domesticus the sort of animal who will find a quiet spot, do their duty (their doody? It's funnier in a Southern drawl) and cover the result up, in part to hide their presence from other predators and keep prey from realising they're being preyed upon. And of course the house cat variety is, for the most part, wired the same way. Buddha the Office Cat goes one step further (so to speak) and will cross the parking lot to leave her material in the neighboring office's landscape. Sweet!

Yes, litterboxes. And rest assured that this means I won't be discussing the potty habits of certain cats who feel that the shower, the air conditioner vent, or a 15" woofer cone are acceptable restroom locations. For the most part.

I'm talking about the love/hate relationship we have with the boxus crappus domesticus, or the humble litterbox. Be it ever so humble, be it ever so nasty, there's no better place for a cat, because it keeps them from out of dark corners and our dress shoes. Me, I love our litterbox. See, I broke, years and years ago, after a particularly bad afternoon toiling over the sheer volume of adhesive waste that had built up in our old litterbox. I broke, weeping openly, and drove to Wal-Fart and bought a Littermaid, one of those powered litterboxes. Yes, a plug-in litterbox. Bought a 40 pound box of the clumping stuff, and brought it all home.

The cats piled up around me, eager spectators to see what was there, in the words of Triumph The Comic Dog, to poop on. I assembled the requisite pieces, marveled at the electric rake that was going to do most of my work for me, filled it to the indicated line, and plugged it in. The rake roared into life, cats scattered, and I was transported into a whole new world and a whole new hell.

See, with the largest model and five cats, I only have to clean the 'box every three days. I assume that people who plunk down their Benjamin for one of these only has one or two producers, and they get to clean it once a month or so, and I hate you. But that aside, my three-day run ended this morning when a certain scent reminded me that it was, indeed, Litterbox Day.

See, I say I was transported to my own heaven and hell at the same time because I don't have to deal with the box on an hourly basis, but doing so leaves me dealing with a single or worst, a double-dose of kitty foulness. When you change a plastic tray once every three days you are often confronted with a veritable mountain of compacted, sometimes fermenting, always vile, cat material. Which was the case this morning. The clay had reached it super-saturation point, the bottom of the pan was a nightmare sight, the clever little tray lid with it's attached tray top was sticking upward at a jaunty angle because of the volume inside, and cats were already lining up for the Morning Poo. I had no choice.

I won't go into any more sorid details, you've had plenty; suffice to say I cleaned, refilled and re-armed the box. Filling it was made difficult by the presence of not one but TWO of the resident poo engines, Delilah and Egan. They both decided they needed to be IN the box while I filled it. I don't know if for them the feeling of fresh litter being poured in is tantamount to the feeling we get squishing our toes in sand at the beach or if it's just that they're going to crap by god RIGHT NOW, irregardless of clay material depth or even absence, but for whatever their reasoning I had to pour the requisite five cups of litter in while Dee's broad back and fluffy tail were carefully avoided, and simultaneously avoiding pouring Egan a head-full of litter.

I realised today, though, at least part of why the cats stand in line for the fresh box, and I know I should have made the connection a lot sooner, but you know how I can be. I never thought of how life would be if I were required to stand in my own barely-concealed filth to use the restroom. If this were the case I think I would be finding my own A/C vent or handy speaker driver to whizz into. Or at least a sink.

Aah, never a dull moment in the Irrelephant household.

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