Friday, October 21, 2011

An Ah-ha Moment

     I am lucky enough to share my home with 3 cats (and a dog, and a lot of fish, and a husband and a child):  Coby - regal, elegant, patient and kind; Snowball - goofy, silly, sweet, affectionate; and, Mayse - the Princess.  Actually, I take that back, the Queen (she would not be amused by any lesser title).

     Mayse is gorgeous (as you can see) and very, very particular.  She came to us as a 4 month old kitten and even at that age she groomed herself meticulously to make sure not a hair was out of place.  She was downright insulted if you groomed her.  Every night when I go to bed, she jumps up and demands her 15 minutes of attention.  No matter what the time (and those of you who follow this blog know I am often up well into the wee hours of the morning).  She demands precisely 15 minutes of petting each night.  No more, no less.  And she will let you know exactly where.  Try to pat her at a different time, in a different spot, or stop before she is ready and you will pay.

     Mayse chooses her spot on the cat tree first and every one else moves.  Our 60 lb Samoyed is terrified of her.  She picks her food bowl first (even though they are all the same) and no one dares to question her.

    She can be incredibly sweet, loving and affectionate (so long as it is on her terms).

     Mayse reminds me of the children's rhyme - "when she was good, she was very, very good; but when she was bad, she was horrid!"

     So right from the beginning, as you might have guessed, Mayse had litterbox "issues".  At first, she decided she preferred to go to the bathroom on the leather couch.  So we closed off the play room.  Then she went on the leather chair.  So we gave it away.  And all was well - for the most part.  If you left something shiny and smooth - your child's beloved Dora suitcase for example - out, you would find her special brand of present on it.  But, almost always, she went  in the litter box.

     Then came Snowball, the kitten.  He was (still is) cute and rambunctious, full of joy with absolutely no respect for Mayse's reign.  He was completely undaunted by her hissing and took a beating without complaint only to return for more fun.

     Mayse hated him.

     Six months after Snowball arrived, we made a fatal mistake: we went on vacation and left the cats under the care of their grandmother - in our home, same routine, but different caretaker.  For Mayse, this was simply the last straw and she went ballistic - urinating and defecating on ALL of our fabric couches, love seats and chairs.  When we returned from vacation, our home smelled so badly your eyes would tear.

     We thought her anger would dissipate.  (It took a while for our anger - heightened by 48 hours of steam cleaning, sanitizing, washing and scrubbing - to fade).  It didn't.

     We wondered if she had a health issue.  A vet exam proved she didn't.

     We gave her Bach Flower Remedy and Feliway (cat pheromones) - which dramatically improved her attitude, but not the use of our furniture as a toilet.

     We spritzed her sleeping area with Peace & Calm Essential Oil.  Nothing.

     We increased our litter box colony from 4 boxes to 7 and filled each one with a different substrate.  Snowball thought this was great fun and proceeded to eliminate in each one in turn.  Coby thought I had lost my marbles.  And Mayse peed on the couch while looking straight at me defiantly.

     Our vet suggested keeping her confined to the cat room for several weeks until she was consistently using the box.  After 2 nights of her howling and throwing herself against the doors only to run to the couch to pee when given the slightest opportunity, we gave up on that idea.

     We lined our furniture with aluminum foil to find that idea only works if you permanently affix it so the cat can't push it out of the way and your family is willing to lay on foil when "relaxing" in front of the TV. Mine wasn't.

     We borrowed those plastic mats that make a loud beep when stepped on and covered all the furniture with them.  Again, the problem of the family moving them away -- and the cat thinking that smooth plastic surfaces was exactly what she had in mind (thank you very much) so she ignored the beeps and peed right on the mats.

     Eventually, I got tired of cleaning 7 litter boxes and dumped the contents of two leaving them empty.

     Can you guess what happened???  Yup, she started peeing in the empty litter boxes.


     Now I let her do that, rinse it out regularly and dump it in the toilet.  It's actually easier than cleaning a litter box.

     Queen Mayse is happy that her idiotic servants finally figured out her simple needs, my furniture is recovering and my family can relax.

     Sometimes the hardest problems have the simplest solutions, don't they?

1 comment:

  1. An absolutely delightful story ~ with a truly marvelous ending! How in the world do our animals manage to put up with all our elaborate approaches to what we think are complicated problems, when their needs are so simple and the solutions so obvious?! There are lessons here for all of us. Thanks so much for sharing! ♥