Conversation between the Hillebrandt Litterbox Sanitation Engineer (Q) and Pixelle Cat (PC)
Q: Fer heaven’s sake, Pixelle! How many times can a cat poop in a day?
PC: Well, let me see…there was that time at 1:00 am, when you got out of bed to clean out the box.
Q: I remember it well. Then there was the 3:00 am fragrant breeze wafting me out of bed again.
PC: Yes. Purrrrr. You were pretty snarly, for a human.
Q: Yer damned right! It’s really hard to keep getting awakened out of a deep sleep by a crappy smell.
PC: I beg your pardon!
Q: OK, OK. I know this is just call to nature stuff. But really, 3 more times from 7-9 am? And then off and on all day? Really, Pix, it’s a bit much!
PC: Well, did you ever think this is something you’re doing?
PC: Maybe it’s the food?
Q: Hmmm…you usually don’t go this often. What have I been doing differently?
PC: Dunno, but dinner was tasty tonight.
Q (sotto voce): You know, I think it’s time for some rice in your food, Pixelle Cat.
SOUNDS - litterbox scratching in the BKGD.
CUT TO: 3 days later - Night
Q: How you feeling, Pix?
PC (suspiciously): Why do you ask?
Q: You only used the litter box twice today.
PC: Yeah. I guess you’re right. I’ll have to work harder.
Q: Very funny.
Timeout for some cat cuddles.
Is there a moral to this tail? You tell us! Hint: rice really does help get rid of The Pussycat Runs. Anyone have any other remedies? Or similar tails?
It all began when little Sam Cat went walkabout in October of 2012. I was of course heartbroken. She tried to come back in two nights later, but her former boon companion Pixelle the Prosecutor hissed and snarled fiercely and she ran off. I raced out after her, but could not get her to come back in....Then Sam started coming around, in April of this year. I'd been worried sick and felt guilty as hell for letting her out in the first place. But then, I've had cats since I was a kid and this is only the second who'd ever disappeared. And I'd always let them outside because I think no living critter should be trapped.
Dear Sam Fans --
I don't know how to tell you this. So I'm just gonna go in. The little pussycat, residing in a cabinet in one of my bathrooms for close to 3 weeks, was beginning to lose it. Crying out several times a night, glaring at me from inside instead of looking sweet. If I dared put a toy or the brush she'd loved in close, a claw would come shooting out, and huge hissing would accompany the shot. So, despite the advice of my vet and a pet behavior specialist, I thought, I've got to get her out of there so that I can begin the reintegration process, if that's going to be possible.
First step, called Animal Control to see if they send people to help get feral-types out of things like cabinets. Answer, no way in hell! Let this cat go. She clearly wants no part of you or the others in the household. Ever. She'll be fine outside without shots. Millions of pussycats are.
I wasn't really buying it, but I did want to bring her, and me, some relief. And relief also for the other two cats, who kept getting lured into one room by me to try to get little Sam to feel safe emerging, and would then get very testy with each other. Not a great plan. So, next step, call a vet tech and see if he would be able to make a house call to help me first confirm this is little Sam, and then help me get her to vet for check up. Then, be able to help with reintegration, i.e., insuring the other two cats wouldn't kill her.
I lucked out and the tech was able to come next day. With steel lined gloves scarred, as he showed me, by previous cat bites and scratches. And big towels. And a net. He'd warned me this was going to be a battle though he would do his best to get the cat and wrap her in a towel to soothe her, and then he'd be able to "wand" her to check the microchip to make sure we've got Sammy. The net would only be used as a last resort, because it would really stress the pussycat out.
So, I was told to let him do his thing while I went off, and not be surprised by noises. He'd call me when ready. I left him to his thing while answering a very exciting email. Which was a little difficult due to numerous thumps and thuds in the background.
Finally, the call. I went to the tech, who was standing catless but with information. No chip. Sammy of course has a microchip. Huh? "Can't find a chip. I was only able to check one side of her, but the wand really should show if there is one."
I was dubious. He offered to check the other side of the cat, which meant I was again sent off while he made valiant efforts to corral the angry and scared ball of fur. Several minutes later I was called in again.
"No way. She took hold of my finger with her teeth, through the glove, and I thought, 'Great! Now I'll be able to check her completely.' But, she was going to go right through my hand. So, last resort. Do I have your permission to use the net?"
He'd warned me using a net might need to happen. He now added that I should expect pee and poop. I suggested we remove the rugs. He said that was a great idea. So, out I went again.
VERY LOUD HISSING AND BANGING. But, finally, a net emerged from the bathroom, containing one furious cat. The vet tech followed, holding said net.
We got 'er done. No chip.
Then the tech put the lid on. "I think this is a boy."
There are other chapters coming. "From pee and poop to something better," and "When does becoming a lock picker make you a good person?" For tonight, I'll leave it by saying my daughter's friend has now labelled me a cat kidnapper.
You who are owned by cats, like me, know the morning drill. Here’s an excerpt from my diary from a typical Tuesday...
5:00 am. Sound asleep, peacefully dreaming. Of something other than cats, most of the time. Lately for me, it’s how to get a word out of x, e and p in Word on my cell phone, something I’ve been addicted to since Alec Baldwin got thrown off the plane for playing this wretched game.
Suddenly, something lands on my head. Aacchhh! What the hell? Wide awake, I see a cat on my chest, peering into my face. Little Sam Cat. But I know that she wasn’t what landed on my head – the missile was much lighter. I feel around the pillow. Ah, there it is. One of Sammy’s nerf mice. She loves to play fetch and is really good at it.
But I’m not having any. “NO, Sammy! It is not time to get up!!!” I try to hide the mouse in a drawer. Sammy is not fooled and pulls the drawer’s handle to get at her treasure. Luckily, she’s not quite strong enough. I savor this tiny triumph, feeling not the least bit of guilt. And, closing my eyes, I drift back off…
5:20 am. SPROING! Dammit to hell! Sitting up, I’m just in time to witness little Sam take a running leap and ricochet off the bed again, meowing loudly upon hitting the floor seven feet away. “Sam! Cut that out!!!”
Sure. A few more running leaps, with contact. I remain motionless, trying to fool the cats into thinking I’m really back to sleep.
5:30 am. A very deep growling meow, followed by a poke in the cheek with a claw. A gentle poke, not meant to hurt, but a poke nonetheless. I have never been able to teach the very affectionate Pixelle to keep those sharp nails retracted. “No, Pix. It is NOT time for breakfast! Go back to sleep.” A heavy weight walks down my body, finally making circles between my knees. Mercifully, Pix nestles, meowlessly, between my knees. Grateful, eyes closed, I nod off again.
6:35 am. BANG, BANG, BANG! Without turning around, I yell, “Fi Cat, stop that!” Fiona, Sam’s sister, is opening the cabinet door, which springs shut with a loud thwhack each time she tries to pry it open with a paw. The door slams once or twice more, then, amazingly, all is quiet on the bedside front.
7:00 am. An Identified Flying Object lands with a thud on my right foot. “Sam-meee!!!!!” She has leapt from the top of a 7 foot tall bookshelf.
7:01 am. OK, I guess that’s it for sleep. I stretch, and before I’ve even stood up a feline chorus rings out. Sergeant Pix, Cat-in-Charge-of-Getting-Meals-for-the-4-Legged, takes command, going nose to nose with her little sisters, telling them breakfast is coming. Meanwhile, I rattle around the kitchen, taking care not to step on anyone.
First things first: set up the coffee maker – as a friend says, gotta get my heart started. Next, it’s pick up all 3 cat plates and soak them in the sink, to loosen any stuck-on morsels remaining from dinner. While the plates are immersed in suds, I pad into the guest bathroom and empty the clumps in the litter box. I then go into my office, where a second litter box resides, for the almost exclusive use of Fiona Cat. Which I’ll explain in another post … it’s a long story.
7:30 am. OK, so by now, coffee brewing, boxes cleaned for the morning, it’s time to return to the kitchen, scrub the cat plates, and dollop ¼ can of wet food onto each. Knowing the cats will turn up their noses if served the same food twice in a row, I carefully alternate stacks of pussycat meals before placing them in the cupboard. Love it on days when the already sliced bits or filets come up…much faster. Today it happens to be the pate, which can’t simply be spooned onto the plate, so I had to take a bit of extra time mashing the liver and chicken with a fork.
I put the plates down, food ready to be picked up easily by the kids with no hands. Pix takes a few bites, then retreats to the litter box. Pungent. As soon as she returns to her food, I run in and re-scoop. Next, it’s rinse out the water bowls and replace, with filtered water from the frig door. The little ones deserve not to have metals in their systems, just like us humans, right?
First sip of coffee. Ah….this day might be alright after all.
Sammy leaves the room.
Litterbox scratching sounds, accompanied by an indelicate odor filter into the living room from the guest bath …
I just noticed how long it's been since I've written in here. And I blame it all on the new arrivals, Samantha and Fiona Cat, now about 8 months old, here since they were about 4 months of age. Well, there has been a lot to do on our video project (more soon about that), and an upcoming book. But the cats have also taken their toll.
Every day since they arrived it's been like this:
7:00 am: Wake up, have coffee. I don't care what else is going on, without 17 cups, well, OK, 4, my eyes won't focus.
7:05: Clean the litter box(es).
7:10: Sip coffee while feeding the furred ones. This means keeping Samantha, a born vulture, at her own plate so Grazer Pix won't get hers cleaned prematurely by the Little Interloper, or her sister Fiona. See, once they finish their own food, Sam and Fiona crouch nearby and stare at Pix, menacingly. Pix is cowed by this behavior, and abandons her food.
Unless I intervene, Sam especially gets fat and Pix is left to nibble dry food.
So I have got wily. I now put Pix's plate in my office, lure her in with me and then leave her to munch while I go back to tidy up the kitchen, and yes, clean the litter box in the bathroom, again. Once Pix is done in the office, I go back to let her out, and to clean that litter box. For little creatures they sure poop a lot. And yes, I now have a litter box in my office.
You cat owners out there, did you ever notice that as soon as you clean the litter box one or another of your little furred friends has to make his or her mark in the sand?
8:00 You know the drill. Sigh.
The rest of the day is interwoven with cleanouts, referring fights and playing fetch with Samantha. Used to be Pix's game. Now, to get Pix to resume her role, I have to close us both up in the office for playtime, too. Otherwise, Sam takes over the toys.
In Facebook, I mentioned that I brought Fiona home to keep Pix company.
Next time remind me to tell you about the trauma we faced when I brought Sam home to keep Fiona company.
Back to Writing Tips!
And even to jot down some more memoir writing tips. Here are some of Ina's Weird Prompts (TM) to get ya started. These are more for flexing and lubricating writing muscles than specifically for memoir-writing. But I have found often that people in my classes find links in their minds to treasured memories from these little lines. Have fun with them!
Hi, and glad to see you! My blog features memoir and fiction writing tips for you out there aiming to create enchanting memoirs and flights of fancy of your own; new "Pawprints," those close encounters of the furry kind, by moi; and topical comments as they bang on my head to be written. Plus: videos featuring talented authors I'm privileged to work with, reading live, Coming...your life stories, here. Got one you want to share? Use our form to be considered.