15
Sep
11

Scat cat, or every creep that creepeth

When a situation is hard to control, we say “it’s like herding cats,” because cats are bloody hard to control—especially mine. Humans, by comparison—pet owners, especially—are much easier.

However, I can happily report that I have managed a coup of animal behavior control that might make a student of Burrhus Frederic Skinner jealous.

The New Yorker published a remarkable profile of Michele Bachmann in August that delves a bit into (among a great many other things) her devotion to a political conservative Christian principle called Dominionism. It’s based on Genesis 1:26.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Somehow it applies to the notion among some politically active conservative Christians that their ultimate goal is to gain control over every secular civil institution in the country through political action to create (they would say “restore”) a theocratic government run exclusively by Christians.

Makes sense as a metaphor: Control the animals, control the earth, control the system. And there are a lot of politicians who seem to creep about upon the earth. Though I know fundamentalist Christians hate metaphor. To them it’s either the plain truth, or it’s not in the Bible.

But to turn back to the original text, in which god is telling Adam and Eve to make use of animals—not, I might add, to annihilate Barack Obama—this may be one area where Bachmann and I overlap in our beliefs. And it’s specifically in regards to my cat.

Mukau made an important discovery this year. She figured out that she can use her tried and trusted litter box, which has been serving her faithfully for nigh on a decade now… or she can just take a quick dump in a corner of the basement and leave it for me to attend to whenever I happen to find it.

Oh, just put that anywhere, kitty. Don’t you worry about it. I’ll get that later. Because, of course, I have no choice!—though she doesn’t necessarily know that. She’s just using my tendency to want to keep a clean house to her advantage.

And here’s me thinking that all cats went for the cut-and-cover method. Not her. There’s no need for her to cover her tracks from prey or predators, so she can just shit wherever she wants down there. And because she’s a full-service kind of gal, she can squat down and take a good long piss over her steaming nuggets for good measure. I think she may actually be proud of her little piles.

When we moved into our house, we were excited to put the cat john downstairs. She would climb the stairs to the second floor to sleep in the bed with us, and back down to eat. And she would go down the stairs to the basement to relieve herself, and back up to eat again. Frankly, we were delighted to be giving her so much exercise. She’s a big girl.

So I cut a hole in the basement door and installed a cat door for her. And for the better part of two years, she has been trudging up and down the stairs after every meal, like clockwork, to do her business without complaint.

But ever since she trained me, she has been living it up!

At first we thought we weren’t scooping the litter often enough, so I stepped up the schedule. Nope. Little gifts continued to stink up the basement.

It occurred to me that I had recently switched cat litter brands, so I switched back. (Arm & Hammer with odor control for multiple cats. She’s a big girl.)

For a week she behaved. I was foolish enough to let down my guard. Then without warning, she went back to the corner again to continue her disgusting habits like a quivering junkie.

And what’s worse, she began to cultivate a second corner.

Maybe she’s finding the cover of the litter box a bit too restrictive, we thought. Maybe if we leave it off, she can turn around more easily. (Remember that cat door? It’s the largest size Pet Monster carries. “For large cats and small dogs,” the package read. Big. Girl.)

Didn’t make difference. And every week, I swept up turds, pouring vinegar all over the place to neutralize the odor, sprinkling baking soda.

Finally we thought that maybe she just didn’t like climbing the stairs anymore. She’s a good 11 or 12 years old, and increasingly arthritic. Maybe she was protesting the stairs with scat. So we moved the litter box up to the top of the stairs, just on the other side of her XL door.

It was about that time I discovered a third corner where she had been hoarding a cache of little poos. Clearly she could bloody well make it up and down the stairs to shit on the floor. The only thing left was to block that cat door.

Luckily it has a lock. And as it turns out, she can use her litter box. The humans do have dominion! Maybe Bachmann is on to something?

These days the basement is off limits, and Mukau’s shitter is now in the kitchen in as out-of-our-way a place as I could find. She literally shits where she eats. I stationed an air freshener next to it. And this winter, when we are no longer blowing the stench of her bowels into the rest of the house with the fan of the air conditioner window unit, maybe we can avoid the first floor smelling like urine-soaked clay.

Of course, to see this from her perspective, it was she who ultimately convinced me to move madame’s toilet to the main floor. Now she doesn’t have to climb any stairs if she doesn’t want to. Kitty wins after all.

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