Of cats and poop

Before I had Smooch, I had Lux and Linus. We adopted Lux first – he was a sweet orange tabby kitten who fell hard.in.love with Gruff right away. He would curl up on Gruff’s chest, purring loud enough to be heard across the room, over the din of the television. He chased his little toys for hours, jumping and flipping his whole body around in great circles in the air. When he was a year old, we adopted Linus. A scrawny 1.2 pound baby, Linus developed a respiratory infection a few days after coming home with us, and I had to take him to the vet. They put him in an incubator-like cubicle and gave him an albuterol treatment, and sent me home with instructions to feed him soft food (it’s more fragrant – kitties who can’t smell sometimes stop eating, and he was too little to do that). He didn’t like the soft food, so I fed him Gerber baby food –chicken– from the tip of my pinky finger for three days. That must have imprinted on some part of his kitten brain, because for months he would climb into my lap, nuzzle my hand, and suck on my fingers like a pacifier. Even as a fully grown cat, he was a cuddler – he’d flop up onto our bed, wriggle and writhe his way to the crook of my elbow or the bend of my knee. Lux is more reserved, but still doesn’t seem to understand the way cats are supposed to behave – he comes when we call him (and even responds to Smooch, who learned to do the little “kissing” noise we make to summon the cats before he even say “kitty”) and plays fetch with paper balls.

I love those cats. And this weekend, I have to say goodbye.

We’ve been having litter box problems for the last few months – it started with occasional “inappropriate elimination” and in the last week has happened every day. On my son’s bed.

You know, mommy bloggers get a bad rap sometimes for always writing about poop, but the thing is? It’s a big part of what we DO, with our kids, when they are little. In the beginning, all you do is put stuff in and wipe up what comes out. Even when they grow up a bit, you’re still wiping someone.else’s.butt multiple times a day. As a stay-at-home-mom, I’m okay with this fact. I don’t LOVE dealing with poop, but I can manage. I have my days, when Gruff comes home and I rail that I’m TOO SMART TO BE WIPING BUTTS AND NOSES ALL DAY, DAMNIT and THEY DON’T PAY ME ENOUGH FOR THIS JOB, YAKNOW and I’M OUT OF HERE, I NEED STARBUCKS! but overall, it’s fine.

However. Baby poop is one thing – and it’s true what they say, it’s not quite as disgusting when it’s your own baby – and toddler poop is grosser, on the scale, but still tolerable. Cat poop, on the other hand, is never going to be okay. It’s nasty. It reeks. And if I consider for even the teeniest second all the GERMS in there? Oooooh, ugh, *shudder* …mama needs a HazMat suit.

I’ve cleaned it up several times over the last couple of weeks. Sunday afternoon, I found out I was pregnant, and the GROSSNESS of cleaning up cat poop hit me again – not only is it icky, but it’s really not safe for little Pepino in there, either.

(Side note: what do you think of Pepino as an in utero moniker? I was driving through town yesterday with VeggieTunes2 blasting on the CD player -I know, I’m such a rocking mom- and when we got to “Dance of the Cucumber” I thought, “Aw, that sounds like a good name for a little vegetable-sized baby.” Because every freakin’ pregnancy book spends nine months telling you what food your child measures up to in a given week. So I’m trying it out; but I’m open to feedback.)

Back to the story. Gruff has a Zero Tolerance Policy for ill-placed cat poop. He’s unrelenting – now that this has happened several times in a row, and for the last three days consecutively, he won’t budge. They have to go. This weekend, he will load them into their carriers and take them to the Humane Society.

I’m sure that I’m more emotional than I might otherwise be, but I’m really upset. We’ve had these cats for so many years. They are SO good with Smooch – they let him pet them, they come when he calls them, they lick his hands (and sometimes, his sippy cups). This morning I started poking around online and came across a good bit of information that seems to point toward checking out a medical condition when a previously well-trained litter box user starts to “act out.” One website in particular mentioned a cat who started eliminating around the house would also meow (in pain) when picked up — and I realized that Lux, the cat who’s been caught in the act of bed-pooping, often meows a particular, loudish meow when we pick him up. So now I’m feeling torn and guilty – should I spend the money, take them to the vet, have them checked out, even though Gruff has issued his edict that we’re giving them up? On one hand, there’s a chance that Lux isn’t doing it to be “bad” – he could really have some kind of infection or problem, and we might be able to help him feel better and simultaenously fix the litter box problem and save him from being adopted out. On the other hand, maybe it’s just some wierd phase he’s going through, and we’ll STILL end up giving him up plus we’ll have spent money on a vet bill. I just don’t know what to do, what we’ll end up doing.

“God a’mighty, if I was alone I could live so easy. I could go get a job an’ work, an no trouble. No mess at all.” John Steinbeck, Of Mice and Men

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3 Responses to Of cats and poop

  1. Heather says:

    I’d guess that there might be a medical problem for it.

    But if you have to give them up anyway I wouldn’t personally pay for the vet.

    My cat pooped on my bedroom floor when I was in college and sometimes would stay out all night. She was mad at me. I put saran wrap on the floor where she’d poop so she wouldn’t poop there any more, she just picked a different spot in my room. So then I closed my door. She eventually got over her anger I guess. She was still a kitten then though.

  2. Waiting Amy says:

    Well, Michelle, as a vet you know I’m going to recommend a trip to the vet. If the elimination issue is just pooping, I would certainly consider a medical reason (often it’s medical for urine issues too, but that’s an entire ‘nother ball of stuff).

    If the poops are hard and he has been dealing with constipation, it could make him choose a new spot. Also, if you have 2 cats you should have at MINIMUM 2-3 litter boxes. Make sure the other cat isn’t ambushing his use of the litter box. Are you certain which cat is doing the pooping? There are lots of possible things to try, and most vets are very happy to try and sort these things out to keep happy pets with happy people.

    In regards to the whole pregnancy and cat poop thing, if you cats are indoor exclusive then their risk of contracting and passing Toxoplasmosis to you is small. There are less commonly cats that are chronic low-grade shedders of the disease, so that is why it is always recommended that pg women don’t clean the litter box. However, if proper safety precautions are taken (gloves and hand washing) then the risk is low – in fact you can be just at risk by gardening without gloves. I was still practicing vet medicine while pg with The Snake.

    I’ve got no good advice for how to proceed, but thought you might want that info. Hope it was helpful and didn’t sound preach-y, for I certain don’t mean to be. Best of luck with whatever you decide.

  3. twithhoney says:

    Take them to the vet. The only time I had a house cat that suddenly had cat box issues after YEARS of fantastic behavior it turned out he was very sick.
    A shelter will most likely have to euthanize him if he is sick. And why get rid of both cats if only one is misbehaving?

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