Archive for the ‘Household Cleanliness/Household Management’ Category

Maybe I should just come to terms that, until I earn enough from my creative pursuits to justify the expense of a regular housekeeper, my home will never be completely clean from….poop, puke and pee.  Yep.

I envision a time when I can feel comfortable inviting someone to my home at a moment’s notice, without fear of retribution due to the wafting odors and dried vomit that seem to multiply exponentially.  Yes, I know we’ve chosen to share our lives with five cats and I’m bitching, but every so often I just need a release.

We’ve developed certain coping strategies.  Our couch is trashed pretty much, covered with two drop cloths that we change and launder several times a day.  We keep a constant supply of spot carpet cleaner and antibacterial spray.  My current products of choice are Woolite Heavy Traffic Carpet, Rug & Upholstery Cleaner and Method Antibac Kitchen Cleaner (orange zest).   Maybe I should look into buying stock in these companies… And it’s primarily Roger’s task to scoop the five litter boxes daily.  But, still.  It’s just maddening to take pleasure in the vision of temporarily clean carpet after 1.5 hours of vacuuming toil, only for the moment to be obliterated by a furball puking up a hastily eaten snack.   Grrrr.

Perhaps if I just enjoyed cleaning, I would attend to it more often.   Naaa.   It’s just not in my DNA to enjoy the process of housework.  I get it done when required, and I know logically that if I vacuumed or mopped more often, I would accomplish these tasks more effortlessly.  But I would just rather do so many other things—drum, write, experience a crisp fall afternoon walking with a friend…

If I were to glean any positive aspect from my continual annoyance with the 3 Ps, it’s the tips and techniques I’ve garnered from my coping efforts.  Which I will then pass along to a cleaning person once I’ve sold my first book.  Or sooner.

Oh….Is that the unmistakable sound of puking? Sigh.  Now, where did I place that carpet cleaner….

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Sit here.  Down.  Stop.  No! 

The illusion of control.   If our felines beckon to our desires and demands, it’s only because our demands coincide with their momentary wishes to satisfy sensual pleasures… We might believe we have dominion over these beasts, but just wait until you’re out of the room…

According to my research, http://www.a-house-full-of-cats.com/catbehavior.html, cats have this limited, self-focused world view whereby they act (believe?) that the world revolves around them.  I want what I want and I want it now…so there!  I read somewhere that domestic kitties have the intellectual capacity and temperament of a toddler or young preschooler. And—unlike most human children—they remain this way throughout their lives.  Rather than wish this were otherwise—futile as it is—I am learning to accept this truism about feline companionship.  And to adapt my behavior to meet their needs while managing my expectations and mental health realistically.

So I know, intellectually, a cat might jump off a kitchen counter when I demand this of him with a strong voice and pointed index finger.  I also know that when I walk out of the room—up again he’ll jump to explore those cracks and crevices, sights and smells…  Therefore when I prepare and serve food, of course I always disinfect those surfaces beforehand.  I’ve been trained well.

And yet this seeming lack of obedience has a side benefit:  living totally for the moment, cats have this most wonderful ability to give us 100% of their attention—at least for brief periods.  The purring and the cuddling awakens in any cat lover a visceral connection to this magnificent yet vexing beast.  And then, like any ADD-addled creature, off they go to explore those new sights, sounds or smells…

We think we are teaching our cats discipline and respect, but au contraire, they’re teaching us.  Our relationship with our kitties—as imperfect as it is—is an ongoing reminder of being ever present to those ephemeral opportunities to just live in the moment.   And to let go this illusion of control over things outside of ourselves… A lesson I foresee revisiting often throughout this lifetime.

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Shame on you.  Fool me twice, poop on me.  Animal behavior is a conundrum to the power of 10.   Take fear.  All living beings experience and react to fear.  Perhaps we lash out, or we run away and hide.  But have you ever been so afraid of something that you froze in terror and literally pooped in your pants?  That your only response was to mewl plaintively while soiling yourself?

None of our cats likes the sounds and perhaps the vibrations of the vacuum.  But like many of life’s chores, it is a necessary evil—compounded by living with so many lumps of love. So once a month (I know, it should probably be more often) the loud, grating monster emerges from the closet to vanquish the fur balls, crumbs and life’s other detritus.   While four of our five cats put up with this inconvenience with perhaps a dirty look or hiss, Tigger takes his fear to a completely new level.   Not only does he begin to mewl presciently, he growls and then runs as if his fur is on fire to hide.  During the last two vacuum sessions, I have found his muddled mass clumped in a corner covered in poop.  Yes, poop.  Poor Tiggy.  Poor me.  My wonderfully lovable, quirky kitty is so scared that he’s pooped on himself.  So not only do I have to calm him down enough to clean him, I have to clean up a pile of… well, you know.

This is a relatively new behavioral phenomenon for The Tiggster.  At first I thought it was an anomaly, but after this second recent occurrence, it seems that his fear of the vacuum monster has grown exponentially.   Unlike humans who have the capacity to talk through feelings and perhaps come to different conclusions about circumstances that cause distress, there is no luxury of verbal communication with our feline companions.   If I could only do away with the need to vacuum…  Ok.  Unrealistic.  All I can do as his human caretaker is to continue to love Tigger unconditionally.  And to place him in the bathroom next time I vacuum.  At least the bathroom will be easier to clean.

And now I’ve discovered Tigger has a fear of thunder.  Twice this past week I have found him lurking underneath the bed …

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Yes, readers, we need help!  Both Blackie and Junior have this predilection for urinating outside of the myriad of boxes available around the home for that purpose.  Yes, they do use these litter boxes, but they also tend—quite frequently—to go outside of the box.  Junior especially likes the couch, and Blackie has a thing for peeing on Roger’s feet while he naps in the den…

To-date, we have tried a more “Zen” approach to the situation by just handling the incidents: we’ve resorted to covering the couch and the futon with drop cloths, and we launder these coverings and sanitize the areas quite often… But this is getting tiring .. I know we ought not take this personally, but it’s hard. 

Re-homing our furbies is NOT an option.

As added background:  Both Blackie and Junior (half brothers from different litters) lived part of their early lives out on the street (ok, in our courtyard and backyard), and Roger brought them in when they were about a year old…  Roger saved them and is quite committed to their care…

Any suggestions for breaking them of this rancid habit?

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As cat owners, we expect to pay for pet maintenance such as food, vet visits, toys, perhaps an occasional grooming… but when do these lumps of love become too costly?  Is that even a fair calculation?  They are so loveable, yet at times they wreck such wonton destruction!

I have found their crimes fall into main categories:  inorganic and organic transgressions. Tigger is a chewer of inorganic materials. When he gets nervous (which is often) or wants attention, he chews…my computer cords, the plastic slinky on my desk.  And the most expensive offense: I am now on my 4th hands-free ear piece for my landline phone!  And all the cats like to sharpen their claws on the couches.  And the continual peeing by Junior and Blackie have cost Roger and me plenty in laundering time and purchases of drop cloths and carpet cleaner.


"Crime Scene" Photo

And these cats are thieves of all types of organic matter!  On a number of occasions, we have found half eaten food strewn about the floor, evidence their petty crimes.  Just last week, one of them wrangled an organic zucchini out of my shopping sack and chewed through more than half of it, leaving a broken and tattered carcass in its wake.  I  was tempted to draw a chalk line around it…I suspect it was Puffy, who has been caught chewing through plastic bags to get to onions and lemons…who knew he had a sweet tooth, as well?

Sometimes I feel I reach my limit on patience, especially when I am cleaning the same covers three days in a row…But, truly, there is no internal score keeping in terms of which cat is more challenging to maintain.  Because in the end, that score is meaningless.  As forever parents of our five cats—a responsibility, joy and obligation we’ve freely and whole heartedly taken—our felines are priceless in terms of the love they give and the lessons we learn about ourselves and life. 

I’ll readily admit that last week was just a particularly trying one for me in terms of their destructive powers, which seems to multiply geometrically since there five of ‘em.  If I come across one more soiled blanket, I feel my head will explode or spin a-la Linda Blair in The Exorcist…but then I take a deep breathe, sometimes a primal scream, and all is well.  Now, where’s a kitty when I need to pet one?

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I sat in it.  I did not check, and I sat—yet, again—on a urine-soaked rubberized sheet that now covers our urine stained couch.  And because of my bad attitude toward my now urine soaked pants, Roger and I got into a bit of a fight.  Yes, it was dumb of me; I should have known better—I am the being with the larger brain, yes?

Granted, it is an old ugly couch, but now it’s an ugly old couch that smells—even with the now daily cleaning of that rubberized sheet.  The two culprits who make these contributions are either Junior or Blackie, the two most recent additions to our household.  I personally think that Blackie is a poor influence on Junior. But maybe I’m biased because at least I can cuddle with Junior…

I fully believe that once you take in an animal to be a part of your household, you are making a lifelong commitment to that sentient, feeling being—even if you don’t really like the creature.  Ok, I admit it.  I don’t care all that much for Blackie, but I do feel for him. He was the last cat brought into our home—after the death of his sister, Minnie Me, and the disappearance of his brother, Tawny. Roger felt he had not done enough for this litter and made it his mission—in the spring of 2010—to entice this partially socialized creature into the house and make Blackie an indoor cat.

Well, Roger was successful in luring this big, bulky black cat into the house, and Blackie is now an indoor cat—who at times still yearns for the freedom of the great outdoors…of our back yard.  So I think he urinates outside the litter box and terrorizes my poor but not-so-little Tigger to show his displeasure. 

With five cats, I realize my home will never be truly clean and fresh smelling.  But this constant urination and cleaning really wears on me. Can’t I go one day without cleaning urine?!!  Is Blackie my personal test for equanimity and accepting the things I cannot change?  Will I just have to live with a cat who does not care for me except during meal times?  Roger insists I am not doing enough to make Blackie comfortable with me.  But except for rare occasions when Blackie allows me to play with him, he runs away.

I am even sometimes tempted to accidently leave the front door ajar… But Blackie is a prime example of kitty Stockholm syndrome: he has, indeed, escaped twice in the year in a half he’s been in the house (both times Roger’s fault!), and both times he’s returned after several hours.  During his last attempt, he spent the entire night getting his butt kicked (mostly howling and hissing) by Orange Kitty… The next morning, he was waiting by the door to be let in.

Blackie Peering Curiously

I’m just frustrated. 

At this moment, the big black oaf is relaxing comfortably, catching a few rays in the sunroom… Of course I will do all that I can to ensure Blackie is safely ensconced in the home.  And continue my quest for balance and equanimity…

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So, as I was preparing a post about one of our outdoor ferals, Orange Kitty, Puffy decides to mosey lovingly into the den.  Perhaps, I thought, he wants a session with the brush.  Oh, no! He proceeds to puke up his lunch.  Right at my feet.  No qualms about it; just lets it all go.  Only fitting, ehh, since Orange Kitty is Puffy’s baby daddy (more on Puffy, specifically, later in this blog). Oh, it’s so disgusting to clean up half digested food…uggg, the color.  The texture.  Gross.  And hairballs are no better to clean up, all slimy and stringy…

How can these adorable, loving, goofy playful creatures expend such disgusting detritus from their innards?

Of course, as the loving human kitty mother, I did clean it up right away. Not, though, without verbal complaint on my part… And having a good quantity of carpet and enzyme cleaners at the ready is just prudent.  We have an unwritten rule in our home that whoever discovers the detritus first gets to clean it up.  Ahum…Roger has accused me of purposely not seeing these feline contributions to our household chores.  Who, me?!!

Of course I love all the kitties, unconditionally, no matter how disgusting they might be in the moment.  Perhaps the life lesson is to do right thing no matter the circumstances: just hold your nose and get ‘er done!  And the acceptance, too, that my home will never be truly clean again…sigh.

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