Monday, 20 September 2010

Smokin' Clean

Way back when, I had a middle-aged student called Mr. Uehara. One day when we were talking about likes and dislikes, I said that I hated the smell of cigarette smoke and Mr. Uehara nodded. "So do I," he said.

I was surprised by this because I'd seen Mr. Uehara smoking in the lobby during the breaks. "Have you quit smoking?" I asked. Mr. Uehara shook his head. "I like smoking clean," he informed me.

I blinked. "What in the world does that mean?"

He spread his hands. "I find clean place, I smoke there. Then, smoking clean."

I found this so mind-boggling I had to sit down. "Smoking clean means smoking in a clean place?"

He smiled and nodded.

"Mr. Uehara, you can't smoke clean. Once you're smoking, the air is not clean."

He shook his head. "Other people smoke, air is dirty. I go to clean place. Smoking clean."

After a few minutes of this, I gave up. Mr. Uehara amazed me. He wholly rejected my idea that smokers should go to special smoking rooms to smoke, that on long-distance trains like the shinkansen, they should not seek out the non-smoking car to light up. He strongly felt that he was a superior smoker because he liked to smoke in clean places. I thought to myself that if I ever caught him pulling out his smokes in the non-smoking car of the shinkansen because the air was purer there, I would not spare him any more than I did the other smokers I told off there on a regular basis.

I mention this because I now have acquired two wonderful cats, Mitzi and Maverick. Their former caretaker (I never use 'owner' when I'm talking about cats) is now in Australia and due to be there for up to two years, so Mitzi and Maverick need a home and we need cats that we know will be claimed in a few years' time when we're ready to go abroad again. They are great cats, but Maverick has a little problem. When he's nervous, he uses the bathtub as a litter box.

Maverick, I should mention, is a very nervous cat.

When they arrived, Mitzi and Maverick came kitted out with more paraphernalia than I have ever seen two cats possess, including their own toys, a month's supply of food and treats, medicines, collars, a scratching post, their own individual cat carriers and beds, and a state-of-the-art covered litter box with a huge bag of environmentally friendly cat litter. I'd been warned about Maverick's little habit, but given this superior litter box and an entire household tiptoeing around with lowered voices, I hoped that he would not need to avail himself of our bathtub after he'd gotten used to us.

This was sadly not the case.

The first morning after they arrived, I found the inevitable in our bathtub. I was both irritated and impressed. I've had cats use the carpet before, but this was my first bathtub experience. I cleaned it up and warned everybody to shut the bathroom door overnight. Unfortunately, our bathroom door doesn't quite close and is easy for a determined feline to push open. The next morning, I had a repeat performance, and this went on all week until my husband fixed the bathroom door.

The next morning, my husband reported that when he'd gone for a shower, he'd found four cat turds in the drain. He fixed the shower room door. I cleaned out the litter box for the umpteenth time, brought Maverick out to the veranda to remind him how it worked, and crossed my fingers.

The next morning, someone left the bathroom door open during the night. I cleaned out the bathtub and filled it with two inches of lavender-scented water. I drizzled a bit of lavender bath oil on the side too, where he has managed to do his business when the bathtub was too wet for his liking.

I shut the shower stall, smeared a little lavender oil in the shower room sink, then went to bed confident that I had finally sealed off Maverick's forbidden toilets.

Maverick got the message. This morning, he'd gone in the corner of the lounge, behind a cabinet. On the nice, clean carpet.


Just as Mr. Uehara liked smoking clean, Maverick likes crapping clean.


meredith said...

Good luck with that problem!

Kappa no He said...

Crapping clean, I love it. Maybe that is what is up with my kitty. Wouldn't it be great if you could get him to frequent the porcelain of the toilet instead of the bathtub.

Eryl said...

All I can do is echo Meredith!

Bish Denham said...

Well, if he has to go somewhere, I'd prefer the tub to the carpet any day. We once had a cat that liked to poo in my dad's shoes. Not a good thing as my dad wasn't fond of cats to begin with....

Angela Ackerman said...

Oh I hate laughing at another's misfortune, but you just described this so well...sometimes it's laugh or cry, am I right?

Oh the things we do for cats.


Angela @ The Bookshelf Muse

Mary Witzl said...

Meredith -- Once a cat has 'been' in a particular corner, you really have to be ever-vigilant or it'll happen again. The eyes in the back of my head are growing back.

Kappa -- Wouldn't it just? Some friends of mine who lived in a small flat in New York managed to train their cats to use the toilet. What they couldn't do was flush, but I'd forgive that -- and the paw prints on the toilet seat for that matter.

Eryl -- Thank you. That corner is bristling with lemon peel right now, which cats aren't big fans of. It might work...

Bish -- The tub WAS easier than the carpet and I'm beginning to regret my decision to dissuade him. I may let out the water if the corner crapping doesn't stop.

Don't you imagine for one minute that your cat didn't know whose shoes those were. I've heard similar stories and the shoes involved always belonged to a cat-hating person.

Angela -- Do laugh -- it IS funny, isn't it? At least it is now. At six in the morning, this was really not funny at all. And if it happens again, I fear the humor rating will go way down.

Charles Gramlich said...

One wonders how such kitties survive?

Mary Witzl said...

Charles -- By using their feline wiles to bewitch and beguile. If Maverick wasn't such a sweet, cute cat, he'd have been out on his butt pretty quick.

Robert the Skeptic said...

When I was a kid, our cat Susie loved to crap in the bath tub. However, we never had a litter box, didn't know of them at the time.

Before I was born, my parents had a cat which they had trained to crap in the toilet! I didn't believe it until she showed me a black-and-white picture of Tuffy hovering over the toilet seat.

Now there are even YouTube videos of cats, not only using the toilet, but FLUSHING afterward.

Now if we could only train them to get jobs.

Vijaya said...

Ahem ... better the bathtub than the carpet, Mary. Our 17-year-old cat does not like the mess the kittens make and I clean the litter boxes twice a day, and apparently it's not good enough for him because he will still use the carpet ... wish he'd use the toilet or the tub. It'd be a heck of a lot easier to clean.

But smoking clean? What an wxymoron. I can forgive a cat a lot of things, but humans can be just plain stupid.

Robin said...

Oh no! Bad Kitty! You'll have to spray lavender oil over the whole house, and douse the litter box with catnip.

I slept on the porch last night in an attempt to spare my family my evil flu germs, and when I woke up, the dogs had pooped on the porch rug! I was really pissed until I checked the doggie door, and found out it was stuck. Oops. When you gotta go, I guess you just gotta go.

Kim Ayres said...

I knew there was a reason we don't have pets...

Carole said...

We had a cat named Sam. Sam refused to use a litter box. He insisted on going outside to use God's facilities. His problem came when it was 40 below in Montana. He would go outside and it was just too cold to go, so he would come back in, then go back outside, then come back in, and finally he would give up and go in the litter box that we kept just for such occasions. The minute the weather warmed up to a balmy 20 below he'd be back outside doing his business.

He also refused to drink water out of a dish. He drank out of the toliet.

Mary Witzl said...

Robert -- We scoffed litter boxes too, in our multi-catted family. We had the great outdoors available, which was free and convenient. But we still had cats who couldn't be bothered to sully their feet with sand or grass. We encouraged them to stay outdoors.

I'm in awe of your parents -- in fact, of ANYbody who can train their cat to use a toilet. It's not that I question their ability, but cats are cats. Unless you can convince them it's in their best interest to do something, you're doomed. And therein lies the rub. Now I'm off to find cats flushing on soon as I've rewritten my last chapter!

Vijaya -- I'm beginning to feel the same: I might as well have left him to the bathtub and saved myself the carpet cleaning.

You clean your cats' litter boxes TWICE A DAY? Please don't tell my cats -- they'd go on strike?! I do the occasional 'object clearing' when I sense the need, but the stuff we're using is so good (and expensive) that I only replace it once every few days. Maverick won't use it even when it's absolutely fresh. His companion, Mitzi, stands there watching and waiting for as long as it takes me. She must have bowels of steel.

Robin -- That has happened here too, when the kids have left the cat flap locked from the inside. Not a fun morning surprise to find, is it? I have friends who claim cat poo and dog poo are equally disgusting, but as much as I love cats, I think cat poo wins hands down in terms of nasty pungency. So next time that happens, think of me: it COULD be worse!

Kim -- It's like having kids. Everybody can observe the tantrums, they can hear the noisy babies and see the sulking teenagers and the parents' red-rimmed baggy eyes. But the joy of being a parent is harder to relay, and with having pets it's just the same, perhaps even more so because there is no biological imperative not to throw them out.

But if that cat craps on the carpet again, he's spending the night OUTSIDE.

Carole -- At 40 below, I'd be heading for the litter box myself. Brrr!

Cat personality is fascinating, isn't it? Our last cat was a model of refinement and delicacy. We gave her water every morning in a squeaky-clean china dish that did not smell of dish-washing liquid, but as with Sam, that wasn't good enough. She liked the water I keep outside for those rare dry days: mossy, stinking, full of dead leaves and insects. And if that wasn't available, she drank out of the toilet.

Sarah said...

Our cat did the exact same thing when we moved him. He peed in the tub all the time, but thankfully still went to the litter box for his solids. Our vet recommended we use "Feliway" which is a cat-hormone spray that calms them down. It sounds hinky, but he never peed anywhere but the litter box after that.

Chris Eldin said...

AHAHAHAHAHAH! I love how you wrapped these two stories together!!
(btw... hope you can drop by my new blog. And I would LOVE a picture of your two cats to link on my sidebar)

Falak said...

Love the way you connected both the stories. Looks like you're going to need a lot of lavender oil for some time to come now. Best of luck!

Kit said...

I sympathise - one of our cats is getting a little old and can't be bothered to go outside. She uses the shower, which I do think is better than the carpet and easier to clean, but not much fun to find first thing in the morning.

Maggie Ayres said...

Hi Mary - just wanted to say thank you for visiting my blog :)

Mary Witzl said...

Sarah -- Feliway? Where can I get some of this and damn the expense? If it works, I will be eternally grateful to you -- and spread the news among all my cat-appreciating friends.

Our last cat crapped on a down pillow in a freshly laundered pillowcase. ONCE. I caught it immediately and took appropriate measures, but I could have used some Feliway then too.

Chris -- Yay, you have a new blog! Where is it? Send me the URL -- I have tried to find you and failed.

When I can manage to get my experts (i.e. teenagers) onto this, I will send you the cats' photos. They're both black, but utterly different in appearance -- and habits and personality.

Falak -- Lemon peel is a good cat deterrent too.

Kit -- Poor you! I would be a little more forgiving if Maverick were a senior citizen too, but he is young and strong and perfectly fit. He IS a rescue cat with a traumatic past, so I'll cut him some slack. But I'm hoping we'll get this sorted out before that corner starts smelling like Grand Central Station's public convenience.

Maggie -- Congratulations to you and Kim! I believe my good man and I have just celebrated our Tupperware anniversary...;o)

Tabitha said...

Well, I'm sure it's not that funny to you, but your story is hilarious to us. :)

I roomed with someone whose cat preferred the sofa to the litter box. *That* was unacceptable!!

Mary Witzl said...

Tabitha -- Sigh...I'm fresh from cleaning up a very large Maverick number in the shower stall. Doubly irritating in that I was just petting him and praising him for using his litter box (or the Great Outdoors) yesterday.

But now I'm looking at my comparatively new and clean sofa and thinking that it really could be so much worse...

Pat said...

'Kitted out'
I like it:)

laura said...

Just too stinking funny! My parents were stunned when they walked in on their kitty peeing on the pot. And then they found out that if the lid was down, he'd go in the tub or the sink. That all ended when Smokey got a urinary tract infection that led to a $3,000 operation that turned him into a eunuch. He now uses the litter box. Go figure.
Hans had a chain smoking business partner who insisted on reserving non smoking hotel rooms where he then smoked all night long. Why? He hated the smell of stale smoke.
I'm thrilled that they are no longer partners!

Mary Witzl said...

Pat -- It's a gift. I didn't even realize I'd done it!

Laura -- I think even I would be prepared to shell out $3,000 for an operation on a cat who knew how to use the toilet. But Maverick has already been fixed. I think there may be half a dozen unfixed cats in our neighborhood. When I was a kid in California, fixed cats were almost as rare as cats who could use the toilet.

We've stayed in non-smoking rooms in hotels that reeked of cigarette smoke -- I'd always assumed that the proprietors just ran out of smoking rooms, but now I see that maybe I was wrong. Mind boggling, isn't it, that someone could be so selfishly obtuse and inconsiderate!

Murr Brewster said...

It sounds like Maverick had a solution. You're the one with the problem.

My Larry crapped every which where, including next to her food dish, but she was such a terrific cat that I ended up thinking I was lucky because she drank so little water and her turds weren't moist.

I was all set to tell you about the inch of water in the tub trick (but then he'd just find another splendid locale) but you were all over it.

Mary Witzl said...

Murr -- I suppose I really am lucky: Maverick is also a reluctant drinker; I can pretty much deal with his leavings with only a square or two of toilet paper. But although he is dry, he is also amazingly prolific, and of course he is a cat, so you can hardly call him fragrant.

He's shaping up to be a great cat, though, so there are compensations. I'm training him to be a writer's companion cat -- wish us well!

Blythe Woolston said...

I'm a little surprised at how very objectionable I find the notion of a cat crapping in the tub. After all, it's a smooth, easily-cleaned surface--but I'm totally squicked.

I remember when toilet using cats were in the news, but either the practice or media interest seems to have waned.

I do, sort of, feel your pain. Our dog developed gastric distress. Much effluent from both ends. Not shocking because he has some very bad habits: He eats socks and underpants. He has also eaten charcoal briquets, a Brillo pad, and a bar of Ivory soap--all without negative results--in the past. The vet x-rayed him. We dosed him several times a day with meds and put him on a bland diet. He is fully recovered. Yesterday, he ate half a crocheted doily. He is always going to be a doggie criminal. There is no hope for reform.

Anne Spollen said...

Baby Cat does this! Sometimes she prances in when I'm cleaning up towels or doing some other chore in the bathroom. She looks and waits, then jumps in the tub. I chase her out, but I would have to take up residence in the bathroom to prevent it.

We have four other cats so I thought that was why; it's her private pooping ground.

I use lots of Lysol...

veach st. glines said...

With all the comments already, I'm surprised I didn't find one recommending a fix!

My recommendation: Place an empty litter pan in your bathtub and leave the bathroom door open.

Instruct the family to wipe down the wet tub after use and clean the cat waste after he (hopefully) does it in the empty cat box.

After a week or so, add a very small amount of litter to the box.

If he continues to use it, slowly add more litter; if he starts doing it outside the box in the tub again - then it's the litter he hates - find one with absolutely no scent.

Eventually you will identify which litter doesn't send him running for a "clean surface" and can slowly move the box out of the tub and into a corner of the bathroom and then, eventually, to a room of your choosing.

If he returns to the tub, start over with the empty litter box and then a different litter.

Mary Witzl said...

Blythe -- Because I've had many cats in the past, some whose favorite crapping spots were on the carpet inches away from a linoleum surface -- reminding the cleaner of what might have been a LOT easier and less smelly with only a tiny bit of work on the cat's part -- I'm torn between irritation/repugnance -- bathtubs are sudsy warm places of cleanliness, comfort, sweet smells and relaxation, for pity's sake! -- and smug pride -- "Well at least the clean up won't take long, and what a smart cat!"

He did it again just this morning in the shower stand. My husband cleaned it up, which I'll be hearing about for the next year or so. Nobody will admit to leaving the shower door open, either.

AnneS -- Whoa...with five cats, you're getting close to my sister's recent maximum of 34. I don't even want to THINK about five cats with Maverick's habits.

The way cats watch and wait while you clean out their litter boxes cracks me up. All the cats I've ever had eagerly wait for their litter boxes to be cleaned, then climb right in as soon as you've finished, as though they can't wait to have the optimally clean pooping experience. But you're right: people tell me to watch and wait to catch Maverick at it, but if I had that kind of time, I'd spend it doing worthier things.

Veach -- That is actually a really good idea. We've got an old cat litter box lying around somewhere, and I'm going to give that one a go. My guess is that he'll eschew it for the nice, clean porcelain of the bathtub or shower stall, but maybe SOMEBODY sells a porcelain cat litter box!

The scent thing is weird. With three teenage girls around, you'd think all the cosmetic smells would put Maverick off, but not a bit of it. He obviously likes the floral bouquet of shampoo, conditioner, baby powder, scented liquid soaps and hairspray a lot more than I do.