Oh boy, did I mess up. And all you cat lovers out there will know exactly what I'm talking about. Because there is one thing you never do to a cat. Never. Ever.
You do not, I repeat, you do not mess with their litter. This is not negotiable. You hear me? You do not mess with their litter. Or their litter boxes, as I learned the hard way.
My intentions were honourable. I was wandering around a rather upscale shopping mall. Amidst all the designer boutiques, I noticed a pet store. They cater mostly to dogs, but there are some items for those of us who fancy felines as companions.
In the window, next to a pet-sized, ruby-hued, tufted, velvet chaise, were the most fabulous litter boxes. They were covered (a must unless you're crazy enough to love vacuuming). They came in an array of fabulous colours and the finish was matte, luxe and very chic.
The 'pan' was much deeper than usual. And the cover swung back and forth, from front to back, which makes cleaning a breeze. They were very futuristic looking.
My first impression was, "WOW! Those are johns I'd love to have, if I was a cat." As I stood there, gazing at them, I could just hear my little darlings: "Buy them for us, Mommy. Please, please, please. Buy them." I bought two, one for each of my babies.
I couldn't wait to get home. Cats are curious, so you can imagine the flurry of activity when I opened the door and they saw my arms were full. I took the covers off and turned them over, so they couldn't climb in and use them before they were filled with litter. I had decided I'd dispose of the old, utilitarian, thick boring plastic ones first. Finally we were ready for a test drive, as it were.
At first my boys just stood there, staring at each other with quizzical expressions on their little faces. As if to say, "What the hell are these?" Then they looked at me. And not with the expressions of glee and gratitude I had imagined. I know that cats don't particularly care for change, but I was sure they just needed a bit of time. I knew they'd come around, who wouldn't?
So I waited. It took a while. Then they sniffed, pawed, walked around them, climbed in, climbed out, climbed on top. And then left. Without so much as a backward glance. Not the most auspicious beginning. But I carried on, oblivious to the conspiring that was going on, in the other room. Oblivious to the punishment they had in store for me.
Over the course of the next twenty-four hours, I was taught a lesson I will never forget: I woke up to find a turd at the foot of my bed. There was also another one, strategically placed right in front of my toilet. Another rested beside a food dish. Theirs, thankfully, not mine.
A combination of allergies and bad sinuses have taken their toll on my sense of smell, but when I came back home after several hours away, there was no mistaking it. Sniff. Sniff. Sniff, sniff. You got it. Pee. With trepidation I walked around examining the floors, the sinks, the furniture and my bed, which had been so pointedly targeted the night before.
Way too predictable. Cats are clever. They'd never be that obvious. About an hour later, while I was down on all fours in my bedroom closet, I found a pair of slippers and boots that were suspiciously wet. And it was only when I backed out of there, still on my knees, that I saw the baskets.
One for their toys and two lined in sheepskin so each of my 'treasures' had somewhere cozy to curl up. Well, they wouldn't be doing that anymore. Nor would they ever be playing with those toys again.
"Okay", I said, holding back tears. "I surrender. Nothing fancy. I get it. SOOR ......RY!!!"
Obviously, the store wouldn't take them back. My friends all passed, afraid to tempt fate. My vet didn't want them. I put up a notice on the bulletin board in the building where I live, to no avail. In the end, the dumpster was where they ended up. Just before I ran back to the hardware store to pick up the plain, no-frills, plastic litter boxes we've all been using for ages.
Sundance and Bartlett, my cats, continued to give me the cold shoulder, and the stink-eye, for about a week. And they still don't trust me enough to let me go into the bathroom alone.
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