Monday, March 25, 2013

Conversing with Cat

I watched in utter disbelief Friday morning as my favorite cat squatted on the bowl of dry food and peed.  It was a long drawn out pee, as if he'd been holding it in all day.  And because the bowl was small and the stream forceful, the pee shot out behind him onto the floor, forming a rivulet that meandered in front of (and under) the stove.

Ordinarily this kind of undesired behavior is not tolerated in any household.  Most cat owners would intervene immediately.  But I had sympathy for this cat.  I've been in very similar "urgent pee" situations, and I'd be rather upset and indignant if, during my moment of ecstatic release, someone were to scream at me or spray me with a water bottle or wrap me up in a towel and toss me into a bathtub.  So I watched in rapt fascination for the 45 seconds it took for his bold effluence to taper down to nothing.

Besides, I was certain there was a very good reason for the new behavior -- one that would be addressed with a caring intelligent solution, as opposed to disciplinary measures.

One might jump to the conclusion that he's sick of the food.  No, that wasn't it.  Well, to him it's not really food.  He eats the dry food only when it's mixed with wet food.  So the first thing I surmised is that he was avoiding the litterboxes.  Indeed, the other three cats have been acting aggressively toward him.  The morning ritual was that after they ate their morning meal, and moseyed downstairs to do their business, they would chase Pee-meister back upstairs in a fury of hissing.  Now even the timid new cat is involved in the chase.  So he must have decided to stay away from the litterboxes.  For how long, I have no idea -- probably a full day.

I noticed afterwards that he was looking intently in the direction of the basement stairs.  So I carried him calmly and gently downstairs, and we walked over to the litterboxes.  I placed him on the floor.  He went immediately toward the nearest box and Pooped.

The next day he did the exact same thing, only this time I wasn't there to witness it.  Again he pooped as soon as I placed him near the boxes.  And again this morning.

Experts say that you should have at least one litterbox for each cat plus one extra.  Also the litterboxes should be on all levels of the house.  And they should be placed in various locations.  We break all three recommendations.  We have only four litterboxes for our four cats.  They are all downstairs.  Three of the litterboxes are tucked into an alcove that once served as a dry bar.  If some cat bully wanted to make another cat's life miserable, it would be easy for him just to prowl near the narrow stairs and pounce on the other cat during every bathroom break.

On Sunday there was not a repeat pee incident (or would that be a re-peet?).  Here are the actions I took:
  1. Carry the cat to the litterboxes twice each day.
  2. Use the piss-bowl for water instead of dry food.
  3. Switch to a previous brand of dry food (which he sort of eats) placing into a different bowl.
I will also somehow install a new litterbox in the upstairs master bedroom.  (I write "somehow" because the dog sleeps in the bedroom at night, and he's partial to the delicacies that cats leave in their litterboxes.  He really enjoyed the pee-marinated kibble.)  I will also fully trim the bully-cat's claws so that instead of deadly daggers of death, they will be merely blunt bully boogers.

One lingering concern I have is that Pee-meister might be sick.  The humans from Biblical times had no qualms about ostracizing and attacking the weak, diseased and decrepit, so I wonder if our cats are this way, too.  Fortunately, Pee-meister is still eating and drinking well.

Stay tuned to this cat channel for more on this topic!

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