“Literatti”

A not-so-necessarily fashionable set of people involved in the care and feeding of cats; more specifically, the purchase, cleaning, replenishing and discarding of their leavings/litter.

At present, and going on for nearly five years now, we live with five indoor cats: brothers Biscuit and Chino, siblings Andrew and Sloane, and one single female named Twinkle. Having lost our previous cat, Smokey, prematurely to outside effects: cancer at age 10, we decided on our next feline go ‘round, that we would not let them out. It’s much healthier for the cat, we were told, and so as our current brood grew, we committed to keeping them all inside. And inside cats, like Forrest Gump in The White House, have to go. And if their box/boxes are not cleaned and refreshed regularly, you might not be so happy about where they do go. Therefore, to avoid the inevitable, we are extremely litter centric. Although we may not have the requisite number of boxes available for their disposal (the unofficial mandate is one box per cat), nevertheless, we try to be extra busy with the task at hand. After years of this arrangement, the cats and our house seem none the worse for wear. It’s not exactly a small price to pay (litter is not inexpensive and its weight sometimes makes for an awkward transport home), but there is absolutely no alternative.

With respect to the cats’ litter box-use and occasional abuse, their behavior really is remarkable. Getting them to use their litter box doesn’t require any training per se, as in house-training a puppy. In our experience, it’s simply been a matter of availability and proximity, though I can’t say for sure if unboxed residue has anything to do with location. If anything, it has to do with their owners negligence in providing a freshly scooped box. All we have ever done is place the kitten in the litter box and then they seem to know how to do the rest. Except for the cleaning of the box. They don’t exactly fend for themselves. However, so long as the owners scoop and refill regularly, the cats are relatively low maintenance. The litter box remains high maintenance though.

To secure that maintenance, there are a few tools of the trade to consider. One is the litter scoop. Having broken numerous plastic scoops over the years, I made a commitment (in money) years ago to an industrial strength, commercial grade-type scoop; a metal scoop with a rubber handle. I haven’t looked backwards since or forwards in a store. That scoop has been indestructible and has been worth every penny/dollar of its extra cost. My advice: don’t skimp on the scoop.

As for litter boxes, size probably does matter, so far as avoiding “unpleasantness” is concerned. As to using boxes with covers (rather than the standard open-air boxes) or moving parts, recently, for the first time in our respective 50 years or so of cat ownership/accommodation, we bought a box with a cover and a swinging flap, providing the cats privacy, and access to go in and out (like a doggie door) and also to control litter spillage and to manage odors. Skeptical at first about the cats’ likely reaction, within a very short time, all five were “flapping” and “littering” without any further adieu or mess. Initially, I thought the flap would intimidate them and the cover would crowd them. Moreover, I thought one or another would have a problem with something or other causing us to scrap the whole project. Amazingly, the exact opposite has transpired.

As much of a success as the metal scooper has been for me, I am now able to add, without any hesitation or reservation, that the cover/enclosed box with the plastic flap has similarly breathed fresh air (literally) into our multicat, litter box existence. There’s also a charcoal filter in the box to absorb odors (to which we’ve likely gone nose-blind). Turns out to be a winwin, when one (this one in fact), might have thought (did think) it would be a lose-lose. However, unless we remain vigilant with the scooper, this situation could certainly take a turn for the worse.

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