An opinionated feline in Edmonton, Canada who lived with a retired cat behaviourist, Greyce provided behavioral advice to cats in need until her death in July 2014. Because her entries are useful even today, the blog remains posted.

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Dining by Your Toilet - Part 2 of Litterbox Blues

The snow continues to fall and I am ready to curl up in a ball and hibernate for the rest of the winter. This is SO not October! The only things that keep me going are the desperate mewsings of my fellow felines. Take McManx, for example.

McManx as you probably gathered is a Manx (no points there for guessing correctly), a cat whose end is not followed by a tail. He is happily ensconced in an apartment overlooking the river valley with a screened, walk-out porch. Now if that apartment was in any other city, right now he'd be enjoying the fall colours and the scurrying of mice as they gather things for the winter. But being Edmonton, he'd freeze his tail off (if he had one) by venturing out there. So much for the weather report and on to his problem.

Oh Wise One (he wrote -- I'm a sucker for flattery), my living quarters are on the small side but I'm afraid it doesn't excuse my person from the action he has taken to save space. My litterbox which in better weather was stationed on the balcony, is now in the storage room. I can access it through a cat door. No problem except it is also the location of my food and water dishes. Now they are all side by side! I'm faced with a dilemma: Do I continue to use the box for its intended purposes, bury my waste as usual and then move on; or do I wine and dine from the dishes provided and find a toilet elsewhere?

McManx, my heart goes out to you. You are right: It is unseemly to void where you eat; the mix of smells is a signal to those dreaded predators that this is a place you patronize. What is to stop them from jumping you when you are nibbling on your kibble or burying your waste? But humans don't think like this. Your human is likely using this placement because he is thinking of efficiency -- for himself. How much easier could it be -- for him -- than to have all your needs met in one place (one-stop shopping if you will), so he can do cleaning and refilling of all items in one trip? Yes, it is sadly true that humans are not only of limited intelligence but also dreadfully lazy when it comes to attending to our needs properly.

Most cats I know make the following choice: They use the eating and drinking station but void elsewhere. Of course, their humans get very upset at smelling cat pee in the corner behind the television or seeing evidence of waste neatly piled on top of the bathroom carpet, but frankly they deserve it. Would they eat dinner while seated on their toilets doing their business? Even the thought of it would disgust most (except for those few, very unusual ones one does not care to think about). So if you are like most cats, you will choose the area for wining and dining and void elsewhere. I certainly wouldn't want you to go without food and start the process for fatty liver disease (which can be fatal) because of lack of nourishment.

Once he smells the result of your decision, he will try to figure out the reason for the problem. If he has even one gram (that's ounce in American) of intelligence, he will start to review recent changes in the layout of your essentials and realize that moving the litterbox beside the feeding location is the problem. Be prepared for a change in venue; something will be moved. If he is the anxious sort, he will call the vet. If said vet is smart enough to question him about the kind of waste (liquid or solid) you have left around the apartment and hears that it is both, this vet will hone in on recent changes to the litterbox routine (including location) and solve the problem over the phone.

And to those of you who have put up with this situation for years, happily pooping beside where you nibble . . . I am at a loss for words!