Litter, more specifically cat litter, has been the bane of my existence for more than 18 years. Yes, I've had cats for that long—and almost always in multiples. As much as I adore my furry little felines, their leavings leave me sort of breathless shall we say.
Since the very beginning, I sought ways to inexpensively extend the life of the litter because we were always broke and didn't have the funds to change that litter thrice daily. I learned a few truths about living with cats.
One is that they will hold onto an especially fragrant deposit until (A) you change the litter, or (B) your company is arriving within 1 minute if they aren't already in the driveway.
Another truth I found out early on. No canned cat food. Give them whatever other little people-food treats you want outside of that eye-watering chili you pride yourself on, but don't give them canned cat food. If you do, then your home will carry that unmistakable O-Dear of inside of those sanitary pump trucks you always see on the road. With our conversion from canned to dry food, we had one rebellion. It had to be the first of it's kind—Muffin held her own hunger strike. I was a mass of Jell-O by then and would have fed her filet mignon three times a day. She finally caved.
Even with scooping, that fragrance has already leeched into the walls and becomes permanent. I don't care if you were waiting for them as they finished scratching around in the box. For all that excavation, you'd think they'd at least cover it. Once a one cat exits, then the rest of the pack descends to inspect, make an effort of their own, or attempt that legendary dig to the center of the earth.
Back in those days, it was simply the plain old clay litter. That litter had a myriad of other uses come wintertime as well, so we were always stocked. Speaking of "stock," I also cleaned out the baking soda display in the grocery store each week. I drew glares from the clerks when I arrived. They hated restocking so frequently.
After nearly five years of that routine and I discovered something that I'd never known before. Males are certainly different from females in more than one respect. No, I'm not speaking of the "human" sort—we all KNOW that. I'm speaking of the feline. All those years we had two little kitties that were female. While their personalities and habits were quite dissimilar, their box drops were candy compared to our latest adoptee. At first I thought it was because his sole diet had consisted of crickets and was having a hard time adjusting to real food and the comfort of a warm house. This was not the case.
So like those rowdy crowds at their favorite bar on a raucous night, they have to first "announce" the coming attraction, then make a lot of noise doing it, require regalement from their peers, and finally a testament must be given that theirs is the most pungent by acclaim. If we could understand the cat language, and they could write, you'd see Olympic score cards flying up—(7.5), (8.6), or going for the gold (10.0) across the board.
By contrast, in homes across the land, the litter boxes are never changed by the human males of the home—unless the missus is expecting. When this event occurs, something shifts. OB-GYNs across the land lament when a woman becomes pregnant and they've cats in the house. Due to a disease that can be contracted via even the fumes of cat litter, the expectant mother is excused from duty. However, her duty still remains to ensure the job gets done. There is no nagging like a woman with a foul box on her hands and she can't touch it. I'd hate to calculate the divorce rate from that one experience caused by that 7-month stretch. Still, I continue to learn.
After 14 years, my little girls passed, within months of each other. Only our fat cat, Spike was left. He was bereft without his little harem that due to the wonders of surgery he couldn't do anything about. Still, he was lonely.
Two years passed. Then last Fall we encountered another little foundling. He was perky and full of vinegar. Sunshine I dubbed him initially for he was a glorious dusky orange tabby with a roaring purr and affectionate nature. After the vet finished making him a little eunuch and removing some of his battlements, Sunshine quickly evolved into Stinky. Stinky he remains to this day. The boy's personality is that of a little stinker because he often lays in wait for our older tom, a more naïve fellow doesn't exist. Being waylaid a few hundred times a day gets old. However, this wasn't the only reason Sunshine became Stinky. No matter how much I bathe him, he's a musky old soul. We won't even begin to mention his bathroom habits.
With my old tom, Spike, now nearly toothless, hard dry food was no longer an option. It wasn't merely "canned" food, but that premium stuff—Fancy Feast®. Even then, it was only certain kinds he would eat. If one gets it, then all get it. The "box" became a nightmare.
I've tried the "clumping" kind. This is a disaster in a multiple cat household. I don't care what the manufacturer claims. I've used every brand on the market and some are merely adequate while most are not.
You can buy plain clay and put every additive known to man in with minimal results. I've also added stuff that only women know about. Currently I use a "salad" formation. I use that premium stuff, along with a load of pine pellets (they have many virtues) along with some home remedies.
At my wit's end, I traversed to that pet heaven, PetSmart® a few weeks ago. You know the place, you can even bring your pets with you. I spoke with several folks there. They seemed knowledge and eager—even if they were only in high school. Still, I though they might have learned more by working there and that there would be mystical discoveries down the cat aisle. Guess again.
I was promised that my expensive purchase would not only solve my cat litter woes but also guarantee world peace. What's not to try? So I invested a ton of bucks into something I knew I already wouldn't like. They were kitty "pearls." One container would last one cat a whole month. I had three cats, I bought a half dozen. Who were they trying to kid? Even the cats looked upon this latest development with suspicion—but when nature calls they have no illusions about where to plant it—if they want to continue living in a nice warm house with lots of food and lots of love.
Those kitty pearls are indeed a marvel at sucking up liquids. Liquids have never been my problem. I was reminded to scoop several times a day which brings me back to my roots. I hate that. Besides those kitty pearls attach to the solids and if you even think they will last a month for one cat, then they must be talking about some overly constipated feline. All of mine are healthy and more regular than most humans after the Octoberfest celebration and the Chili eating contest that were held on the same day. Trust me, it wasn't working. I had to take further action.
It's the "been there, done that" with those $$$$ pellets that promise a total odor removal within moments of the event. They don't work, take it from me and don't waste your money.
A few weeks ago we incorporated another little lost waif, and she looked it too. A little female this time, a calico with enormous eyes, silky fur, and an appetite that would shut down a grocery chain or two. I don't know where Pyewacket puts it for she's not only young, but also stunted for her age due to malnutrition. We've been there before with the old man Spike. Still, it's wonderful to have a little girl back in the house. She's so much more fastidious and must less potent. Besides, she goes in and re-covers the boys' stuff.
Having a female back in the house has made many changes. The old tom, Spike, is relieved of Stink's aggressive play attentions and Stinky is totally cowed. Silent and dark she'll pad into a room only to have her tawny, muscle-bound shadow behind her. Stink's in love. Pie's got both those guys right where she wants them and leads them a merry chase. She should, she's left their dirty work—and she does an admirable job of it.
I've gone the baking soda circuit and the charcoal one. My latest additive to the little is dried coffee grounds. We are still in the testing stage at the moment. I'll let you know if it works. Meanwhile, the search continues for a litter that is "home-friendly" for more than 24 hours. Happy cats mean a happy box—and happier humans.