DomestiCATing and Other CATastrophes, Part II
Besides naming our kitten Youngblood, we haven’t noticeably damaged him. Yes, that’s his name, although I voted for John or Arnold–I love a boring human name on a feline. But a name like Youngblood creates so many more opportunities for our kitten and his companions. For instance, Noah likes calling the vet just to ask questions about “My cat, Youngblood,” so he can listen to the receptionist snicker.
Although Youngblood hasn’t displayed any horrendous psychological disorders as of yet (no manic shopping or self-mutilation), he has been shitting all over the place. He used his cat box perfectly for the first week, and then he seemed to want to test the depths of our love.
He pooped in my dresser drawer, he smeared his butt on my white curtains and he left a little in the closet and right by my bed. There was poop on the bathroom door, under the couch, inside Becky’s sweater and on top of the toilet. Let’s just say it was everywhere. I will keep the poop talk to an absolute minimum. We lived it but you shouldn’t have to.
The debate began: how do we clean this? Normally we clean whenever family members threaten to visit or when it’s finally impossible to find the remote. But this was a new kind of desperate cleaning. After an initial wipe, we read and re-read the instructions on the carpet cleaner. Did the foam, sprayed fifteen inches from the stain, need to dry completely before we vacuumed? I argued it didn’t matter and so did Becky, but Noah was pretty sure that those fifteen minutes of drying were crucial. In fact if we didn’t wait fifteen minutes, we might as well not even clean.
Becky tried to get to the bottom of his reasoning, even though there was no logic behind our argument, besides that the cleaning would happen quicker. It was midnight on Sunday, so we were in our PJs, feeling vulnerable and tired.
Finally Becky backed Noah into a corner (figuratively). She asked, “Well, have you ever cleaned anything?”
“No,” said Noah, “but I still think we should wait until it dries.”
Becky went off to mop the bathroom floor and clean the toilet. Noah cleaned the carpet, using his method, and I tried to find hidden terdletts in my room. Unfortunately it would take putting on a certain sweater to find the last Youngblood gift.
YB (Youngblood) seems to be trying to tell us something: first of all, not to leave our shit everywhere so he can shit on or in it. Secondly, he wants us to learn how to clean and clean well. You can’t half-ass a YB clean-up. Thirdly, he seems to be acting out. I can see his little cat brain turning, “You think you’re adults? Deal with this! Adopting a wild animal! Are you crazy!” YB’s inner monologue suspiciously sounds like my own, which could say something about anthropomorphizing in general.
In the preceding discussions about the cat crap situation, I took a hippie, laissez faire approach. “We shouldn’t interfere with his nature!” Becky and Noah listened to me talk about YB’s anger and separation anxiety and his need for constant affection, and then they put him in the bathroom. With the problem barricaded in the bathroom, we started reading kitten taming books. What are his terds telling us? Is he marking his territory or is he really angry? Oh god, what could he be angry about?
I tried to argue that he’s angry about being locked in the bathroom, and since he continues to poop on the middle of the bathroom floor, right between the two cat boxes (one for number one and one for number two), maybe I had a point. But he was pooping everywhere before his seclusion in the toilette.
There are so many factors in this equation, and it’s hard to know which ones to eliminate. I started devising a scientific experiment. My hypothesis was that his cruel and unusual imprisonment was causing him to defecate in the middle of his prison cell. Unfortunately the only way to prove this theory involves letting him loose on the unsuspecting beige carpet.
Besides, YB’s an angel in the bathroom. He sits between your legs while you pee, purring and staring fondly at your genitalia. He also loves to watch you shower. Sometimes I’ll drink more water just so I can spend extra time with him. I ask him, “What’s the matter, Dr. Poopie Pants?” In response, he claws my hands and bites my wrists, and I start to rethink my “accept his nature” style of parenting.
Noah has taken YB to the vet a total of three times to try and identify any sort of digestive, medical problem that could be causing this shit storm. Our half-wit vet, who “isn’t a cat person,” says “it’s behavioral.” She also ominously says things like, “He’s going to be trouble” or “He’s a fighter. It’s in his blood” or “His mama taught him how to kill.” Becky now thinks we’ve forced her to adopt a wild, dangerous animal that also shits everywhere.
It was time for professional help. Noah called a cat trainer and left a message. She hasn’t gotten back to us; she’s probably busy trying to start her own reality TV show. Meanwhile, we are stuck in the before part of some wretched Animal Planet show. People ask us how we are and we say things like, “He’s having some behavioral issues, but that’s normal with feral kittens.” He’s our special needs cat. Noah did say something about how YB might be the product of an incestuous cat alliance. With a name like Youngblood, popular with inbred hillbillies, what were we expecting.
It’s YB’s second week in the bathroom, and some days he does utilize his kitty box to the full extent. That’s when we put a star on his calendar and give him a treat. Positive reinforcement is very important. Other days require a flurry of Febreze and all-purpose antibacterial cleaner.
I keep suggesting that we let him out of the bathroom and test my hypothesis, but by now Noah and Becky know that my cat advice stems from my childhood in Santa Cruz, where children have been known to nurse until the age of seven, so they ignore me. I’m the crazy aunt who rolls into town and buys the kitten booze and then doesn’t clean up the vomit. Noah and Becky, however, are the loving parents who spend every night and morning in the bathroom, gently placing their progeny in the cat box and praying.