Saturday, July 23, 2011

Free to good home

I have owned cats since I was about four years old, starting with a tom cat named Pinky. Back then, all cats were outdoor cats. They might spend time indoors, but they knew to sit by the door when they needed to go out and do their "business". In fact, they preferred to spend at least some of their time outdoors, especially at night.

Fast forward about twenty years (and many cats later because, gee, outdoor cats seem to "disappear" a lot), and we were living in the country with one rather old cat, ostensibly an outdoor cat, but one that didn't seem to "need" to go outside very often. Alas, this was because she was using the area under out bed as her litter box. What amazes me to this day is that we never noticed any smell, that is until we rudely disturbed the area by ripping up the carpet. For the first time, we instituted a litter box. Problem solved, but it was also the beginning of the Era of the Indoor Cat.

Fast forward another thirty years....

Most cats seem to be born knowing how to use a litter box, but somehow my current cat is one that has, and always has had, "issues". It doesn't seem to matter how clean, how private, how perfectly designed a litter box may be (and I have quite the collection of them), with Fern it is hit or miss. When I still had a Florida room, with its cement floor, this was not a big problem. Fern would pee in the box and at least poop in the area of the box if not right in it. But now the Florida room is gone, and I have discovered that there is no other area in the house that is conducive to haphazard litter box usage.

Right now the box is in the laundry room where there is a toilet, so scooping up errant piles and disposing of them is not a big deal. But recently there has been pee just outside the box. Of course, in Fern's mind, she is technically in the box, but just barely. I keep the box in a tray, so at least the floor is spared. But still.

I could not figure out why all of a sudden this problem cropped up, but one day, when the carpet cleaners came and I dragged Fern out from behind the couch, I discovered that she weighed a TON. Aha, I thought, she is simply too big for the box. That also explains why her personal hygiene has been a bit lax lately.

You might wonder why I had not noticed Fern's weight gain before this. For one thing, she is a big cat, a raccoon look-alike. For another, she is not a lap cat. She likes to be petted, but only on her terms, and distrusts me completely. After all, I am the one who takes her to the vet and cleans her ears. Also, sometimes I yell at the dog, which causes Fern to think I am this household terror who is out to do her harm.

Fern is not actually my cat, but my daughter's, but my daughter and her husband already have two cats and a baby, so they don't want Fern. Fern loves my SO, even lets him brush her, but the sentiment is not returned. Fern also loves my son, but he is in a three-cat household, plus is not interested in such a high maintenance animal. Fern is, what, 11? 12 years old? Surely she can't live forever. Or can she?

I tried to weigh Fern, to see just how heavy she was, but that freaked her out. Even so, I cut back on her food, and now she appears to be fitting into the litter box better these days. One can only hope.


flurrious said...

Poor Fern. With her bathroom business all over the internets.

My cat is very long and the large-sized litterbox has always seemed a little small for her, but she never had an accident so I figured it was okay. A few months ago, she started peeing over the edge of the box. Not good. I read that older cats start to have trouble hitting the box because their balance is not that great. Mine is 17 with arthritis, so that seemed to be it. I found her an extra-large box and she seems to have no problem now, but I keep an unscented dog training pad underneath the box, just in case.

Abby said...

Training pads - that's a good idea! I have been using old t-shirts and I'm tired of washing them, plus it's gross. I may have to buy a super gigundo size litter box with high sides.