Monday, November 08, 2010

A New Sort of Potty Training

Since being adopted by a pair of adorable black kittens a few months ago, we have been adjusting our homelife to accommodate them. It is a lot like having a new baby (or two of them).

The kitties were crawling with fleas when I first brought them in out of the yard, so I stashed them in the powder room that is near our garage and kitchen. For two weeks, they lived in there almost exclusively, with daily baths and some extra exercise (limited at first to hard-floor surfaces only, so as to contain the critters-within-the-critters). They were pretty small then, not even a pound apiece and roughly 4 weeks old, so the 5x5 space with food, water, litter, and a scratching post was nicely adequate.

But as soon as they were big enough for a medicated flea treatment from the vet, we gave them run of the main floor of our house. Couches, carpets, kids. And plants, knickknacks and drapes.

I've had kittens before, but it's been a really long time. And while it's funny to watch them spiderman their way up the back of the couch or dangle from the lace curtains by their claws, my wallet is cringing. And then they got big enough to knock things over. All of our houseplants are now either on very high shelves or safely moved up to the master bedroom (we now keep our bedrooms door shut to cut down on pet dander in the sleeping quarters).

But until this weekend, we still had both a litter box and a set of cat food dishes taking up the lion's share of our powder room. That bathroom is the primary one that visitors to the house would use, so we haven't really had anyone over (and those who have ventured in have been ushered upstairs or to the basement to pee).

In addition to cat food, a new scratching post, and vet visits, the two putty tats have now cost us a pair of new doors plus cat flaps. No, they didn't destroy anything, but we didn't want to cut holes in the solid-wood, 6-panel, stained-wood doors to allow the cats access to the basement storage room where we wanted to move the cat litter. My husband spent like 6 hours on Saturday routing and drilling and sawing and hanging a
$20 hollow-core replacement door. We will have to paint it at a later time.

The second door is for the top of the stairs leading down to the finished basement, but its not done yet. All we've done there is to take the existing one off its hinges and store it away elsewhere, leaving an open doorway to the stairs below. We also shifted a couple of cookbook bookcases around in the kitchen to make room for the food dishes. I think the new arrangement will work just fine, but the flow of the house is different, for sure.

After mucking out that powder room (I literally cleaned every surface in it from walls to baseboards to hand-scrubbing floors to make sure it was clean and sparkly again), we now have our people-potty space back. And a pair of very confused kitty cats.

The kitties have been introduced to their new litter location. They have been trained on the proper use of the cat door, and have demonstrated their prowess at entering and exiting through that route. But I think they keep forgetting where to go. Not that we've seen any actual accidents, but the kitties start howling at us right after they eat until we pick them up and carry them to the basement (note they're now about 10-12 weeks old and can fly from chair to chair in the living room...stairs are not a physical barrier).

This morning (day 2 of the basement-litter arrangement), I caught one of the kitties sitting in the powder room trash can. Butt down, head out, looking like he was going to do his business right there. Using the can, as it were. Understandable, since a litter box is a big container lined in plastic, and the trash can is also a container lined in plastic (just smaller).

So, just in case, they've been shut into the basement room for the day (with food, water, and a cozy basket to sleep in, plus the large assortment of boxes and rolled up carpet scraps to climb on). I'm hoping they get used to the new placement soon so we don't have to escort them to the potty every time they have to go.

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