Even the tiny cube-apartment I call home can feel lonesome when the hubster is at work from 8am-7pm several days a week. I like to play barista at Starbucks sometimes, but for the most part I’m home editing/reading/watching The Bachelorette. I miss having family around – people to talk to, entertain, be entertained by, and engage with in distracting skirmishes. Andrew felt it, too. And, no, we are NOT ready to have a baby.
Ergo, we got a cat.
We’d gone to Petco for a supposed Cat Adoption event, which ended up just being Harley and some other mean orange cat sitting in cages, quivering in fear at all the customers gawking at them. She came up to the bars and sniffed our fingers and cautiously allowed us to scratch her ears…then her back…and pretty soon she was purring and cried when we walked away. Who could resist that?
She’s a wonderful cat. She’s five months old, but very small still for her age. She’s kitten enough to enjoy chasing things and playing, but she’s cat enough to also enjoy snuggling, entertaining herself while I’m working (cough…blogging), and using her litter box. She likes looking at books, so obviously she was meant for me! It’s great to know we are giving her a good home and expanding our own little family in this way…. yada yada yada. Blah blah blah.
We’ve had her for about a week, which means she’s gotten comfortable by now. And naughty. This week, she has been subtly and cunningly conniving at usurping my authority. Make no mistake: cats only want one thing in life, and that is complete and utter control.
She started by taking over the bedroom. That first night, she was so cute…we just couldn’t let her sleep outside our room, in a big apartment she didn’t know, without us, her loving parents! We’d bought her a little bed and put it in our room. I tucked her into it, said goodnight, and got in our bed. You can imagine how that worked out. A few minutes later, Little Innocent Baby was sleeping between us. We didn’t have the heart to kick her out.
That set the precedent for the next night. When we got in bed, so did she. And the next night. And the next night. We thought we were being nice by allowing her into our sanctuary, but Andrew and I were becoming increasingly uncomfortable. He’d try to wrap his arm around me, and Harley would be there. I’d try to roll closer to his side of the bed, but there was that furry barrier preventing me. Let’s just say some important things don’t happen with a cat sleeping between you.
Then she decided to take over the bathroom. Now, I understand that a cat has to do its business just like people do, and I wasn’t going to allow her litter box to be anywhere but the bathroom. But I don’t have a vanity in our room, and we don’t have two bathrooms, so this bathroom is also my special place. It’s where I do not only my showering/washing/cleaning, but also my beautifying. Makeup. Hair. Nails. It all happens in that bathroom. And, as every woman knows, the beautifying ritual is not to be messed with.
After a couple days, I started avoiding the bathroom. I thought, “Oh…I don’t have to wear makeup today. It just smells too bad in here. I’ve got to get out.” While straightening my hair, I wondered, “Why is the floor sticky?” Sandy litter was in our bath rug, so I was stepping on it when I got out of the shower and tracking it through the rest of our house.
In my heart, I started to sense the dissolution of my authority and resent Harley. And I launched my counterattack. Two nights ago, before bed, I realized I missed my husband. He works so much that our time together is very precious. No cat is going to come between us. I made an executive decision (what Andrew & I call it when one of us makes a decision without asking the other) that Harley was going to be sleeping outside our room. We bought her a bed—if she doesn’t want to use it, that’s up to her—and that’s the only bed she gets. I put her bed in the living room, plopped her down in it, and raced inside our room, closing the door before she could sneak in.
This did not go over well. She cried. And scratched at the door. And decided to hold the kitty olympics at 3am. We could hear her meowing and jumping on things, racing as fast as she could over the furniture. But we were strong. We didn’t let her in until, at 5:30am, we just couldn’t take all the racket anymore.
Last night was the same thing: the crying, the scratching, the kitty olympics. It didn’t last quite as long, though. I was relieved. I thought my plan was working.
Then I woke up this morning and went into the bathroom.
Now, because we live in such a small box, and our bathroom is just an even smaller box, there is very little room for her litter box. Therefore it sits underneath a shelving unit, where we keep blankets, towels, cleaning supplies, etc. Harley used this to take her revenge.
Apparently, sometime in the night, she decided to see how high she could jump. She got pretty high. The fourth shelf, which is where our towels are. Only, because the towels were stacked as they were, my guess is both she and they fell right off the shelf…and into her litter box. I’m trying to give her the benefit of the doubt here. I don’t think she planned for four washcloths and two hand towels to fall in her litter box. But, since they were there, and a kitty’s still got to do her business…
Absolutely gross. I wash my face and hands with those, and they were all in good condition and were gifts we got for our wedding. That was the last straw.
So today I reclaimed the bathroom. I closed the door so she couldn’t get in there while I worked. I scrubbed the whole bathroom, top to bottom. I cleaned up all the litter (and etc. …ew.) on the floor. I bought Febreze for pet odors. I bought lemon-scented ammonia. I bought a Swiffer. Part of me was indignant. I just finished Operation Spring Cleaning! I didn’t want to do this in-depth scourge of the bathroom again. But it was necessary.
Harley was pretty upset with me. She sulked and didn’t purr when I pet her.
I learned two very important lessons from this experience. First: I learned how to clean a bathroom better than I ever have before, and in such a way that the pet odors are now gone. Second: I became more confident in my role in our home. There’s a clear hierarchy here, and it goes Andrew & Ariel, then Harley. It’s funny how my authority had to be challenged in order for me to be convinced I had it in the first place.
And now Harley and I are on good terms again. As long as both of us keep in mind who’s in charge, I have a feeling we’re both going to be much happier. Well, at least I will be.