The nice weather has definitely arrived and this week we really started to notice humidity in the air. We have a finished basement which as far as I know doesn’t have any leaks but every year around this time after the ground has thawed and the hot summer days have begun it starts to smell musty down there. We will have to turn on the dehumidifier. You may be asking yourself what this has to do with cats and the answer is a lot. This time last year when we sparked up the dehumidifier Ben was seven months old, just a little younger than Archie is now. They are very different cats these two, Ben is quite wary whereas Archie is bold and I’m wondering how the humidifier will effect Archie. Let me explain…
When it was only Ben and Casper, they shared one litter box that is downstairs in the basement bathroom. It is a quiet spot at the end of the hall and is perfect for kitties to go about their business in private and in peace. Last year we brought out our humidifier and set it up in the laundry room. It is an ancient contraption that shudders, hums, and thuds and we also found out that it leaks. There is a reservoir that collects the moisture, but that has to be emptied regularly or the machine stops, so we used the hose that can be hooked up and directed it into the drain in the floor. Unfortunately the hose didn’t work and I kept walking into huge puddles of water in the laundry room. Then Robert had the brilliant idea to put the humidifier in the shower stall in the back bathroom that way it wouldn’t matter if it leaked! So we did this. What we didn’t realize was that the shuddering and humming and thudding scared Ben to death and he did not want to use his litter box. Casper of course was not affected by any of the loud noises; just another advantage of having a deaf cat.
Not long afterward I’m walking past one of the spare bedrooms and I noticed Ben on the bed squatting in a peculiar manner. Robert had been working on organizing all of his tax records, so they were strewn everywhere over both twin beds. I stopped by the door and Ben looked up at me. I had a feeling he was peeing, but I was afraid to scare him because I had visions of him bolting through the house spraying cat urine everywhere! I didn’t know what to do. A hundred thoughts went through my mind about how I would scar him for life and contribute to ongoing toilet problems if I disturbed him. So I watched horrified while he peed on Robert’s papers…and for a little cat it was a gigantic pee!
We had never experienced any problems with Ben’s litter box habits since we got him so I was VERY perplexed as to why he would start peeing upstairs and not downstairs in his quiet, secluded box. I can’t really remember how I came to the conclusion that it was the noisy humidifier that had scared him so badly, but as soon as I realized what had happened I felt terrible. In Ben’s private sanctuary we had placed a noisy, vibrating, clunking monster! I wondered how long the poor lamb had been holding in that gigantic pee and how desperate he must have been that he felt he had no option but Robert’s papers. I immediately moved the humidifier away from the bathroom and back to the laundry room. So problem solved right? Well not exactly, now I had to lure Ben back into the bathroom and show him that everything was safe in there once again.
The lid of the toilet is always closed because I have this irrational fear that one of the cats will fall in and drown, so I sat down and spoke quietly to Ben. He was in the hallway and had watched me remove the beast. He took small tentative steps toward the doorway all while doing that head bob thing to see if danger was lurking anywhere. He stood in the doorway and looked around. The noises had indeed stopped and the door to the shower was now closed but was it really safe? He made a step inside, still bobbing and weaving like a prizefighter he slunk with his belly just inches from the floor over to his box. I continued to talk calmly, telling him he was very brave and clever and praising his every move for about ten minutes while sniffed extensively around the shower stall, the pedestal sink and the base of his litter box. Then finally with a last glance over his shoulder to make sure I was still watching and could protect him if need be, he jumped up and onto the box. Our litter boxes are the high-sided kind like buckets with a fitted lid to stand on and a circle cut out for access down into the litter. This is a great type of box to get if your cat is a litter kicker (like Casper) because they cannot scatter litter all over the floor. Anyway, from within the box he peeked his head through the hole a couple of times just to make sure the coast was clear and then Halleluiah …he squatted and I heard him pee. Demons were conquered and all was right with the world again!
I’m interested to see how Archie will react to the dehumidifier when we start it up this weekend. Chances are he probably won’t even notice the thing and if he does, we are prepared. Since Ben’s trauma, two more litter boxes have been added to locations around the house (yippy) so the boys definitely have options.
The other day before Robert and I left for work, we were just finishing up our lattes in the kitchen when we heard a strange noise in the sunroom; a sort of claws-against-wood scrabbling sound. I glanced at Robert and said “what are they up to now”? The boys often run wild in the morning and I expected to see them playing soccer with a scrunch ball or chasing a toy mouse together, however, when I peered in the sunroom I saw Archie (apparently a Flying Wallenda in a previous life) standing on top of the doorframe! He had jumped onto the cat perch which is attached to the bottom of a window just to the left of the door, then from there up to the top of the door. The other two cats were sitting on the floor looking up at him with a combination of awe and disbelief. Casper is a very powerful cat, and could easily make the jump but he is a little portly these days due to a steady diet of high calorie kitten crunchies since Archie came to live with us. Ben is slender and has fantastic balance and I’m sure he could make the jump, but he is the very definition of a “scaredy-cat”. So Archie, all of nine months old and still stiff-legged and ungainly, flew through the air and landed safely on top of the door…I was stunned. I had seen internet pictures before of cats informally perched atop doorframes and my sister-in-law’s cat Fifi used to door-sit in her youth, but never ever has a cat of mine done this. I immediately grabbed Robert’s iphone and started snapping pictures. Archie walked unsteadily back and forth a few times and even tried to gauge a jump over to a small valance on top of the window to the right of the door(which would have come crashing to the floor). After judging the distance too far, he eventually lay down and dangled one arm nonchalantly over the side of the door. Then when he decided he had enough of this current adventure, he casually jumped down unaware of the excitement he had caused us.
I thought this might have been a turning point for Archie, a transition from kittenhood into teenhood and we would see a new, highly-coordinated, stealth cat emerge. But those hopes were dashed the very next day when I found him on the basement window ledge tangled in the venetian blinds; head, paws and bum all woven through various slats, not exactly the picture of feline elegance. Oh well, maybe he just needs a little more time…
Ben’s one true love up until just a few months ago was a knitted mouse that my friend Paula had made for Casper. Casper played with the mouse when he was young, but he didn’t love her like Ben did. Paula named the mouse Ratita, because I think it turned out to be a larger rodent than the pattern indicated.
Ben used to carry Ratita everywhere with him and would even nap with her during the day. It was insanely cute to happen upon them sleeping together, Ratita cuddled in his arms. When I would get out of the shower in the morning, sometimes I found he had left her on the bathmat; playing with her while waiting for me, then moving on to something else. I think theirs was a tumultuous relationship because Ben would alternate regularly between playing with and killing Ratita. Ben played/killed/cuddled Ratita so much that one of her eyes was almost loved completely off and she began to sport a sort of fuzzy afro from repeated ravaging. But then suddenly one day it was over. They probably grew apart as young people so often do and she was abandoned under the coffee table.
Archie has played with Ratita only once (which I managed to catch on the camera) but he did not seem to be that taken with her. So she waits patiently in the toy basket for another suitor.
A favourite place of mine in the house is the “cat room” which is actually one of our spare bedrooms. It has a comfy double bed pushed up against a tall window that overlooks the back garden. In the afternoon, the sun beats onto the bed and the room becomes about ten degrees hotter than the rest of the house. I can always find a cat or two or all three in there, hence the name. I often like to decompress in that room after work; lying on the bed and letting the kitty love surround me. We are languid cats together in the warm sunlight, and the world seems a thousand glorious miles away. When Robert gets home from the office we will go to the gym, cook dinner and then our evening will be consumed with all the things that makes one wonder where the time went. But until then its cozy cat company, revitalizing rays and pure bliss...