Wednesday, June 03, 2009

Solution? Snow Fence

“Are you kidding me?” I asked, seeing the poo lying amid the soft carpet of my basement.

Sprout Marie!” I scolded (the animals share my middle name), seeing the tip of his stripey tail as he scampered upstairs. “This is not cool,” I muttered, holding my breath as I cleaned up the mess and fought my gag reflex. And when I emerged from the basement, I hissed at him. Furious when he merely blinked at me, utterly unimpressed, I clapped my hands and chased him throughout the house. Satisfied when he was huddled under the bed in the guest room, I came back downstairs and began to plot.

When trapped inside
, Sprout began to potty on the carpet. I don’t pretend to understand the true significance, but assume he was punishing me for Ruining Everything when it came to his social (and murderous) life. Unsure if he missed his friends or the thrill of the hunt (and my subsequent disgust over picking up rodent bodies), I decided that locking him out of the basement and moving his litter to the main floor was a small price to pay.

And, at first, it was. The half bath on the ground level is tiny, tucked next to a closet on the central hallway. But the litter box fit under the pedestal sink and, if you balanced on one foot, you could manage to close the door to get to the toilet behind it. Given that I stopped spending my mornings scooping bits of dead mouse into the trash, I happily gave the smallest of bathrooms to Mr. Sprout. But whenever the basement door was carelessly left open, he would continue to use the soft basement carpet. This left me annoyed then angry then enraged as I scrubbed and vacuumed and cleaned.

Left with this low-level resentment, I was bothered when Sprout would relieve himself while I was sitting in the living room. I don’t like hearing the stream of urine, nor do I want to smell poo. It destroys my cozy atmosphere! So, with wrinkled nose buried inside the neckline of my t-shirt, I would glare at the feline problem as his tiny paw pads spread bits of litter over my lovely ceramic tile.

“You could kill him,” Dad suggested, looking hopeful even as I rolled my eyes at him.

“I love him,” I replied in a resigned tone. “I’m his person and this is his home.”

“So he pees on his carpet,” Mom offered, shaking her head even as she smoothed the cat’s coat while he purred.

Today, as I suffered through a headache, I glared at him when he emerged from the bathroom not far from the loveseat where I lay curled in a corner. Tracking litter and leaving behind an unpleasant odor, he leaped on the loveseat next to me and bid me pet him. Even as I reached to rub his cheek, I considered how to keep him from the basement while simultaneously moving his litter box back downstairs.

“I want my bathroom back,” I told him and he blinked his pretty green eyes at me. “But you potty on the carpet,” I accused and he blinked again.

Chienne followed me down the stairs, much more receptive to my moods than the aloof feline. She cocked her head at me as I shooed her back, retrieving a hammer, some tiny nails and the roll of snow fence we used to create the Path of Awesomeness in the garage.

“It solved one problem,” I told the dog, going to my knees to stretch it across the threshold to the family room, pausing to let her kiss my chin. “And it will solve this one too. See?” I asked, beginning to nail one edge of the orange plastic to one wall of the staircase. “I’ll close off this side of the steps and force all of us to go through the utility room side of the basement.”

I paused to make sure she understood and she kissed my chin again. “Then,” I explained, “the lessons become relevant. We always walk toward the washer and dryer then cut through the bathroom to get to the carpeted area. That way,” I continued, hammering in the next nail, “Sprout remains locked out of the family room but can still use the utility room!”

Seeing that Chienne had wandered away to curl on one end of the old, comfortable couch, I sighed. “It’s brilliant, actually,” I insisted. “No cat waste on the carpet down here or in my bathroom upstairs!”

“Classy,” I grinned when the snow fence was in place, unable to decide if the orange was garishly hideous or stunning in its ingenuity. Making it worse (or better, depending on one’s perspective), I perched a framed poster on the ledge that rings the family room, preventing Sprout from scaling my Barrier of Awesomeness. I retrieved my hammer, put it away and walked over to pat Chienne on the head, turning to see Sprout investigating the new structure.

He ran when I circled through the bathroom to walk upstairs, gathering his litter and box and returning to the basement to place them in the corner. He investigated them, looking – I think – disgruntled that I had bested him.

“Ha,” I offered with great superiority and closed the bathroom door. “Snow fence - and I - rule all.”


Psycgirl said...

Sometimes cats will stop doing this if you put a litter box on each floor of your house - my parents had to resort to that. Although the cat still goes to the bathroom on the carpet when they have the audacity to travel and leave him alone :(

Psych Post Doc said...

I need a picture, I can't imagine how Sprout can't just scale your set up.

LOL @ having snow fence all through your house.

Anonymous said...

Is sprout a girl? Because my boy cat will do this when he has a UTI.

My girl hunter is also doing this right now. She is never let out, but I think that she doesn't like the new fabric softener, and has peed on my steps every day this week. I have mopped way too much.

JaneB said...

Some cats don't like to use the same tray for pee and poo - having two trays right next to each other can help. Otherwise, it can be a scent marking thing - does he have scratch places on all the floors? And you are cleaning up after him with a non-smelly-to-cats product - it took me a while to realise that every time I used one brand of disinfectant, my poor cat thought that another cat had sneaked into the house and weed on her stuff, so she was desperately trying to mark over the smell and make a 'no! go away! this is my house!' message.

Cats! I prefer them to dogs partly because they are more independent - and I don't have to go out in bad weather to scoop poop from my yard or deal with the consequences of dog-wee on plants - ick! - puts you off ever lying on the lawn!

Anonymous said...

This product worked for me when I had a cat who was eliminating in inappropriate places.

It's simply a spray (or diffuser) that you'd use on the carpet where Sprout likes to go.

And it's veterinarian recommended!

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