What I Did For Love: A Tale Of One Kitty

My cat Pooter is on Prozac for severe anxiety... I could list a whole bunch of reasons why this isn't my fault and some of them might even sound valid, but it's like misbehaving children; it's always the parents fault. Pooter is a fiercely independent cat and I don't say that lightly because he spends most of his free time in a cave plotting out ways into the hallway, under the bed foot swiping techniques and total world domination. Laugh all you want at that last one, if you've met Pooter you wouldn't be taking that quite so lightly, he has the intelligence, the technology and the drive to pull this off. Overall though he is lovable to me in spite of his lack of warmth, because I find his wit, motivation and behavior utterly charming and entertaining.

It is possible that this affection I feel for him is part of the problem. I have over coddled, smothered and spoiled this feline for years now and he asserts that I am his bitch on the regular. For a while he was peeing on my bed daily. I will repeat myself here... he pissed on my bed everyday. In hindsight I see that this plan to keep me caught up at the washing machine provided him with a lot of extra time for reconnoissance missions around the apartment. I think this was the period of time when his lab work  really started paying off.

A rare shot of Pooter in his lab

I did endless research on how to fix this problem and most of the literature said that I had to keep my cool when I discovered the "accident". It told me to reassure him that I wasn't mad and that I understood he was stressed so as not to further upset him...

Oh really?!?! No, it's fine Pooter honestly I was hoping that my expensive down comforter and new sheets would smell like the elephant room at the zoo; it's my favorite scent. There were countless occasions where I would catch him in the act and he would look me dead in the eye while he finished. My ex and I would say, teeth gritted and resisting the urge to fling him from the window, "Uh oh, did Pooter have an accident? It's okay Pooter. Are you stressed?" We had an actual conversation with this beast as though our kind and understanding words would resonate with him in such a way that he felt calmer.

That cat doesn't know the meaning of stressed. None of you reading this know the true meaning either unless you've come home after a long day feeling exhausted and you climb into a bed and roll over into pee. I know many of my readers have hardships and issues that span from minor to severe and I don't want to hastily discredit that you think it could not get worse. I promise you this is not my way of downplaying your life problems; I simply ask that you take whatever you are dealing with and add urine to the equation, then tell me if I'm right. I can say from experience that it takes approximately four hours to wash and dry a comforter, a full set of sheets and a bed pad in a standard size washer. This is knowledge I could have lived without. Also, another handy tip -- only the super expensive Nature's Miracle urine destroyer gets that smell out and you have to really douse the fabric in it. Turns out though, that much like Pavlov's research shows, the smell of that cleaner is now so associated with pee that, to me, it smells like it (side note: I actually had reason to use a thesaurus for "pee/urine" and there are slim pickings so bear with me as I say pee twenty or thirty more times).

For several months I slept on my sofa and although I'm ashamed of it, I'll tell you why. After trying everything, Pooter was still peeing on my bed constantly so my new tactic was to use his own weapon against him. He is a very clean creature and I knew that if I left my bed covered in plastic and let the pee sit, he wouldn't be able to go there anymore.

I'm an idiot.

He peed on piles of clean laundry, the dog bed, spare blankets on the linen shelves, inside my suitcase and on my couch. The living room furniture was the last straw and I will admit here, for all the world to read, that I had a full blown nervous breakdown. Weeks and weeks of my therapy sessions were devoted to discussing my cat and his excrement (thank you thesaurus, I almost missed that one). I cried, wept, sobbed every return trip home when I would discover the new bomb he had dropped. I stopped inviting people over because my life was so consumed by urine that I no longer even tried to keep up with it. He had won.

I paid the millions it costs to see your vet every few weeks and we began to brainstorm this issue together. Turns out Pooter has an actual bladder problem (only discovered after I brought in a pee sample which I will not explain how I got from a cat) and I now pay millions more for his specialty food. Pooter is also apparently feeling the loss of my breakup from last year, how tough a time that must have been for him. The pee had become one problem on a list of many, the worst of which was his chasing me around and attacking my legs. I realize now that he just thought my skirts were too short so he wanted to mar my legs so I'd be forced into pants, a well played move. I was also told to play with him more to try and make him so tired that his stress and anger were appeased. This task turned into countless hours of me running around with a mouse like his personal toy slave.

I thought our routine satisfied him and mistakenly let my guard down. Soon after, his master attack was upon me and I am left with the scars to prove it. You might even say I am a Pooter veteran. I returned to my vet and had my final breakdown right there in her exam room. I'm sure the dogs waiting in the lobby weren't at all comforted by my hysterical wailings.

He still has a few issues, but we have discussed rehab

After countless bottles of laundry detergent, hours of playtime, specialty food, a new litterbox, prozac and his own kitten friend I am happy to report that Pooter is now somewhat well adjusted.

What did I expect? I am neurotic; why wouldn't he be as well? A wise friend once said to me, "You named him Pooter... he's just letting you know how he feels about that strange choice. Why didn't you just give him a normal name?"

Crap, I named my new cat Ninja Squee...

Pooter Pees

My cat Pooter is very intelligent. I'm sure anyone who has a cat can say the same, as they all tend to be smart in their own way, but I've had cats my whole life and he is by far the smartest. I was hoping he would grow up and use his brains for good (I'm Jewish so I wanted him to aspire to be a lawyer or a doctor). Sadly, he took a bad turn somewhere and is now an accomplished terrorist. This career path is useful when it comes to pests in my apartment and watching him catch and eat a live fly is quite thrilling, but at all other times, the dog and I live in fear. In spite of his hostility towards me I adore him and forgive him for his indiscretions because he has one very useful skill that I can't ignore... he uses the toilet. No, Pooter did not teach himself this after observing my habits, obviously there was some training involved, but he was a fast learner and getting rid of the litter box was one of the best moments I can remember. Things went smoothly after that for a while and then after one long weekend away I came home to pee... not in the toilet. Since then there have been a few "accidents" around the apartment, but then he goes right back to the toilet the next time, just to remind me that, "Oh yes, I still know how to use it, I just wanted to make the point that I don't have to." I try to figure out what triggers this behavior and recently I think I figured it out. He will always use the toilet when it has been recently cleaned. I'm not talking about quick wipe down with the scary stinky bathroom brush, he likes a bowl that is freshly scrubbed, and Comet is his product of choice. He will only use a freshly cleaned toilet, which feels to me like the entitled college roommate who doesn't know how to clean themselves, but they expect the shared space to always be spotless.

I knew that cats were clean, but he actually knows when one toilet in the apartment is a little bit cleaner than the other and if neither is fresh, my bed is his target. I think he knows that it is the worst possible place to go. It's hard to describe how it feels to go into your bedroom at night sleepy and ready for some z's only to find pee on the duvet... and the comforter... and the top sheet... and the fitted sheet... and the bed pad. Every layer you peel back allows for a moment of prayer that the stinky yellow WMD didn't get through, but he is a pro and he doesn't leave loose ends.

This has now led to the game I play with him daily, Guess When Pooter Has to Potty. The rules involve figuring out his exact bathroom schedule and then trapping him in the bathroom for short bouts. Does he poop once or twice in a day usually? Does he pee in the morning or early afternoon? Where will he pee if he is mad and doesn't have access to the bed? These are now questions that I can answer, and I think my life is banal because of it.

This activity works most of the time; when it doesn't, he poops in the shower.