Thursday, July 22, 2010

Panning for gold

When the foul, biting, stinging stench of cat piss hits my nose as soon as I enter the laundry, I know it's time to clear out the kitty litter tray.

I don gloves, face mask, a plastic bag and the pooper-scooper (shaped like a cat with a square-cleft lip and holding it by its tail-handle). Okay, so maybe not the mask. I'm naw tha' bright to think of that.

I get down in a position that's part sprinter on the blocks / part fight-or-flight reflex ready. And in I go. Digging around with this little slot-bottomed shovel, breathing shallowly into my nose with such little breaths that only the top teensy portion of my lung function is utilised, I go as fast - but as painstakingly - as I can without working up too much of a sweat because that will just create the need for deeper intake into the nose/lungs. And when that inevitably does happen, because it's taking so bloody long to snag and bag every bit of offending cat excrement, the threat of breathing in that awful odour gives way to the need to... stay upright and not pass out through self-induced asphyxiation.

Tabitha uses a cat litter that is sand-like in texture. It clumps when exposed to any moisture/faecal matter, as illustrated hygienically on the box by sparkling-fresh blue droplets that are meant to represent the disgusting, battery-eating acid that is my cat's (everyone's cat/s') pee. I fall for it. I buy the box every time. It's meant to last "monnnnnnths and months", says the woman at the counter of the pet/farm produce store. Whacko! I say. Bonus for me that I won't have to fork out another $25 anytime soon. I feel like I should just line the cat's tray with $5 notes and be done with it. It'd be cheaper and I could just strain it off our nation's plastic-coated money. But with a guarantee like that - lasts for monnnnnnnths - I take the box home.

Well. We're only three months in. I am almost out of this magical ever-lasting piss-soaking medium. I don't know if it's my cat or my pedantic cleaning of her tray that is causing the level to go down so fast. I mean, I do what the instructions say: I take a scoop, shake it, pan for turd-gold and let the small cat litter particles sieve back in to the tray, tip the remaining cat craps in the rubbish bag. Step and repeat. When I come across clumps (of pee), in the bag they go as well. Except..... I think she's a *hushed tones, uttered behind a coy hand* heavy wetter. I don't mean to embarrass her, but the dear is not the most gentile cat I've ever come across.

Case in point:

• She is a guts-guzzler. She would eat and eat and eat if I let her and is already overweight - somehow - even though I only give her the prescribed can a day (and no dry food, not since this debacle)
• She nuzzles her face so far into her food while she's devouring it that, if she turns and looks at you when she's mid-dinner, her entire face is covered in slobbery cat meal. Like a toddler gnawing at a vegemite sandwich.
• She talks while she's eating. With her mouth full, no less. It's actually deliciously cute. If she hears anyone come in, she has to greet them, stuffing her face or no.
• She belches. She actually, audibly burps in appreciation after a meal.
• She's also been overheard to let fluffy off the chain as she jumps up to perch on the back of chairs/couches around the place. Have you EVER in your life heard a cat fart?? I ask you...
• Her *aherm* aim in the tray is not so great. She's a bit daft when it comes to perching over the porcelain (or in her case, the plastic lip) - I have come in to find bits dangling down the outside. And those are the days, if you were a fly on the wall (a very, very happy fly in the presence of all that shit), you would see me wail to the heavens, "Why do you hate me so?" with a sob.

So the cat is a bit too free with her flotsam. I think you get the picture.

Now cue me, pint-sized scooper in hand, watery eyes, screaming lungs, trying to dig out only the most used bits of this kitty litter. At the bottom of the tray, it's literally the consistency of wet sand at the point where the thinnest part of the waves slide up the beach and get absorbed in to the ground. You know that reeeeally sodden, really hard to dig part? The part that, if you skimped a bit too much on the beach utensils and bought a flimsy set of diggers and buckets, will shatter your spade into shards of brittle plastic if you try to dig even the uppermost layer off and into the bucket. And it's so very leaden with moisture (cat-piss moisture, in my case) that it will also make the bucket break in your fingers when you try to lift it to overturn it to make the turrets on top of your masterpiece.

Given that the bottom of the tray also has, above it, the loosened particles, I have to be very careful how I go about this business because, on more than one heavy-handed exasperating occasion, I have rushed it, gone in for the dig too deep and flicked the loose stuff, sending a spray of soggy cat wee bits all over the laundry floor. Joy! More cleaning for moi.

I have said it to Steve and I shall maintain......

Hell hath no fury like the cat litter tray.

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