Saturday, August 18, 2018
The Cat that Shat
Back in the '90s and aughts, before Olga was a twinkle in anyone's eye, I had cats. This was before Dave, when I lived in Florida and then in New York, and my cats were named Howard and Armenia, after two busy parallel streets in South Tampa.
Well, Howard died a very old cat in the spring of 2004. That left Armenia, who was about half Howard's age, all alone. I decided later that year to adopt a kitten to give Armenia some company.
The plan went disastrously wrong. Armenia, always a bit high strung and feisty, hated that kitten. And the kitten, being young and energetic and insane like all kittens, was in Armenia's face all the time. Georgia (as I named her) chased Armenia, pounced on her, ate her food and pestered her incessantly. Most adult cats would simply lay the smackdown on the kitten and thus establish dominance, but Armenia, for some reason, could never bring herself to do so.
Georgia quickly came to rule the roost, and Armenia basically had a nervous breakdown. She stopped using the litter box and -- to put it delicately -- began relieving her bowels on my couch. And not just once, either. She did it over and over and over again.
(Fortunately, she continued peeing in the litter box. Why she could do that and not poop there, I have no idea. Cats!)
The couch (which of course was WHITE) remained relatively unscathed because after the first two times, I wrapped it in a layer of Hefty bags topped by towels and a bedsheet. It wasn't particularly pleasant to sit on -- even with me promptly doing laundry whenever needed -- but I figured it was all temporary, just an adjustment while Armenia worked through her kitten hatred and her revenge pooping.
But no. Armenia never adapted to the kitten. After several weeks, I returned Georgia to her original owners (who thankfully wanted her back anyway) and spent the next several months trying to get PTSD-stricken Armenia reacquainted with her litter box.
During this trying time, I joked that I was going to write a children's book called "The Cat that Shat." In a Seussian vein, of course. I even made a playful stab at it, which I faithfully recorded in my journal at the time:
The cat sat
Not thin and not fat.
Just the right size, this cat.
It leapt and flew like a bat.
And then, it shat.
It hopped on the couch,
Went into a crouch
And out came its lunch.
Who needs litter?
Boxes don't matter
With a fine couch to splatter!
So the cat that shat
Sought more food like a rat,
Saying, "I'll have some of that!"
Thus fueling the engine,
She hissed and she spat,
Ran to the sofa,
Uncoiled her sphincter
"It'll make millions!" I wrote optimistically.
At the peak of the crisis, I was seriously afraid I might have to put Armenia to sleep. I lived in a studio apartment and I could not cope with a busy urban life, a full-time job and an incontinent cat.
But fortunately, "The Cat that Shat" has a happy ending! Over a period of months, Armenia gradually calmed down, her PTSD subsided, she renewed her relationship with her litter box and I was able to take all the protective layers off the couch except the bedsheet (just in case). She lived another four years before dying at age 14 in November 2009. (The couch lasted a few more years, until 2011, when we ditched it to move to London.)
So what do you think of my foray into children's literature? Should I hire an illustrator?
(Photo: Armenia by my side on the sheet-covered couch, May 2007.)