Friday, April 23, 2010

You Can't Get There From Here

"When my cats aren't happy, I'm not happy. Not because I care about their mood but because I know they're just sitting there thinking up ways to get even.”  - Percy Bysshe Shelley

Last I left you, we were on the Red Stage - a solid pan, filled with litter, sitting on our toilet, making a Friday night drunken pee twice as difficult as it should be.

Well, we're back on the Red Stage.

Yes....back...on the Red Stage.

We were so proud of the babies!  They hopped right up on the toilet and took to the red tray as if it was what they'd been doing forever.

Coal's aiming problem was pretty well under control with the state-of-the-art-cd-cases-duct-taped-together-because-no-one-listens-to-cds-anymore.  Bean could care less about any of us as long as we gave her a spoonful of pumpkin and turn on the faucet for her to drink out of once in a while.

So, maybe we were over-zealous, so impressed with how great they had done, so maybe we jumped the gun a little, maybe, like a highschool freshman, we were just a little premature.

We moved to the Orange Stage.

We recorded the cat's reactions to this strange new tray:

Next: They held it.

For hours.

And then, they poo'd on the floor.

To be fair, poo is far more pleasant to clean up than pee.  Why?  It's not the smell.  They both smell.  Each definitely has their own, individual aroma.  It's that poo stays in one spot.  It covers...maybe three square inches on a really good day.  Pee, we have discovered, when held in for a number of hours, can cover a much larger territory more quickly that poo could ever hope to.

As if scientists, trying to test a theory, we sought to disprove that pee covers more territory for two days.

Our conclusion: we were wrong.  Pee always wins, particularly when the bathroom floor is just slightly slanted.

Both cats had near successes.  Coal did actually stand on the LitterKwitter pee on the floor.  Bean got to the Kwitter while it was on the floor for a minute and actually managed good stance and good aim....and peed on the floor.  *sigh*

What now?

We went back to the red tray and everything has been fine.  Coal still needs a pee-barrier, but otherwise, no one seems particularly upset or injured.  In preparation to go to the orange tray again, we've cleared all the litter from the middle of the red tray hoping this will help them transition.  They're fine with that.  I may work on a way to rig the orange tray with some smaller holes to start with, so that we can work up to the one big one.

Vacation Count:
7 weeks
49 days
1176 hours
70,560 minutes
4,233,600 seconds

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oh Poo..What Have We Done?

Did you know that there is an entire forum devoted to LitterKwitting your cats?  It's mostly a forum about the disaster that LitterKwitting has been so far...

"My boys, Max and Sam have been stuck on the green stage and have a good week or so and then I come home to a ruined couch...or even worse i came home today, reached in the dryer to pull out my clothes and found them covered in a days worth of kitty mess (1 and 2). I have been trying so hard to be patient for about 2 months, with positive reinforcement as well as scolding if they make a mess but I just can't keep coming home to this :/ ....."


"Hi - my 6m old male Briman (Smokey) took to the LK reasonably well, within a couple of weeks he'd gone from red to orange and then, about 3 weeks later to green. He'd been using this for 3 weeks (gradually reducing the cat litter) with no problem at all and then, one night, one of our dogs got upstairs and peed on my bed (which is also where Smokey sleeps at night). I've washed sheets and duvets every day for about 10 days now!
Since then, Smokey has, unless I constantly take him and put him on the LK, wees and poos on the bed - including once when I was still in it!...."

Oh the fun we apparently have to look forward to...

So what has happened from 4/8 until now.  Well...we got the Kwitter pan up onto the toilet, and we're all delighted to see the babies are just fine with the new adjustment.  Leaping from floor to pot to take a poo has been no problem for our atheletic girls.


Okay, lets go back for just a second.  There are three trays to the LK:
  • Red - a flat pan with now opening to get the cats used to going on the toilet and in a smaller target.  That's where we're at now.
  • Amber - this pan has a small hole in the middle about the size of the bottom of a coffee cup.
  • Green - less of a pan and more of an extended lip that can hold some litter.
All of the trays hold litter.  When you get to the green tray, you slowly start reducing the litter until they just don't need it anymore.  Theoretically, after that, you're all set and litter free.

We are on the Red Stage.

Somehow, our latest speed bump doesn't surprise me in the least.  Both cats are just fine w/ poo'ing into the direct middle of the pan.  In fact, you might be thoroughly impressed with their accuracy.  And Bean (shockingly) has not rebelled, nor has she deviated from her accuracy when she pees.

Coal though...

Coal is that cat that backs her ass into the corner of the box and goes.  You know that cat...the cat you bought the bigger litter box for because she doesn't know how tall she is, doesn't realize her cute little butt is up just high enough to hang over the side...  She is so well-meaning, so capable and actually, so correct.  And then, she pees on the floor.  It's sort of the exact opposite where we want things to be on the long term - cat in the box, pee outside the box.

And so it goes that Coal, on the LK, backs her cute little butt up right to the lid, all four paws completely and correctly in the litter...and then she goes - onto the back of the toilet and onto the floor - an uncute, kitty scented golden shower for the bathroom floor.  Oh're so pretty.

In light of the above cats taking dumps in dryers and on beds while people sleep - this feels sorta like a minor positioning problem that we hope can be easily corrected with this state-of-the-art kitty re-positioning device:

If you're curious: it's four soft plastic CD pockets southernly duct-taped together and wedged between the red pan and the LK pan holding seat.

We'll see.

My personal philosophy on it all right now is that I don't want to start a fight with the cats - there's no need.    Coal and I are staunched cuddle-buddies.  The Bean and I have an uneasy truce that's more than two years old.  I don't wanna ruin either of these things over some poo'ing.  I mean, in reality, cat's poo'ing into the pot is completely ridiculous, and I'd rather this be a journey of fun, treats and hilarity than...well...a pissing match.

That being said, the other day, we discovered probably our biggest road block - VACATION.

Possibly June 11th - we'll be going on a much needed vacation - the whole house sans the kitten-fuzzes.
That's in 58 days. That's in 9 weeks.  And since you can only move at the pace of your slowest member...that means in two weeks, we've managed to train a cat to pee off the toilet and onto the floor.

Monday, April 12, 2010

This Ain't The First Rumble

So, a brief history on toilet training cats.  This is not the first time this has been tried with these two.  About four years ago, my co-conspirator and really, the mastermind behind this debacle tried a home grown method of toilet training his cats not unsimilar to the LitterKwitter.

He pretty much mimiced what we're doing now.  Since the litterbox was already in the bathroom, one step was already done.  From there, the put a box under the litterbox to elevate the existing litterbox until it was the same height as the toilet and finally, he put it on the toilet.

Then, ingeniously, I thought, he got a colander:

and dropped it onto the toilet seat so that the rim of the colander caught on the edge and created a cute, circular litterbox in the toilet.

The idea was then to carve out a small circle...little by little...until there was no colander left at all.

Seems sensible, right?

If you've picked up on my initial fears that Bean would be the problem child on the LitterKwitter voyage, this is where it dates back to.  All seemed to be going well and good until my teammate began to cut that tiny hole in the bottom of the colander.  What had been a smooth transition to awesomeness became a battle of wills that she would eventually win.  Bean rebeled.  She stopped pee'ing into the colander and started going in the bathtub drain, which was theory.  But then she started poo'ing in there too.  I'm personally impressed with her connection of drain systems, but while peeing might be fine, poo'ing in the tub is unacceptable. 

So, they put toys around the drain and taped the shower curtain shut.  With a little coaxing, she went back to peeing in the toilet, but began pooping behind the toilet.  Next to the toilet.  She pulled the shower curtain back and pooped in the tub again.

The final straw: Bean climbed into the 3rd roommate's backpack and peed all over a hundred dollar text book. 

The litter box was thus brought back and the text book replaced and the incident went down as a giant failure.

So why do this again, why now, why all this probably torture?  Because how awesome would it be to have toilet-poo'ing cats?!?!


Toilet Trained Cat

Last that we left off, we had moved the litterbox back into the bathroom because Coal was hitting a few speedbumps.  Like we mentioned in the original post, she'll go along with just about long as you go slow.

So, after a few days with the litter box in the bathroom and no new accidents, we moved on...pulled the litterbox out and replaced it with the LitterKwitter. 

Surprise - no accidents.  You just gotta go slow.

Timeline Review:
3/31 - 4/2: Coal views office as giant litter box.
4/2 - 4/5: Litter box moved back into bathroom.
4/5 - 4/8: LitterKwitter replaces Litterbox - no accidents occur.

Next: Oh Shit...What Have We Done?

One Step Forward – Two Steps Back

So here’s how things have gone down so far.

We received the LitterKwitter, a set of colorful plastic trays that will gradually turn our cats into talented toilet poo’ers for the amusement of us, and all of our friends. Honestly, how could you not giggle when, while reading a good book, curled up on the couch – you hear the distinct “kaa’ploot” sounds of a cat poo’ing into a toilet.

So, the instructions say to gradually move the litter box through your house and into your spare bathroom over the course of a week. This means – move it out of it’s current room and then, slowly, a little bit each day – move it to the spare bathroom.

Just a little background, my teammate on this expedition is another Southerner…so, we’re in the habit of…viewing instructions as suggestions. Also…spare bathroom?!?! Phheehahhahah!

We took a look at our cats:


And decided they were smart enough to go from litter box here:

To LitterKwitter here:

We had good reasoning. See, Bean hates pretty much everyone. When strangers are in the house, she takes to actively screaming at them, hissing and sometimes slapping (albeit without claws) at the intruder. Coal is easily overwhelmed by strangers, preferring to hide under beds or in corners when there are new people, loud noises or when it’s especially windy outside. So…visitors mean that the cats usually get sequestered in a bedroom and their litter box gets moved in there with them. In fact, lately, to utilize the office more effectively, we moved the litter box into the living room, and then back to the office if we were having guests that the cats weren’t irrationally angry at or afraid of.

So, we thought – well, we moved the litter before. What’s wrong with moving it directly into the bathroom?

According to Bean – nothing. Shockingly…nothing.

According to Coal – everything.


In the LitterKwitter instructions, it was suggested that accidents not be punished, but rather ignored and successes be amply rewarded. So, we cleaned up the poo. Showed Coal where she was supposed to go again, patted her on the head, made gentle coo’ing noises and gave her a treat.


She peed mightily on our 3rd roommates motorcycle jacket…which was, unwisely, placed on the office floor.

So, here’s how the timeline has broken down so far:

3/31 – 4/2: We put down the Kwitter and Coal excitedly views the whole office as a giant litter box.

4/2: We remove the Kwitter from the bathroom and replace it with their standard litter box. Results: Everyone is ecstatic to have the litter box back…much pawing, scratching and poo’ing ensue.

If there are no accidents by Monday, we’ll try the Kwitter again.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Y'all Gotta Come See This!

So I haven’t posted in a while.

Here’s why: I quit the internet and that was all good. I had all this free time when I was surfing ManSpace or FaceHunt. When that month ended, I decided to do a project on internet dating. I didn’t even get a post into it.

Here’s why: Internet dating is hard work. Making an effort to be witty, charming and Southern is hard when I can’t use my hands or my accent. And people are terrified that you’re an axe murderer. After a few thoroughly edited emails, I would say something like, “Hey, you seem cool. Wanna get a beer?” – in a public drinking establishment in which you can easily scream for help. Something about saying: “Hey, wanna try this out in person.” seemed to really scare people off. So, with newly rediscovered distractions such as and, I failed utterly – utterly!

Also, axe murderers.

Reasons I failed to even begin to start National Novel Writing Month:

I need to be clear about something about myself: I suck at follow-through. Epic Suckage Actually.

Here’s why: It’s not because I don’t love you. Or that I was lying when I said, “I’m gonna….drive across the country on a scooter….become a wedding photographer….build and live in a mini-house -” I actually aspired to do all of these things. Some of them, I still plan on doing. It’s that…frankly…I have the attention span of

The likelihood that I will consistently update this blog is…well…tiny…as you can see, but please know that…I think about updating the blog a lot.

So, now, a new blog project, that may or may not fly.

The Litter Kwitter!

Do you have a cat? Do you have more than one cat? Do your cats poo?

Ours do. Both of them poo. A lot. And as pet owners/caretakers/roommateofpeoplewhohavepoo’ingcats – we’ve had enough!

So, we’ve decided to embark on what could possibly be an impossible mission – train the cats to use the toilet via the Litter Kwitter.

We scoured the internet for the cheapest version of the Litter Kwitter we could find - $32.00. That way, if we fail, atleast we fail sorta on the cheap.

How it works:
Put contraption of trays on your toilet - making it look suspiciously like the one in my grandma's bathroom.

The multiple trays put together make one full tray.  You fill it with litter and when the cat is acclimated, you take out one of the trays leaving a little hole.  Gradually, you remove more trays, making a bigger and bigger hole until finally - you can take the whole contraption away and viola - no more gassy poo bombs in the middle of your TV watching!

Sounds simple right?  But let's consider what we're dealing with:


Pros: pretty, soft

Cons: dumb as a boot, gets motion sickness from windy days, loud noises and more than three bites of table food.

Tools: treat-treat and warm laps

Coal is pretty laid back when it comes to learning to do or not to do things. When she does something good – give her a treat, a pat on the head and a gentle coo’ing noise. She’s pretty good to go – as long as you go slow.


Pros: loves pumpkin (but not much else).

Cons: hates most everyone, only eats the dusty pieces of food, possibly has pica.

Tools: cat-nip, boxes, spoonfuls of pumpkin and turning on the faucet. Also – water pistols

Bean will be the tricky one. If she catches wind that we’re trying to be alpha-kitty and we’re trying to make everyone’s life a little easier – she’ll rebel and possibly decompensate from her uncheerful self, to what she used to be…

What now? We wait. The LitterKwitter is scheduled to be delivered in t-minus – one day.

Monday, October 5, 2009

I Thought You’d Be Taller

So, I quit the internet and then I didn’t post about it as much as I thought I would. Mostly because there wasn’t much to write about unless you wanted me to post photos of my completed Sudoku puzzles. In the end, it was a neat experience. I think, to really appreciate living without the internet, I would have to disconnect myself for a longer time…a year maybe, and frankly, I’m not sure what I would do with myself at work w/o the internet.
I thought that not being on the internet would cause me to be more social, go out more, make contact with more people…and it did. I went to coffee shops and walked a lot. I sat in the park more and generally decided to make a larger effort to not hibernate as much as I can.

Did I get more dates? No. I went out to the bars and got phone numbers, but called none of them because my follow through sucks, I couldn’t remember quite what they looked like or I saw them at Folsom…and decided that ‘sounding’ wasn’t the fetish for me.

I listened to a lot of country music.

Quitting the internet did make me do a lot of little projects around the house that I’d been meaning to get to for months.

Quitting the internet did not make me go to the gym more consistently.

Quitting the internet did make me write more. In fact, I wrote, journaled, blogged, did Sudoku and crosswords and read the paper, did my homework, emailed people, called my mother and organized a dinner party.

And much like quitting TV, not being on FaceSpace meant that my friends were only slight confused or irritated when I said, “No, I didn’t see the YouTube video – Best Pole Dance Ever.”

When I quit, people looked at me funny. When I came back, they cheered (sort of) which made me feel missed and loved.

This project requires and demands a larger committment than I'm not ready to give.  That's really what I realized.  I can avoid doing something for a month.  I can avoid getting on the internet and perfectly distract myself with crosswords and cafe sitting.  Actually, I really enjoyed the 'alone time' aspect in which I blocked the world out with books and music and cooking.  I didn't see or call friends that I haven't in a long time, but I suspect that were I to continue this, I would.  I think I would spend more time out getting to know new people too, becoming a regular at a coffee shop again and creating a network of new people around me.  I think a month really high-lighted what I already thought - I need to go out more, and a month off the internet did help me explore ways to do that.  I did realize this too...I have really amazing friends that I am very privileged to hang out with and very grateful that they're a part of my life.  I can handle alot of 'alone time', but...we're all social animals...and my herd is so f*ing cool! 
What now?

Someone asked what the fate of my blog was now that the month was up….and well, quitting the internet did teach me that I kind of like this blogging action. Writing is like love – it’s infinite. It’s limited by only time and resources. It’s also a muscle. The more you write…the more you write…the more you write.

So, how do you follow up with a month of internet abstinence? Obviously – a month of internet dating!

Internet dating is huge business, and it has seriously become a mainstream avenue for meeting new people.  I recently met a couple who have been together for five years after meeting on an internet dating site.  My own mother married a man from the internet.  So did one of my classmates.  Discussing various project ideas with someone relationship to quitting the internet too, they told me, "I meet most of my dates online because I hate hanging out in bars, and I have a nightmare schedule.  I'm not sure how I'd meet people if I wasn't online."

I have my own history with internet dating.  Really not important how vast or...not...except to say that the last internet date I went on lasted exactly...exactly 28 minutes.  I spent more time getting ready for the date than actually being on it. 

Here's the format - 6 sites w/ six posts - suggestions on other (free) sites are welcome.

Ethically, I think it's wrong to go out with people I'm not particularly interested in for the sake of the blog.
okcupid, plentyoffish, craigslist and crazyblinddate already disclose that I'm writing a blog (this part may change).  The other two, I'm not so sure I'm involving in this project, but since they're in my regular rotation of sites I visit, I'll keep you updated.

General Feelings: 
There's not really any reason to trash anyone on a blog, particularly someone I've met in such a limited capacity. 

Comments are enabled - Email me if you want to go out.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Day 24: My Mother is about to start the Revolution

Yesterday, my brother had PRK – an eye surgery similar to Lasik. He said that they sanded off some of his eyeball, possibly cut it with a scalpel or jostled it with a coke-spoon, (from that close he just couldn’t tell) and then laser-ed it for a couple of minutes before drenching his eye in cold saline and putting in a ‘wear for a week’ contact lense.
Viola – new eyes.

I suspect that if I ever rear children that they will look back on PRK and Lasik and be amazed at how barbaric those procedures were.

When my brother described this procedure to us (my mother and I), I think he dramatized his post-surgical situation a little, or we read too much into it. Or one or another of us did the absolute worst thing possible and got on the internet and looked up PRK sites.

Because really, is there anything worse than looking up a medical condition on the internet. Take a trip down to and type in rash or infection in the images section. Worse yet, type in a specific medical condition then ‘complications’.

Possibly fearing that my brother would never see her face again, my mom flew out for a visit. She said she would take care of him in his post-surgical days in which he would supposedly have the sightline of Mr. Magoo or a naked mole rat.

Five hours post surgery and it seems that the worst thing he’ll face in his recovery is itchy eyes and some light sensitivity.

So, at a loss for what to do with ourselves, I let my blood sugar crash and passed out on the couch for a half-hour while my mom studied. See, my mom uses the internet and not like I use the internet. I use the internet to write hypocritical blogs and generally turn my brain to toxic waste. My mother goes to college.

I am so proud of my mom. She is probably the strongest person I know, and she is my hero. I have watched her stand-up against angry and powerful men twice her size and talk them down until they were nothing but sheepish boys in front of her. She showed me that taking time with people, even just a little on a day to day basis will go much, much farther than being a one-time hero. She taught me what hard work means and that a big part of working hard is showing up. She handled me as a teenager when my hair was different primary colors. She handled me in the years that I decided my face was a pin cushion. She handled my transition and the recklessness and bullheadedness that came with it. And she handled it with grace and patience…….most of the time. 

And then, when both of her kids were finally out of the house, at an undisclosed and youthful age, she called me up one day and said, “I’m going to college, and I’m going to get my degree!”

This is what I know: If I worked the long days that she works at an accounting related job, the last thing I would ever be able to do is go home and study anything related to accounting….by myself…without the structure of attending a class or the motivation of a peer group. She writes amazing essays, reads all the time and makes really good grades.

My mom disproves the idea that the internet is only for shopping and porn.

She also disproves the idea that internet dating doesn’t work.

Ten years ago, when we were all mostly still cruising around in Ameerka Online chat rooms, I went on a trip. The trip is not really relevant to the story except to say that AOL had a limit of 500 email messages, and I was on a bunch of mailing lists, and that there would be massive chaos if someone didn’t occasionally sign in to my AOL account and delete some of the email. So I asked my mom, “Mom, will you occasionally go in and delete some of my email?”

A month later, my mom said, “So…I’m taking a trip to Nebraska.”

My mom had never been farther north than Virginia at that point. Nebraska? Who finally decides they’re going to bust out and finally do some traveling…first stop – Nebraska!?!?

If I was using the internet, I might Goggle the general stats on just how much tourism happens in Nebraska. Something tells me it’s not much.

I asked, “Why Nebraska?”

She replied, “I’m going to a gambling boat.”

More puzzled, I asked, “You gamble?”

I think she was a little thrown that her sixteen year old was interested and asking questions about her life. That didn’t usually happen.

“Well,” she said, “I’ve met someone.”

In a Romance Chat Room…on AOL.

For all my mother’s amazingness, I will say that she can, on rare occasion, be just a tad over protective. When we first got the internet, she did some reading and very patiently, she warned me that chat rooms were full of the following:

Child molesters.

Ax murderers

Godless heathens

I remember that I gave her a look, and she put up her hands, shook her head and said, “I know…I know…but he’s a Weather Man.”

So, she flew to Nebraska.

And then he flew to Georgia.

And she wrote him a long email.

And they talked on the phone for hours.

For years…

Until she almost moved to Minnesota, and he…moved to Georgia because Georgia is better.

My mom and my step-dad have been married for seven years now, and he’s an amazing guy. I should tell you that he wasn’t a weather man at the time they met. He’d moved up and was a station manager or broadcast director…something really cool. Not that it matters. I was in college and out of the house by the time they married, and without needing to be, he’s been more of a father than my own – has taken more time to show me things, argue with me and just hang out. He has handled the stubbornness and calamity that is my family with patience and moxie. Apparently, my mom was wrong. There was one lone good guy, one solo civilian out there in the chat rooms amongst the ax murderers.

And so, when I finally woke up on my brother’s couch, spittle dried and crusty on my chin, I found the two of them (my mom and brother) on FaceSpace. My brother helping to navigate her through the labyrinth of news feeds and friend’s pages and links and tagging and all that crap. They put her picture up and requested people be her friend.

This has me worried a little. My mother found her husband in a chat room. She is getting a college education on the internet.  While my brother dumps copious amounts of Visine into his eyes, while I wistfully dream of Ira Glass giggling at my blog posts, I'm fairly convinced that my mother is on the verge of doing something really big again....and she's going to do it on FaceSpace.