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Tuesday, 20 November 2012

Waste Management

By Ralph Lymburner

Shortly after my wife passed away I got my first cat. There was no problem training this kitten as to location of the litter box.

With a second cat a year later, there was no problem - two cats, one litter box. When I went away for a few days, I would supply an extra litter box. With new technology for making cat litter, cleaning up was easy. Everything just clumped together making waste management a simple process.

However, things have changed dramatically. I recently moved in with ESGF and inherited two more cats. All of a sudden I am “The Cat Wrangler,” aka “The Widower” aka “The Worm Farmer” aka “The Associate.”

It is my responsibility to ensure that the cats are fed and watered. Also, I have to keep track of which cat is outdoors and which cat is not. I’m thinking of making a check-out board. When one goes out they just push the slide opposite their name underneath “OUT.”

I am starting a study of a very important tool in the management of my responsibility. I am gathering data on the waste management of cats. It is important to attempt in order to analyze why a cat uses a particular litter box when given a choice.

When I first arrived at my new residence, we put four litter boxes in the same area. I noticed that some boxes got used more than others so I spread the boxes out into various areas of the garage.

After one week of evaluation, my data indicated one box received more deposits than others. Amazingly, the largest box received the least amount. This box had a cover so the cats could have a little privacy. Why? Is it the cover, the amount or type of litter. Hmmmm.

The type of litter could be the common denominator in the problem. My companion has assumed the task of researching the different types and brands of cat litter. She is very good at researching the internet.

We currently use whichever brand is on sale. Of course, cost per ounce is contributing factor. So each box could have different types of litter or a mixture. I insist that it be the clumping type as this is less messy for me.

She is recommending we try plain sand which we can dig up in the back yard. By using this asset we would be adding economy to the solution. But this does not meet the clumping requirement set forth in the research diagram.

Could sex of the cats be a factor? There are three spayed females and one neutered male.

We are currently being more diligent in the accuracy of our data. I’m thinking of getting motion cameras for each litter container. This will allow us to accurately determine which boxes are being used by particular cats, Also, time of day could be a factor.

The weather is a key element in this research because on rainy days the cats do not go outside. This causes seriously flawed data to enter the analysis. I can see where this will be much more difficult project than what I assumed. I may be required to hire a staff.

This information will all be released upon publication (which could be a long time coming).

I am currently negotiating for a waste capable truck which will have my logo “WE SCOOP THE POOP” emblazoned on the side. Oddly, my companion feels that this venture is beneath her status and refuses to participate.

[INVITATION: All elders, 50 and older, are welcome to submit stories for this blog. They can be fiction, non-fiction, poetry, memoir, etc. Please read instructions for submitting.]

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 05:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Years ago we had a cat. We found an electronic cat littler box. We filled the box with litter. When the cat would piss or poop in the litter box, nothing happened until he jumped out. Then the rake would activate and rake the litter the cat had made to the other end of the box. At this point a lid just outside the box would raise, a scraper would appear to scrape what the rake had raked across to the end of the box. The lid would close. The rake would return to the other end for it's next 'movement'.

We were amazed as we watched the activity of the box. The cat was too. He jumped out of the box, done with his part of the event and stand there watching while the box activated itself and cleaned the litter. If you are interested and want to spend the money, I am sure you can find one at a pet store or place that sells litter. The advantage: YOU ONLY HAVE TO REMOVE THE USED LITTER ONCE A WEEK RATHER THAN EVERY DAY FROM THE BOX AT THE END.
Good luck with your research.

Hello, AKA, we have one cat, 3 litter boxes. He rotates using each, depending on door access for him. I can furnish data if needed, ha ha.
We need to get a life. Cat thinks this is our life.

My question is this: do any of your cats run inside to use a litter box rather than go outside? I think my one cat does this but can't be sure.

Anyway, your story brought back some weird cat poop stories. Like the one about Ludwig The Cat who expressed his intense displeasure when my first husband and I went away for a few days one time.

He had food and water and a cat door to go outside. But I guess he didn't like being left like that, so he went down to the basement, jumped on my then-husband's new pool table, and pooped in the middle of it. I can imagine him thinking, "There--that will teach them."

What complicated creatures they are!

I can't believe this litter box problem many seem to have. Why can't you train your cats, like my mother did, to meow when they wanted to go out to use the dirt in the garden? Granted it rarely snowed.

Many cats these days are "indoor cats" for good reason. Our two cats have a protected deck they enjoy during good weather, but they never roam freely outdoors.

I volunteer for a cat rescue organization, and we don't adopt out cats to people who want outdoor pets. Why not? We have animal predators such as coyotes and raccoons in our area, as well as heavy traffic. Outdoor cats are exposed to infectious diseases and injuries as well as poisonous substances. There are also folks who (for some unfathomable reason) think it's "fun" to mistreat cats, especially black cats.

I's not like it used to be 40-50 years ago when most people allowed their cats and dogs to roam outdoors. That's why I don't train our much-loved cats to use the dirt in the garden (which, since we live in a condo complex, we don't have anyway).

There are lots of good reasons for paying close attention to the litter box. We have had two cats develop diabetes which I detected within 24 hours because of increased urine volume.

One developed a urinary blockage which was discovered in time for surgery to save his life, which is tragically (and agonizingly) not the case as a rule.

Cats who begin avoiding the box and urinating elsewhere often have a urinary tract infection which makes them associate the box with pain, which they try to avoid by changing locations.

One of our cats was so fastidious he would not use a box which was soiled. He would reach in, pull the clump(s) out onto the floor, and when all was cleaned to his satisfaction he would use "the facilities".

Our current Feline Overlord sits in front of the box and voices displeasure when it is due for its morning or evening cleaning. As soon as it is clean he will use it.

I like the clumping litter too, as dust-free as usual as cats can develop lung problems from breathing clay dust.

In our city the law prohibits cats roaming at large. Cats must be licensed as well. We have coyotes, bears, lynx, cougars, even the occasional wolf roaming the streets here, all of whom who like house cat for lunch. Add that to traffic and the scrapes cats get themselves into out of mischief plus crazy people and it's far safer indoors.

My friend Will had a cat show up at his condo. He took it in, named it Cat and cut a hole in a frying pan.
He filled the pan with cat litter after placing it on the toilet.
The cat complied but when he took the pan away she did not like it. He said, sternly, this is it Cat, and so it was. Cat adjusted.

I am quite interested in your research, and hope that the results will be posted soon, as I have cats with strange pooping behavior. Clean or not one cat poops right next to the box, close enough that I suspect misjudging actual butt positioning on the part of the as yet unknown perpetrator. Also of interest is your success vs cost of the "crap cam" so I can target the specific cat that needs the OT therapy to get that butt back in the box.

At first I thought you needed to get out more. But then I read all these comments and thought about how this topic really seems to be important to people. Thanks for sharing!

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