Wednesday, November 12, 2003

Great stinkin' cat shit

Okay, I have to admit it. I'm a sucker, at least for animals. I moved into my little house with just one pet, a temperamental Persian-type cat I'll call "Zsa-Zsa," because she'll slap you in a heartbeat. She'll also climb into my lap and twist herself into contortions of ecstasy at being petted.

Once I moved in, I decided I needed a dog. After all, what's a home (a real house, not an apartment) without a dog? I visited the local humane shelter in search of a small dog, maybe one of the little terrier types. Although the pound was full-to-overflowing, there were no small pooches to be found. They were all larger breed varieties, I suppose, because it was near Christmas and all the little ones had been adopted. I looked over these monsters of jaw, muscle and bone and was ready to give up, when one of the workers said, "Did you see the border collie-mix puppy?"

Behind four or five of the big bruisers in one of the pens sat a little black and white puppy, looking lost and forlorn. Of course, my heart melted. Part border collie and part lab, they said. I love border collies. I walked her around the building and she seemed quite happy with me. My vet said maybe there was some lab with the border collie, but definitely some Australian shepherd.

She's the one I call "the Best Dog in the World" (BDW). She's now over four years old and weighs 45 pounds or so. She's smart, friendly, affectionate and my best helper. She frequently sleeps at the foot of my bed, while Zsa-Zsa sleeps beside me.

That was it. I had no intention of getting any more animals. Then, summer before this last one, there was a situation where the owner of a household had died and her old dog had just been left out in the yard. Relatives were throwing a little food at him once in a while. Guess who ended up with "Good Old Boy" (GOB), to make a long story short. (He's the one I was talking about in "Grace in a golden retriever" in my posting of 9/28/03.)

Okay, THAT'S IT. No more animals, period.

Move along to last month. My mother went into assisted living. I forced her two dogs off on ( them find homes with) two of my brothers and the ALF said they'd take the parrakeet. That just left my mother's cat. I'll call him "Elvis" because he's a big, handsome cat, a good 20 lbs. plus, black-and-white loverboy. I reluctantly brought him to my house, just until I could find a home for him.

Elvis and Zsa-Zsa don't hit it off, mostly because Zsa-Zsa hates the guts out of any other feline. She gets along fine with the dogs, occaisionally slapping them on the muzzle if they (mostly BDW, GOB is oblivious) try to get too personal. She even lets BDW wash her ears. Sometimes I wonder how much of that is motherly instinct on BDW's part and how much of it is to have just a little taste o' cat.

Anyhow, Zsa-Zsa's got no problems with the dogs. It's the sight of another cat that makes her snort with rage. Poor Elvis. Zsa-Zsa is smaller and much older, but she has her claws, he doesn't, and she's a whole lot meaner.

On top of that, Elvis is scared of BDW and runs from her, which she takes as a sportsmanslike move to play tag. Elvis just can't win.

I put Elvis up for adoption and a co-worker brought a family to look at him. They fell in love with him and took him, but guess what, their other cat fought with him all night and the people weren't getting any sleep. Elvis returned to the unsaintly mansion.

Now, the thing is, I'm getting attached to him. I've taken photos to run an ad in my little local paper, but haven't done anything constructive toward putting together the ad, partly because I've been so busy and partly because I'm just dragging my feet.

I have to admit, he is now settling down with the other animals. When BDW approaches him, he often snarls like an enraged panther, shows her his huge incisors and boxes her on the head with his paws -- instead of always running -- and BDW backs down.

Zsa-Zsa's attacks on him are diminishing in frequency. I hear a "MeeROWWWrrrARRGhhREHNnh" from the back room only once or twice a day now. They sometimes sit side-by-side in uneasy coexistence.

And, as I said, Elvis is a loverboy. He loves sitting in my lap, at least until one of the other animals scares him off. He loves having his ears, chin and belly scratched. He'll lay on his side and do air kneads (like playing air guitar). He's adorable.

I just don't need any more animals in this small house--I have too many already. And there's something else, The Problem with Elvis.

The Problem with Elvis is the stink. He is the stinkiest cat I've ever encountered, and I've had quite a few cats over the years. He's a huge cat who loves to eat. He has huge, stinkin' B.M.s. Please don't write me about anti-stink cat food--I know all about it. Used to sell the stuff. It doesn't matter what you feed Elvis, it all comes out the same. Big and stinky. Noxiously, nauseatingly stinky. (I wonder how much this had to do with the adoptive family giving him back?)

My house is small and well-insulated, which means it retains odors. I've woken up in the wee hours of the morning with a foul-smelling stench in my nostrils. It was Elvis having another big stinky. The air conditioning system picks up the fragrance and wafts it ever so gently through the house.

I'm going to buy a gas mask to clean out the box. I cleaned it completely this morning, stifling my gag reflex. I came home this evening, wandered near the box and was overcome by cat shit fumes. I don't know how he manages to have so many B.M.s. I don't know how he can stand to stay in the litter box long enough to let them loose.

I've got to find a home for Elvis.

Meanwhile, Elvis is in the building.

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