The Cat Toilet Training Days

Whoever said that you can’t train cats obviously didn’t have a year of free time and at least eight hours for their cats. I have a officially toilet trained my cats Darla and Ezri (yes, we are that nerdy). Since they are one-year-olds, I am hoping for at least 19 years of kitty litter-free living. For those cat owners whose heart just skipped a beat, yes it is possible. But don’t run for your credit card just yet.

It was about this time last year when my wife’s sister told her about this cat toilet training system called CitiKitty. My wife and I had just adopted kittens so we figured that it would be an excellent time to toilet train. With a little research, the product not only was cheap, it also seemed easy:

Unfortunately my cats didn’t watch the video. The next year of our life would be officially known by historians as “The Year of the Poop.” That’s of course assuming historians were paying attention to me and more specifically my cats. But with all the  cats on treadmills and cats batting at faucet stream videos on YouTube, historians probably really will look at cats from our time.

History Teacher: The cat was revered by ancient societies. Their historical archive called YouTube had more cat videos than anything else.

Student: Didn’t they also have videos about people getting kicked in the balls?

History Teacher: Historians believed ball kicks were sacrifices to the gods. They had a day of worship called Monday Night Football. Foot… ball.

Students: Ahhhh!

Another Student: But what about awful music videos? Those were also pretty popular.

History Teacher: But the most popular video of all time was the Gundam Style Friday Cat getting kicked in the balls.

Students: Ooooh!

“The Year of the Poop” started simply enough. We bought the CitiKitty training system and flushable cat litter. You’d expect flushable litter would be in every store but for some reason only Target carried it. We put the litter on the toilet for about a month before we started to get them used it and went to Germany. We decided to start the training coming home from Europe.

So the next few months were rather smelly and messy but not the most difficult part. If you watched the video, it seems simple. Keep punching out rings in the cat litter until there’s none. It seemed easy but what they didn’t tell you is that a thin litter pan gets dirty very quickly so I had to scrub, every night. Of course the cats would force me to scrub every night because they would except no less than a clean pan.

Ezri: He’s not cleaning the pan.

Darla: Time to pee in his bed again.

Ezri: Wait till he’s sleeping in it.

We learned pretty quickly that training cats is like teaching your grandparents to use Facebook from a smart phone.

Grandma: It’s not working.

Me: It’s working, you have to enter the unlock code.

Grandma: The unlo-what?

Me: The code we setup when you got the phone.

Grandma: I didn’t set up a code. It’s making that noise again.

Me: It’s because your grandchildren have tagged you in a picture.

Grandma: Can they do that? Is it legal?

Me: Hi folks, I’m from the Elderly Against Smartphone Commission. You’ve probably had this same conversation with your grandparents week and after tedious week.

Grandma: I heard that.

Me: Please do yourself a favor and if you want to stay connected to your grandparents. Go visit them and don’t get them a Smartphone for fuck’s sake.

Grandma: I heard that too.

So needless to say, cats don’t change very easily. My wife’s sister and her girlfriend had to abandon their quest after the cats developed an affinity for peeing on the bathroom rug. Thankfully, my cats learned proper pee technique pretty early. The cats will eventually learn what you want them to learn, you just have to have more patience than Jesus. And Jesus has a lot of patience.

Jesus: Could I get a Big Mac meal?

Street Vendor: That won’t be invented for about 2,000 years.

Jesus: I’ll wait.

The secret to training your cats is positive reinforcement rather than negative.  When the cats would poop in a location that wasn’t the toilet (such as the bathtub), we’d spray them or scold them. The scolding would only end up making them scared to poop. So we bought treats to give to them for pooping. And covered the wrong places for them to poop with the electric fence for kitties. We filled the bathtub full of water. The first and last time she jumped in the bathtub was followed by a splash and a hilarious yowl. I really wish I was faster on the smart phone draw for that one.

Our more social cat, Darla, seemed to pick up the training very quickly. Her accidents were few and training seemed to stick. Ezri, the cat whose idea of a good time is hiding in the back room until someone sits at computer desk then venturing for a few moments of lap time, was a different story. She decided the toilet water is the litter. So she scraps the water before and after she uses it. For example:

When something jars her small world, like fireworks in July, or a friend staying in our guest room, she becomes convinced that the toilet is an abomination and will hold it until she has the hallway to herself at night. So we were determined to not have come so far on a dream. Martin Luther King’s first draft of the “I have a dream” speech was about his cats:

MLK: I have a dream that one day, cats will use toilets.

Buddy: Um… you may want to rewrite that.

MLK: But I bought this CitiKitty…

So in order to prevent night poopings, we locked the kitties in the bathroom at during the wee hours (Ha! I made a funny!). They surprisingly like being in the bathroom at night. When I pulled the cat tree into the bathroom, they sit on it and wait for me to tuck them in. I am assuming they like it for the same reasons dogs can be cage trained. But they probably really like being in the bathroom at night for other reasons.

Darla: The humans are asleep. Pull out your iPad.

Ezri: Got it.

Darla: Open your Cats Will Rule the World app and connect to the Southwest meeting.

So after about a year of picking up the cat and putting her on the toilet when I see her scrapping invisible litter in the hallway, and using kitty mind control (dehydrated shrimp snacks),  Ezri “Two Shrimps” Karas-Frale finally uses the toilet.  So perseverance does pay. Now, if I can only teach my cats to flush…

My wife: Hey Aaron, why do we have a $3,142 water bill?

Flush… flush… flush… in the background. I shrug. Laugh track and freeze frame.

10 Ways to Escape Jury Duty

Here are some fun ways to get out of jury duty… and probably spend some time in prison.

1. Claim that you are an alien observer from the nearest life supporting star system. When they remove you from court, threaten to write “unremarkable” on your report.

2. Tell them you are from a terrorist cell and that you hope find new recruits.

3. Exclaim that you have civic duty in your pants and everybody is invited.

4. Use snide remarks, “Boring! When do we get to sell our story to US Today?”

5. Play cell phone games. Hide at least five spare phones on your person.

6. If male, tell them you are only here to pick up chicks. Bonus if the judge is female.

7. If female, tell them you only want marry a man on death row. Flirt with defendant.

8. Complain when the cast of Law & Order aren’t the attorneys. Insist that you will only answer questions from Mariska Hargitay.

9. Make disbelief noises during every witness testimony.

10. Sell drugs. Claim “it makes these things go way faster.”

Moving Day

I helped move Babcia (Polish for grandmother) out of the old folks home yesterday. She will be living with my aunt in Colorado. While we were taking some items out to the parking lot, my wife, Uncle, and I saw a Chihuahua running around the parking lot yipping at us. This parking lot had desert behind it so the dog could wander off. The process of attempting to catch it went like this:

Chihuahua: Hey you! Buddy! Don’t you try nothing! I’ll kick your ass!

We take a few steps forward. The dog takes a few steps back.

Chihuahua: You better not mess with me! I know karate!

We take a few steps forward. The dog takes a few steps back.

Chihuahua: Look dude, I’m the size of a German Shepard. I will end you.

We take a few steps forward. The dog takes a few steps back.

Chihuahua: It’s on! Bring on the pain!

Not wanting the dog to bolt into the desert, I changed tactic and my wife suggested I tell the front desk about the dog. It just so happens that the resident that owns the dog was also at the front desk. He was an old man with a walker, slacks, button up shirt and suspenders. He told us he’ll take care of it and that was the end of it.

Later on, I saw another old guy who was dressed exactly like the one with the dog. I really did mistake him for the one with the dog. Here is how the interaction went:

Aaron: Did you find your dog?

Old Guy 2: Nope, I put him down a few years ago.

Awkward… slowly… creep… away…

Return of the Kitten

The cats are finally safely back in Maine. Only the expected amount of hi-jinks ensued. For those of you reading regularly about the saga of the kitties, you’ll know about the incredible amount of work and effort involved to prepare a kitty for flight whom thinks the cat carrier is a gas chamber. The anti-anxiety drugs and daily lock ups are all part of what should be the final “Return of the Kitten.”

The Journey:

Delta Airlines had other plans to further traumatize the kitty. As a member of the greater blogging community, I recognize using blogs to complain about companies by name is rather silly and immature. Delta Airlines sucks monkey ass. I am above such measures as petty name calling. Those stupid heads at Delta have the worst customer service of any airline. Any adult knows the correct way to solve a grievance is by writing a strongly worded letter to the company. I am so frustrated and annoyed that I’m going to vent about it on my blog, poo poo face tards.

In the letter, I can inform Delta Airlines about how their website clearly states a pet carry on bag is 17′ by 12′ by 12′. The jerks had the wrong size on their website. To make sure the transaction went smoothly, I asked the person at check-in if I had the right size of carry on. Really? How hard is it to know the dimensions of carry on! He assured me that even if the cat carrier is the wrong size, he could run up the Delta Airline pet bag to the gate. A $75 value!

In order to bring a pet through security, the traveler must quite literally take the cat out of the bag and walk through the metal detector. This act results in piss from a kitty on the traveler. Once I was about to board, the gate attendant told me I needed to go back downstairs and get the Delta approved pet bag. No, they can’t just send the bag up to the gate for me and now I must run through the airport with a cat… yep more piss.

I bought the bag and rushed through security again. There goes my backup clothes. Luckily enough, the plane hasn’t left and I board the plane, with a bag shifting and clawing like the Tasmanian Devil. The upside is the mew of the kitty is drown out by the plane. Though the kitty wouldn’t be as traumatized should Delta’s website and employees simply had the correct information… poopieheads.

Maine:

The upside to being peed on several times by a cat is I got to see Maine, the home state of Steven King. I totally understand why Steven King has a theme of dilapidation in his novels. The state probably has the highest creepy place quotient in the country. In the town where I was staying, the “main street” had a church (old and creepy), a town hall (also old and creepy), and gas station/general store/restaurant combo (old and really creepy).

Aside from the hundred-year-old gas pump and the porch that should rightfully feature an Old Man saying, “You boys best stay out of those woods at night. Storm’s a brewing,” the gas station featured a prominent “Deer Kill Tally.” Intrigued by the display, I had to see the tally for myself. A local, dressed completely in hunter orange, said, “You don’t like Deer Kill Tally?”

To which I replied, “No, it’s just where I come from, we would have a Jack Rabbit Kill Tally.”

He must of figured I was alright after that because he proceeded to ask me about the game of New Mexico.  I seemed to have a decent conversation with the orange clad New Englander, which seemed out of place to me. In other points of my life, I’ve always received a sense of discomfort from small town America. The feeling is like life was perfect for the locals until the day I arrived.

Maine is different, even the gun toting, orange clad, thickest accent, “Ya ganna have lobsta at Baa Haaba? Ayuh!” type of people were really friendly. Despite the fact that most buildings in Maine looked like they were halfway houses for ancient evil, serial killers, and various undead, the people were very polite. I never really got the small town “we don’t trust outsiders here” feel in Maine. The people were great and the buildings, scary. Even the majestic colonial hotels by the beach seemed like the would eat the pleasant and trusting staff at any moment.

I was taken to see Steven King’s house (No, it’s not a castle on the hill, just a normal house on a normal block (kind of big, but not as big I thought it would be). Which is an interesting experience, for a writer to gawk at another writer’s house. I don’t imagine that people would drive by my house, but who knows? Maybe I’ll have some degree of success and receive my own stream of house lookers one day.

I drew the line at the photograph. Maybe if he was dead, sure I’d have a picture. Treat others like I would like to be treated. I have a tendency to look at people’s houses even if they aren’t famous. Buildings fascinate me. The thought of various people throwing peace signs on my sidewalk in their family album seems a bit discomforting. Luckily enough, Steven King’s house would probably eat the people before the gawkers became too much of a problem.

Kitten Pharmacuticals

This week on the Kitten and the Restless…

Kit Furcoat purrs her way into the Paws Club but not before Henrik Fuzzington confronts her about her long lost brother, Mewvius Furcoat. He was lost in the Amazon river basin with Jed Whiskerly, Xing Mew, and Catherine St. PurrMewSniff. Meanwhile, the mafia boss Scratch Biting and his henchmen, Hiss Growlsly and Narrow Eyed, sneak into the back of the Paws Club. Furcoat owes Scratch a few cans of wet food and he won’t take lounging in a sunbeam for an answer.

Whereas in my house the kitty is coming closer to her trek across the country. Everyday involves a dose of the kitty calming drug and a trip in the cat carrier.  The treatment seems to be working. During the first few days, I am pretty convinced she thought she was going to be dropped off at the local Nazi War Doctor Clinic (like the Mayo Clinic expect run by Nazi War Doctors). Now, she is only mildly annoyed with going in the cat cage once a day.

The strange part of the ordeal is the cat has bonded with me. I’m pretty sure for the same reason hostages form connections with their terrorist captors. During other parts of the non kitty get ready to go in the cat carrier parts of the day, she seeks out my attention. She even attempted for a solid petting while, gasp, the dog was close by.

Normally, Serena, unlike her name suggests, deals with the outside world with two emotions, fear and anxiety. Now she seems to enjoy the kitty existence. The cat carrier is probably the worst fate she will ever encounter in her life so a giant slobbering dog and a vacuum pale by comparison.

Are the drugs a source of her improved mood? The Vet did say to practice the cat carrier combo everyday until her flight. Or is the cat carrier experience a character building method? I’m not the cat expert. Though I do wish I had discovered this method with my cat Rose.

She was frightened of the world. When I first moved in with my wife (my girlfriend at the time), she turned to the kitty and in a sweet voice said, “Hi Rose.” The cat opened her mouth in terror and couldn’t even make a sound. She was terrified with abject horror. There was a safe in our closest. Rose used to hide in the safe, crunching herself as close to the wall as possible when Felicia would say hi to her.

Rose was my departed grandfather’s cat. During the last years of his life, he was rarely mobile, quiet, and had a nice big arm chair for petting. Rose had every terrified kitties’ dream home, a human to pet her and throw mouse shaped objects around the room. When Rose came to live with me, she moved into a house of three dudes. A house with three dudes, is almost like an thrice nightly apocalypse from a kitty’s point of view.

Sadly, when my girlfriend (now wife) and I bought a bed together (jokingly referred as our love is now quantifiable as $1000), Rose ran away. The bed movers left the door opened. We called the shelters and asked around. We never saw her again. I’d like to think Rose wandered into a little old lady’s house and is living her life of luxury. But realist in me knows what she is really doing: hiding in a secret base on Mt. Everest and planning to flood the world. The world will then at least give her some quiet.

Kitten Exodus

The household kitties are finally going back to their family… in Maine. For readers unfamiliar with the location of New Mexico, it’s somewhere between Guatemala and the United States. In order to return the kitties, they must be accompanied by an adult. Because the owner can’t medically fly, that leaves me. Humor writers often dream about the chance to do ridiculous acts. Now here is my chance.

Flying kitties isn’t really that crazy. Animals fly all the time. The crazy part is that I am flying out to Maine for the expressed purpose of escorting the cat. Usually the only escorts that fly to far locations at the expense of someone else are personal assistants of celebrities, like Tom Cruise. In my case, I’m the personal assistant of a cat.

Most assistants preform various tasks like buying a meal, standing in line at the checkout, and shaking Tom Cruise’s penis after he pees. My duties are pretty simple, make sure the cat is well drugged for the flight. The cat in question loves to claw at the cage, so much that she will hurt herself in the process. Because of this frantic seeking of removal from the cage, the vet won’t clear her to fly without an escort.

I’m sure there are plenty of celebrity assistants strictly there to keep their employer well medicated, like Lindsay Lohan or Scott Weiland’s assistant for instance. My task is take the kitty from New Mexico to Maine without the kitty hurting herself in the process. The task sounds simple but there are a few considerations:

The Cat Carrier: Stuffing a cat in a carrier is like trying to remove the blades of a lawn mower while the power is on. The drugs should help with the inevitable claw frenzy but kitties really have a knack for struggling. From the cats point of view, the cat carrier really only has one destination, Catschwitz. Only days later, when the fear subsides and they peak out from the bed will they realize they are happily united with their owner.

The Passengers: Babies crying on planes will annoy travelers. But the baby doesn’t know any better and the parents can’t exactly put their child in the cargo hold (although I’m sure if the option was there, many parents would). The low guttural mur of a kitty, may not inspire the other passengers to be quite so understanding. Lucky enough, I thought about the possibility of confrontation with another passenger and will say, “It’s not my cat.” Hopefully, the irony of the situation will inspire levity before I become the victim of an airport’s first ever briefcase related violent crime.

Time: When will the doped up kitty become more cogitative? Maine and New Mexico aren’t exactly “a flight in time for tea.” My total journey, including layovers, is about ten hours. The cat will have more than enough time to be aware of the in flight movie, Oscar’s Escape from Catschwitz. I can’t exactly open the cat carrier to re-dose the kitty, unless Samuel L. Jackson is there to help me find the cat in Angry Kitties on a Plane. But I plan to bring the cat food laced with a second dose if the cat becomes a danger to herself.

No matter want happens, the trip should be funny but hopefully not in the wacky, “I show up in Maine clawed, bruised, and with slew of wacky co-stars sort of way. “

Kittens For World Peace

I’m writing this blog entry at the Dog Park while my dog, Jasper, expends all his excess energy. Dogs are the same device Desmond from Lost guarded for years. Every one-hundred and one minutes, Desmond would enter a number sequence into a machine or the Island would explode. Every one-hundred and one minutes, my dog goes widely crazy. Walks, trips to the Dog Park, and throwing balls is the number sequence for my dog. We need to be especially observant of the number sequence because we have guests, two cats.

For those familiar with the feline/canine species interaction, two cats and a hyperactive dog are a potential nuclear disaster event. According to legend, the first atomic weapon was actually named “Fuzzy Boy.” Oppenheimer essentially locked a cat and a dog in a room. He attempted to create nuclear fission via the power of “fuzz.” Unsuccessful, Schroedinger was pretty pissed at Oppenheimer for ruining his experiment. As was the cat, who was asleep in the box until the introduction of the dog. Thus far, the interaction between my dog and the two new kitties have failed to recreate Oppenheimer’s results (a wet and pissed kitty).

The cats are currently receded to the furthest point possible under the futon in the guest bedroom. One of the cats is named Orion. He is the more adventurous one. As a consequence of his wanderings, he was the first cat to meet my dog. If I could translate the expression on the animals’ faces, their meeting went like this:

Jasper: Oh Boy! A new friend!

Orion: Oh my god! What the hell is that?

Jasper: I’d sure like to sniff you.

Orion: Keep that thing the hell away from me.

Jasper: Ok, so there some ground rules we have to cover.

Orion: For a cat, you are not really well kept. I don’t like it. You, man. Get me another.

Jasper: You’ll have to let me lick you whenever I want. And my mommy is in charge.

The exchange of hisses, growls, and the dog’s inability to understand that not every creature enjoys being sniffed in the butt went on for a while. Eventually through patience and understanding, I decided to take my dog to the Dog Park. Now the dog can run, sniff, and wander to his heart’s content. Meanwhile, Orion will become more acclimated to the house. The idea behind this tactic is simple. If they are too tired to fight, their next meeting will hopefully go like this:

Jasper: Hey.

Orion: Sup bro.

Jasper: Nothhing.

Orion: I still don’t like you.

Jasper: It’s cool. Hey I’m gonna go bark at the mailman want anything?

Orion: Naw, I’m cool.

The secret to pet ownership is not very complex. Give them so much activity that they become Stoners on a couch. If only people worked this way. We would have less problems:

Palestinian: You stole my lands bro.

Israelite: They were mine first bro.

Palestinian: That was like two thousand years ago man!

Israelite: What if we’re all just energy man… without time.

Palestinian: Whoa, bro. That’s heavy… pass the bong.

Errata: Apparently, the idea of making people too tired to fight, truly won’t change the world. After the Dog Park, I decided to stop by the local Sonic. Entering my house was going to be tricky. I had a Sonic drink, a computer, and the dog. The moment I walked out of my car, the mailman walked towards my house. The dog went berserk and the drink splashed all over me and the driveway. So much for world peace.