|Far Side cartoonist Gary Larson drew a famous pair of cartoon panels picturing what dogs hear when you talk to them, and what cats hear. As I remember it, dogs hear something like: “blah blah blah Good Dog blah blah Fido blah blah Walk blah blah blah Treat blah blah blah. Cats hear only: “blah blah blah blah blah blah blah. “
From the amount of attention my cat pays to me when I call her name, offer her food, or tell her to come in or go out the open door, I believe that’s a fair representation. Rather, I believed that in the past. Now I know better.
My 14 yr old cat Emily has a miserable, detestable habit. She occasionally prefers not to bother to go outside or downstairs to her litter box, but chooses instead the cozy space enclosed by rungs beneath a dining room chair. I told her last week, after I’d shampooed the carpet twice, that this had to stop. In case it was getting too difficult for her to navigate the stairs, I brought the litter box up to the main floor.
I told her she would have to use the litter box whenever she is in the house or else. Or else I would have her put to sleep. I would take her to the vet for yet another checkout of her urinary track, which has always been fine. When that test comes up positive again, I will have to give the thumbs down sign. She will have to go the way of sick and crippled and misbehaving kitties. I have put up with her bad habit far too long.
This tactic has never worked before, but never before did I explain to her the consequences. This time I did. In the past I’ve just lectured her about the cost of carpet and shampooing, and how annoying it is to have to do it with less than perfect results. She behaves, or she’s out of here, I’ve told her. This time I’m much more specific. This time I put the facts on the line. I wonder if she knows the word “euthanasia?”
It’s clear to me, that after nearly a week without accidents, she understood exactly what I said. Gary Larson may be fooled, but I am not.
She has been more cuddly than usual ever since I mentioned the word, and cuddly is not her nature. It wasn’t just jealousy when I was using my laptop in her space either. She has actually purred and whined and circled my chair until I’ve invited her up. She’s doing the feline version of sucking up to me, hoping I’ll be lenient one more time. And, best of all, she’s using the litter box. For now.
It’s always the ‘one more time’ that gets me, for she will undoubtedly slip up when she’s feeling ignored or lazy and go back to her old habit. I will have to get out the shampooer again.
Pretty soon my husband, who wants no part of this job either, will say, “I thought you were going to get rid of that cat.” I have my answer already planned. “Blah blah blah blah blah blah.”