Monthly Archives: May 2010

Cat [Poop] Lady

When, at age 13, I first got an indoor cat it was my responsibility to change the litter. We actually didn’t use litter, but Oil-Dri that my dad got in huge bags from the auto-mechanics’ store. I’d fill the cat litter tray and a week later pour it out behind the garage. I doubt that was environmentally safe, but no one complained.

When I moved to an apartment I did pretty much the same, but probably threw the used litter in a trash bag. I don’t even recall where the litter box was in my apartment, but it was somewhere. Probably my bedroom.

When Dean and I moved to Pittsburgh, then Alexandria, with the cats we used litter made for cats instead of Oil-Dri, but the rest of the routine was the same. Fill a box, wait a week (or more sometimes) and throw it out.

Never during all that time did we find cat poop anywhere in the house except in the litter box (or occasionally just outside the litter box) except for when one of our cats reacted to a new cat in the house by developing irritated bowel syndrome which we fixed by getting rid of the new cat.

I was responsible for the cat litter until I got pregnant, then Dean took over the job until about 8 years ago when I insisted we begin to use clumping cat litter and agreed to scoop it.

This worked fine for a number of years until fairly recently. Our aging cats have begun to poop on our living room carpet. They poop on our dining room carpet. They poop behind the litter boxes. They poop in corners of the family room.

I’m to blame — for a while I was not vigilant about keeping their litter boxes that clean, so if I went a few days without scooping their poop they’d start pooping elsewhere. I researched it, bought special expensive cat litter guaranteed to fix the problem (provided you kept the boxes clean).

Now our  cats seem to have the idea that if there is one small piece of feces in the litter box it is unusable. I scoop poop first thing in the morning and some time in the evening just to keep ahead of their bowel schedules. If I don’t I can be assured of a smelly surprise awaiting in the morning. The one saving aspect is that, while they poop more often, it is solid because their new food for “mature” cats contains fiber.

And if that isn’t enough, our neighbor’s very sweet cat poops in our front yard at least 3 times a week. Guess who scoops it?

PS Madeline or Chris — If you read this — I really don’t mind. Skippy is so sweet the additional scooping is NO BIG DEAL.


I must be getting older. Things that never bothered me before are really bothering me and one of those things is [most] man-made noise.

I’ve already mentioned here and elsewhere that I don’t like background noise — apart from my year-long experiment with audio-books, that is.  I rarely listen to music or radio unless I’m in the car, and then only sometimes. I like the sound of my thoughts in my head.

In the spring, summer and autumn when it is not cooler than 70 or hotter than 90 or raining sideways we have our windows open. I love hearing the bird sounds in the spring. I love hearing the wind rattle the autumn leaves. I even like hearing the sound of children playing at the local park. And at night? My favorite sound is the sound of a train in the distance.

Right now, though, at possibly ear drum damaging decibels, the neighbor’s lawn-care folks are mowing and weed-whacking their lawn. They’re mowing the lawn with a huge riding lawn mower. The lawn is not huge. It is so small that I don’t know how the lawn mower can fit through the gate in the hedge. And it is loud.

This morning when I awoke at 7:30, I heard a loud noise. At first I thought it was Dean washing the floor with the floor washing machine he loves so much, but then realized it came from outside. It sounded like an airplane. I looked in the sky and did see two large (and low) vapor trails, so perhaps a couple of military airplanes flew over the house.

Have you seen the movie Noise? I saw part of it, but it made me too uncomfortable so I quit watching it.  I could sympathize with the Tim Robbins character so much it was scary.

Recently I read about a study suggesting that song sparrows were beginning to sing louder in places that had loud manufactured noise. I’m glad for the song sparrows — that they can adapt, but sad for them too. They should be able to adapt in fun ways, not to sing louder than a weed-whacker.

At night, in Bethesda, with the windows open, not only can I hear train whistles, but I also hear the sound of the beltway. I didn’t realize it was the beltway until I heard Susan Coll read from her book, Beach Week, where a woman hears a sound she thinks is the surf of the ocean but is the beltway instead. Sometimes I also hear Suburban Hospital’s heating and air conditioning unit. I might even be able to hear noise from NIH at night.

Next life I hope to live in the country where all I hear are owls and coyotes at night and birdsong during the day.