I am so over these litter box wars.
I have never seen so much drama involved when using the bathroom as I have seen with my three cats. If I put on such a theatrical every time I had to pee, I'd be exhausted. I could write a whole new musical about cats: CATS: To Potty or not to Potty?
Bathroom drama doesn't stop at the litter boxes. When I'm in the bathroom, either to take a shower, do my makeup, shave my legs, or use the toilet, there is always at least one cat in there with me. It's usually Percy, though Tess has an interest in watching me apply makeup before a night out on the town. I don't know if that's because she knows makeup symbolizes my leaving the house for an evening, or if she's just fascinated that I'm in the bathroom for so long. Tess takes very little time eliminating. She pees and poops as quickly as possible so she can go back to chasing bugs and watching the cars go by outside.
Percy has an unhealthy obsession with water. His favorite thing to do in the bathroom is get in the shower with me. If his head gets wet, then he freaks out and yowls like it's my fault. He's fallen in the tub before and gotten soaked. He also likes to sit on the toilet. I have to keep the toilet lid down because Tess will drink out of the toilet and Percy will sit on the seat and paw at the water. Percy has also taken to stretching out behind the toilet on really hot days. I guess it's cool back there.
Puckett treats the bathroom the same way she treats the litter boxes: as quickly as possible because she doesn't want anyone to know she does disgraceful things. The only time she spends a longer amount of time in the bathroom is in the mornings when I'm taking care of business and she feels the need to rub against my legs and weave between my ankles. This is merely to remind me that it's breakfast time and I'm wasting precious minutes on the pot when she could be eating.
Lately, the little darlings have gotten more finicky and pissy about their litter box situation. I have four litter boxes, none of which appear to be good enough for Their Majesties. Willow, as mentioned before and frequently, doesn't even bother with the box unless I lock her in her cage for awhile. She has her own litter box in her cage, another litter box underneath the cage, and she still manages to pee on the floor on a daily basis. In the last week I've noticed that not only is Willow peeing on the floor, but Puckett is too. Puckett isn't as blatantly rebellious about it as Willow, though. Willow does it because Percy bullies her whenever she gets out of the box, going so far as to attack her and knock her to the ground as soon as she gets out of the box. I would develop a toilet aversion too if I had some jerk knocking me out every time I flushed. He tried it with Puckett once and she trounced him so bad he never bothered her again, but Willow is small, spazzy, and has no self-esteem. I protect her as much as I can. Particularly on weekends, I have noticed that Willow will go up to the box under the cage to poop, and no matter where Percy is in the house, he will come running and lie down at the foot of the steps, waiting for her. I then remove him from the foot of the steps and hang on to him until Willow finishes her business and takes off.
This pisses Percy off like nobody's business, as if I have single-handedly ruined his entire weekend by not allowing him to beat up on a tiny cat doing her business in a box he never touches.
The little asshole.
Puckett is more discreet. The only reason I figured out that Puckett was also peeing on the floor was because I discovered puddles the next morning when the night before, after putting Willow in her cage, I was certain there was nothing. I keep plastic litter traps on the floor outside the litter boxes downstairs where Percy and Puckett go. The litter boxes are of regular litter box size with lids. Besides leaving puddles on the litter traps, I have also witnessed Puckett squeeze herself into one of the litter boxes and then hang her considerable booty out of the opening, accidentally pooping on the floor.
At first I couldn't figure out what would make Puckett pee on the floor. She has never done that. That's Willow's little trick. Puckett isn't sick, she hasn't been declawed, she has no bladder infection or urinary tract infection (these are all causes for litter box aversion). Percy definitely isn't picking on her. If nothing else, she beats him to a pulp every day when they have their daily kitty rumble.
It turns out that kitty's got back.
Puckett no longer fits in the litter box. I suddenly had an epiphany the other day, thinking what if Puckett just cannot comfortably situate herself in the box anymore and peeing outside of the box is easier for her? After all she's not finding a completely new place to pee. She's not soaking the carpet like Willow did before I pulled that out. She's peeing right next to the litter box, as close to it as she can without actually going in it. So I went to Petco, bought two boxes twice the size of the old ones minus the lids, extra litter, and litter freshener. I washed all the boxes out and put the smaller ones aside, then filled the new boxes and put them in the potty area.
Then I held my breath. Cats are so finicky about litter boxes. Some cats won't use it at all if there is even an ounce of waste in it. Other cats get really pissed off if the box gets moved a centimeter to the left, let alone replaced by a whole new box.
Percy was horrified at first. He approached the new boxes, sniffed them all over, then sat a few feet away and stared at them. Then he stared at me. Then he walked back over to the boxes, sniffed them again, put one paw in, and quickly yanked it back out. He returned to a few feet away and glared at the boxes. I tried to cajole him over to the box and show him how amazing it was, but he was having none of it, so I went back upstairs to do something else, leaving him alone and hoping he would get into it when he really had to go.
An hour later both boxes were full. Then I watched Puckett get into one of them, circle once, scratch the litter, and do her business before streaking out of the box at top speed like she usually does.
Success! There have been no more accidents, and even Willow's been using the box the last two days. I switched her small box with one of the bigger ones under the cage and disposed of all the lids. Apparently, kitties don't like lids. It makes them feel like they are trapped in a Port-a-Potty. Percy's habit of attacking Willow probably makes her feel like the person who gets trapped in a Port-a-Potty by some jokers who then tip the Port-a-Potty over as an extra joke.
I guess I'd pee on the floor too rather than go in a Port-a-Potty where someone can humiliate me.
I'm beginning to think it would be a lot easier to just train these guys to use the toilet, but with three cats and one toilet, this may not be a feasible solution either. First of all, the only one I think might actually be okay with learning to use the toilet is Percy. Puckett doesn't balance well and Willow is such a spaz I can just see her falling right in. She's the only one who could fit in the bowl too. Percy would probably then proceed to flush it. Second of all, every time I'd have to use the bathroom, a cat would be sitting on the toilet, newspaper in paws, giving me that snotty look, like "It'll be a minute!"
On the plus side, Puckett does seem a lot less stressed. She's been in a pretty rotten mood lately, and I wonder if that's because she's been forced to pee outside of the box, something she deems completely disgraceful and beneath her. Things like behaving in a way other than queenly do cause anxiety for her. Since the "Great Box Switcheroo," she's been purring, rubbing against me, seeking me out for affection, sleeping on the bed. Kitty's happy now and I guess I understand it. I know I'm a lot happier too when my bathroom rituals run smoothly and comfortably.