For Such Fastidious Creatures, Cats . . .

November 3, 2009 at 10:43 am (By Amba)

. . . can be awfully messy.  You noticed?

They can spend hours rendering themselves immaculate and pristine, yet as Jeremy Rifkin explained in Entropy, the energy it takes to create and maintain order (as in:  organisms eat) must come from somewhere, and it is often pulled out of surrounding order, leaving a pillaged zone of mess and midden around creation.  (As in:  Secaucus, New Jersey.  As in:  my room when I’m writing.)  In the same measure as cats are impeccable, they cast a proportionately long shadow of mess.  And although they palpably appreciate a neat, clean environment, they also seem to take a gonzo pleasure in mucking it up.

Of course, it’s not cats’ fault that kitty litter sticks to their paws, or that they shed fur and barf it up in reproach for your neglecting to brush them regularly.  If that were all, it would be enough to redouble housekeeping.  But I have one (Buzzy) who is very dominant, and likes to advertise it by leaving his crap proudly uncovered, preferably in the bathtub.  (I missed my window of opportunity to crack down on this behavior because it was pretty clear that Buzzy got the idea by observing that humans use porcelain appliances for such purposes, and I was loath to punish such an intelligent, if misguided, generalization.  After all, from a cat’s point of view, who would ever want to take a bath?  So I use a lot of Lysol — and take showers.  It’s embarrassing what cats can get us to do for them.)  I have another one (Dito), the omega to Buzzy’s alpha, who is a hysteric, and inevitably covers his with wild, drama-queen flinging; he is to kitty litter what Jackson Pollock was to paint.  I sweep up his sand mandalas at least six times a day.  Only Rainy, the exotic Siamese, has minimally obtrusive bathroom behavior.  He is a prima donna about other things.

Oh, cats also don’t like to eat from plates.  They regard them as serving platters from which to drag food onto the floor.  And unless they are really hungry, they consider it beneath them to clean their plate/floor.  So there’s usually a halo of crumbs and smears around the dish.  Then there are special occasions like the ritual disembowelment of a roll of paper towel.  As for cats and furniture, I’m not even going there, except to say that you can be seriously into one or the other, but not both.  Declawing is not an acceptable compromise.  A cat without its claws is not a cat.

Before you diss me for letting my cats walk all over me (often literally), consider the lengths you will go to and the nuisance you will tolerate for whatever and whomever you most love.




  1. jason said,

    Delightfully hysterical! And true. This reads like the world according to me.

  2. Donna B. said,

    I wonder why it is that we never seem to get an indoor cat. All the cats we’ve owned have demanded to be let outdoors and that’s always resulted in the eventual loss of the cat.

    By “demanded” I mean they would become destructive and mean if we didn’t let them out.

  3. amba12 said,

    Jason, I love that you found this and identified with it.

    Donna, you must have gotten cats that had grown to a critical age outdoors and were stuck on it. “Eventual loss of the cat” — to a car or a coyote, usually — is why my cats are indoor cats. Adopt an indoor kitten and keep it indoors, and it won’t even feel deprived. If I could have a securely fenced and netted yard or porch — a kind of cat sunroom — I would let them out. Cats don’t need to roam.

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