I don’t study my cats the way Renn studies his world, but I do notice things about them. It occurred to me that the beasts’ washroom habits are as individual as everything else about them.
Understand that I don’t make it a habit to spy on the cats as they use the litter-boxes. But circumstances, and the beasts' characteristics, make certain discoveries unavoidable. Josie, for instance, is very matter-of-fact about visiting the ‘little houses’, very business-like when it comes to her business. She will go whenever she needs to, regardless of events. I have been scoping a litter-box when my Chubs has come in and has stepped into the neighbouring box. I’ve been scooping a litter-box when she has stepped into the one I was scooping. Just recently, I watched her enter the store-room where the boxes are kept, look from one receptacle to the other - probably smelling more than looking - and then choose one. She probably has the same attitude humans have when entering a public lavatory and deciding upon which stall the maintenance staff have kept cleaner. I hope she rates my work highly.
Renn appears largely indifferent to situations when it comes to visiting the litter-boxes. I rarely see him go in, and when I do, he is out again soon after. His bodily functions do not seem to require much time; when he eats, it is quickly over. The amount that my big boy consumes is small, especially for an animal of his size. Perhaps that’s why, as a consequence, his visits to the loo are equally brief.
Cammie has a strange habit. I initially noticed it when I heard her scratching at the plastic of the litter-box and thought that it did not sound as though she were scratching through litter, trying to cover or dig. I had occasion to watch her repeat the action later, and saw that she was scratching, not the bottom of the box, but the sides, high up and no where near the litter. Her claws were obviously not far out, so she was not attempting to make marks in the walls. It was as if she were perpetuating a residual memory of bringing down dirt from the sides of a hole.
And Tucker. The roly poly one makes me laugh with his method. I have sometimes caught him when I enter the store-room to clean the boxes and find him using one. I of course back out and give him privacy; aside from simply being polite, causing any creature to stop such a procedure in its midst cannot be good. But what I see is just his big melon head and his shoulders sticking out; the rest is lost in the shadow of the hooded box. The expression on his face is one of mortification at having been caught in such an embarrassing position. It’s the same look he wears much of the time, but in this context, it is very amusing - to me, if not to him. I feel bad for the little fellow, since I would feel the same way in a similar situation.
I confess that I have clean pets, even for cats. If I must wash a bum now and then, it isn’t for lack of its owner trying to keep hygienic. The beasts have had no issue with litter-boxes equipped with hoods - no small concession to a reduced cleaning time on my part, particularly in a small apartment - and if they dislike the arrangement of the boxes in the store-room, they haven’t complained through the results. It may be that I have fortuitously managed things in a way acceptable to both man and cats. I have, perhaps, stumbled on to the essential feng shui of cat litter-boxes…