So, today is “trash day”. Meaning, we gather the trash, put it out in barrels tonight and the city picks it up in the morning. Michael’s job is to gather all the little rubbish bins from the various rooms in our condo and mine is to clean the litter boxes. We have two, because we have two cats. One little one who is very persnickety about the cleanliness of her box, and one big one, Parker, who is on a diet but still lays cable like a doberman.
Like everyone in the 1990’s, I switched my (now deceased) cat Kitty Carlisle from plain clay litter, which needs to be changed in its entirety on a periodic basis, to clumping litter, which can (and should) be cleaned of waste regularly so the litter that remains can be used for a longer period of time. That was fine, but even the “flushable” stuff isn’t really flushable and it’s heavy. I mean, it’s still clay, right?
Then, a couple years before I met Michael, I discovered crystals! Wow, is that stuff great! It’s light, meaning you can carry two bags of it under one arm and that can last you a month if you have two cats. Well, not with finicky Gertrudis, but still, it super effective. It’s incredibly absorbent too. You can’t smell a thing unless one of the kitties just took a big dump and didn’t even try to cover it. A couple problems, though. All litter gets tracked through the house. No matter what the package says, it’s going to get everywhere, but you learn to live with it. Still, little crumbly bits of silica are much more unpleasant to step on than bits of clay. They crackle under shoes leaving a fine dust like salt. And in bare feet — ouch. The biggest problem, though, is the environment. Silica is what glass is made of, in essence. That shit don’t degrade. After a while I started to imagine landfills full of Pampers and my cat’s used litter.
So, what’s a kitty-daddy to do? After Kitty died and we adopted 23-pound, one-eyed, lovable Parker, we switched to pine litter on the advice of our first-floor neighbor Karin and renowned cartoon/writing genius Lynda Barry. Yeah, it smelled okay. And it was light too, like the silica. And sure, it is biodegradable! (But trust me, it’s not good for the compost, no matter what Karin tells you.) But you know what? That shit don’t clump. I felt back to square one with litter. You have to dump it all every week. And when it gets tracked, it gets tracked.
Lately, we’ve been using a litter called Swheat Scoop. It’s made of wheat, so yay! It’s biodegradable. It’s still pretty heavy to carry, but it masks the smell of cat waste, as long as Parker covers his dinosaur turds. And yes, it tracks, but no worse than first-generation clumping litter and doesn’t crumple into dust like crystals. Still, I’m pretty unsatisfied.
Why am I unsatisfied, you ask? Because when a cat pees in wheat, what happens? It clumps, yes. But it clumps in the way flour does. In fact, when I clean out a dirty Swheat Scoop litter box, it has the smell of bread dough made with cat pee — cause, that’s what it is! And when those glutens start to strand, what do you end up with? A sticky glob of cat pee and grain stuck fast to the bottom of your cat box. I had to buy a metal scoop to replace the plastic one in order to dig all the glop out.
Therefore, my crazy idea for this week is to spray the bottom of the cat box with non-stick cooking spray. Specifically, I used Pam Professional. Think about it. When you make bread, what’s the first thing you do with the dough? You put it in an oiled bowl and put it in a warm place. So, if my cats are spraying warm liquid on raw glutenous grains, shouldn’t I coat the surrounding container?
I have no idea if this crazy idea will work. But exactly one week from today is trash day, so I’ll let you know!
Update: Here’s what I found out.