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My Secret Method For Getting Rid of That Cat Smell

Confessions of a crazy cat lady carrying on the tradition of sci fi writers enslaved to feline masters.

Sarah Hoyt


May 29, 2013 - 9:30 am
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Writing fiction and being owned by cats seem to be related forms of madness.

Writing fiction and being owned by cats seem to be related forms of madness.  Here is Hemingway with his sons and cats.

Glenn Reynolds recently linked Althouse reporting on an interview with Patti Smith. The interviewer said the house smelled of cats, and every surface was covered in plastic. This led me to getting lost in the comments with people making all sorts of suggestions, the most prominent of which was “get rid of the cats.”

As someone similarly afflicted and unable to take that step because I take my Chinese Obligations seriously, I thought I’d write this for anyone having similar issues.

So, this is “What I saw at the cat-pee wars — or how to deal with your cats marking territory when you don’t want to get rid of the little monsters.”  (Without having to cover your entire house in plastic, which is apparently Patti Smith’s solution.)

Besides being a writer, I am a (crazy) cat lady. The two often go together, and the field, particularly science fiction and fantasy, is full of crazy cat ladies and gentlemen.

I’d like to place the blame for this on Robert A. Heinlein who not only was owned by several cats, but who also wrote about cats and thereby instilled an early love for the critters along with a love for futuristic fiction. However, truth be told, if you expand it to the field of all fiction writers, the fault for the cat mania would be Hemingway’s and his polydactyl and avowedly freely-spraying cats.

Needless to say if you are having a problem with your cats scent marking or peeing out of place, the very first thing to do – if you haven’t – is to have the males neutered.

My male indoor cats have always been neutered at a relatively early age.  Notwithstanding which, we have had marking problems with both the old firm – i.e. our first batch of cats — Pixel, Randy, Petronius and DT and the new firm – the new batch of four (my husband won’t let me have more than four at one time) – Miranda, Euclid, D’Artagnan and Havelock.

In both cases, the marking seemed to originate in a rivalry between two alpha male cats, to whom neutering did not seem to make much difference.

With our first batch of cats, the culprits were Pixel – a marmalade boy who looked like the perfect stuffed animal, and who, in fact, was too smart for his own good – and Petronius, big and black and probably part Bombay.

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Wow! I feel so blessed! I have had up to six cats at a time, the majority of them boys and the head count changing as the elderly pass away, and I have NEVER had one incident of spraying or peeing anywhere but in the litter box (which I keep immaculately clean). They were all neutered as kittens. I did have two girls, Mary Lou who was rescued as a pregnant teenager and her only child Lah. The mother was spayed as soon as possible after giving birth and Lah as a kitten, but they each pretended to spray. They would back up to a wall, tails up, and look as though they were spraying but there was never a drop of urine. I assumed that Mary Lou had picked up the habit from watching male street cats before she was rescued and Lah just copied her mom's behavior. But none of my boys have ever sprayed or peed, even though there's always the usual boys-will-be-boys rivalries. The only thing I can say as a possible explanation for this is that I live in a rather small apartment and my cats are always given constant attention and I try to adore them equally so no one's feelings get hurt. Cats are such emotional creatures and so responsive to reason, maybe just a good long chat about the nastiness of spraying would do the trick. As you can see, I find cats to be as smart as any people I've ever met.
1 year ago
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It's not just males who can indulge in pee wars. We have two females who are currently indulging in it. Both of them lived quietly with our two elderly males until those two males died and left them as the only two cats in the house and all of a sudden, all hell broke loose. Missy could care less about other cats in most ways except that she wants to be in the general vicinity of others without actually interacting. Peeps wants to be with other cats and be touchy-feely, rough and tumble play. Those two social styles don't mix and there are no other cats to interact with.

Peeps tries to ambush Missy and make her play. Missy hates it and responds by peeing in certain places. Peeps then also pees there. We "solved" the problem by locating a box there which Missy will then use. She doesn't want to not use a box; she just wants to use the box in a place where she feels safer.
1 year ago
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