Our ongoing travails with Jaco and his issues with inappropriate elimination.
Listen while you read to an early live recording of “Resistance” – a strong candidate for our upcoming album “Victory Speech”.
If I recall correctly, Jaco didn’t start “marking” until we moved to L.A., and I think this may be due to the place where we lived in San Diego when he first joined our family being a newly constructed loft with concrete floors, i.e., no prior history of other odors to have to overwrite with his own. There were also no other cats around except Gureyo, so that didn’t trigger any particular need on his part to defend his territory.
When we moved to L.A. into a decrepit old duplex in the Mother of All Ghettos, he started peeing outside the litter box, which we kept next to the front door. Incidentally, that probably explains at least one reason why our marriage seemed to have irrevocably turned to shit at that point (and our life at that time was particularly shitty), given the horrible feng shui of keeping a stinking pile of cat feces right in the main entry to our home!
We eventually moved to a larger unit downstairs in the same building that had a nice, big bathroom with sufficient space to keep the litter box, but for reasons best known to himself, Jaco preferred to pee in the bathtub. Well, at least that’s the easiest thing in the house to clean, especially since it had a European-style shower, i.e., the type that’s on a hose, which makes cleaning the tub vastly easier. I can only assume that given the age of the building and pet-friendly policy, there were probably plenty of intriguing smells that eluded detection by humans of ordinary olfactory senses. Also, the unit on the ground floor provided a face-to-face view (and presumably scent) of the numerous feral cats inhabiting the neighborhood, and the mayhem that ensued during “cat season” (spring – summer), which I’m sure didn’t help our situation any. (Even though all the Panache Cats are spayed/neutered, the presence of intact animals typically causes a breakdown of law and order in most cases.)
The cat piss situation got totally out of control after Laxmi (the feral kitten) joined us and we moved to Chinatown a year later (where the landlord let slip that the previous tenant’s dog had peed all over the place), and then escalated still further when we acquired Pink. By that point it was incontrovertibly clear that we had a major problem. The areas where Jaco seemed most inclined to mark were near the cat toilets, but when you’re starting with a room that looks like this,
the cats have a lot of options for stinking it up undetected, at least until the stench sets in and transcends the background smells.
Chi found a self-flushing (yes, for real!), self-cleaning cat toilet in the Japanese classifieds, so we brought home a practically brand-new Cat Genie, set it up, and took the old school “chamber pot equivalent” downstairs to use as a port-a-potty when traveling with the kitties.
The Panache Cats approached the new toilet with great suspicion, which, at least for Gureyo, who has always liked water, turned to great fascination when we ran it through the flush/wash/dry cycle.
Gureyo ended up being fine with it, and so did Pink, and so would Laxmi, had Gureyo let her use it. That’s when I figured out what was probably the root cause of the problem. I saw Gureyo harassing Laxmi while she was trying to use the toilet, effectively forcing her to have to go on the floor in an out-of-sight corner. Jaco showed no inclination to accept the new facilities.
We thought we might be ok once Jaco accepted the new contraption, but there were other issues. The only place that made any sense to put the new cat toilet was the part of the house now known as “Cat Shit Corridor”, i.e., a long-ish, narrow corridor running from the kitchen to the back room I use as my home office, a.k.a. Panache Headquarters, and the back door leading to the parking area outside.
We originally routed the outfall pipe into the utility sink in that part of the house (yes, it was really, really G-R-O-S-S!!!), and then eventually I realized it would be perfectly possible to run the pipe through the bathroom window to empty into the toilet directly on the other side of the wall, which made much more sense, and yes, I poured A LOT of raw bleach and Dran-O down that sink after re-routing the cat toilet pipe! That notwithstanding, the long tube had to be at a vertical elevation that made it more prone to clogging and also caused backflow of wastewater into the basin of the unit, which caused a horrific stench that would permeate the whole house while the toilet was running the “dry” stage of its cycle.
It all turned into shit (LITERALLY!!!) when it clogged up so badly one night that I had to take the whole kit and kaboodle into the bathtub, disassemble it and totally clean it out around 0200h. (We got to bed around 03:30 and I’d called in late to the day job that morning, and the perplexed look on my boss’ face when I answered his question about what happened was truly priceless!)
At any rate, this of course was an intolerable situation to which there were few practical solutions due to the configuration of the house, so we had to make sure to run the toilet only when we were going to be outside for some period of time and hope it wouldn’t clog and cause a crisis while we were gone. Chi eventually conceded that we were still in a losing battle, and suggested that we try adding the other toilet back, commenting that as long as we were going to be scooping again, we might as well scoop the flush toilet as well, which would eliminate the frequent clogging and stenchful horror. Jaco flatly refused to use the new toilet, and my patience was wearing thin with being late to work due to having to clean cat shit off the floor practically every morning.
We ended up even adding a THIRD toilet/litter box under the piano (the only place I could figure out that we had room to put another one), which significantly improved matters. At least Jaco stopped shitting on the floor, but he apparently still felt compelled to have to mark his territory both under the piano and in Cat Shit Corridor.
That brought the Cat Piss War to a new level. I was fed up with the house reeking to the rafters of cat urine, and the miserable hassle of having to regularly hose down both the area under the piano and Cat Shit Corridor with a gallon or so of white vinegar spiked with bleach to disinfect the surfaces and kill the smell.
This time I bought a great big package of 100 Wee-Wee Pads for training puppies, and masked off the whole area under the piano with them. That at least had a prophylactic effect of stopping the cat piss from making contact with the floor and walls, but only if the pads were duct-taped securely in place. Jaco seemed to make a point of soiling practically all of them (about 13 in total), and in fact, Chi even suspected that the other cats were joining in, creating a very time consuming and laborious chore of having to replace them every couple days, and if I didn’t tape each of them individually down securely (which made for a COLOSSAL pain in the ass to change them), they would move around and the floor/walls would get peed on, bringing us back to square one.
Since the stench is now entrenched, it appears that there is no reasonable alternative but to do a major demolition operation and then seal, i.e., piss-proof the floor and walls in the battle zones. Enter Stage 5.
– To Be Continued –