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One last mention of my Chloe girl who had the parasitic anemia, and a final thanks to you all. When I brought her home, they said it could take two months or more for her red blood cell count to get back to normal. To get there, she’s had her own quiet room as suggested, with lots of love and perhaps some spoiling here and there.

We went for a follow-up blood test today and in less than two and a half weeks, she’s already regained normal levels. I think the doctor was as thrilled as I was. Good wishes do help, and I thank you all.

That is fantastic news! Parasitic anemia has NO chance against the love and good wishes of an internet full of cat lovers, does it? Thanks for the update, Delaney (and kisses to Chloe).


Can we talk litter? Fun topic, I know… I use Swheat Scoop because a) it’s unscented and b) it’s FLUSHABLE. I have GOT to be able to flush my litter, because, I live in a townhome and the trash comes twice a week and my trash has to stay INSIDE. Meaning there’s no way I can imagine having to scoop and not being able to put it outside immediately.
Swheat Scoop is also somewhat dusty and can be expensive, too. What can I use INSTEAD?? Most litters say clearly you can’t flush them.

From Elayne:

Is this my cue to ramble on and on about crystal litter and how unbelievably odorless the litter-box leavings are once they’ve been desiccated? If you scoop, like, five minutes after your cat leaves a present for you, then yeah, there’ll be some odor. But if you make sure everything’s good and buried for an hour or two before you scoop, there’s no moisture left to allow the smell to… smell. However that works. (It is, however, NOT NOT NOT flushable.)

I did a bit of cleaning and rearranging and put a new trash can in the back room by the litter boxes, and put a few days’ worth of scoopings into that can. Then I forgot that it was there, so I forgot to empty it to take out to the curb on trash day. It was like a week and a half before I remembered it was there, and even when I DID remember it was only because I saw it, not because I smelled anything!

The brand I use is unscented, though it has its own faintly unpleasant (to me) dry, dusty smell. Other brands I’ve tried, when I haven’t been able to get my regular brand, have been scented, and for a few of them the scent was so strong I’d almost rather smell cat poop.
Crystal litter is a big change in almost all ways from regular litter, and some cats may not like it because it’s so radically different. There are some clumping litters that have crystal litter mixed in; I don’t know how well they work overall, but might be worth a try for odor control. The silica crystals desiccate the urine and feces, and without moisture there is very little odor. /EndCrystalLitterFangirlComment

Thank you, Elayne! I remembered your love of the crystal litter, and had actually wondered if it might be an option here.


I just came across this – Red Rover Relief Grants to help people who cannot afford to take their pets to vets. Since occasionally you post about someone needing help I thought I’d pass it on.

Thank you so much for sharing!


When Kintaro’s (cool name – what’s the background?) picture popped up, the first thing I thought was that this is how Meadow will look when she’s all grown up!

The name came from Fred’s nephew, who is a gamer, so I guess it’s a gamer reference (Google tells me there’s a character in Mortal Kombat named Kintaro, so I’m pretty sure that’s where it came from.)

I was waiting for someone to suggest that he could be Meadow’s father! (I mean, not really – he’s neutered and an indoor cat – but he certainly looks like he COULD be.)


OK, so I just noticed Meadow’s markings, during the milk-bar video. Does she have a white band across her shoulders, and two tiny black wings, or what?? It sure looked like it from that angle!

I have GOT to get a decent picture of the markings on her back – Paula suggested that it looks like she’s wearing a bra backwards.


Where’d you get that litter box? I like the depth and the high sides and the little cutout hole.


Question for you, Robyn: Did you guys cut the holes yourselves in your litterboxes, or did you find some cut open like that already? Thanks!

I spotted one of those litter boxes at Target a few months ago, and thought it might be a good size for our cats. The cats liked it so much that I replaced all of our litter boxes with them! They’re Boots and Barkley brand litter boxes, and they’re 17 inches high, 20 inches wide, and 24 inches deep. I had a hard time getting enough litter boxes because they were always sold out, so I’d stop and look at Target every time I was near one. Eventually, I got all the old litter boxes replaced! They cost $22 each, which is a little pricey for a litter box, I think, but they’re such good, sturdy boxes that I think they’re worth it. (I would provide you with a link to the box on their web site, but it’s not there. Oh Target, I HATE your web site.)

They actually also sell lids for these litter boxes; I’m honestly not sure whether the lids are included in the price of the box, because I don’t use lids on our litter boxes, so I never bothered to bring them home, just left the lids on the shelf at the store.

They come in medium blue and white. I prefer the medium blue, but was happy with what I could get, so I’ve got some of each color.

Here’s a picture of one of them, with Miz Poo for reference (you will be kind and pretend you don’t see the dust on the top of the litter box or the scattered litter that needs to be vacuumed up, I trust) :

If you’re looking for a high-sided litter box and don’t want to spend $22 on a box, you could alternately do what we were using before I discovered these litter boxes. These are what our old litter boxes looked like:


These buckets are called “Party buckets” at Lowe’s (you can find them at Walmart, too), and you can use a box cutter to cut the hole in the bucket. I made the switch to the Target litter boxes because I think they give the cats a little more room, and I also think they’re sturdier than the buckets were.

Alternately, you could buy a big Rubbermaid storage container and cut a hole in it, and use that for a litter box. I don’t use anything that big only because I need to be able to move the litter boxes around to clean under and behind, and to empty the boxes.


How deep do the you fill your boxes Robyn and how often do you do complete litter change outs?

When I’m doing a complete litter-change out, I fill the boxes about 4 inches deep. I’ve come to the realization lately that the cats seem to prefer it lower (maybe 2 – 3 inches), so I think I may start out at 3 inches and just add litter as I need to and see how that goes.

I do a complete litter change-out about every 6 weeks (staggering it so as not to overload the garbage men), but wipe down the sides, top, and backs of the litter boxes themselves about once a week with a spray of half vinegar and half water.


I know this is a cat place, but I think we’re overwhelmingly animal lovers here – so I wanted to share this story and the Facebook page for hopefully updates. Tissue warning! (Also the standard disclaimer about donating with care, etc.)

They’re in your general area so you may be familiar with it already, as it seems the media is picking it up pretty quickly.

I had seen that story, but completely flaked on sharing it! That poor dog – she’s so lucky that she found someone to help her.


I had not noticed this before, but does Meadow have little white stripes inside her ears, or is that just a trick of the light? Reminds me of the way tulips sometimes have those little white “seams” running inside the petals.

She does have white stripes inside her ears! That’s another thing I need to get a picture of, a close-up of her stripes.


I was just going to ask about this (labeling with names) – so how do you keep track of what chicken in the freezer needs to be crock-potted/etc vs. what can be fried/roasted/baked?

I generally just write “roaster” or “stewpot” on the freezer bag (along with the date it was put into the freezer) so that I have some idea of what I’m dealing with. I have been known to just write “old!” on the bag. As long as I write SOMEthing on the bag, it tends to work out. For some reason, when Fred processed our very first rooster (McLovin), I was compelled to write his name on the bag along with the date. Months later, I looked at the bag and thought “What is that supposed to MEAN? How old was he? Am I supposed to cook him for a long time or was he young? I don’t REMEMBER!”


Do the belly rubs help tiny tummies with digestion, or is it just pure bonding and affection?

It does both, it helps with digestion and with bonding, but I do it because it’s SUPER relaxing. Seriously, I’d put a 10 minute kitten belly rub up against a professional massage any day!


When the kittens start eating kitty food but still park themselves at the ‘milk bar’ are they actually getting any milk? Is it more just a comfort and habit to suckle theirs Mamas ?

They’re actually getting milk – as long as there are kittens nursing, the mamas will continue to produce milk. I’ve had mamas who’ve had to go off to Petsmart before their milk dried up because they’re so patient with the kittens continuing to nurse. When Maggie went to Petsmart, Lisa told me that she let Maggie out of her cage and some of her kittens out of their cage, and she turned away for two seconds. When she turned back, the kittens were nursing. I had to put a note on Maggie’s cage telling the cleaners and adoption counselors not to let them nurse so that her milk would dry up!


Have you seen this video yet? The kittens could be related to Norbie, plus the way he joined Khaleesi’s litter is very similar. Aren’t kitties such wonderful, amazing creatures?

I had not seen that – that is such a wonderful story! Kitties really are amazing.


Saw this today.

If you think kitties get mad for being forced to wear silly hats, they’d be furious at being thrown like bouquets. (I believe all the kitties were photoshopped, which is why it’s so hilarious.)

I think I need to renew my vows so that I can carry a kitten bouquet down the aisle!


Kintaro can’t climb the bottom gate and squeeze through the gap? Really?


I was wondering that too. Can we see more pictures of the gate setup? This might solve my problem of keeping Trixie seperated from Tuxie and Sabrina while giving her the entire upstairs to roam.

Kintaro is not a climber. But if he was, we’d move the top gate down so that there’d be no gap – and if need be, we have a third gate that we could put at the top. We’ve done that  before and while it’s a pain to deal with if I need to go upstairs, it works really well at keeping cats contained.

I don’t think Kintaro could pull the gate down – the gates are in there really well, they’re pressure-mounted gates. We’ve had adult cats climb the gates all the way to the top of the doorway without pulling them over.

And here are a couple of pictures of the setup.

There’s a 2-inch gap at the bottom (it looks like the gate is higher, it’s hard to tell from the picture that the gate is just above the bottom step) because it allows us to put the top gate that much higher, so we can just remove the bottom gate and limbo under there (we are not as limber as we used to be). Also, the gap between the two gates makes it so that I can reach through to the lever. We’re both up and down the stairs pretty often, so if the gates were stacked one on top of the other, one of us would have to let the other one through, and that would be a HUGE pain.

If this were a more permanent situation (and I am thankful that it is NOT), I would have nagged Fred into building a screened door to hang in that doorway that we could have just opened and stepped through.


Where did u get the mouse scratch thingy I see on the wall. Its way too cute. 🙂

That is a Pet Select Scratch, Rattle and Roll scratcher. I got mine at Publix (which is a grocery store, for those who don’t know), but you can find it on Amazon. It’s also available at Walmart, at least according to their web site. I hang mine on the wall, but it would also hang easily on a doorknob, or can just sit on the floor. The kittens love to jump up and hang from it.


Paulie Walnuts, sneaking out of the crate. Looks like that boy is up to no good!

Tony is so small that he was able to pretty much walk right under Melfi. Melfi did NOT appreciate this nonsense.

“Hi Mama! I’m gonna lay on your head, okay?”

“By God, they’re right. You CAN hear the ocean!”


“I just sit here and watch you, lady.” (Tony)

“She’s in my space! Tell her to get out of my SPACE!” Whiny Paulie needs his SPACE.

Melfi attacking my slipper while Tony and Carmela look on.

Adriana, keeping an eye on the goings-on.

Meadow, don’t stare into the sun. You’ll melt the Fluff right out your ears.

Tony, having Deep Thoughts.

Livia keeps an eye on the hooligans.

“Stop following me AROUND, Shadow Cat!”


Corbie has a serious case of Ears of Annoyance going on. Still beautiful, though!


2012: For something that would sting me in the eye if given half a chance, it’s got an awful lot of nerve pulling a cute maneuver like that.
2011: BUGS Tuesday.
2010: (And yes, we DO call them “Busta Rhyme”!)
2009: No entry.
2008: No entry.
2007: No entry.
2006: The little black Momma kitty we first saw a month or so ago was back, this time with a friend.
2005: When does this get easier, again?



10-11-13 — 28 Comments

  1. Thanks for answering my question about the gate! I can’t imagine how you put up with manuevering the lower gate to get through. If only you could buy a gate like the one I use for my dog – easy to click open and let yourself through – just as tall as the doorway. Sounds like someone should invent that! lol 🙂

    I LOVE that photo of Melfi playing while Tony and Carmela look on – Melfi has the cutest expression of glee on her face!

    • Hmm… is your gate pressure mounted? I think Fred doesn’t want to install anything permanent, but that certainly sounds like it would be way handier than the baby gates!

      Of course, with Kintaro going home next week (THANK GOD), we won’t need to restrict access to the upstairs. But… it would be nice to have a better option than the baby gates. I hate those things!

  2. What I want to know is what is that tray thing you have the litterbox (picture with Mz Poo) sitting on and where did you get it????

    • I’ll answer this question more in depth (in the blog) when I get a chance to remember where I got everything, but the short answer is that it’s a very large “boot tray” (which are meant to be used to put your wet or dirty shoes on, just inside the door) with plastic “grates” cut to size so that (theoretically) the litter will fall through the holes instead of being tracked everywhere. The litter still manages to get tracked, but maybe not quite as bad. Or so I like to think. 🙂

  3. Hi!

    I’d like to mention that soon after switching to crystal instead of clumping clay, my cat started pooping blood (quite a lot of it) and it lasted for several weeks.

    Crystals are sharp. Crystals can do very bad things to your cat if she swallows any. I’m not going to take that risk ever again.

    • Yikes, that IS scary! But I have to say I’ve been using it for more than ten years with anywhere from 3 to 6 cats, and none of them have ever had a problem like that. (Thanks to diverticulosis, however, *I* sometimes have that problem myself, even though I almost *never* eat any litter! lol) (TMI sorry)

      With any cat likely to eat the litter, such as kittens, I’ve always used non-clumping clay and lots of supervision when transitioning to the crystals – my concern is more for the desiccating quality, though. Just like the (putative) risk for intestinal blockage if a cat eats clumping litter*, I wouldn’t want to risk having a mouthful of silica in one’s intestinal system.

      On this subject, I want to throw one more thing out there, for anyone who might look for more info (HERE COMES THE TL;DR):
      A few years ago, I was suddenly unable to find the brand that I use at the store (it’s only carried by WalMart, apparently). They had the empty space on the shelf, but it was never restocked. I went to the store and asked the manager about it; after a few minutes, she came back and said that they’d had to take it off the shelves because it was on recall.

      I was alarmed, of course, so I took to Google looking for information – and found that while people across the western US were also unable to get it, people in the eastern US were reporting no problems – that it was still on their stores’ shelves. That didn’t make sense for a recall, of course, so I did some more digging. The FDA’s recall site, and a nice lady at their 1-888 number, told me that no, there was no recall on that brand of cat litter, and they had no idea what WalMart was talking about. I eventually wound up emailing the company – in either China or Hong Kong, I forget – and asking what was going on.

      The issue was that California had a problem with the labeling on the bag. IIRC the bag said something about the litter having antibacterial qualities – but this was based on the fact that it eliminates the moisture needed for bacteria to grow. California said, “You can’t say ‘antibacterial’ unless it’s antibacterial – like, there’s something in the litter that kills bacteria.” And California said that until the “false labeling” issue was addressed, they wouldn’t allow the litter to be sold in their state.

      WalMart, out of an abundance of caution, decided to address the matter at the distribution centers, so that no litter would accidentally get sent to California and incur a fine. This meant that although the problem was only with California’s labeling laws, the product was unavailable anywhere that was serviced by the same distribution centers that serviced California.

      BUT! In the meanwhile, local managers and employees are getting a much-simplified version of the saga, and are being told “it’s on recall,” and then passing that info on to their customers. And it had not ever been recalled, at all.

      Well, while I was looking online for answers, I saw all KINDS of drama going down in various comment threads – people saying how their cat had died six months after they’d started using that litter and they thought it was just coincidence but now they know that the cat had been poisoned and they were going to sue, stuff like that. And (before I even knew that it was only a labeling issue and not a recall) I was like, “Y’know… it’s sad, but cats die. Sometimes they die shortly after you do something different. Correlation does not necessarily imply causation.”

      Anyway, it took a few months for the company to redesign the bags and repackage everything and get distribution back on track, but that was all it was – a labeling issue because California called them on their overly-liberal interpretation of “antibacterial.”

      So if you’re doing research to make your own decision (something I highly recommend!) and come across comments/reviews about the “recall” and how “they wouldn’t take it off the market if it wasn’t dangerous” and how “the FDA only does a recall when lives are at stake” and such – yeah. That’s why the FDA, um, didn’t actually ever issue a recall.

      *Interesting article on clumping litter and kittens: http://cats.about.com/cs/litterbox/a/clumpingclay.htm

  4. I am such an idiot. Anytime I saw those litter boxes with the lids, I thought the bigger part was the LID. I assumed the actual lid part, which, the ones I’ve seen, the sides are like six inches high, was the pan part.


    These Soprano kittehs are killing me.

    • “Anytime I saw those litter boxes with the lids, I thought the bigger part was the LID. I assumed the actual lid part, which, the ones I’ve seen, the sides are like six inches high, was the pan part.”

      Well, maybe they can be used both ways!

  5. Tony is just killing it today. So much cute/toughness in such a small, adorable package.

    Those blue eyes are practically freman and too much to comprehend.

  6. Just recently Old Cat (18+!) was finally having too much trouble going up and down the stairs to the boxes in the basement so we relocated one to the main floor for her. The only place we can put it is in the bedroom and since then we have had all sorts of problems with litter. The Pet…Co? Smart? Fill your own litter and get it cheaper brand tracked everywhere! The crystals were dustier than Oklahoma in the 30s (and Stupidpants started eating them) and Arm and Hammer smells like a perfume factory. One of these days we might find a brand which doesn’t smell, dust or track.

    By the way, I used to work at a lab where we tested the flushability of things (primarily toilet paper) and one day a cat littler company came by and wanted us to test their flushable product (against other flushable litter). One of the brands wound up so gummy when it was chucked in the bowl that it ruined our test toilet. I can’t imagine that being good for anyone’s pipes, cat or sewer.

    Lastly, when our kittens were wee and we wanted to keep them and Old Cat apart we thought we’d be oh so clever and put the baby gate up between the two (after all, it worked for Old Cat and Old Cat’s departed companion). Unfortunately Stupidpants is a jumper (he’d figure out how to sail through the small gap in a double gate system) and Tiny is a climber (she’d be able to liberate herself entirely with any sort of gap, including the very top. She’s like a monkey with whiskers). Hence I guess the gate system served to get in our way and to keep Old Cat from smacking the kittens if they had decided to retreat back behind it. Which they never did.

    Pauly Walnuts just kills me.

    • I would just hate to have a litter box in the bedroom. With the way we’re going, I’m SURE that one day it’ll have to happen for one reason or another, but I so don’t want to do it. Because you KNOW that would be the prime poopin’ litter box for every single cat in the house.

        • The bedroom box does seem to be immensely popular but the actual using of said box is the least of the problems. The perfume litter has driven me to sleep on the couch because it bothers my asthma so I’ll be right happy when we find something less stinky.

          Stupidpants has an actual “Who do you have with you at the vets” name (Tycho) but I tend to call him Stupidpants when he is doing something dumb, annoying, crazy or unbelievable. He gets into a lot of trouble so I don’t imagine he even remembers what is name is supposed to be.

      • I had to get up a couple of times in the middle of the night when Norbie was locked up in the bedroom his first week with me. It was NOXIOUS! Good thing he is such a cute little monkey.

  7. Why don’t you install a screen door with plastic hardware cloth instead of using baby gates?

    • If Kintaro was going to be here more long-term, we’d probably do something like that. With him going home next week, we shouldn’t need to block off the stairs again. (I don’t know WHO I think I’m fooling.)

  8. Maybe this has already been addressed in previous comments, but just a thought. While it might not be so great for someone with many cats and boxes, perhaps your questioner might consider trying a diaper genie, (or I suppose the equivilant litter genie) that is out there. I remember from my diaper changing days that the diaper genie does do a good job (with some ocassional febreeze or deoderizer supplementing — mostly only after you’ve opened the container to put more in or take the bag out) of keeping the odors under control until trash time.