A “Minnie” Gripe and a Few Words About Dedicated Pet Ownership


Howdy, folks! I have a fairly simple point to make, so this should be a brief post, comparatively speaking. Meet Minnie (pictured above)! This cat is not one of Suzie’s. You see, when I am unable to bring more cats into my program, I try to help the rescue effort in other ways. In this case, helping to transport cats from the shelter where they would have been euthanized, to the rescue group that’s giving them a chance at life. A big thanks to Furball Farm Pet Sanctuary, and Fur-Ever Home/ValuCause for making room for her at the last second!

Minnie was within minutes of being killed in a shelter today. She was surrendered to the shelter (twice!) because of issues that were probably resolvable, and most likely, the owner’s fault. In home# 1, she was kept with six other cats, and only two litter boxes. Minnie wants a clean bathroom, heaven forbid, and since there’s no way to keep the boxes clean with six cats using only two of them, Minnie, not surprisingly, found other places to do her business. In home#2, she was using the box, but peeing over the side of it. Rather than purchase a larger, or covered litter box, her owners promptly returned her to the shelter, where she almost died, because she wasn’t thriving in the stressful shelter environment, and finding foster volunteers for cats with a house soiling history is damn near impossible. Surprise surprise!

A word of advice to new cat owners: There is no such thing as too big of a litter box, too clean of a litter box, or for that matter, too many boxes. Those plastic “cake pans” that people like to buy, because they’re cheap and fit nicely between the toilet and the bathtub are meant for kittens, cats that have to be kenneled for some reason, or as something to use in a pinch, until a better litter box can be acquired. They are WAY too small for a typical cat in a typical household, and if you skimp out on your cat’s bathroom accommodations, you’re either going to end up with pee going over the side, litter being flung all over the place as the cat digs, or a cat that simply won’t use the box.

Although there will always be some cats with litter box issues, regardless of what the owner does, there are a few, tried-and-true methods that work in most circumstances, and would most likely have worked for this 6-years-young, Russian Blue beauty, named Minnie. Always have at least one, appropriately-sized litter box per cat. By “appropriately-sized,” I mean, at the very least, the largest litter box you can find, preferably with a cover on it, although a Rubbermade bin that’s deeper than the cat is tall, is not going to do anyone any harm. No cake pans! Not unless you’re taking your cats on a long road trip, and you need a box that’s small enough to fit into the kennel, or you’re attending an April Fool’s Day party, and you’re bringing that cat poop cake[i] as a humorous contribution to the potluck.  Seriously. That’s all those things are good for. Once you’ve acquired the right size box, put no less than 3-4 inches of litter in the bottom, and scoop at least once, daily. If your cat starts urinating or defecating in inappropriate places, have your vet check him for bladder stones, kidney problems, urine crystals, or a urinary tract infection. Oh! And don’t declaw.

Please remember that pets are living organisms, not home entertainment centers from Best Buy, although I’m willing to use the electronic device scenario as a metaphor for cats, if it makes it easier for people to understand that some assembly is required, and they may not work perfectly the first time you fire them up. In other words, be willing to make some accommodations to resolve the issues that may arise when you adopt a new pet. Realize, also, that some issues may never resolve completely, and you may simply have to just…cope! Believe it or not, you’re not as easy to live with as you think you are either, but you would hope that your family would work with you at little, and maybe even tolerate a thing or two, rather than simply kick you to the curb. Washing your hands of the problem might make your life easier, but it’s incredibly paralyzing to the rescue effort (as well as traumatizing for the animals), when we have to keep making space for ones that were already adopted, and placing the same ones for adoption over and over again.

Thank you for listening to my vent! You may now return to your regularly scheduled program.

-Rachel Pouliot
Suzie’s Cat Refuge

[i] https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/7415/kitty-litter-cake/

4 thoughts on “A “Minnie” Gripe and a Few Words About Dedicated Pet Ownership

  1. Rachel, this is excellent–as usual.  So well written.  Thanks for sharing. Are you coming to Breezy Point for Mother’s Day weekend? Mumsy

  2. You’re awesome kid. Great info on litter boxes—thank you. Our old guy (Gandalf, also a Russian Blue) loves to fling the litter across the room and leak over the edges of the box. And he’s too stiff to get into a tall one. So we sweep up the litter and deodorize the tile floor and cuddle him in our laps. Gotta have compassion because one day we might be leaking on the floor, too. 😉

    1. Thank you for loving Mr. Gandalf, warts and all! I used to have a flame-point Siamese named Aleister, who was a bit of a “wizzer”. He used the litterbox too, but if the moment suited him, he would pee and sometimes poop in other places. Blocking access to that place usually just resulted in him finding another spot to mess up. This problem worsened as he aged, and was most likely due to him being front-declawed (which was not the product of my doing). I eventually just lined up plasting trash bags on the floor, along the wall where he liked to “go”, and covering the bags with cheap, exterior rug (the kind that people use to carpet their decks and stoops and whatnot). Once a week, I would throw the rugs in the laundry and wash the pee out, and then spray clean the plastic bags. This, at least, helped control the odor, prevent damage to the carpet. Once in a while, you just have to ask yourself, is it really the end of the world, having to clean up a mess once in a while?

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