So here’s the logic to what motivated me to write about today’s post topic…follow me here:
Last Sat. I drug my bulbous mass into the basement and proceeded to clean out one of our storage rooms that had gotten so cluttered that we could barely open the door. In the process of removing boxes and plastic bins, I came across a partially-flattened dead mouse. This brought about several small outbursts by me, partially because I was disgusted that a mouse could be dead for as long as it obviously had been without our knowledge and partially because I couldn’t stop thinking about how awful poor Minnie’s final moments must’ve been (since she appeared to have been crushed by a box) all alone and dying on the concrete floor. I’ll admit that I cried a little. So, in talking about it later, Clayton noted that it was too bad Sorcha was the kitty that had run of the house and not Muse, since Muse shows all indications of having the prey drive to be a great mouser. And I was all like, “You’re right! Why DOESN’T Muse have full luxury of the house…?” And because we were in the basement, I happened to look around the room for the answer and my eyes landed on it: the suede, 4-seated mass of ANSWER at the opposite end of our basement.
And then it occurred to me that I hadn’t yet regaled you with the story of why Muse was taken out of gen-pop and put into solitary confinement in our room. This made me want to tell you all about CATastrophe #2, which is also known as “Bitch Kitty and The Couch.” However, in order to understand the magnitude of CATastrophe #2, you’d have to understand our long-standing history with our cat and her urine. Therefore, I submit CATastrophe #1, aka “Bitch Kitty and The Vents” (which is, incidentally, how Muse got nicknamed “Bitch Kitty” in the first place).
Part 1: The Discovery
We’d just bought our house, our first house, the biggest home either of us has ever lived in. Despite having ten gazillion square feet, it also had 3 stories to it (2nd and 1st stories and a finished basement), which was the requirement that I always figured meant someone was rich; this was my equivalent of Barbie’s dream house. Though Muse and Sorcha have been brought to the home and acclimated carefully, over the course of several days, we’re still not pleased with Muse–particularly her tendency to randomly attack Sorcha and pee on dirty clothes that we lazily dropped in the floor, as was our habit since we’d placed our hampers at inconvenient 3-feet intervals—3 ft. is a long way to walk when you’re naked and lazy. But in order to stop her from peeing on them, we knew we’d have to stop being lazy and neither one of us were really ready to make that commitment to change. In a burst of denial, we successfully convinced ourselves that it was just a phase. “She’s just marking her territory now that she and Sorcha are in a new place and will stop once they’ve found their favorite places. It’s like their version of the Wild West—marking your territory in a new frontier is an American dream. We can’t take that away from them.” Such was the depth of our delusion.
It’s the very beginning of September, which, in VA, means that Mother Nature’s already flipped her Fall Switch (this anomaly of having 4 seasons is still a novelty to us, since we’d become accustomed to only having 2 seasons in Memphis: Humidity and Not-Summer). As the weeks in our new home pass, our tender heat-based bodies start to chill easily, even though our neighbors still have their windows open—we cry “uncle!” and turn on the heat in our new home for the first time of the year and pretty much leave it on so that the house is at a comfortable 75 degrees during the day. After two days, we begin to notice something’s not quite right—there’s…..a smell.
At least twice a day one of us would come down the stairs and declare, “I smell cat pee. DAMMIT, MUSE!” However, it was always only a vague whiff here and there as the thermals in the room shifted. We’d smell it over by the chair and then, oh wait, no, it’s definitely coming from over by that window, but then, no! It’s definitely in the other room, maybe near the table…? We’d stalk the air currents around the first floor like two bloodhounds, sometimes bumping into each other as we focused VERY HARD on identifying exactly where it was coming from, sometimes one crawling around on the hardwood on our hands and knees, pausing to sniff carefully at a spot near a wall. Since we didn’t have blinds at the time, I’m sure this routine is why our neighbors never came to say hi. When people came to visit, we’d fearfully ask if they smelled anything….funny. And of course, our very kind friends looked us in the eye and said, “Of course not. What kind of ‘funny’ smell should we be smelling?” Oh, nothing! Look at our new couch…it’s very brown. And that’s a new toaster over there…. It was too mortifying to me to admit our cat was peeing somewhere other than her litter box—I couldn’t see how this was anything but a monumentally bad reflection on my pet-owning abilities. I knew the second anyone found out, they wouldn’t be coming back. So I swore Clayton to secrecy, even though he wasn’t always able to keep from dropping resentful comments about it when someone would ask how the pets were acclimating the new place.
But we’d still smell it, even though our routine bloodhound searches turned up nothing. And the smell got stronger. After a while, we quit having people over because the stench of ammonia was so strong we could barely breath with the heat on. We figured the warmth of the house was bringing it out more, but we couldn’t figure out why. Did the previous owners have pets…and God forbid maybe other cats that one of our girls was smelling and defending herself against? Since both cats had free run of the house and loathed each other like fat chicks hate treadmills, we never saw either of them in the same room together—but on their own, each would wander exactly where we’d see the other wander, so we knew they were both going in the same rooms. So which one was doing it? And where the hell were they doing it?! AND SWEET BABY JESUS HOW OFTEN ARE THEY DOING IT BECAUSE I’M GOING TO BURN THIS HOUSE DOWN IF YOU TURN ON THE HEATER ONE MORE TIME.
Yeah, it was that bad.
And then, after 2 weeks of living in the ammoniacal Bog of Eternal Stench that was our beautiful new house, I noticed a little bit of odd-looking residue on one of the floor vents in our dining room where Muse had sauntered away from not two minutes earlier. Then with horror, fear, and much trembling, the declaration of the century was made: “Holy crap, Clayton. I think Muse may be peeing in the floor vent.” Thus began our realization of the cat’s subtle, biological campaign of displeasure that she’d been waging on us since we moved in.
We got close and carefully sniffed the dining room floor vent…and gagged. There was the spot. Then Clayton, in his logical way, said, “But that doesn’t make sense. Why would she target just this one vent…?” And both of us came to the same realization at the same time. Like we’d been electrocuted, we flew off our hands and knees and raced to the next nearest vents: Clayton dove for the living room floor vent like he was trying to tackle it and me for one of the two family room vents. I got rug burns on my palms from trying to faceplant ON the vent (becuase apparently timing was vital to the crisis?) and skidded about two feet on the carpet. And we both gagged again. Shift to the next nearest vent: same story. And after checking all six of our floor vents on the first floor (the only floor that had them), we crumpled against each other in a horrified, defeated heap. “I can’t believe she…*gasp* but WHY would she….*sob* and HOW LONG has she…would YOU like to kill her or shall I? She’s very soft—I think she’d make a great pair of mittens…”
However, it wasn’t until we pulled up the vent covers to actually clean up the mess that we realized the magnitude of our cat’s horrifying science experiment. I said we should call it “D-Day” for the “day we discovered it,” and Clayton was like, “Can’t it be D for ‘Death of the bitch kitty’? Because that’s more the way I’m leaning right now.” I can honestly say that I had never actually encountered a true biohazard scene until we pulled up the vents.
For the sake of eyestrain everywhere, and because this story is about to get super gross, I’ll respect your time and stop it there. Stay tuned for Part 2: The Clean-Up to be posted sometime next week.