Re-Purpose The Baffling New Into The Tried-And-True Old

Oooowee, my first time uploading video to YouTube evar.  Of course it’s of the cat, duh.

This is what Riley’s cat toy originally looked like, but he never played with it this way, he just watched it, occasionally batted at the bottom, and was baffled by the noise and clattering if he tried to grab the string. As he’s declawed, perhaps he just didn’t feel like he was getting anywhere since he could never grab the string at all.

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Fling-ama-String cat toy mechanizes feline torture – Boing Boing Gadgets
Fling-A-Ma-String Cat Toy

The “Fling-ama-String” cat toy may be inelegantly named, but its every motion provokes delight. I now realize it is possible to create an entire room of cat attention-torture devices, jittering feathers actuated by motors, mousey puffballs racing around a room on tiny tracks.

And this is what a re-purposed cat toy looks like that really works: remove string, tie to stick from worn-out Boingy Thing.

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Happy Cat Loves Teh Litterbox Naow

@MrRileycat_Esq didn’t like the highly scented “major label” cat litter I used, apparently. He had Issues. We had a Serious Problem. Solved it with Dr Elsey’s Precious Cat line of cat litters.
Precious Cat Litters – Quality Cat Litter

Dr Elsey offers several different options: there’s the Cat Attract stuff, which is pricier, and there’s the regular Precious Cat Classic and Ultra litters, plus specialty ones for kittens and long-haired cats. He also sells these “litter attractant” herbs but so far I haven’t felt the need to get them.

Over nine million cats suffer from litter box aversion. It’s a leading reason why cats are abused, abandoned and put in shelters. Now there is Cat Attract™, my answer to help these cats live a long happy, healthy life in a home, not a shelter. If your cat is not using its litter box, look for a retailer near you on our site or ask for it wherever you shop for pet supplies. Print a coupon for $1.00 off Cat Attract™

Our Precious Cat scoopable litters, Classic, Ultra and Ultra Scented are now 99.9% dust free. These litters also feature the ideal texture, particle size and “paw feel” to create the ideal litter box environment for your cats. This along with proper litter box care will keep your cat content and happy.

I suspect that not using the litterbox consistently was one of the reasons Riley was found wandering the streets back when he was a juvenile “delinquat.” In the years since we brought him home, I was just not very diligent about dealing with the box and David tended to have more and more to do with it. This may have been because I had had to be ultra diligent when our previous cat, Stuey, was in his later years and suffered from diabetes and really, really inaccurate aim.

Here’s a list of some of the things that cause cats to avoid their boxes…

  • Too highly scented; harsh perfume-y smell is almost worse than natural funk
  • Rough, jagged edges on the litter particles, especially true of declawed cats
  • Not cleaned out frequently enough – daily is best, every other day at a minimum
  • Complete clean-out of box, with rinsing and deodorizing, should be weekly
  • Hooded or enclosed boxes concentrate the odor, also some cats claustrophobic
  • Older boxes can retain urine odor when they’re all scratched up, even after washing
  • “Paw feel” is not right; cats need to dig and bury
  • Multiple-cat households should have one more box than the number of cats

Before Stuey’s diabetes was diagnosed, I’d been using various brands of “litter pearls” that purported to absorb urine odor, but it was expensive and tended to be flung EVERYWHERE. Also, it either worked itself deep into carpets, or rolled on hard floors. As he got worse, I went with the “odor reducing,” highly scented Tidy Cat Multiple-Cat brand.

SQUICK ALERT – scroll fast if you do not want to know too much about Cats Who Pee A LOT

In fact, with Stuey I’d had to put the catbox in a big plastic washing machine tray – the kind designed to catch overflow from leaky appliances, and twice a day I had to pretty much mop it out and sanitize/deodorize it. So with low-maintenance cat Riley, I had been “coasting” a little too much – depending on the perfumed brand to mask the odor rather than to clean out the box as frequently as I should have.

It seems that Riley is one of those cats that prefers a clean and odorless place to potty, with nice smooth dustless litter, and if he didn’t find this need fulfilled by his box… he’d go find a place someplace else in the house. Yuck, yuck, yuck.

However since running across references to how to retrain a cat, I’ve changed litter brands, gotten into the habit of scooping more frequently,and bought a brand new box (let’s see – this must be about the 10th litterbox purchased since the day I brought Stuey home 2 decades ago).

And hey presto, it worked. Just about all the suggestions I ran across were right on the money.

I’d found a link to this Dr Elsey’s brand of cat litter, along with some reviews. This stuff WORKS. I used a bag of the “problem cat training litter” Cat Attract first, in a brand new “lift and sift” box. Turns out I could have saved money and just bought a plain old Rubbermaid sink tub, because Riley LOVED THIS STUFF, and it’s very hard clumping, with extremely low or no dust at all. It’s very dense, and kind of expensive. I’ve never even had to use the sifting feature.

I did an experiment, too. Riley is declawed (front paws) and it turns out that many vets believe that this procedure can actually lead to litterbox problems, because cats associate the pain felt when trying to scratch in the box with rough litter with the box itself. They’ll often “vote with their paws” and go someplace nice and soft… like your new couch or a pile of laundry.

So I completely switched out the old litterbox, washed it and deodorized it, and filled it with the old brand of litter (Tidy Cat Multi), which is highly scented. The new box with the Dr Elsey’s Cat Attract was in the hall bath, and the old box was in its usual place. After a few days of diligent scooping when I returned home from work, it was clear that Riley not only preferred the Cat Attract, he completely stopped visiting the old box entirely. After several days of not finding anything in the Tidy Cat-filled box, I removed it and moved the new box into the old area (still using the tray to keep the scattered stuff corralled).

Also, and I don’t know how significant this is, his behavior has been very consistent with this Dr Elsey stuff. All the “Number One” is always clumped in one spot at the front of the box, and all the “Number Two” nuggets are toward the back. Never noticed this before getting more consistent about scooping…

Now that Riley seems to be completely converted to using the new box exclusively, I bought a bag of the less expensive “Precious Cat” litter, which is less expensive, doesn’t contain the special “attractant” dried herbs, and comes in bigger bags. Just now I topped up the box with it, and he was in there IMMEDIATELY, making industrious CHUFF CHUFF CHUFF noises. He’s another satisfied customer, apparently!

Internet Declares Socks-Found-Safe Thanksgiving Day 2009

@Pennycat denies involvement in disappearance of Twitteratti @Sockington
Sockington is Missing (Update: FOUND) — HUZZAH SOCKS ARMY

UPDATE: SOCKS HAS BEEN FOUND. He was underneath a shelf in my office, wrapped in a curtain, completely spooked and terrified. For the first time in years, he spent hours completely silent, not even reacting to hands, flashlights and food being waved inches from where he was. We’ve got him resting in a bedroom and letting whatever freaked him out get out of his system.

As I posted on Jason’s blog post and Flickr page showing a very subdued Sockington, it’s a huge relief when a missing cat is found safe after all.

When we first got Riley, he hid behind the green couch the morning after we brought him home, and I was almost late for work as I looked for him all over the house. Finally, frantically, I called David to ask if he remembered leaving the garage door open for any length of time… but he’d seen Riley earlier (he leaves for work before I do). I had looked behind the couch at least twice, but the third time I noticed a suspicious bump in the dust ruffle at the back. When I lifted it up, there was Riley, bein’ all cute and sleepy, with a little “what??” meow and everything. The sense that I was about to drown in panic drained away like a wave off a steep beach, “whoosh-shush-shush.”

However, we’ve come home to find Riley’s collar pulled off, and it’s obvious he’d gotten it caught in something. We’ve been careful since then to always buy the “Safe Cat” breakaway collars, and we try to be careful about not letting the long cords for the Venetian blinds drag on the floor. Also, we had to take care of a little matter with the box spring, similar to that depicted on I Can Has Cheezburger? earlier:

funny pictures of cats with captions

Riley had exploited some holes in the bottom liner of the box spring (perhaps originally made by Stuey back in the day) and had become fond of climbing up in there in the early morning to bump around beneath us, rather in the manner of the annoying Ghost in Hamlet. As in “You hear this fellow in the cellarage?” Sometimes we felt him bumping the mattress as he moved around, which I think was part of his early morning “Feed meh!” strategery.

Our fix was to deconstruct the bed, remove the liner, and replace it with…. screening! Yes, we tucked all the raw cut metal edges under before staple-gunning… pretty sure of it… I hope. But Riley can’t get into the box spring anymore, so now he just gets up on the bed and walks on my head for a while.

He is now safely installed in his Upstairs Basket, which is lined with my old Blue Blannie. All is well.

CROCS Intervenshun – Thanks For Ur Halps LOLcatz!

I wonder what MrRileycat_Esq would do if I came home wearing CROCS? Would he react like this stalwart cat, saving his or her human from committing shoe crime?


Every now and then, I think about getting a pair of CROCS, because they’d make pretty practical gardening clogs and also for those times when we’re on vacation and need a comfortable slip-on sandal that won’t get ruined by salt water.

Fortunately, the good people at I Can Has Cheezburger were there to stop me from doing irreparable harm to my dignity and self-respect.

Sunday: Radio Daze

We returned home from Kona to Chicago yesterday, taking an overnight flight so that we arrived yesterday morning at about 530AM. The last time I took a red-eye, I went straight to bed and was wide awake all night, so David advised me to stay up all day and not even nap until 9PM.

Well, I made it to about noon, kept sliding sideways on the couch, and finally gave up and went upstairs. I did turn on the radio, though, thinking that I’d only “nap” for a couple of hours and “listen” to WBEZ’s Sunday programming.

Hah. Well, I was kind of in a pleasant daze all afternoon. I was definitely out like a light bulb from noon until about 2pm, when I heard the jazzy signature tune for “On the Media.” I pretty much listened with half an ear (and about a quarter of a brain” until David came upstairs with a little something to eat.


2:00pm On the Media
A probing look at media issues of the day.
3:00pm Speaking of Faith
A thoughtful exploration of religion and spirituality.
4:00pm All Things Considered
An afternoon newsmagazine featuring a mix of interviews, commentaries, reviews and offbeat features–from around the world, and in and around Chicago.
5:00pm Fresh Air
Interviews with fascinating people about contemporary arts and issues.
6:00pm Latino USA
News, public affairs and trends with a Latino perspective.
6:30pm BBC Science in Action
A weekly look at science stories in and behind the news from around the world.
7:00pm To the Best of Our Knowledge
An audio magazine of ideas and stories

The BBC Science show was particularly nice to “listen” to, as the announcer had a pleasant, soothing accent and I could kid myself that it was Science and therefore not Nap Background Noise. I have no idea what it was about, but it seemed interesting at the time.

The funny thing is, I remember hearing bits and pieces of all these programs, perhaps because the transitions brought me closer to full consciousness.

Yeah, right.

But I got a good night’s sleep (in spite of Riley’s insistent head-butting, as he was busy welcoming us home all night). He’s still rapturously affectionate this evening; I expect the real Cat Punishment happens tonight.

Lazy Saturday Snooze


UPDATE: GRRR! Uploading a photo direct from my iPhone via the WP plugin strips out some but not all angle brackets, breaking the img tags. Sending a photo to Flickr via email, which re-directs to the blog with pre-formatted div tags, also strips angle brackets. Thirdly, using a Firefox plugin called ScribeFire to blog from my desktop computer also strips angle brackets. Only posting from the HTML editor screen within the main WP installation results in SUCCEED. The other third-party applications for sending posts with photos results in various flavors of FAIL.

Mega Kitty Love Fest: Day 4

We returned from our vacation trip on Sunday and since then we’ve gotten back into the routine: eat, sleep, work, and pet the cat. Pet the cat. And pet the cat some more.

Rileycat is an affectionate cat on any given day, but after we return from an absence, he becomes a LOVEMONGER. He is like movable kitty velcro. He likes nothing better than to be incessantly juggled into a little ball and held and stroked and cooed over (various songs are required. Don’t make me sing them, they’re stupid and all have the word “babycat” in them).

He doesn’t quite slobber, but he gets a really stupid expression on his furry face that can best be described as “I love you Moooooooooom, I love you Iloveyouiloveyouiloveyou.”

Leaving for work in the mornings, he gets a bit jumpy. But he’s always waiting at the door when we arrive home, impatient to be petted, held, stroked, sung over, scritched, and so forth.


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Practicing Six Sigma CPM (Cat Poop Management)

I was checking out various cat litter systems when I ran across this gem in an old thread at Metafilter:

Best cat litter system | Ask Metafilter

One of the most important factors in cat poop management (cpm) is the type of food that you feed your cat. If you feed your cat dry food, the cat will have hard firm poop (hfp). If you feed your cat wet food, it is more likely to have messy squishy poop (msp). Msp smells a lot more than hfp, and it is much harder to scoop.If you want to practice six sigma cpm, then you should see if you can train your cat to eat dry food.

David remarked “Must have a background in QA…”


Riley is an extremely happy, lovey-dovey, and amusing little cat, but he occasionally advises us confidentially that he’d like a cleaner cat box. These confidential missives usually come in the form of an attractive nuisance, like an unwashed comforter, being left too long on the floor or on a couch. First, it’s a cuddleplace, and then… it gets anointed.

It may be that the catbox is a little too out of the way, as I never remember to scoop it and David does most of the “heavy lifting” in that arena. Perhaps a brand new Boodabox in the bathroom, with natural flushable litter, might be acceptable to his Grace, the Grey Feline Duke.