Difficult decisions come in all shapes and sizes. The one I’m looking at weighs about eight pounds and has soft yellow fur: our beloved “Lil Yella Cat.
Himself and I rescued her about thirteen years ago from the middle of a busy city street. She was a tiny bit of fluff, nearly dead when we found her. Vet visits, food, and a long trip to her new home with us ensued. Since then she has slept every night with me, on top of me, and she has called the shots around here. Himself rushes to top off food and water, then open doors (and re-open doors and re-re-open doors) at her very glance in his direction. I’ve learned to contort myself to make a comfortable place for her to sleep.
Flickie is not a “lap cat”. She has never played with toys or chased a laser dot across the floor. Her only sociable time, stretching the meaning of that phrase, is at bedtime when she will play hand tag with Himself, who bleeds freely. Then she waits impatiently for me to compose myself into a suitable cat-bed shape. She prefers to be outside except at night and adamantly refuses the convenience of a litter box. Therein lies the problem.
This past year she has aged. Though she is only middle-aged for a cat she no longer “walks on tiptoe”, her joints seem to pain her, she sleeps more and more. And she still adamantly refuses to use a litter box.
You see where this is going? She began with occasional puddles on the carpet. Our fault, we said. We should have let her out sooner. And we sponged, mopped, used various absorbing and deodorizing products, sprayed enzymes designed to neutralize odor, and hoped it was just that once. Then it happened again. And again. I stayed up later so she could be outside later where she chose to “take care of business”. Himself made sure a litter box was available and would wake as soon as I muttered “She’s down” to let him know she’d left her human bed and needed to go outside.
The puddles still happened, and despite our efforts the house began to have that eau-de-feline ambiance. Last night the problem escalated. Flickie came in after midnight and we went to bed. I woke when she rose to leave me around 4:30AM and realized I had been leaked upon. Unhappy would be putting it mildly.
What to do? Winter is approaching and Flick will not go out in the rain to pee. She will not use a litter box. Putting her outdoors is difficult even in summer since neighboring cats come by and beat her up. Maybe we could cage her, but she’d hate it, fight it, be confined away from us, be miserable.
The other choice I see is one I hate. Rock, meet Hard Place.