Note: We are cat-sitting. Again. Read about our last experience here.
I descended the stairs of our plush-carpeted basement. At once, the odor hit me with all the weight and cruelty of a body slam delivered by an unshowered pro-wrestler.
It was the smell of a recently occupied litter box.
You know the smell, right? The acrid stench of peed and pooped-upon cat litter?
Oh, you don’t? How nice for you.
As I scooped the poop and clumped-up litter, I marveled at the volume of feces.
And hated the occasion that caused me to do so.
I cleaned the box, bagged the offending material, and ran up the stairs to dispose of it outside, cat on my heels. He’s a social guy, following every person around the house like a puppy.
He’s so cute. Little did I know that I would soon resent even the cuteness of this behavior.
Washing my hands, I noticed that there was a piece of dirt on the floor that wasn’t there before. I bent down to pick it up, thought twice about it, and grabbed a tissue.
It wasn’t dirt.
Aw, man, I thought, as I gave the cat the side-eye. Animals are SO GROSS, I screamed in my mind as I reached for the cleaning wipes. I wiped the spot off the floor, and the cat stood from his lounging area under the kitchen table, yawned, and walked off. As I watched him, something caught my attention.
It was the world’s largest dingleberry, hanging off the fur on the back of his legs. He left a little smeared footprint as he sauntered off self-importantly.
Panicking, I remembered how this cat had run all over the house just minutes before, on top of every piece of furniture and scrap of carpeting inside. I grabbed him, lifted his tail, placed another tissue on his back end, and ran up the stairs to the tub in the bathroom. Nononononononono NO. My voice escalated three octaves.
He looked at me plaintively. Please don’t do this, he pleaded with his eyes. I’m scared.
I turned on the water and firmly held his legs and tail in place as I ran the warm stream over his backside, grabbing the bar of bath soap that would be sacrificed in the ordeal. Ten minutes later the cat was clean but wet. I rubbed him down, wrapped him in a clean towel and shut him in the basement as I decided my plan of attack.
Every surface in the house was potentially besmirched with excrement, just waiting to sully an unsuspecting victim. I smelled that smell everywhere. I wondered if a black light would be effective to pinpoint the areas in most need of disinfecting, like on Dateline when they use one to smugly point out that even the elegant Ritz is spattered with bodily fluids.
Concluding that the entire house was polluted, I resigned myself to my task, amassed all the bleach-containing cleaning products we had, and grabbed the mop and rags for a day of deep cleaning. And as I crawled on my hands and knees with my nose to the thick carpeting in our basement and living room, searching for land mines, I took solace in knowing that tomorrow, with its promise of a sparkling house and a grooming appointment, would soon be here.
It is the start of a new era. This event is behind us. It will not happen again.