There is a longstanding battle between cats and dogs that the casual observer might not think about, that goes far beyond “cats rule and dogs drool” and even gets past the ol’ “dogs love cat food” deal. That’s right, I’m talking about the litter box.
Dogs love cat poop. It’s true. There’s no escaping it. We’ve tried everything under the sun to keep Scout from eating cat poop. Now, we joke about it when she comes inside from a bout of time in the back yard. “Oh, how’s the poop today? Fresh?” Disgusting, I know. But what else can we do?
There’s an added challenge inside the house: Zoey’s litter box. From day one of bringing Scout home we’ve denied her access to the litter box by keeping it in a separate room that Scout doesn’t have access to and blocking the doorway with a baby gate. It works great. Scout can’t get in, Zoey can come and go as she pleases, and no litter and feces can be eaten.
Except that we have to stare at a baby gate every day. And inevitably we stub our toes on it constantly. When you’re in another room and suddenly hear the other person cursing, there’s a good chance they just banged the beejesus out of their pinky toe. And whenever you have guests over you’ve got to temporarily relocate the litter box and cat food somewhere else and put the gate away so that you look like normal people and not people who live with a baby-gated guest room 24/7.
We’ve been scheming up ways to rectify this situation for a while now. Almost a year. Maybe longer. We’ve researched how to build your own cat condo, complete with an area to put food that the dog can’t reach.
We’ve researching buying something instead of building it ourselves.
And each time we came up with drawbacks. Mainly of the financial kind. For the first option, we thought it would be cheaper to retrofit something we found at a yard sale or the like. We’ve looked for months with no luck. And, we thought having Zoey’s food out in the open would drive Scout mad and turn her into a climbing monkey as she tried to reach the food bowl at the top. For the second option, B thought he could build them cheaper than the Etsy seller was asking, but just hasn’t had the time and we worried Scout would get her head stuck in the side trying to stretch herself through the hole to reach all the gloriously smelling poop inside.
So we eventually nixed those ideas and went back to the original one we had. A long time ago, I saw a photo in a magazine where they cut a little opening in a cabinet in their laundry room to allow their cat to step inside the cabinet and eat in peace/do her business. They could open the cabinet door to clean and refill food, but otherwise it could stay closed. Very similar to option number two above, but in a regular cabinet in a kitchen/laundry room scenario. Our laundry room is basically just a closet, so this wasn’t an option for us to fully replicate. So we made our own idea.
Two weekends ago, B purchased a cat door, the kind you’d attach to your garage or back door, and attached it to our bedroom closet door. B even got one that locks, so that if we need to put Zoey in the closet when workmen are over or something, we can keep her safely inside without worry of her escaping. At first I was really hesitant to cut a hole in our door, but then I thought, heck, closet doors aren’t that expensive. And we need a solution to this madness. So he installed the door and to be honest, I don’t even notice it most of the time. It’s well below eye level, so unless the door flaps as Zoey walks in and out, I forget it’s there.
The only problem is Zoey. Showing her how to use the door was our big concern, but turned out to be pretty easy. B sat inside the closet while I sat on the outside with some treats (Scout had to be crated. All the fun on the floor was too much for her). B encouraged Zoey to go through the door by holding it up and showing her my lovely self on the other side (we really should have reversed this scenario. B is Zoey’s undisguised favorite being in the house, besides herself of course). Eventually, we coaxed her through the door .Then we repeated as many times as she could stand before she was about to eat us alive, and we ended our kitty training session.
Throughout the weekend, we’d pop her over to the door and encourage her through, repeating it as often as we could. We continued this on Monday and Tuesday, etc. etc. etc. But we started to notice something. Though she was eating her food and would poke her head inside her litter box, she wasn’t going to the bathroom. This baffled us, but we figured she was protesting the fact that we didn’t get her permission to move her stuff from the other room, and that she had to go at some point. Right?
Right. Only she didn’t go in the litter box. She went to the bathroom on the floor in the guest room, right where her litter box used to sit.
The morning we discovered this she gave us a look that clearly said, “Bite me.”
Little does she know, we like walking around the house without tripping over baby gates. The battle will continue, Zoey. You’ve won Round One, but we’ll win the War. I’m just not sure how yet.
Update: Since writing this post, Zoey has finally started to use her litter box. Not a moment too soon!