If I sue, will it be in litter-gation?

We own four cats, which exceeds the number of cats a normal person should have by approximately four. The number of cats you should have should not equal or surpass the number of children you have. If the total weight of your household garbage is 60 percent cat litter, you have too many cats, plus you are placing an inordinate strain on your local landfill.

It's Canadian Toaster Strudel! Contains apples and pommes.

It’s Canadian Toaster Strudel! Contains apples and pommes!

Who’d have thought, all those years ago, as we played in the sandbox, shoveling and sifting in search of rocks and busted Hot Wheels, that we were establishing a skill set for future litter-box emptying? Thank goodness for clumping cat litter. What a great modern invention that was, better than the Shake Weight and Toaster Strudel combined. You still have to sift and sift and sift, but each easily gathered lump of litter is a urine-soaked silver lining on an otherwise dark and stinky cloud.

Pet care scientists should have quit while they were ahead, though, because scented cat litter just makes a bad situation worse. The same goes for scented garbage bags – you’re not fooling anyone, you know!

I was thinking about science the other day while sifting through three – count ’em: three! – litter boxes, and I wondered to myself, “Forget asbestos, has anyone ever studied the health effects of breathing in litter dust?”

Back in ancient times (the eighties), if I had wanted an answer to that question, I would have had to go to the library, browse through periodical indexes in the basement in the hope that some magazine or newspaper had published a clarifying article on the dangers and/or foolhardiness of living with cats.

For freelance writers, ahhh!, those were the days. I remember them well. Back then, a writer could go to any editor and say, “I would like to do a story about X” and the editor would say, “We haven’t done a story about X, even though other magazines or newspapers probably have, but our readers have no means of accessing those publications, so go ahead and write about X.”

Let me put it this way: I once successfully pitched a story to The Montreal Gazette about ways to stay cool in the summer. My tips included, “Eat popsicles” and “Splash in public fountains.” I believe – no, I’m quite sure – there was zero research involved.

Now, though, anyone can find information on just about anything simply by searching the Internet, another miraculous invention whose merits surpass even those of clumping cat litter. For example, our refrigerator’s ice-maker (which we never use because it has no water hookup) started ticking last week. TIKKA-TIKKA-TIKKA-TIKKA… on and on, and no amount of whacking, poking or opening and closing the freezer would stop it.

Writing the brand of refrigerator and “ice maker ticking” into a search engine query would surely help me find a solution to my problem.

Probably. Instead, I just took a screwdriver and started removing parts until it stopped.

Hope it's not an especially important fridge part...

Hope it’s not an especially important fridge part… (And what soft hands I have!)

Because even though we can access a world of knowledge on the Internet doesn’t mean we do. Who has time for research? I mean, honestly, if we had known Googling would become such a chore… and a verb…

So instead of actually researching the health risks of breathing in cat litter dust – I mean, I was curious, but not that curious – I did the next best thing: I posted the question on Facebook, the home of truth, integrity and a truly astounding number of pet lovers.

I learned from one friend that “cat litter dust is rich in diatomaceous earth, which is commonly used as a natural insecticide and fed to livestock to cure them of intestinal parasites.” It was unclear to me, however, whether this information was meant to make me feel better or worse.

I learned from another friend that cat litter dust can harm a male cat’s boy parts, resulting in FUS. “FUS?” I wrote back. “What’s all the FUS about?” (Because puns are the other reason the Internet was invented.)

“Feline Urinary Syndrome,” she wrote back, going on to offer preventive tips like “purchase low-dust litter” and “don’t leave food out.” Sadly, her preventive tips did not include the advice, “Don’t own cats.”

A third friend wrote that some litters contain quartz silica, which can cause respiratory problems in cats.

At this point, I was shocked. I was shocked that my Facebook friends had lost sight of the fact that I was concerned about my health, not my cats’.

That’s the problem with Facebook and the Internet: no focus! Thank heavens that never happens in a blog…

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About rossmurray1

I'm Canadian so I pronounce it "Aboot." No, I don't! I don't know any Canadian who says "aboot." Damnable lies! But I do know this Canadian is all about humour (with a U) and satire. Come by. I don't bite, or as we Canadians say, "beet."
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168 Responses to If I sue, will it be in litter-gation?

  1. Katie says:

    This is timely, because I just inhaled a plume of cat litter dust yesterday…

  2. pinklightsabre says:

    Cats suck. I had four growing up, then two after I moved out, then when they died I took a break, but got two more as a ploy to put off getting a dog, but got a dog after we got bored with the cats. They want out and they can get eaten where we live. They paw at the window and cry constantly, so they can kill shrews. And then we get left with the dust and the crap and the clumps: mine won’t even fucking go outside, they’re such suburbans they need to use the box I maintain.

  3. Karen says:

    This is your third post on cats. I think you’ve crossed the threshold into Crazy Cat Blogger territory.

    I think I would have just turned the television louder to fix that refrigerator ticking problem . . .

  4. I hate the litter box! That’s why we don’t have cats. Well, that, and we don’t like cats. Dogs rule! Cats drool!

  5. We have three cats and I would LOVE a 4th but I’m pretty sure Mr. Weebles would have me committed if I did that. Clumping cat litter is the best invention since the wheel, though. But I agree that the scented litter and scented bags are missing the mark, big time. I feel like calling the people who make them and saying, “Dude. You’re not making this any easier for us.”

    And seriously, remember those days when all we had was the library?? I’m almost in awe of younger me for going to the library and doing actual research all the time. It seems so…medieval.

  6. Letizia says:

    Apples AND pommes – HA! 🙂

  7. El Guapo says:

    On the other hand, think of how much less smelly the local landfill is thanks to all the litter you’ve added…

  8. See, all that cat litter dust seems so unhygienic to me. That’s why I let the cats just pee and poop and vomit throughout the house, and then I move ever couple years. Saves time, too!

    Also, I had a friend who sold an article to a magazine recently on “ten parks to visit before you die” and just looked at her, incredulous: “You just did a Google search and wrote up what you found, didn’t you?” “Well… yes.”

  9. Snoring Dog Studio says:

    “Clumping cat litter.” That’s an unholy, unsavory triad. Though, I have to admit, sheepishly, that carrying around bags of poo while I’m out walking my dogs is not the most pleasant of occasions.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Tell me if this is a local phenomenon? I’ll be walking along, say, a trail. I’ll look to the side and discover that someone has gone to the trouble of bagging their dog’s poop AND THEN throwing the bag into the woods or nearby stream. I see it all the time!

      • Snoring Dog Studio says:

        Sadly, these people represent a moronic fringe of the hiking, dog owner group. The rest of us have to endure the dirty looks from non dog owners. Think about the alien visitors to our planet, gazing upon these bags of poop in the forest. They’ll go back home and tell everyone about these stinky creatures that populate our planet.

    • Karen says:

      ok, I have one more comment to make on this post, and then I’ll shut up. I was out running the other day and waved at a neighbor who was walking her dog with a leash in one hand and a bag of poop in the other. To return my greeting (I think), she waved the bag of poop at me.

  10. I knew you’d mock me – but let me tell you this, ROSEMARY – I was concerned about you…because we had to take our cat, Festering Wounds, to the EMERGENCY Vet clinic on Christmas EVE at 1AM… Do you know how much money after midnight ON A BLOODY HOLIDAY costs? And the vet misdiagnosed the cat and we had to RETURN on NEW YEAR’S EVE after midnight. It cost us $2000 – this does not include various after care visits and my regular vet stunned at the gross incompetence my poor cat suffered at the hands of an emergency vet. So – to make you feel better, I care for you and your wallet. Don’t let your cats pee blood after midnight on any kind of bank or otherwise sanctioned holiday – it only leads to FUS – Fucked Up Shit.

  11. I refuse to own a dog b/c I don’t want to follow it around picking up fecal matter with a glove and plastic bag. That bodes ill.

  12. Bonus points for getting your possessive plural correct, Rosemary.

  13. peachyteachy says:

    It’s bad when a good spell with the cat means she is using the litterbox for both #1 and #2! Victory! Except that I am, apparently, the only person in the fam who is capable of mastering sifting skilz. With this kitty cat stuff, it would appear that you have entered the universal realm. EVERYBODY can relate to litter boxes! Imagine the floodgates that will open when you tag it “cat poop.”

  14. rossmurray1 says:

    Seems so badass when you spell it with a Z! As for the enticing tag words, I’m still reeling over my “big jar of pee” post on Drinking Tips for Teens. Ick. Ick. Ick, you people!

  15. Apparently, litter boxes can harbors infected urine/feces (of the cat nature) to increase risks of birth defects. You aren’t pregnant, are you? And if you are, you should really call a news agency or something ’cause that is nearly good enough for something Canadian to even reach the US news!

    I read something on the internet about the infection thingy, but I can’t quote it verbatim because that would involve Googling feces/urine/cat/disease at work and work is time to read blogs, not to Google about cat poo.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      I like you. I like the way you think. You’ve got moxie, kid. You’re going places,see? Not in your current line of work, mind you, what with all the covert blogging and all, but in life, LIFE.

      Also, there is no life growing in me. I have the pee stick to prove it.

  16. I used to buy something called “World’s Best Cat Litter!” (sic). It never crossed my mind to ask whether it was, in fact, the best cat litter in the entire freakin’ world, because I figured they wouldn’t call it that unless it was, right? Besides which, it was hellish expensive and sold only in the kind of pet supply store that stocks All Natural 100% Venison Cat Fud, and that must mean it truly was the world’s best.
    When I regained consciousness…I discovered that Arm & Hammer makes a perfectly serviceable (and not as hellishly expensive) cat litter out of corn husks. Yes, it does make our house smell a little barn-like when it gets soggy, but what the hey. I was raised on or near a farm. I like farms. I can handle this. Plus, I’m less likely to get asbestos lung from corn husks. Or so I tell myself.

    Note to self: Cat litter should not be this much of a topic of conversation. Find new things to talk about.
    Karen

  17. YAY! THIS WAS FRESHLY PRESSED!!! WHOO HOOO!!!!!!! I kind of feel like I’m part of that party… it was my cat that was Fucked Up Shit…

  18. I’ve always been a firm believer that the maximum number of cats in a home is 3. So, you’re only 1 cat over the ever-so-thin “looks a LITTTTTLE white trash” line. Thanks for the laugh!

  19. awax1217 says:

    My wife and I loved this post. Especially the puns. We have had fifteen cats thou not at the same time. The most ten. We have a basement (in Florida?) and most of them lived down there. My wife is a sucker as far as cats are concerned. She loves the fur balls and feels that even though shelters say they are no kill, she does not believe them. We are now housing four. All of them collected by finding them near dumpsters or on the streets. My hope is St. Peter is a cat lover and therefore heaven will be a shoe in. If you get chance please go to my blog and read the Kitty of New York story. I think you might like it. It is short and meant to be funny.

  20. Writer/ Editor: Carrie B says:

    I guess you don’t need another person telling you how much I enjoyed reading this…but I did. I can certainly relate, only my lucky husband has not only inherited four (recently five) cats, but somehow he ended up on litter duty, too. You have already been told a lot of what sprung to mind (previous vet nurse) but I can’t emphasize enough how much you should NOT use clumping cat litter. Very bad for kitties/you/your home, etc. Better just to scoop the poop-nuggets that occur with any litter. If your cats happen to be the very small percent of cats who will tolerate either cedar pellets or newspaper pellets for litter you will be very happy. Most of them don’t-they don’t like the feeling on their paws. The cedar ones are awesome because they actually smell quite pleasant and turn into some strange wood-grain grit when pissed upon.
    Either way, enjoy the arthritic back and burned sinuses! I sent this to my husband and he will feel a lot less alone tonight!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Oh man, no clumping litter? What if I just empty the litter really, really often? And thanks for dropping by.

      • Writer/ Editor: Carrie B says:

        You’re welcome! And seriously, unless you want staggering vet bills and a kitty with a wounded urethra, stay away. The emptying really often is good, I would just do that with reg. litter. Sorry about the bad news…

        • franhunne4u says:

          sorry, for getting serious here – but my clumping cat litter has done no harm to my now 8 year old TomCat – who was even neutered rather early in life, not good for the urinary tract as well – still no problems there.
          And only one cat I know whose owners used clump litter had bladder problems.

          Unless I see scientific proof I will go on using clump litter!

          • rossmurray1 says:

            Proof… proof… Now, if only there were a place a person might research such a topic. I know: Pinterest!

            I’ll leave you two to hash this out.

          • Writer/ Editor: Carrie B says:

            You go right ahead. It’s like Russian Roulette-you may never get shot, but there is a strong chance. That kind of thinking results in all kinds of abuse to animals, so risking a the least, a painful, swollen bladder but more commonly 24 hours to save him, IV fluids, painful catheters and a humongous vet bill isn’t enough for you to chance litter-march on!

            If you haven’t seen scientific proof, you clearly haven’t looked.

            • Writer/ Editor: Carrie B says:

              Hideous spelling mistakes: Shoud be *If the vet bill…*change litter. Everything I am saying is based on a career and intense training as a veterinary nurse. Most of the literature proves this, but due to clients not always knowing what kind of litter they used, it is hard to get numbers. Probably one of the other most important factors is access to fresh water, clean litter and quality food that is designed to avoid this common emergency. Would you change your toilet paper if you found out it is likely to block up your junk?

            • franhunne4u says:

              Is it really too much to ask to give me some links??
              Instead of posting a link you come here, are just short of accusing me of cat abuse and negligence. Oh my, not adding to your credibility.
              My answer to your accusation is:
              https://ebusiness.avma.org/ebusiness50/files/productdownloads/FelineLUTD-En.pdf
              There is NOT A WORD of clumping cat litter being the cause! NOT A SINGLE Word. Who is it from, the industry of clumping cat litter? No, Darling dear – it is from: *tada!*
              The American Veterinary Medical Association
              Your turn.

              • Writer/ Editor: Carrie B says:

                I simply said that your reasoning was the same as that which leads to cat abuse. Glad you found a link that eases your mind. I am comfortable with learning what I have not only from school but also through YEARS OF EXPERIENCE!!

                Most things that happen in Vet clinics are not adequately represented in the literature. The bottom line is if you care about your pet’s health, why not make one of the easiest choices to avoid such a serious condition. Obviously you are more connected to your current litter choice than your cat. I am telling you, honestly what the common denominator was when we treated hundreds of cases in-clinic and in shelters.

                But you have eased your mind by remaining on more convenient litter, hoping for the best so we have nothing to discuss.

                Loving the CAPS lol.

  21. ianprichard says:

    Down here in this fabled American land (think Brothers Grimm rather than Aesop), we have a “reality” show called Moonshiners. Its protagonists are illegal distillers in West Virginia and western Virginia and other idyllic places like that. One of these guys is a guy named Tickle. He does not abide by the advice given in Scarface by Frank Lopez, and often gets high on what I can only assume is his own supply. Once, when so intoxicated that he had trouble pronouncing “about” at all, let alone with the correct regional accent, they asked him whether he was a cat or a dog person. After hemming and hawing (and listing 7 degrees to the left), he answered, “I tellya this. If you got cats, you got a box a’sh*it in yer house. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want no box a’sh*t in my house.” I thought this was a fairly cogent argument against cats, especially considering the source, and redoubled my commitment to never owning such defilers of the domestic sphere.

    That was ten months ago, probably. I got engaged in March, and now own two kittens and two incredibly-quickly-filling litter boxes.

    Thanks for an awesome post. Tons of fun.

    • rossmurray1 says:

      What you got there, son, is a big ol’ box of marriage. Then again, I wouldn’t go too far in letting reality TV set the signposts in your road of life. Good luck to you and glad you liked the post.

  22. Congrats on the Freshly Pressed nod, good sir. I also have too many cats and a non connected ice maker. Oh, and Google.

  23. Reblogged this on The Mercenary Researcher and commented:
    Come read the funny Ross Murray (aka Rosemary) ~ He’s been FP’d…lucky bastard.

  24. Dave says:

    We have 2 great cats! Yes, you did mention 4 so, I can see where you might have twice the litter-a-see than I do or, perhaps you have twice the illiteracy that I maintain.

  25. denmother says:

    I stopped reading where you said you have four cats. Unfortunately, I’ll never know how this relates to Toaster Strudels

  26. Elyse says:

    When I first moved away from home at 19, I got a cat. My friend Lisa (a dog person like me) informed me that I could save TONS of money on kitty litter All I had to do was stick the dirty stuff on a cookie sheet, place said cookie sheet with said kitty litter into the oven at 350 degrees (yum, just like a pie!) and the kitty litter was really easy to sift efficiently.

    I never ate t Lisa’s house again. AND, I used my oven for more conventional baking.

    The pot was hysterical (especially since I work in litigation) and the comments were just as funny. Hope that doesn’t hurt your feelings, Ross

  27. rarasaur says:

    Congrats on being FP’d, Ross! I won’t look at toaster strudel without thinking of you, and litter, ever again. 🙂

  28. Cat litter is the bane of my life too! I don’t think I should have it at all because my cats go outside, but because we can’t have a cat flap, we have to have litter! But the cats go outside, come in to use the cat litter and then go back outside again – no! I hate breathing in the dust too, and hold my breath when I’m emptying it or topping it back up, but it still ends up in the back of my throat!

  29. The Rider says:

    I love this of FP- to discover blogs like yours! I enjoyed and laughed a lot, thanks for that!

  30. OMG Thanks for the good Sunday morning giggle! I have dogs, which most of the time, poop outside. I’ve even taught one to take care of that kind of stuff WAY in the back, but the other prefers 6″ off the patio. .. Ah dogs.
    I do enjoy cats tho, they taste like chicken.
    Jk!
    Congrats on being pressed!

  31. lalarukh1 says:

    wow it was a lovely read ! 🙂 Love xx

  32. Sir, your fingers are abnormally long.

  33. Pingback: Obligatory post-FP post, plus contest results | Drinking Tips for Teens

  34. cerrosolo says:

    1- Zack Galifianakis: The other day I Googled, ‘How many Mexicans live in North Korea?’ Google didn’t know.”
    2- Our friends, who own terrible and poopy cats, swear by this thing, which is the kitty death star:
    http://www.amazon.com/Litter-Robot-Automatic-Self-Cleaning-Beige/dp/B000LJDLKG/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top

  35. I have always wondered this same question about the cat litter. Unfortunately, I inherited a kitten when my grandfather passed away, and I was new to the cat thing (I only ever had dogs and birds previously which are MUCH different to take care of).

    The worst is scooping out the litter as you inhale a very large plume of litter smoke. It almost makes me feel as though I’m trapped in the Sahara with no water. Then, to top it off, scooping out the litter into the scented bags that my lovely boy (err… man?) buys, I just can’t imagine that’s very healthy. I don’t care about the cat’s health, he’ll be using the litter the rest of his life. I’m concerned with mine!

    We actually recently purchased an automated litter box, so I no longer have to deal with the suffocating choke of dust that would happen every day. I now pick up a little plastic box and toss it in the trash, and really only smell the litter when changing the liners.

    With four cats (I can’t believe it!) I’m shocked you haven’t got these already!

    • rossmurray1 says:

      Yes, but now don’t you feel conflicted to be living in a world that has automated litter boxes? You see? You can’t win!
      Thanks for the comment and the follow. See you around!

  36. breezyk says:

    Congrats on being freshly pressed!! And also- thank you so much for the book! Can’t wait to read it and review it on the camel life.. But be warned, intellectual dachshund shows no mercy 🙂

  37. After returning home from vacation to a cat who has become litterbox-averse, I was delighted to see that one of my favorite bloggers had been Freshly Pressed. Congrats! I have just the prize for you…I wonder how much postage I’ll need for 12 lbs of cat and a soggy cardboard box.

  38. audwolf says:

    You are hysterical

  39. Loca Gringa says:

    From one canuck to another,,, love your post, think I’m gonna have to stalk/follow you a bit 🙂
    (pst… toilet train them eh!)

  40. Pingback: Q&A: How to make cat litter box not smell? |PetsandCares.com

  41. Kylie says:

    Don’t. Own. Cats.

  42. Nic says:

    How did I miss this FP moment of perfection?! I was wondering why everyone was talking about the effects of the dust on cat health and not yours… glad you addressed that at the end! I mean, WTF? Also – that whole “having to go to the library to find shit out” thing sounds MISERABLE! I can’t believe that was once a “thing.”

  43. My mom isn’t the biggest fan of cats but she also not very good at saying no. Their is currently have six cats in the house hold, two that I brought when I moved back home! the only thing that keeps her sane it that they are mostly outside cats. I can’t stand any cat litter that creates a lot of dust the smell gets stuck in my nose for days!

  44. Love this post. Have an idea about the ticking in your refrigerator. Same thing happened to me with a new fridge. Icemaker also not connected. Mine has a wire “handle” on the icemaker. In the up position icemaker is off. In down position makes ice, except when not connected it ticks while trying to make ice. Flip wire handle up and ticking stopped. Drove me crazy until I figured this out. Look forward to more “cats” info.

  45. Pingback: Tons Of New Pet Coupons Went Live!

  46. Sarah says:

    Yeah it’s humorous how problems such as this one start looking unbelievably unimportant when compared to the world events. The next phase of the cold war, the actual authentic war that erupts, Russia-China gas deal axis… Yet here we’re with your social-media dilemmas, – will we see the planet has transformed? I’m not indicating what you write about is inconsequential, I’m stating a certain amount of detachment is balanced. Thanks, Sarah @ http://phyto-renew350e.com/

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