Tuesday, May 15, 2012

3 cheers for SSScat!

I may have mentioned that an issue we've had around here for the last year is that the baby of the family, Sienna, has been going to the bathroom on the carpet since Labor Day. She was about 4.5 months old when we got her last August. We had her for two weeks and everything was fine. Believe it or not, we only had 1 litter box with 3 kitties, which got scooped pretty much immediately after it was used.
 Then we went on vacation for 4 days and a friend of mine housesat for us. We walked into the house and found that Sienna had been urinating on the rug in the bathroom for what looked like several days. Gross. So so so gross. I cleaned the rug and she stopped peeing on it. But she started pooping right in front of the litter box, or next to it, every day after. We took her to a vet, got her tested. No issues. I gave her a second dose of dewormer just in case. I tried changing her to a kitten chow diet. I tried soft food. I tried a mix. I tried several different litters. I tried negative reinforcement. I tried positive reinforcement. We bought a second litter box. Then a third, then a fourth. I tried changing location. I tried floor mats. I tried different carpet cleaners. I tried closing her off for days at a time. I tried everything. She would stop for 4-5 days periodically. But it was inconsistent. I'd still been cycling through different ideas, because this is not just something you accept.
Jon and I were just thankful that she wasn't urinating on the floor. It was still gross and a major problem, but at least it wasn't seeping into the floors and making the place smell, and it wasn't staining anything. Then one night we had a stray kitten literally walk in our front door. I penned the kitten in the bathroom overnight and then took her to the human society the next morning.
Our problem went from bad to worse. Sienna started urinating in front of the litterboxes in addition to defecating there. I doused the bathroom in bleach products, every last nook and cranny. I washed or threw out the things the kitten slept in. It's been six weeks and no change. 
I finally found cat food that seems to be relieving some of her issues (there was a small amount of blood in her stool about 50% of the time). Kit and Kaboodle. It's cheaper, still by Purina, and it seems to be more filling because the cats are eating less of it. She started going to the bathroom in her litter box of her own accord. One success in my belt, I tried google again, despite the fact that it had been nothing but a disappointment thus far.
It was here that I found something called SSSCat. Kind of a dumb name, but a Godsend all the same. I read the reviews on amazon- 4-5 stars over hundreds of reviews. And thought I would give it a try. It arrived yesterday and is already having a major impact.
 Innotek SSSCAT Cat Training Aid 
It has a motion detector, which sends a loud SHHHH-ing sound as it sprays the offender with a harmless spray. The other three kitties, all innocent, got sprayed first. But our bad one has gotten sprayed twice and now avoids the area at all costs. It was so satisfying to hear it go off when I had my back turned, because that would have been another mess I'd have to clean up and another day of misery.
I deep-cleaned the carpets and have the doors shut/SSSCat standing guard until they dry. I may have to buy another can or two, because she has a few areas she frequents and so the problem is only about 30% fixed. I don't mind though because it's working, which makes this the best $23 I've ever spent.
And, Bonus: When I'm convinced she has stopped going to the bathroom on the carpet, I'm going to use it to stop the kitties from getting up on the dinner table/countertops (and in Sienna's case, frequently catching herself on fire), eating my indoor plants/herbs, and scratching the couch instead of the post. Yay! It feels so good to have finally found something that works. 

Friday, May 4, 2012

mini update

Brief update!

Another NYR goal achieved: keeping up with the house. Now I realize I still have another half a year to go and I haven't done a stellar job up until this point. But the idea behind this was that I wanted to get our home to a place where I liked it and then keep up with it (in general) from there.

The reason I'm marking this as a success is because I finally took the time to finish a couple of projects around here: unpacking the last few boxes, packing up anything I wasn't going to use in the next year (aka before we move), and finishing picture/shelving projects.

I finally mounted those shelves I bought from Ikea a year ago, and you know what, it looks awesome- aside from the bottom one being ever-so-slightly crooked as I was too impatient, and feeling too empowered, to wait for Jon's help. I'm even thinking of buying a couple more for the living room. I finished hanging up all the pictures I actually wanted to hang up. And I rearranged some furniture and hauled a whole lot of junk out of the girls' room. Sidenote, it may sound weird, but I'm so glad that Jon and I were not always able to give our daughters everything they wanted. It got us into a great habit of teaching them to appreciate and take care of what they have. No one could say they're spoiled. Now we're trying to teach them a little more about money and how to save/spend theirs. This is a connected thought; it came from reflecting on how I like clearing stuff out of their room rather than packing more into it. Anyway, I got rid of about 1/3 of their toys, including one of the two giant bins they had to store it all. In it's place I put a new storage unit (though we have it set up like a desk) from Ikea. I got the idea from a friend of mine who is a genius when it comes to decorating and kid stuff.

Now I'm just focusing on keeping up with day to day light cleaning, which is just in time for the weather change. Less projects = more time spent with my family out and about in the sunshine!


So a couple of weeks ago I checked Stephenie Meyer's website, which I used to do a LOT more frequently back when she actually used it, and though it had been longer than a year since she had posted the last time I'd checked, I was pleasantly surprised to see that she had started updating again! There were several lengthy posts complete with pictures and news on her projects. I got caught up and was excited to read that she was planning on spending some quality time writing. One of the projects that had kept her busy was producing a movie based on a book a friend of hers wrote. Evidently it became a best seller. So I decided to check it out.

Austenland: A Novel

If you like a love story that makes you chuckle now and again, you'll enjoy this. If you like Jane Austen's works and have daydreamed, particularly when watching one of the remakes, about living in the early 19th century, then you'll love this book. I've gotten period information before on what it was like to live during Austen's time, but they added some new information that you would need to know for day to day social interactions. Kinda cool- I love history lessons. Delving into some of the meat of the book, *spoiler alert* it was so refreshing to read about a character who was not sleeping around for once. She actually has a list of every "relationship" she's been in and from what I can tell, none of them mentioned sex, so the plot certainly didn't revolve around shallow, meaningless physical attraction, despite what you might think from the beginning of the story. I appreciated the narrator's and main character's disdain for infidelity and every attempt to be honest, despite the circumstances. I still read young adult, in addition to adult fiction, and it seriously was such a breath of fresh air to read about characters with substance for a change. What's sad to me is that I have a better chance of finding that in young adult these days than in adult literature.

I'm taking a women's literature class right now, so I know my professor and some of the other students would balk at the following, but part of me really prefers the way things were back then (1817). I know that unless you were a wealthy white male, your options were crazy-limited, your life could be pretty dull and/or hard, and respect was not wide-spread. I know that. Don't get me wrong, I love being able to wear jeans, or whatever I want really, and I appreciate the hardwork and sacrifices from women before me that allows me to make my own life decisions and gives me so much opportunity. But part of me wishes we could carry some of the modesty from 1817 to today, when divorce was to be avoided rather than encouraged, when sleeping around was scandalous rather than a hobby. Call me old fashioned, but for all the technology and advancement we have today, it seems that, at least in America, our lives are a lot more empty.

Anyway, while I wasn't blown away with the story, I really enjoyed it and everything it represented. This was book number 13 on my goal list of 25, so I'm just a little ahead of schedule. *happy* Since I have no other recommendations waiting for me, I'm taking a break from new material and starting up Harry Potter again. Hopefully in a month, I'll have more prospects!