Friday, April 25, 2008

Scoop the Poop Week - Cats

Not only do I have a dog that I clean up after, I have a cat as well. I've always had cats in my life. I adore their independent nature and regality. When a cat comes to spend time with you, you know it's because he wants to. There's only one thing I don't like about the cats who have deigned to share their lives with me, and that's the litter box. As easy as scooping can be, the "mining" duty runs low on my list of daily tasks. One time I got rather busy and let the scooping go for a few days. My cat sent me a gentle reminder by walking into the family room, looking me in the eye, and pooping on the floor. Problem solved, at least as far as he was concerned.

I did have a number of times I was freed from cat pan duty. Not because I didn't live with a cat, but because I was pregnant. Cats can be carriers of Toxoplasmosis. They contract the microscopic parasite by eating infected animals. Humans catch the disease by coming in contact with the cat's infected feces. Toxoplasmosis can be contracted in other ways—eating undercooked food, gardening without gloves where infected animals have died or defecated, playing in sandboxes that have been used as litterboxes—so a good rule of thumb is to scrub, scrub, scrub those hands. Toxoplasmosis does not generally transfer from human to human, except in cases of pregnancy. A pregnant woman who becomes infected runs a risk of passing the disease to her unborn child – hence the warning for pregnant women to avoid litter boxes.

Of course, becoming pregnant is no reason to get rid of your cat. All you need to do is mitigate the risk. Letting your cat use the great outdoors is the wrong answer. Not only will you be increasing the cat's risk of coming in contact with infected animals, you will also be increasing the risk to you, your family and neighbors by encouraging your cat to relieve itself somewhere in the yard. The best advice is to have someone else clean the cat box for you. A number of the dog waste disposal services you find in the yellow pages will be happy to take on your cat waste as well (for a fee). You could also try one of those automated box cleaners, or you could just glove up and use plenty of hot water and detergent.

There is another option. Suggest to your cat that he/she might use the bathroom, like everybody else in the house. Supposedly it isn't that hard to train them to do.

And if you'd like to reward your feline and make him feel like a "Big Cat," (or clue your guests in on which bathroom they may or may not want to use) try sporting one of our Jungle Store toilet seats. ;)

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