“Where are you?” I yell.
“In here,” my wife answers from the laundry room. Strenuous sounds of excavation issue from within, as if an especially large armadillo were at work.
Marsha is cleaning Furgus’s litter box, an SUV-sized container jamming the space between dryer and wall. As though digging post holes she labors with the scoop, prying loose mammoth clumps that would challenge a ‘dozer. Peering over her prayerful form, I purr, “A little tarnish on the Golden Boy?”
Truth be told, I did cat box duty for many years, during Marsha’s midlife princess phase. I also did the incontinence drill, and worse, during my mother’s dementia. The “worse” came when, after being raised in a domicile so scrupulously clean the air in it squeaked when you breathed, I discovered she’d been using waste baskets and potted plants as potties.
“So, Mom,” I remember saying, “I see we’ve run out of Peters Plant Food.” I eventually got a live-in companion for her, which, combined with Glade After The Rain air fresheners, improved both atmosphere and soil ph in her vicinity.
I wasn’t too thrilled, therefore, when our behemoth Maine Coon developed kidney problems, creating another Lake Erie every time he peed. We may eventually have to dam the laundry room to contain it, maybe with bags of litter and the pallets upon which we now purchase it.
Spending the equivalent of a variable annuity on litter every month is bad enough. Unfortunately, Furgus’s floods also leave me gagging in another respect. That much “making” requires frequent replenishment. And though Furgus’s bowl is bigger than a bathtub, he still sometimes runs dry. So he tries to slake his thirst at the kitchen tap, leaving disgusting bear paw-size wet-litter prints on floor and counter. Yuk.
It’s at these times that I go eyeball to eyeball with Marsha and suggest we either get peepee boy a cat-theter or emulate the Chinese and take him for a wok. Inevitably, I wind up blinking as she goes into her best swooning imitation of Pocahontas pleading for Captain John Smith’s life.
After all, Furgus is old.
Stemming from her worshipful relationship with her grandfather, who lived to be ninety-eight, my wife has this thing about elderly males, including cats. They can do no wrong. Despite his morally ambiguous knack for “fly” fishing, she still venerates Charles Kuralt nearly two decades after his passing. Where others see decrepitude--- liver spots, thinning hair, plagues from spoor--- Marsha finds only evidence of authenticity. Experience. This may bode well for me when I’m gap-toothed, mumbling, and wearing galoshes and Depends, but still.
But faster than you can say “toxoplasmosis,” Marsha found a solution to Furgus’s hygiene problem. As her brainstorms usually do, it involved a debit card and a zero bank balance.
Swheat Scoop, a wheat-based litter so expensive they throw in a combine harvester to sift it with, doesn’t track like clay litter and is more absorbent. I don’t advocate sprinkling it on your Cocoa Puffs first thing in the day, but it is a clean, dust-free product guaranteed to throw out your back like the regular stuff when lifted. And just in case some particles should still stick to Furgus’s paws---
Ta-da! Kitty Wipes. Wet Ones for felines. Alcohol-free, scent-free, and backed by the gold standard--- guaranteed to “wipe” out your life savings.
Anna had the last word on the subject: “Oh. My. God.”
This may be some sort of plot by Marsha to make an old man of me before my time.
Maybe I should just buy Furgus a pair of galoshes.