I’m sorting through your suggestions about what to do with childproofing a house with cats, and here’s what I’ve got so far:
1. Buy a different type of non-toxic cat litter.
Likelihood that this will happen: Possible. It’s a lot more expensive than the stuff I use, and would require a trip to a whole other store, which is very tedious with a baby in tow. I’m putting it on the list of things I could do if I absolutely had to.
2. Switch them to twice-daily feedings and not leave cat food out any other time.
Likelihood: Probably not. A couple of our kitties are pretty food-aggressive, and I could see that turning into a source of unnecessary fighting.
3. Buy new baby gates with pet doors in them.
Likelihood: God, no. The gates we have were such a huge pain to install, the last thing I want to do is start over from scratch. And at least one of our cats (read: Beaumont) is not that bright, so I have a feeling that Cate would figure it out before he does.
4: Buy a house with a basement, so I can put the litter boxes down there.
Likelihood: Duly noted for next time, since we’re planning to move in 2008.
Since we have four cats, we have three litter boxes. Here’s how it breaks down:
* The first litter box is in the laundry room. I’m not worried about Cate getting into that one, since she’d have to crawl through Dave’s office in order to get there. And she isn’t allowed in Dave’s office unless she’s being closely supervised. There are too many computer cables and other potential sources of electric shock in there. If Dave or I aren’t with her, the door stays shut and she can’t go in.
* The second litter box is upstairs, in my office (technically an extra bedroom that’s been converted into an office). I don’t know why, but a long time ago, one of the cats decided to start peeing in there, and then the rest of the cats got a whiff of it and were like, “oh hey! Is this where we pee now? Whee!” That’s reason #1 on the list of why the carpet has to be replaced before we can sell this house, because man, you can NOT get rid of that smell completely. I finally gave in and decided that you know what? You guys want to pee here, then here’s a box. Go nuts. I put one of those room divider screens around it, so it’s sort of hidden, and I don’t really worry about Cate getting into it. I don’t leave her alone in my office (she likes to turn my pc on and off – fun buttons!), and even if I took my eyes off of her for a minute (because after all, that does happen), I don’t think she could crawl back there without bumping the screen and making me aware of where she was. So I’m not too worried about that one.
* The third and final litter box is in our bedroom. I realize that this is not ideal, but when I first moved in with Dave, Teenie hid in the master bedroom for weeks (months? I forget). So to prevent any little accidents brought on by her stubborn refusal to leave the room, we put a box in there for her. She still doesn’t go far – she might occasionally explore the rest of the upstairs, but she never comes downstairs. She and the other cats don’t get along, and since she’s 11 years old now, I think that’s just the way it’s going to be. I’ve lived with this cat long enough to know that if I move the litter box, she’ll just keep going in the spot on the carpet where she thinks the box should be, so there’s really no point in trying to wean her off of it and make her use the litter box in my office instead.
So that’s really the only litter box I worry about. It isn’t hidden at all, and I don’t know how I can put up a gate to keep Cate out of our bedroom, since she’s in there all the time. The box is in a far corner, and so far she hasn’t shown any interest in crawling in that direction. I’m just worried that she will as she gets older, and I don’t really know what to do about it.
Fortunately, she’s now old enough that she understands “no” and “uh-uh,” so hopefully if I see her heading toward a litter box, I can stop her before she gets there and reinforce that that’s one of those things we don’t touch, sort of like Daddy’s computers and the oven. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that that’ll be all it takes.