Kittens are Kittening

Watch! As they battle each other, and the DREADED HAND OF JUDGMENT:

In other news, I changed the kitty litter to another brand, and they started pooping and peeing outside of the box. Changed it back, Thing One used the litter box within ten seconds of me laying down the litter. I’m not training them, they are training me.

How is your Sunday?

52 thoughts on “Kittens are Kittening

  1. Our cats (18, 12, and 3 yo) don’t really seem to mind which litter I use. Mostly it comes down to the human preference for “is it cheap?” and “does it mask the odors?” In the interest of cost, I recently tried the cheapest litter I could find at Petsmart. I wasn’t impressed with the clumping ability or the odor masking, so I’m going back to the grocery store generic brand I used before that.

  2. from experience, I’ve decided there’s less angst if I proceed by adding a second different litter box — then waiting ’til it’s been accepted — before removing the first one

  3. P.S., one thought on seeing the video — I’ve trained people _not_ to do the hand-battle thing when I can, because I’ve known several cats who were brought up wrestling with people’s hands.

    They continued to do that into adulthood. Claws, teeth, were becoming dangerous.
    It wasn’t good. Hard to un-train that hand-wrestling thing once it’s well established.

    I know you’re not going that way. Just an aside for people who think it looks like big fun.

    Another aside — has anyone tallied up cats in science fiction? I know of a few favorite writers who have written knowledgeably about cats, starting from Heinlein’s _Door_Into_Summer_ .

    I don’t know why they haven’t taken one onto the ISS yet. Ya know that Cats in Space videos would provide enough public support to fund NASA forever. The Vomit Comet cats videos just prove they need a little time to adjust and don’t get it on those flights.

  4. This appears to have been taken in an occupied bed, with someone’s feet under the blanket. Toe assault in progress, two feet no waiting!

  5. I find hand-wrestling kittens entirely acceptable as long as one stops instantly at the first sign of claws or overuse of teeth. Walk away. Do that, and fun stops. I’ve raised many remarkably gentle cats this way. Also, it respects *their* boundaries.

  6. Popular wisdom has it that cats react badly to changes in their litter. Your story is another datapoint in favor of the wisdom [sic] of crowds.

    As Hank notes, licensing fees from space station cats would probably fund NASA to Mars. We have L’il Bub, Grumpy Cat, et al., and could now add Barfy Cat as another internet meme.

  7. Turd surfing! Ha! I always thought of it as turd mining.
    What I ended up doing was taking one of the many empty litter buckets and drilling a bunch of holes in the bottom. I put that in another empty litter bucket. Dump the litter pan into this and sift. Clumps stay in the top bucket with the holes in it and the litter ends up in the other bucket. Dump gently, you don’t want the clumps to break up.
    The holes were about 3/8″ as I recall. Maybe 1/2″ I also left one corner of the sifting bucket without holes. About a 3″ or 4″ triangle. That gives you the corner to dump from and less loose litter leaking out when you dump the clumps. The main problem now is the dust. This method gets more dust airborne than the hand scoop sifting method.
    I often wonder if this idea would be a good product. Thoughts?

  8. What Lym says. Most of my cats have learned soft paws. No I am not crazy cat guy with dozens. It is from a life time of one or two at a time.

  9. Sunday is much improved by Scalzi-kittens! The Thing-lets are adorable.

    Re: soft paws … with most of our cats over the years, I was able to teach soft paws with no trouble. But our current 22lb Ox-In-A-Cat-Suit, who is a complete love (albeit dumb as a bag of wet hair) in every other way, just doesn’t get it. We adopted him as a 3 month old stray, and he was good about it then, but from about the time he was a year old, he’s used teeth and claws. Never hard enough to do harm — doesn’t break the skin — he’s just … grabby.

    He means no harm … he’s a lumbering mass of goofiness, looking for love! But I can’t seem to train him out of the teeth and claws.

  10. Re litter: you might have better luck if you transition slowly – mix a little of the new litter in, then the next day a bit more, and so on, until it’s all the new kind.

    At least, I think that’s what we did for our cats when we switched from the pet store brand litter to the supermarket generic. It’s been years, though. I know that’s how you change catfoods.

    They are adorable Things, and thank you for sharing the cute with your readers.

  11. That video made me laugh. Too cute.

    I’m at work this Sunday. Started at 0630, in fact. Gotta love IT(NOT). What is cool is I finished a build for my gaming rig yesterday. Its name is ‘Orc.’ It is liquid cooled(Kraken X61) with 32Gb RAM, 500Gb m.2 ssd and GTX 980 Ti gpu. If that’s not nerdy enough I don’t know what it. But it is a BEAST. Mraow. Hmm, call it ‘Orkz Kitteh’?

  12. There is no cat litter acceptable to my 10+ year old Tonkinese — only a bath towel. I have tried them all. Since her turds are like rabbit pellets – and since SHE doesn’t run up $70,000 in kitchen renovations, credit cards, and 2nd mortgages (and then split) – I have learned to live with it. You can pick up the turds with a pair of tongs and then wash the towel.

  13. Ah, I see that the Thinglets are doing their bit to rid the Scalzi household of the much dreaded bed-mice – good girls! You just never know when those bed-mice are going to pop up, and having well-trained and attentive kittens around to keep them in line is crucial.

    Re: kitty litter brands, one of our cats doesn’t care what it is, and also doesn’t care if we go more than a few hours without scooping, while the other is a picky, stubborn pain in the tochus who will ONLY function in one type of litter and who insists on it being scooped immediately after being used. If you find something they like and will function with, you’re ahead of the game; it took us multiple tries with multiple brands and varieties to find the stuff our little prima-donna will use, and the cleanups during the research process were not at all enjoyable.

    As to how my Sunday is going, well, it’s productive. Today is sunny and around 60 degrees outside, most unusual for mid-November here, so I took advantage of the opportunity to put up some outdoor holiday decorations. Next weekend is predicted to be in the 30s with “mixed precipitation” (my least-favorite type of weather), so this is likely to be my only chance to get it done without freezing my rear off. We won’t actually turn any of the lights on until Thanksgiving, but at least this year we’ll actually have some outdoor lights, unlike the past few years.

  14. Cred: Married to someone in the vet industry, have 4 cats, and endless resources of industry professionals with 3-10 cats at a time to call on.

    So, 2 things: cats hate change and getting urine on their feet. A good litter is Feline Pine, which is used in a 2-part sifting tray. It’s pellets of pine sawdust compressed. When the cats pee, the wet pellets break into dust and sift down to the bottom tray by the “covering” action of the cats. All that’s left in the top is poop and dry pellets. You can scoop the poop if you want, but the cats will keep using the litter until there is only enough pellets to cover the poops. Then you can compost the everything in a Green Cone, wash out the trays with a hose sprayer, and start again. 4 cups of litter per tray set, one tray set per cat (they’ll self segregate if you give them the opportunity), and the maintenance is weekly. Also, there is no urine/feces smell, assuming your cats are getting an appropriate diet. It just smells kinda piney, which most people are fine with.

    You can change the type of litter by offering a tray of the new next to the old. They will try the new litter, and gradually get used to it, so that you can transition completely. We’ve used this method to transition all of our rescues from clay litters to the Feline Pine, and so does the hospital. The pine contains natural antibiotics that help keep them from getting toenail-cuticle infections. Clay litters actually contribute to foot problems, because the particles are “sticky”, and end up gooping up their paws and claws. The hospital sees “muddy paw” fungal problems only with clay litters.

    Grain litters are slightly better than clay, but contain toxins harmful to other pets and people.

    /$.02 and good luck with your kitties!

  15. Thanks for fun kitties video. They look like they are having fun. Our last cats were very picky about litter. They would simply refuse to go for days if we switched litters. And not eat if we changed food. Very good at training their slaves… Umm owners

    I’m hoping when we get “new to us cats” to get them to use something like the Feline Pine as I’m allergic to the clay dust.

  16. The kittens are kittening? Well, at least they’re not kipling–that would be real embarrassing for you…

  17. Jack Lint: you are drawing all the right connections. As I pointed out, Zeus is channeling the Master and now you have revealed that Scalzi is Manos. But who is Torgo: Will Wheaton perhaps?

  18. Since you asked John pretty rough My Mom died on Friday after a long illness and the memorial service was today and I was almost late because I was sick. Other than that not too bad. I have two former kittens myself.

  19. Cats in Space? — I am sure they would adapt. They’d probably need a sedative to get through liftoff, but once in space, I think they’d find a way. Could be wacky fun watching them swim or in “perpetual falling cat” mode to go through zero g. And practically speaking, humans will absolutely want to take cats and dogs (and other pets plus livestock) out into space with them and onto colonies. So we might as well see how they adapt. Surely it would provide clues to how humans adapt too. Aw who am I kidding? I just wanna see cats in space. :D

    Thing 1 and Thing 2 are awesome as always. (My two cats have not been looking at the videos, though.)

    Do I even need to suggest mixing the disliked litter in with the liked litter? The Scalzi Unit must’ve thought of that right away.

  20. It’s Monday here.

    I spent my day off working on my 8 year old daughter’s cubbie house (tree fort to those in the northwestern hemisphere). I’m almost finished the retractable ladder that she wanted to “keep [her] safe from zombies.” Not sure where she got that from but I approve. Ms. Fishy wouldn’t let me install a moat or even mount a single trebuchet on the house we built….

    I also took her to her first cricket training session. The kid *thinks* she’s Canadian because she was born there. But other than a fondness for maple syrup you’d never know she wasn’t a true blue, dinkie-die Aussie.

    So, a pretty good day all in all, if a little cultureshocky. Thanks for asking.

  21. Thank you so much for the cat pics and videos, John. They’re much appreciated, since the news has gone through irony and black comedy to some deeply depressing place on the far side, and things aren’t all that uplifting on the personal front either.

    I’m looking forward to finding out what Athena names them!

  22. Seems to me we tried the Feline Pine and it didn’t work out, though that was a long time ago when we only had three or six cats instead of twelve. We use two litter brands in our house: World’s Best (multicat, unscented) and Dr. Elsey’s Cat Attract. One of our cats has higher litterbox standards than the rest seem to and definitely prefers the Dr. Elsey’s, and will go just outside the box if the box is too dirty or too depleted. Another of ours adores the Dr. Elsey’s so much he rolls in it when we put a fresh bag into a litterbox, or rolls in front of the litterbox (where litter has been kicked out). Sometimes we mix the two, because the World’s Best is usually better for odor suppression and much lighter, and all of our cats except the first one mentioned are fine with both kinds. The Dr. Elsey’s turns into cement when it clumps.

    Rhombus, our big love (26 pounds of DSH goodness), adores grabbing our hands with his paws/claws so he can nibble. He’ll grab a fold of skin between his teeth and shake it. The fact that I can type that without shuddering reflects how gentle he actually is, though. He’s one of those cats who has absolutely no idea how much he masses, as the destruction he leaves in his wake while hopping from surface to surface shows, but he does at least seem to have a little bit of an idea with regards to his teeth.

    P.S. Jeff, my condolences and best wishes.

  23. In my youth I used non-clumping clay, which generally stunk because I was too cheap to change it often enough. At some point we became well-off enough to think the clumping clay was worth the expense. When we got ferrets, we switched to non-clay (a generic version of World’s Best–relatively inexpensive in 50 pound bags) because ferrets tend to breathe the clay dust unhealthily. Our cats took to that immediately.
    On rare occasions when we acquired a cat or ferret with a preference for something else, we were able to switch them over by starting with what they arrived with, and just adding our brand in the natural course of sifting out the clumps, till theirs was no longer noticeable.
    Agreed, cats (and ferrets) don’t like sudden changes.

  24. One of my cats (of two, from the same litter, which is totally the way to go!) is super-fussy about her litter. Not just the brand, but also the location of the box. We learned the hard way that she’s going to go in the dining room whether there’s a box there or not, and that things are easier if we accept this, and just keep a constantly-cleaned box right by the table. It makes fancy dinners at our house great fun.

  25. My late Koshka was unsure about the clumping litter at first (having used the non-clumping clay for years), but the instant she realized that the new litter = box scooped clean twice a day she was all for it.

    Some friends of mine had to switch to the recycled newsprint pellet form of kitty litter, their senior cat was having paw troubles with clay litter. The day after she died, the litterbox went back to clay because the paper stuff did nothing for odor control (and the surviving cat didn’t care as long as there was _something_ in the box).

  26. Fortunately, none of our rotating cast of cats has had a distinct preference for a brand of kitty litter; with our luck, they would go for whatever is the most expensive. We use the Costco house brand in the huge green bottles (Litter Purrfect, clay clumping), one of which lasts several weeks.

    When we would go on vacation previously, we would make several litterboxes with non-clumping litter, using the cardboard trays under bottled water, Costco nut jars, paper box lids, or anything of comparable dimensions. Whoever was minding the cats could ignore the litterbox for a couple of days until it got notably nasty, then throw out the whole thing and put down a fresh one. Unless the catsitter doesn’t mind scooping the litterbox, I wouldn’t inflict that on anyone.

  27. Sunday was already pretty good, but any day is better with kittens.

    My cats are Very Clear about two things: they like their covered igloo-style litterbox, even though it seems too small for the Ragdoll; and they hate scented litter almost as passionately as I do. (They will use it in a pinch, but with a look of mingled resentment and reproach.) Aside from that they are not too finicky.

    I would def try Feline Pine or another compostable litter if/when we move someplace I can compost.

  28. Thank you for this, Mr. Scalzi. I’m going through a tough time and this post literally convinced me not to step in front of a bus today.

  29. I love the idea of cats in space, but that brings up the idea of kitty litter in space. And what space cats might do if they don’t like their litter.

  30. @Karen Williams — Eek, I had not considered the issues of, er, litterbox use .8918or fur balls / etc. in regards to Cats In Space. Oh, I don’t think the cats would be thrilled about that either. Hmm. There would need to be a way to take care of that. … Great, now I’m imagining tiny vaccuum cleaners or aspirators. And cats don’t like the vaccuum cleaner monster. Hmm. … OK, must rely on human and cat ingenuity to solve this.

    Still convinced Cats In Space is a good thing. ;) I would be way too grumpy on that Mars trip without cats. Probably even if I’m in cryosleep for the long trip. Also be it noted, I prefer Earth cats in their non-flat original mode.

  31. “I’m not training them. They are training me.”

    It has been said, that while dogs have owners, cats have staff.

  32. >I’m not training them, they are training me.
    Thought you would have learned that life lesson with Child One.

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