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Kitty Litter Technology (Sue Roth)
(smirk, original)

A couple of weeks ago, I succumbed to an ill-begotten urge to purchase an electric cat box.

That's right, an electric cat box. You heard right.

Here's the concept: the cat box is equipped with a disposable container, a sensor, a timer & a mechanized "rake." When the cat makes a 'deposit," the sensor recognizes the event, the timer allows a respectful interval to elapse, and the rake then drags itself through the cat litter and deposits the waste in the disposable container. Every few days, one replaces the disposable container and the kitty litter chores are done.

Now, just to get this out of the way, yes, it was expensive. $80 for this bit of frivolity, but I figured I was darn well worth it.

It did, however, present a bit of a learning curve for the kitties, who had been used to one sort of litter; the new kitty box required clump-able litter. This stuff is rather like sand, but when in contact with litter, a clump is formed. Initially, however, Ling thought it was some sort of a spa: he leaped into the litter box and rolled around in it like he was trying to cover every atom of his fur with litter. He then promptly curled up in the box and took a nap.

Not to be daunted by this, however, I decided to help the cats to learn the true purpose of the electric litter pan. Being a nurse - and a resourceful one at that - I produced a small urine sample in a disposable dixie cup and poured this in the pan to the amazement of the kitty crew. They stared transfixed at the lump as it coalesced there, and watched in total awe as the mechanical arm drug the rake through the litter and deposited my sample into the disposable bin. Thereafter, the cats were totally enthralled by this new device and quickly began to use the pan exclusively. We rarely saw them after that. If by chance their attention spans waned before the raking process started, they would run from any portion of the house after hearing the motor begin and stare in rapt glee as the evidence of their potty habits vanished into the bin.

And yes, you are correct, there IS more to this tale.

The "rake" is attached to the mechanical arm that powers it back & forth through the litter by means of a snap-in attachment that, after the second "sweep," neither snapped in nor attached on one side of the box. At first this was a fairly minor irritation, but over time, it became more and more of an issue.

Initially, small bits of cat litter were gently deposited on the other side of the bin, i.e. on the floor outside of the box. Soon the level of enthusiasm generated by the rake escalated, however. And now we had a new form of entertainment for the feline family members:

The great American shit toss.

Yes indeed, soon the rake began to drag so badly on one side of the box that it would lag well behind the rest of the process until rounding the corner to (allegedly) deposit the turds in the bin. As a result, it became the kitty litter equivalent of Babe Ruth.

The cats were endlessly fascinated by this new permutation. They determined ONLY to poop on that side of the box, and to poop in petite amounts. I think they were taking bets on distance before this whole sad event concluded.

And they are in DEEP mourning now that we switched back to the old manual system.

[By Sue Roth - 12/19/02]

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