I didn’t know when I started to be a cat person. For as long as I can remember, I have always been in love with dogs. I owned a good number of dogs growing up — the oldest was Nick who lived to 70plus in human years. Nick’s whole name was Nicholas Carter-Mesias, yes — he was named after the youngest member of Backstreet Boys by my obnoxious college friends.
It’s only when I got married when I started being the equivalent of a human slave to my lovable (but bratty) cat, Sayuri. Sayuri was picked straight out of the middle of the road, after I chanced upon her — then just a tiny kitten — picking a fight with a neighborhood dog. Sayuri, about a month or two old then, was determined to hold her ground against the large dog which was known throughout the neighborhood as a bully to cats and smaller breed. With one swipe of her tiny paws, I was immediately fell in love with the little devil who has a wild shock of black fur. From hanging laundry to dry, I ended up plucking the kitten from the street and bringing it to our home.
Sayuri is now six years old, no longer the cute, little kitten battling the dog ten times her size. But I guess it’s true when they say that cats have their own personality — because, this cat, has tons. Sayuri knows how to push our buttons (do cute things, get treats in return), and has assimilated herself in our little unit that it is now impossible to think of life without this “bundle of misery” (that’s my term of endearment for her).
Maybe, because we don’t have kids yet that we tend to spoil Sayuri so much. Deep inside, we knew that Sayuri can never replace having children or that she is a manifestation of another person whom our two-person family is lacking. However, having Sayuri with us given us insight on what real responsible pet ownership means.
We have a very limited grocery budget, a part of that goes to Sayuri’s food. She is partial to kibble from Friskies, but preferred the Ocean Fish soft food from Whiskas. Imagine calculating the number of cans of soft food and pouches of kibble she needs for a month. Imagine the dent it makes on our budget! I can assure you, that cat is more well-fed that I am!
When she was younger, she used to catch rats. Actually, she is well-known for being a mean little rat-killing machine and the neighborhood loved her for that. But we all know that rats are dirty like hell. So, we had to have her treated due to the gum disease she developed due to trapping and killing all those pesky rodents. She smelled really bad and suffered from gum sores — the vet recommended that we make sure she stopped from hunting rodents and quarantine her along with a steady intake of vitamin C, antibiotic and brushing of her gums to rid of the bacteria.
Imagine trying to brush your cat’s teeth and gums! Suffice to say, I emerged unscathed, save for a few scratch marks on my hand. This was nothing. When she was younger, we attempted to bathe her. The bathing experiment ended to a quick trip to the City’s Veterinary Office to get rabies shots after Sayuri freaked and made a hotdog sandwich out of my right hand after I attempted to shampoo her hind legs. For close to three months, I was known as “the stupid girl who tried to bathe a cat.” (FYI — In the Philippines, there is an old superstition that it is bad luck to bathe a cat. Will lead to seven days of rain). More like, it’s bad luck to bathe a cat because it leads to rabies shots.
Another problem with having a cat on “house arrest”is addressing the cat’s need to poop and pee – two things that both carried the smell of instant death. If you are a cat owner, you know what I meant. The stink of cat poop and pee is second to none. It will make your house smelly and will drive you mad with the stench.
For this, we had a kitty litter. We were using the store bought kitty litter brands which is also hell when it comes to maintaining the cleanliness of the house. It’s a constant cycle of scooping, cleaning, vacuuming and scrubbing. After running out of kitty litter tonight and being informed that kitty litters in 2 of the nearest grocery stores are out-of-stock, I was forced to improvise.
For a more environment friendly kitty litter, I took some old newspapers and tore them into tiny pieces, placed it in the litter box and sprinkled it generously with baking soda to counter the smell. Saw Sayu did the number 1 and 2 and it was a success! And no smell at all!
Ideally, the shredded/torn up newspaper should be washed with water, mixed with a bit of fabric conditioner, drained of water, mixed with baking soda before being turned into small pellet-shaped “nuts” which can serve as a more environment-friendly and organic kitty litter. Read instructions here:
1. Shred newspaper in a paper shredder and collect it in an unused litter box.
2. Soak the paper in warm water mixed with a few squirts gentle, biodegradable dish soap. The shredded paper takes on a cooked oatmeal consistency. The paper won’t come completely clean, but the water will turn grey.
3. Drain the water (an old colander works wonders) and repeat the soaking process minus the soap.
4. Sprinkle baking soda liberally on the wet paper. Knead it in to the mixture (you might want to wear gloves to avoid getting ink on your hands).
5. Squeeze the remaining moisture out until it’s as dry as you can get it.
6. Crumble over a screen and leave to dry for a few days.
7. Once it’s dry, put about an inch and a half to two inches of the paper crumbles in the litter box. Scoop solids daily and change it once a week. It takes about a half an hour to 45 minutes to make a 2-3 week supply of litter
Unfortunately, I really don’t have time right now so I resorted instead to newspapers shredded into small pieces and sprinked with baking soda. Worked really well.
There are days when I get really lazy and I am tempted not to deal with Sayuri’s food, litter and even her gum-brushing. For times like these, I always think of the fact that having a pet (like having a child) is a big responsibility and it doesn’t end the moment the cat stopped being a little ball of fur and cute. I do not regret any minute of taking care of Sayuri. Her loyalty and love is enough payment for me.