a shitty morning and damage control

Originally posted on July 11, 2010 at 3:38 PM

I woke up today thinking I would finally be able to use my stand mixer to make some cookies. Hub-a-dub and I recently finished the upper cabinets in the kitchen, so we were able to install the over-the-range microwave, so we could get rid of the old microwave, so we finally have space on the countertops for the big stand mixer my family gave me for a wedding present. It’s a really pretty teal color, and I’ve been so annoyed that it remained boxed in the garage until now. So when I woke up, I was thinking, “Oh boy! I’m gonna make some cookies for breakfast.”


Kyle left the bedroom while I was getting ready, but shortly came back. “I think Buttons did something on the carpet and Roomba smeared it around.” Oh, God. So not what I want to hear.

You see, we’re going on vacation in about a week. We have someone who lives in town who is willing to come over to the house once a day to keep Buttons company and make sure everything’s okay. To make things easier on this kind soul, we decided to buy all automatic cat stuff: self-dispensing food and water bowls and a self-cleaning automatic litter box. Now, there’s always an adjustment phase for such things with a set-in-her-ways kitty, and we knew that. For a while, I had to coax her to drink water with my fingers because the bowl is black, and she could see her reflection in it. (She drinks on her own now, but very cautiously—ready to run at any moment if that “other cat” comes back.)

The litter box is a different story. Turns out, we bought the one that has crystal litter instead of clay, which is a lot coarser and apparently uncomfortable on her soft little pillow paws. It has a motion sensor, so 20 minutes after she gets out of the box a rake comes by and pushes any waste into a little receptacle that we’re supposedly only going to have to change once a month or so. Well, I’ve been checking the waste box to make sure she’s been going, and she hasn’t. I got her to poop in it once, but I wasn’t seeing any clumps of urine.

We went back to the pet store to ask them about it, and it turns out the crystal just absorbs liquid and doesn’t clump, so she’s probably been peeing in there just fine and I didn’t know. Yay! Just when I thought we were okay… Kyle wakes me up with, “I think Buttons did something on the carpet and Roomba smeared it around.” Ugh.

Buttons occasionally gets hairballs (she’s very fluffy), so I assumed she got a hairball and then Roomba (automatic vacuum) made a mess. But when I went to clean Roomba’s dirt trap, I smelled poop. The distinct, fragrant aroma of shit. Now, hairballs smell like vomit, for those of you blessed enough to be unaware. So I very suddenly realized that Buttons had pooped on the carpet and Roomba had, indeed, smeared it around. The carpet’s fine—easy to clean up and it’s pretty much shit anyway, so no big loss—but Roomba’s innards were now coated in semi-crusty, pungent doo-doo.

I couldn’t exactly put him in the sink and wash him, since he’s got tons of electrical gears and gizmos in there that would have been ruined. And although I briefly contemplated throwing him away, he’s very handy and he costs like $300 dollars (at least). Plus, he was a gift. So I had to dig deep in my motherly reserves, lock Buttons in the garage so I didn’t kill her, and take apart the crap-encrusted vacuum piece by piece and clean it all by hand. I’ll spare you the rest of the details, but let’s just say it took well over an hour and Roomba still smells very faintly of poop. (He’ll be okay. Just needs to air out for a couple of days.)

The only good news? If Buttons continues to not use her litter box, it is returnable/exchangeable. We can just get an automatic one that uses clay litter instead of crystal. (No, we can’t just use different litter with this one.) So at least we didn’t just waste $100 on a useless thing. But until we get this all straightened out and Buttons is regularly using her new litter box, Roomba’s daily timer is getting turned off. No more early-morning poop scooping for you, vacuum robot.

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