Everywhere I look, there is cat. Food bowls and towers, scratching mats and catnip mice, all trumped, of course by litter boxes.
“You need N+1 litter boxes,” states my vet authoritatively, when I bring in my neurotic tom, whose formerly sweet self has been replaced by a wall-spraying, fellow-cat-attacking fiend. I look up and smile weakly. N+1? Who knew cat ownership was really just another exercise in algebra? But, I comply, and soon six litterboxes grace my household, four lined up in the garage like some sort of mad cat comfort station , one for the kitten upstairs, and one in the downstairs bathroom for the sane cats to use while we wait for naughty Mr. Claudio’s Prozac to kick in.
Wryly, I think to myself, N+1 would have been a good prescription during the crazy teenage years when my three daughters shared a single bathroom with a lone sink. But, it is too late now. They are grown and gone, and I am left with one dog ,five cats and a tolerant husband.
Lately, the kitten, El Diablo—okay, that’s not really his name—has taken to pacing the tub ledge during my nightly bath, with his curiously brown eyes, uncommon to cats, watching the tub fill. No doubt he’s thinking how to get in and out without getting wet. His face is totally black except for shockingly white whiskers and eyebrows, and a single white triangle starting on the left side of his kitten mouth and extending up to a point next to his nose. The asymmetry of it always makes me want to tilt my head while looking at him. He is a “tuxedo” kitty , with broad triangles of white on his chest and belly, meeting in points in the center, white-dipped toes in the front, and rabbit-like all-white legs in the back.
At fourteen weeks, Diablo , aka Pippin, would like to spend most of his time tirelessly harassing the more mature cat inhabitants of the house, who by turns, are shocked, horrified, and ticked. Undoubtedly, they concur that the wrong cat is getting Prozac. Making friends doesn’t seem to be high on Pippin’ list of priorities, except with the dog, who, at forty pounds, gently plays with the kitten until her Rat Terrier heritage gets the better of her and she lies on top of her five-pound nemesis. Pippin will run away when released—usually with human intervention—but returns mere seconds later for another round. Persistence seems to be his gift. Common sense, not so much.
When Pip showed up two days before my forty-ninth birthday, with a huge purple bow around his kitten neck and a note apologizing for not being yellow, I was sure my family had lost its collective mind. Usually the instigator of cat acquisition, I was stunned that Mr. Cat Lady had authorized this latest, but of course, one look at the sweet kitten face, and we were all undone. Several weeks later, weeks filled with hijinx alternating with in-your-face cuddles, my future son-in-law’s insistence that Pip’s purring really indicated that he was recharging his Death Rays, seems apt. We are undone, just not in the way we originally thought. The formula for the Peter Principle of cat ownership does indeed seem to be N+1.