The Bean and The Bear

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The litter closet was smellier than usual. I emptied both boxes, yet the smell did not let up. This was more than the usual lingering odor that one expects from changing out kitty litter. I removed the boxes, the wipe-mat for their paws, and the yoga mat that we had placed under the boxes for added protection. The brand new carpet in our brand new house was soaked. And it was putrid.

“Why do you guys insist on ruining carpets?! If you’re not clawing it up, you’re peeing on it?!” Of course, the usual profanity accompanies these remarks. And, of course, The Bean and The Bear both look at me quizzically, wondering what on earth I could possibly be upset about.

In L.A., my wife and I confined the kids, as we called them, to their own room at night and when we were away. This room was the size of your average studio apartment, so they had plenty of room to play. Not to mention, they had their kitty castle, scratch posts, toys, various cat beds, a futon (before it was ruined), and a great view out the window (better than our master bedroom view, I might add).

One night, we were awakened by the sound of someone trying to force open a door. As the cobwebs cleared from our sleepy heads, we realized that it was The Bear trying to slam the door open from inside his room. At the same time, we heard the sound of kitty claws tearing something apart. As I opened the door, I was both amazed and horrified at the sight. The brand new carpeting was torn to shreds. The Bean and The Bear were trying to burrow out of their room. As I turned on the lights, I noticed the damage extended to the closet doors, as well as the carpet by the laundry room.

The next day, I stopped by our pet supply store and purchased a static correction mat. The idea was to keep the cats away from the areas of potential destruction. I was assured that the mat caused no physical harm to the cats, and it would shut off if there was prolonged contact. The Bear figured this out. Immediately. If he suffered the discomfort for a few seconds, the mat would turn off. Then, he and The Bean could get back to tunneling their way to freedom. There was no other option at this point. The following week we had the carpets replaced with hard wood. Quite an expensive lesson for us. Apparently, the hard wood also appealed to the kids’ sense of style, because all burrowing stopped from that moment on.

The cat urine in the new litter closet had soaked through not just the carpet, but also the base board molding, drywall, and even crept into the neighboring hallway closet. The carpets – in both closets — had to be removed. The soaked drywall had to be cut out. And, the cleaning and odor removal process took weeks. During this period my wife and I racked our brains to figure out what had triggered this incident. They were getting plenty of attention. There were no changes in their eating, sleeping, or any other routines. We were stumped.

I recently finished the improved litter closet. I used a layer of concrete followed by an epoxy sealant to keep any moisture contained in the area, as well as to make clean-up easier. The ultimate cause was determined to be a small leak in the back of the litter box, creating an area which smelled like a natural place for The Bean and The Bear to do their business. As upset as I was with the cost and time spent on repairs, at least the reason was uncovered and the mystery solved. I just hope that we don’t have to replace any more flooring in the near future.

Replacing carpet with hardwood floor in L.A. condo              $4,500.00

Urine removal in new house                                                     $150.00

Custom litter closet in new house                                            $275.00

Repairs to hallway closet                                                          $75.00

Total Cost for damage to floors                                       $5,000.00

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