Author Topic: Where does the responsibility lie?  (Read 6386 times)

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kitchcat

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Where does the responsibility lie?
« on: June 20, 2013, 10:00:41 AM »
DH and are temporarily living with my mom and dad as I just graduated college and look for a job. It looks like we will only be here a couple of months at most.

DH and I have two cats, both young and active. My parents love the cats...but there is some culture clash between us over the pets. My mom is one of those hoarders disguised as an enthusiastic decorator. Every flat service in the house is covered in breakable knickknacks and frames. As in, good luck finding a place to set down your drink. My cats have naturally tried to jump up on the various accent tables, and inevitably knock something down because the surface is simple so packed with stuff, they can't even safely jump back down. So far they've broken two frames and a lamp.  :-[

After the first accident, I asked my mom if we could help her relocate breakable items to higher/safer places while we're here so the cats don't break anything more. She said "no, just watch them and don't let them break anything."

We would just keep them in our room with the door closed but my father dictated that their litter box go in a certain other room, so we have to leave the door open for them to access it. The floor plan is very open in this house so there are no doors to keep them out of certain areas. Baby gates won't work, they will just hop over them. It's not possible for us to watch them 24/7 obviously.

I understand the cats are our responsibility, but I can't help but feel my parents have some responsibility to protect their breakables. With the last frame they broke, I found it hard to act sympathetic when I've asked my mom multiple times to let us help her "kitty proof" the main common areas.

Am I out of line? Any advice?

EDIT to add:

The litterbox is located in the corner of another room because that room has tiled floors rather than carpet like in our room. My dad is like Mr.Clean's OCD brother, so a litterbox in a carpeted room is something he will not allow, ever. The room that the litterbox is a more open-style room, no doors or any way to enclose them in that room. Not that we would want to, because ironically, that room is the scene of two of the kitty crimes!

Teaching the cats not to jump is not possible. We have tried relentless for months with a squirt bottle. We just ended up with soggy, grumpy cats on tables instead of dry, happy ones.
« Last Edit: June 20, 2013, 10:20:52 AM by kitchcat »
Quote from: magician5
Quote from: Kinseyanne
In the bag was two cans of kitten formula

So now ... just add water and you get kittens? What will they think of next??

camlan

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #1 on: June 20, 2013, 10:06:48 AM »
I think it is time everyone sat down together and hashed this out.

Cats are cats and can't be trained in the same manner as dogs, to stay off furniture and not jump up. And I'm guessing that the OP isn't in the house 24/7 to watch the cats with an eagle eye.

The most reasonable solution to me is for the litter box to be in the OP's room. Perhaps if your father could explain why he feels the litter box shouldn't be in there, a solution could be found that would ease his concerns.

Or could the cats be closed up in the room that has the litter box, when the OP isn't there to watch them?

Maybe suggest to Mom that you take pictures of the current arrangement of things, then move breakables to higher ground, and promise to use the pictures to return everything back where it belongs when you move out?

Because the conflicting desires of the two parents have ensured that the cats will be free to break low-lying objects, despite the OP's desire to keep this from happening.
Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, “I’m possible!” –Audrey Hepburn


Pen^2

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #2 on: June 20, 2013, 10:12:05 AM »
They're being a bit odd about this. It's like deciding you want a horse, but insisting it lives inside the main house and then being surprised when it breaks stuff. They have accepted your cats as tenants (as it were) but have dictated that their living conditions are such that the cats will break things. You have tried to find other solutions but they have insisted that the situation remains one where breakages happen. That's not your responsibility anymore--that's just them being kind of weird about it. Possibly deep down they partially don't like the cats, or having to support you and DH, and this is how they let that out. But I think they're simply just being a bit dense here.

Be proactive. I think the easiest solution would be to take the litter box and move it to your room with the kittens. When your father asks why or goes to move it back, explain that to do so means that your mother's things will get broken. Be sure to explain that you will change it daily to keep everything clean etc. If he says you need to watch the cats, explain (politely!) that you can't control them 24 hours a day--you need to sleep, for one thing. If he's unhappy with this, either buy a new litter tray of your own to put in your room, or move the kittens to the room he has decided upon. But don't accept having the tray in a separate room from the kittens--keep reiterating something like, "I don't want mother's things to get broken:"

Father: "No, the litter box goes out here."
You: "But I don't want mother's things to get broken."
Father: "It's fine, just watch the cats."
You: "But that's not possible to do 24 hours a day. I don't want mother's things to get broken."
Father: "It's not that hard, just keep an eye on them."
You: "What you're asking isn't possible without mother's things getting broken." etc.

WillyNilly

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #3 on: June 20, 2013, 10:14:51 AM »
Have you tried training the cats to not jump? Like do you always have a loaded water gun at the ready to squirt a cat on an upper surface? Have you provided other things, like a cat tree, for the cats to climb? I have had cats for almost 30 years now, and I was always successful in training them off certain surfaces, because I put in the effort - and its a lot of effort. Were the cats 100% perfect? No they are cats after all, but it was very very rare they broke the rules.

While I think your parents totally rearranging their home might be the required action, other actions can be tried first - moving all your mom's stuff should be the last resort not the first option.

kitchcat

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #4 on: June 20, 2013, 10:20:27 AM »
OP here, I'll update the first post with this info because I probably should have put it there to begin with.

The litterbox is located in the corner of another room because that room has tiled floors rather than carpet like in our room. My dad is like Mr.Clean's OCD brother, so a litterbox in a carpeted room is something he will not allow, ever. The room that the litterbox is a more open-style room, no doors or any way to enclose them in that room. Not that we would want to, because ironically, that room is the scene of two of the kitty crimes!

Teaching the cats not to jump is not possible. We have tried relentless for months with a squirt bottle. We just ended up with soggy, grumpy cats on tables instead of dry, happy ones.
Quote from: magician5
Quote from: Kinseyanne
In the bag was two cans of kitten formula

So now ... just add water and you get kittens? What will they think of next??

MindsEye

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #5 on: June 20, 2013, 10:25:09 AM »
The litterbox is located in the corner of another room because that room has tiled floors rather than carpet like in our room. My dad is like Mr.Clean's OCD brother, so a litterbox in a carpeted room is something he will not allow, ever.

Can you put down a large square of linoleum (or plywood or cardboard or something) down over the carpet in your room, and then put the litterbox on that?  Maybe if there was a "barrier" between the litterbox and the floor with enough room around it to catch kicked pieces of litter that would be acceptable?

Pen^2

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #6 on: June 20, 2013, 10:27:40 AM »
OP here, I'll update the first post with this info because I probably should have put it there to begin with.

The litterbox is located in the corner of another room because that room has tiled floors rather than carpet like in our room. My dad is like Mr.Clean's OCD brother, so a litterbox in a carpeted room is something he will not allow, ever. The room that the litterbox is a more open-style room, no doors or any way to enclose them in that room. Not that we would want to, because ironically, that room is the scene of two of the kitty crimes!

Teaching the cats not to jump is not possible. We have tried relentless for months with a squirt bottle. We just ended up with soggy, grumpy cats on tables instead of dry, happy ones.

Not all cats can be trained like this--some, maybe most, but not all. I taught my cat to say "mama" as a greeting, but could never teach her not to jump on furniture.

Maybe a spot of plastic sheeting would do the trick. When I was staying at my MIL's place for a week with my cat, I bought a large (50cm x 50cm), very shallow plastic tray with a small lip around the edge. I them put the litter tray in this. Nothing could get on the floor--anything that ever spilled out of the litter tray ended up in the big flat tray. It sounds like having the cats in your room would be the easiest solution.

WillyNilly

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #7 on: June 20, 2013, 10:31:41 AM »
Teaching the cats not to jump is not possible. We have tried relentless for months with a squirt bottle. We just ended up with soggy, grumpy cats on tables instead of dry, happy ones.

And no one said you should teach them to not jump. What I suggested was to teach them certain surfaces are off limits. You must provide an alternative place where they are allowed to jump. And then you use negative training on the surfaces they aren't allowed on (squirting them) and positive training on the surfaces they are allowed on (treats, scratches behind the ears, etc). Not providing them a place to jump onto and climb is, IMO, irresponsible pet ownership. And deciding to commandeer your parent's already occupied surfaces as the place for your cats to jump onto is, IMO, irresponsible house-boarder behavior.

One of these:
http://www.petco.com/product/113204/Trixie-DreamWorld-Altea-Platinum-Gray-Cat-Tree.aspx?cm_mmc=CSEMGoogleAdExtProd-_-Cat-_-Trixie-_-1383086&mr:trackingCode=273DC9C6-9EC7-DF11-98FF-0019B9C043EB&mr:referralID=NA&mr:adType=pla&mr:ad=31533080755&mr:keyword=&mr:match=&mr:filter=51515397355
or
 https://www.google.com/shopping/product/8180927328673810263?q=cat%20condo&client=Flamingvixen-a&hs=3Jh&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48175248,d.dmg&biw=1366&bih=664&sa=X&ei=jhHDUYqvIofH4APFzoGgCA&ved=0CIEBEPMCMAI
along with
https://www.google.com/shopping/product/2942487613610513370?q=cat%20condo&client=Flamingvixen-a&hs=3Jh&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48175248,d.dmg&biw=1366&bih=664&sa=X&ei=jhHDUYqvIofH4APFzoGgCA&ved=0CHsQ8wIwAQ
or
https://www.google.com/shopping/product/6052326577388285275?q=cat%20condo&client=Flamingvixen-a&hs=3Jh&rls=org.mozilla:en-US:official&bav=on.2,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.48175248,d.dmg&biw=1366&bih=664&sa=X&ei=jhHDUYqvIofH4APFzoGgCA&ved=0CHUQ8wIwAA

is affordable and fun for cats. And should be something you are providing for your young, active, indoor cats as alternatives to your parents already occupied surfaces.

bopper

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #8 on: June 20, 2013, 11:41:18 AM »
Get plastic chair mat or the like that could go over the carpet but under the litter box and put the litter box in your room.
http://www.amazon.com/Cleartex-AdvantageMat-Chair-Hard-Floors/dp/B003XR7CDU/ref=sr_1_fkmr0_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1371742841&sr=8-1-fkmr0&keywords=plastic+that+goes+under+desk+chairs

Keep the cats in your room. Tell your dad:

"Dad, we want to thank you for letting us stay in your home...and also taking in the cats.  I want to respect your home, and I want to respect your wish that the breakables stay where they are. I also want to respect that you don't want a litter box on a carpet.  What I am going to do is get a plastic mat, put it in our room and let the cats stay in our room.  That way we won't be stressed at all times about the cats but your items are protected."
« Last Edit: June 20, 2013, 11:48:07 AM by bopper »

Mikayla

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #9 on: June 20, 2013, 11:45:18 AM »
I'm on Team Find-Floor-Covering.  There's all sorts of options.  PetSmart sells large metal trays (2' x 3') that go in the bottom of cages.  My housemate has a couple of cats upstairs that never leave the area, and she used one of these. 

Also, an even cheaper option is those large sheets of hard plastic (??) that office supply places sell for you to put under rolling chairs.

I think your Dad is the one who needs to budge on this one.  It's understandable that he doesn't want the box directly on the floor, but these solutions pretty much gaurantee nothing will remain after you leave.   Your only decision is whether you approach him yourself or ask mom to do it. 

ETA:  Cross post.  Yeah, bopper just found the chair thing I was talking about.

NyaChan

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #10 on: June 20, 2013, 11:47:14 AM »
Our problem wasn't about breaking things, but it was about cleanliness.

We opted to first put squares of linoleum we had lying around from samples someone never came back to pick up, then we put a mat to prevent sliding, then lined it with plastic, added a border of towels, and then a litter box that was covered.  It kept the spread of the litter to a minimum and also prevented the cat from urinating directly on the carpet around her litter box (she had issues  ::)).

Perhaps suggest something similar, but otherwise, try to put it plain, that the only way you can guarantee the safety of their stuff is if the cats are kept in your room - and you can't keep the cats in your room unless the litter box is also in your room. 

Shoo

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #11 on: June 20, 2013, 11:51:30 AM »
I'd get something like this to put in your room and contain any litter that might find its way out of the box.  It's about $23.  It's made for washing machines, but I think it could be used for lots of different things.

http://www.homedepot.com/p/GE-30-in-x-32-in-x-2-in-Washer-Floor-Tray-PM7X1DS/202214668#.UcMkOPm1GSo


m2kbug

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #12 on: June 20, 2013, 01:40:12 PM »
I think one solution could be to see if a friend could take in the kitties for a bit.  I don't know if you have any friends that would be willing to do this.  It is kind of a long time to be asking, but this way the cats won't have to be locked in a room and won't be in a position to break the nick-nacks. 

Perhaps you could purchase a large rug to protect the carpet and get a really large cardboard box.  Cut the edges of the box down so that it, itself is like a bigger litter box with corners and edges that go up and collect any litter that gets kicked up or goes astray.  I don't know what kind of litter you use, but the clumping kind can damage the carpet if it ever gets wet or they want the carpets cleaned and it's not vacuumed up appropriately.  It turns to clay.  Of course any misses on the box isn't the best for the carpet either.  A box that has edges and sides and maybe a rug or plastic mat could be a workable solution to protect the carpet and so you can keep the box in the room and the kitties locked up.

The pet stores and grocery stores often have those really large cardboard bins, and many of the stores are happy enough to give them away to customers that ask.  The plastic mat mentioned earlier would be good, but a box would have the sides that go up so the litter can be better contained.  That tray Shoo posted looks good, but maybe the edges need to be higher.  Plus add a rug to collect any litter that sticks to their feet. 

Your mother cat proofing would really be the best and the easiest and I think your dad needs to bend a little bit  here.  You might need to sit down and have another talk with them and hopefully you can come up with a compromise.

Amara

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #13 on: June 20, 2013, 01:56:13 PM »
I like the plastic floor covering you see under chairs in offices. If you have a private bathroom with a tub that you don't use why not put the litter box in there with a plastic shower curtain under it to protect the tub (and make clean up easier)?

beezelbear

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Re: Where does the responsibility lie?
« Reply #14 on: June 20, 2013, 02:30:48 PM »
Something like this :  http://www.petsmart.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2754444&f=PAD%2FpsNotAvailInUS%2FNo  might be a possibility for in your room as well.  My DH made a slightly larger version of this for our study (so it could hold 2 litter boxes side by side) for our study, and it contains the litter really well.