Tuesday, November 18, 2008

This week's Suburban Fringe

Hey there kids - sorry for making you hunt for today's Fringe, but my editor decided not to run the column I wrote. Don't be upset with her - it's entirely her right to do such a thing; in fact, it's her job. She felt that the column I wrote was "just too gross, and not funny enough to offset the gross-out factor." And you know, she might be right.

But, since I know lots of folks can't stand a Tuesday without a Fringe, I'm posting it here, on my long-lost blog. Enjoy.

My life with the Smelly Cat

My cat stinks.

I don’t mean that in the figurative sense. He stinks. He smells bad. All the time.

There’s one reason for it, really. He is, to put it bluntly, insanely flatulent.

The cat in question is named Dexter. He’s the youngest of the three cats in our house. (Yeah, we have three cats. Yeah, we actually like it that way. And yeah, I realize that this makes me That Guy With All The Cats. In my defense, they are all very fuzzy.)

We’ve only had Dexter since around Labor Day, so we’re still figuring him out a little bit. A few things about Dexter are already apparent. First, even though he’s the youngest and smallest of our cats, he has already established himself as the alpha male in the household. Not that he had a lot of competition for the job; Frisco is something like 4,000 years old in cat years and only wakes up to eat or have a little “me time” in the litter box, and one-year-old Charlie is about as rough-and-tumble as a tub of baby wipes.

Second, we’re pretty sure Dexter is going to be straight-up enormous when he’s fully grown. He eats constantly and is growing faster than a fat kid locked in a burrito factory.

Third, he stinks.

I’ve never been around a living creature, animal or not, who breaks wind as often as Dexter. He cracks ‘em off like he gets paid to do it. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve held him in my arms and had him look up at me lovingly while he softly fires a stink-biscuit into the crook of my elbow. It’s disgusting. Every single one is vile enough to make professional wrestlers weep like little girls.

The whole thing wouldn’t even be that much of an issue if he weren’t the most affectionate cat of the three. Dexter is more consistently desperate for attention than the average Rock of Love contestant. He sits outside our bedroom door every morning, waiting for us to open it so he can jump on the bed and sit on our faces. Literally, he sits on our faces. To him, this is the ultimate form of affectionate cuddling. To Colette and me, it’s like having a fuzzy breathing toilet on our heads. We push him away, but he’s not easily deterred. He usually tries to park himself on our faces two or three times before we give up. We try very hard not to think about what he might be leaving behind after we move him.

I don’t know what to do about it. We’ve tried a couple different kinds of food, but that doesn’t seem to make any difference. Everything he eats turns into gas, apparently. Maybe he’s just gifted in that way, not unlike my brother. Part of the problem might be that he almost never stops eating. He loves chow so much that even when he’s not eating, he’ll often hang around the food dish. It’s like he enjoys being in the company of his beloved kibble-nuggets.

Because he’s eating all the time, Dexter also hangs out in the litter box a lot. It’s kind of remarkable, actually. It’s like he can poo on demand. Every time I’m cleaning out the litter boxes, Dexter sits next to me and waits until I’m done. The moment I put the lids back on, he wanders into one of them and stinks it up like your Uncle Steve after Thanksgiving dinner. This happens every time. It’s like he has some kind of reserve tank in his bowels, so that he can be sure to have a loaded clip of ammo, so to speak, at all times. I don’t know whether to be impressed or horrified. Frankly, I think I’m a little bit of both.

I don’t know what to think about the whole thing. One of the reasons I have come to enjoy cats over the past few years is their remarkable ability not to smell bad. Dogs, for example, often smell. Most dogs only smell good while they’re actually in a bath. By the time you finish drying them off, they once again smell like that towel your roommate in college never bothered to wash and they can’t wait to enthusiastically rub that smell all over you. Cats are clean. If anything on their bodies might possibly generate an odor, they simply lick it off. This, of course, is entirely disgusting, but as long as they don’t care – and clearly they don’t – I am not of a mind to stop them.

Dexter can clean himself all he wants, but it’s of no use. His coat is shiny and clean, but he still smells like a military latrine the day after Taco Night. He can’t clean his intestinal tract with a few licks, you know. If he could, I think I’d have to confine him to a closet in the basement, because really, that just wouldn’t be cool at all. OK, yeah, it would be a little cool at first, but after a while, no.

We’re hoping that maybe this is all just a phase that Dexter is going through. After all, he’s still only five months old, and he has a lot of growing ahead of him. Maybe someday we’ll look back at the Stinky Times and laugh, and Dexter will develop the ability to smell like springtime daisies and fresh-baked cookies.

Of course, the opposite could happen as well. Maybe as he gets older, Dexter will discover entirely new levels of toxicity and develops smells never before seen on our planet. Maybe we’ll have to start changing his litter every hour in order to prevent it from collapsing under its own weight.

I guess for now we’re stuck waiting. And, unfortunately, smelling.

Bob Rybarczyk (brybarczyk@sbcglobal.net) writes stuff. When opportunity comes knocking, he assumes it’s a kid selling raffle tickets and hides in the kitchen. Look for his first novel, “Acoustic Kitty,” at area Borders stores and at online booksellers, and say hi to him on Facebook.


Mo E said...

"it’s like having a fuzzy breathing toilet on our heads"

Ok maybe a little gross- but still good stuff man...

Anonymous said...

Bob, Suburban Fringe is great, but really dude, quit writing about your cats far a little while. let's start with 1.5 months. after 6 weeks, get your cat writing fix and if your feeling good, we'll try for 3 months next time. together we're going to get through this and everything is going to be ok.

Joe the Banker said...

I know it's the editors job and all but that was one of the funniest posts I've ever read!!!!!! Bravo! Myself and a co-worker can't wait for Tuesdays we laugh our rear ends off thanks for all the laughs!!

Anonymous said...

That was a fabulous column. I'm glad you published it here.
Regarding your editor, it seems others before you have experienced such treatment before, well, you know what happened...
Perhaps I'm just being dramatic, but I will pray for you nonetheless.

Anonymous said...

My cat, Marms, was the same way when we first got him. As he grew up, he grew out of it and now virtually never "passes the gas." Try feeding him Kitten food, it's not a cure all, but it may help. Good luck!

Amanda Rickman said...

Bob...you feel off the earth...what's up with that?! Come on...I need more side-hurting laughter.

Bob said...

Amanda - this week's column is there. Honest. Check it out: http://www.stltoday.com/fringe.