Vacuuming At Midnight

I am supposed to be sleeping. Failing that, I am supposed to be reading academia. But instead, I am spraying an area rug repeatedly with a vinegar and water solution, then sprinkling it liberally with baking soda, then waiting five minutes and vacuuming it all up.

In other words, I have an ancient cat with a death wish.

The cat is 15 1/2 years old, if we’re going to count half-years. Since I think humans get to start counting half-years again at 90, I think cats get to do it by the time mine is this age. She’s lived with me her whole life save the first three or four months, and in that time, we’ve had our problems, but none as sordid as the one we’re having now.

She’s basically taken over the entire basement, which is to say the carpet is going to have to be ripped up and replaced. But that can’t happen as long as I have the cat, because at her age, it is impossible to remind her of exactly where her litter box is during the 9 to 12 hours a day that I’m not home. (When I am home and I see her make her way down there, I follow her, pick her up and actually put her in the litter box. That works.)

This results in the dreaded Cat Smell. You know how you hate walking into the homes of certain people who have a cat? Mine has become that home. It’s not as bad as a lot of homes I’ve been in, but goddamn. And I can’t do a thing about it. I have sprayed so many things on the basement carpet recently that I will absolutely have some form of cancer by morning. Nothing actually works. They all say they work. They all have helpful hints to make carpet pet stain/odor cleaning successful.

“Cats avoid the scent of citrus. Our citrus-scented spray makes sure they never eliminate in that spot again!”

LIE. She goes back again and again. Which isn’t to say she doesn’t find new spots, too. I could smother the whole carpet in lemon-lime-orange-grapefruit barbed wire. She’d still go back.

“Don’t use vinegar or ammonia. Cats smell it and link it to their scent, so they’ll go back to that spot again.”

IMMATERIAL. I’m pretty sure if you named the polar opposite of vinegar and ammonia, I’ve used that, too. Doesn’t matter.

“Be sure you clean the spot completely before you spray, or the cat will return to the spot.” IMPOSSIBLE. Do you know how many times I’ve soaked, patted, blotted, rubbed, scrubbed, and stood on towels? She always knows where it was. Or picks somewhere new. Or both.

Tonight, upon returning home from the halfway mark of another doozy of a work week and a class on top of it, things smelled unusually ripe. I checked the basement, and yes, the basement carpet still stinks, but it’s a different smell. I checked the garbage. I ran the garbage disposal. I got on my hands and knees at sniffed the vents to see if something crawled in there and died. I couldn’t find the source.

An hour and a half after I got home, while I was trying to read a textbook, I happened to look over to my right.

Oh heeeeyyyyy, huge pile of cat diarrhea on my area rug. You explain a lot.

(The cat, by the way, just slinked slowly up the stairs to my bedroom as I typed that. She is ashamed. She had better be.)

I have thus far attempted to remove the smell four times. After each attempted cleansing, I have gotten on my knees and put my nose to the carpet. If I were facing east, I could claim a new religion. If that religion could get rid of this odor in my area rug, I would claim it.

Alas… abandon hope, all ye who enter here.

More and more, this points to me needing to take the cat to the vet. I know some of you are currently gasping at the horror of the fact that I haven’t done this yet, but here’s what: I have no money for the vet. The vet, as we all know, is a racket, and I already have several required rackets sucking funds from my bank account in order to be allowed to live indoors with running water and electricity and the internet to work this here WordPress machine. So I’ve been stuck with this situation. But I think soon I’m going to have to take the cat to the vet and explain the absolutely out-of-control situation I’m dealing with, and face the music.

For now, I have to get on my knees, face the floor, and pray for a miracle.

9 thoughts on “Vacuuming At Midnight

  1. Poor kitty. Poor you. There are no winners here – other than potentially Empire Carpet.

    And YES. Thanks for saying it – vets ARE a racket. My vet keeps trying to get me to take Miss Moneypenny to a kitty cardiologist for an echocardiogram because she has a heart murmur. Sorry, but my cat isn’t going to receive better medical care than uninsured humans in this country.

    Good luck.

    • OMG, thank YOU for saying that about the cat health care and the human health care. It’s not that I don’t love the cat… it’s just that she’s a cat and I’m a person and I have to draw a line when it comes to expense.

      You know who else has been winning, though? The people who make Resolve and Febreze. And I guess eventually the doctors who will care for me when my horrible chemical-related disease is diagnosed.

  2. Bottom line: your cat is very old and is losing bladder control. We reached the same point with our beloved cat, and we had to put her down.

    That was a year ago, and our concrete basement STILL smells like cat urine, especially when it rains, despite all the cancer-causing sprays and cleaners I used down there.

    10 minutes after I’ve sprayed on my $500 per ounce perfume, it has all evaporated, but nothing has the staying power of cat pee.

    • Your point about the concrete is the reason I haven’t even considered ripping up the carpet before the cat departs. It’s concrete underneath and I don’t want the scent penetrating through THAT. Why did God make Eau de Chat so cheap and indestructible?

  3. I agree. I don’t think a vet visit is going to be all that profitable for you. For THEM, yes. But really, it’s an old cat and she probably just can’t help it. Not much the vet can do. Oh, don’t worry, they’ll tell you they can and give you something to supposedly “help,” all the while charging you a month’s rent for the privilege. But I wouldn’t feel bad for not running her to the doc.

    Have you thought about putting plastic or something down on the rug? Something you can easily clean and/or dispose of? Just a thought.

    • I think if I were to take her to a vet at this point, it would be to one that’s been recommended to me specifically because they don’t necessarily try to preserve life at this stage. It would give me more ability to say, “I can’t pay for treatment for a 15.5 year old cat who has some things that can’t be treated anyway.”

      As to protective covering… I have thought of it – puppy pads, towels, aluminum foil (cats supposedly hate the feel/sound, but I’ve tried it before. She moves it.) Plus, we’re talking 350 sq ft of carpet. To add to the joy, plastic tends to trap odor and intensify it by the time I pull it up. And she will scratch through it. She still has her claws, and if she doesn’t want it there, she will make sure it isn’t there. Sigh.

      I do appreciate your thinking, though!

  4. I hope that things are better now, for both of you. My Aunt drives from the city to the country where I live to bring her animals to my vet … well, now our vet. My vet charges her $110 to get her in heat, small poodle fixed. The big city vet wanted over $300. It is just shocking.

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