The "Grandkitties"

- Posted on Jan 15, 2010

My parents have changed.

For one thing, in December they became grandparents—my nephew Caleb was born December 1.

In November, they became cat owners, having adopted my brother's two cats, Mason and Madison, right before the baby came.

Both baby and kitties are spoiled, the way only grandparents can spoil.

I noticed the difference in my parents as soon as I came to visit. Toy mice dotted the living room, and a collapsible cat cube sat in front of the fireplace. Madison lounged on the dining room table, and Mason kept leaping onto the kitchen counter to lounge in the window behind the sink (when he wasn't meowing for the faucet to get turned on).

Now, when I was growing up, Mom hated cats. Cats, we believed, would climb on top of your refrigerator and ambush your head, or kill things and bring them to you, or get into fights with other cats and come home with their ears torn off. Plus, they “went” in the house, and your house would smell like the litterbox all the time no matter how clean you thought you were keeping it. Nope, no cats for us.

So it was with great amusement that I observed my folks' transformation into cat people. Cats on the table? “Well, we usually don't eat there, anyway.” And as for the litterbox issue?

“It cleans itself,” Dad explained.

When the cat enters this litterbox, a motion detector sets off a timer that counts down for 15 minutes. Then a compartment slides open, a metal rake comes out and slides through the litter, and the rake sweeps the clumps into a sealed compartment lined with a special plastic bag. The human empties the compartment when it gets full, instead of cleaning the litter via the often-disgusting “scoop and sift” method, and the cat enjoys the luxury of freshly-cleaned litter every time it enters the box.

“You guys are spoiled,” I informed Mason, as he climbed on the computer desk and sat on the keyboard while I was checking email.

Not quite as spoiled as little Caleb, of course. But close.

                                                                            —Allison Ruffing

How has having a cat changed you? Leave your comment below! Email us at [email protected].

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