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On kitty litter


Some time ago I was offered a free box of World’s Best Cat Litter in return for a review on the blog, and I kind of jumped at the chance with unseemly haste.  Anything that promises to make the litter chore easier or better is too good of an opportunity to pass up.  So I promptly agreed, and shortly after received a small box of corn litter to try out.


Full disclosure – I don’t do cat litter. I used to, and found the job disgusting, and spent a fortune on a Litter Robot which is God’s answer to cat litter management.  It worked phenomenally well, I loved it, and that would have been the happy ending, except for James broke it one day.  And I said,  since you broke it, you feel free to clean cat litter, cause you see I had a ROBOT that did it, so feel free to either replace it, or manage the cat litter single handedly.  So he’s been doing the cat litter solo since then. So all World’s Best Cat Litter observations are his.


My impressions were – this ain’t gonna be enough litter, yo. We have two giant litter boxes for four cats, which we spot clean every day or two, and fully empty once a week. This system works pretty good, although not nearly as good as my Litter Robot. So we set up a small litter box full of World’s Best to see how it would play out in the arena.  All the boxes were fully clean and ready to go in a nod to scientific consistency.


My cats LOVE it when their litter box is cleaned, so they were pretty much a ready audience when we (James) were done with the litter set up. They are also creatures of habit, so first they were fascinated with their old clean boxes. Other than a perfunctory sniff not one chose World’s Best until the regular boxes were soiled. But you know what? Cats are like kids and old people – rather change averse.  So that means nothing.  The litter comes out of the box smelling freshly grassy with a faint corn scent and pours very nicely compared to clay, by the way.


So three out of four cats proceeded to use WBCL and it was pretty darn good. There is far less dust raised when pouring the litter, scooping, or raking maniacally by cats. It clumps completely and is really far superior to clay at holding urine smells at bay. All the cats continued to use it as their regular boxes got smellier, so they can definitely tell the difference.  The stuff can be flushed too which we didn’t test cause we (James) were already cleaning clay, but I’m sure it’s safe.  Not so much good at keeping poop smells at bay, but really, nothing is. Except the Litter Robot.  Because we had three cats using it, we went through it pretty quickly despite the fact that we dumped out less litter clumps per sweep.


Verdict – it would be immensely worth trying for a one or two cat household. Because we have SO many cats we would need a pallet of this stuff. And of course it’s more expensive than clay. Because you use less overall litter, it should last far longer than clay, but in our case it still went pretty quickly.  Odor control is excellent at the start of the box, and diminishes with time, as does clay. Dust is less but it will still track a bit.  You really have to try a bag for longevity to see if you get any cost savings, my guess is probably.


Is it the answer and the holy grail of cat litter management? Not really.  It’s still litter, you still scoop it, it will still smell depending on how heavily it’s used.  If you mixed it with the Litter Robot though, I think you would be as close to Nirvana as cat ownership gets.



Chicks with tools


I’ve always had a healthy interest in using my hands – in MAKING stuff – be it cooking, fixing a fence, growing a garden and other such pursuits. I took shop in high school and occasionally help James in his work as a hardwood installer.


But while I have enthusiasm in spades, I have an appalling lack of experience and know-how. My father is reasonably competent at building/making/fixing stuff but he’s not a good teacher, lacking all patience. My uncle is a cross between MacGyver and an artisan, and can build or make anything, including a full blown house, a sauna, a patio, etc. but alas, most of my life we were on separate continents, and I lacked say, a reitred neighbor with a woodshop next door, or something equally convenient.


So a Lee Valley Woodworking For Women course seemed like the answer to my prayers – the course was taught by an experienced carpenter, was geared towards newbies, and promised to teach many handy skills while accomplishing a fully finished product – in this case a lovely bench.  And my intrepid adventurer of a friend Jean and I, promptly signed up.


The course took two evenings and an entire Saturday, which was not nearly long enough for eight teams of women to accomplish such a lofty goal as a full blown bench, I’m sorry to say. Apparently what takes an experienced carpenter about six hours, takes easily three times as long with inexperienced people tripping all over themselves, asking questions and sharing tools.


The course started out peachy – with lovely intros, a crash course on power tool safely, a handing out of supplies, and a tour to the power shop in the back which contained one of them amazing table saws that stop when they hit flesh, you seen those ads on YouTube? Apparently it’s like magic, and they demo them with hot dogs. Luckily we didn’t have to test that feature of the table saw, although we did learn all about kickbacks the hard way.



The first day we mainly chopped up our pieces of wood into some of the required parts, glued the bench legs together, and went home. The time flew by obscenely fast, and it was lots of fun.




The second day we finished chopping up the pieces (just about), and did something else and the day was over. That quickly. Seriously, they could teach the theory of relativity at that workshop. Poof, and it’s over, what three hours?


The final day promised to be busy from the get go – we were to finish cutting ALL the pieces now, plane some of them, give them a three second sanding, glue the frames together (using biscuit joints), jigsaw some decorative arcs, put everything together, build the cushion, and stain the bench. Sounds like much? It was a marathon mixed with a comedy of errors.




First there was the ridiculous instructions of the bench blueprint that had to be ignored, and new ones written on the board. Then there was the wrong cutting of the holes with the biscuit jointer, resulting in some unnecessary wood removal, then there was the not quite precisely cut pieces that had to be held together with hope, prayer, buckets of glue and an obsene amount of clamps.  The list goes on and on. At first we were all precise and such, and as the day went on we threw perfection in the toilet and had fun just clamping and gluing stuff until it held, racing against the clock the entire time.



One of the major challenges was the lack of adequate supplies for all the students, which made getting everyone through all the steps incredibly frustrating. There were only a couple of sanders, two jigsaws, and NOT ENOUGH CLAMPS! Now I know why all those woodworking forums all say ‘buy lots of clamps heh heh’.  Those supplies would have been barely sufficient if there was a master plan that divided the class into two groups, and applied each half to different parts of the project from the get go, with military precision.  But as self-organized as we tried to be, there are major logistical difficulties in getting everyone through the single miter saw, table saw, planer with any degree of speed. Basically the project chosen by the instructor was a bit ambitious given the size of the group and the equipment, and it could have been done better if there was much more organization and pre-design of a game plan.




Overall Jean and I both enjoyed the course, but certainly more in retrospect than at the time. At the time there was only a frenzy of sanding, gluing, clamping, swearing, staining, and stapling.  There is a certain trade off between building something useful, in the amount of time given, and learning new skills. For those of you who speak woodworking, the bench was held together with bisquit joints, which is great, but I’d rather have learned a mortise tenon or a dovetail joint. It’s unlikely that I’d have a bench, but that’s the trade off, I guess.



But at the end of a really long day, the benches were finally finished.  I am quite sure that mine at least, should not support a full sized person, but the cat sure approves.  🙂





Here’s Jean’s masterpiece – her chosen stain was absolutely stunning, giving the wood a weathered, old finish, reminiscent of an ‘old barn by the sea’. And she chose outdoor fabric so that the bench can be outside.





Inter-species communication

 We had a wild and beautiful dog visit us from BC, (lucky dog!), and the girl cats did a very impressive disappearing act. They have a healthy self-preservation instinct that would permit no less, even though the dog is totally cat friendly.


Happy puppy

Happy puppy

Tweaks in particular was chillaxin’ on the chair near the patio door when the puppy unfortunately snuck up on her (with all the stealth of a tank on gravel) and she did one of those cartoon bolts that was impressive in execution. Feet scrambling for all they’re worth she flew down the hall and didn’t stop until the crash landed into the trunk in the foyer. We didn’t see her any more that night.


When I wiped the tears from my eyes from laughing so hard, I took survey of the house and saw the sole brave soldier ready to face any danger – Cheney. His particular mix of dumb and brave must be seen to be believed, but he loves people, dogs, cats, velociraptors and there’s no one better suited for shattering stereotypes about cat behavior.


He followed the poor dog around all night long – squawking at the top of his lungs and he sure had a great deal of things to say.


Where you do, I go

Where you do, I go

He engaged the dog in a fist fight – he lost.


I'll eat you

I'll eat you

And when the dog was totally worn out from this insane cat chasing him all night – he passed out too.  It was more excitement than he gets in a month, after all.


Can I sleep now?

Can I sleep now?


Who sleeps like that?

Who sleeps like that?


P.S.  Please forgive the crappy photography, but did you know animals move? Non-stop? And it takes way more skill than I have to snap them good photos. This camera hides a lot of sins, but it can only do so much.