One of the most unique challenges a New York City cat-owner faces is the question of where to put the litter box. Mudrooms, basements and laundry rooms often used to stash the necessary monstrosity are not part of our vernacular. According to my highly unscientific guesstimates, the average litter box takes up 3 cubic feet of precious floor space. In this town we’re talking $40/month worth of prime real estate.
An uncovered litter pan was out of the question – no one needs to be exposed to that. But to have standard-issue primary-color-plastic poop box as the focal point in my apartment is to me, akin to having kids and falling prey to elastic waistband jeans and comfortable shoes. I refuse to admit publicly – or perhaps more importantly to myself– that I have resigned myself to a apartment life defined by cats. I wanted to be the cat-owner equivalent of the MILF.
My apartment should announce itself to friends, family and suitors with a resounding, “Hello, an independent sophisticated woman lives here “ rather than “Meeeooowwwww, welcome to Casa Cat”.
A litter “solution” wish list was compiled:
- Aesthetically Acceptable (at the very least not an eyesore)
- Guy-friendly (not a turn off)
The laptop was fired up, and my search began.
Um, Your Plant is Moving
At first pass the “planter” solution seemed promising. Discrete: check. Aesthetically Acceptable: check (a plant might even enhance the apartment’s appearance). Compact: check (took up more air spacethan floor space). Affordable: check.
All that remained was the question of “Guy Friendly.” I closed my eyes and imagined the scene unfolding.
The lights were dimmed and I was on the sofa with a yet-to-be discovered handsome charming gentlemen in his late 30s-early 40s exchanging witty banter while sipping a lovely earthy-yet-not-too-tannic Malbec. I flip my hair back over my shoulder, giggling at something clever he’s said, when suddenly a scratching sound lifts over the conversation. It stops. Then starts again. I act as though I’ve heard nothing. Suddenly, from the corner of the room, a cat emerges from the base of a seemingly innocuous plant…
Surely we wouldn’t be able to ignore the absurdity of this situation. It would require some sort of pithy comment “Oh that Kip, he’s always been interested in botany.” Definite potential here to make me look nuttier than I already am.
There was a shocking large array of litter “cabinets” from which to choose, in every imaginable 70s wood finish. But in a city where coffee tables double as dining tables, where living rooms and bedrooms are one and the same, a cat sure as hell wasn’t getting a dedicated piece of furniture. Plus, it ranked up there with the planter on the potential awkwardness scale.
Welcome to the Dollhouse
Discrete: NOT. Aesthetically acceptable: NOT. Compact: NOT. Affordable: check. Guy Friendly? Instead of a cat, he might think I have a small child. Could that work to my advantage? A cat might seem like nothing after that prospect of a child. Or he might just think I like playing with dolls or have infantilized my cat. Guy Friendly: NOT!
Let’s say you could even get a Frank Gehry or Philip Stark model, my money’s on the cat refusing to go inside. The only image with a cat anywhere near one of these is the one posted, and as far as I’m convinced that could be photo-shopped. Check out the front-step perspective drawing on the brownstone model.
Discrete: check. Aesthetically Acceptable: check +. Compact: check. Affordable: $180 isn’t a steal, but seems worth it. Guy Friendly: check (he might not even notice it, thinking it was a modern looking wastebasket or shredder).
Here it was, the ipod of litter boxes. I was in love! Sleek, shiny, sexy almost, and available in array of colors. It even came with “rooftop access” and who doesn’t want that. The cat enters the litter box via the “rooftop”, does his business, and then re-emerges back up through the top. In theory the “deck” area allows for excess litter caught in his paws to fall back into the receptacle rather than be tracked throughout the home.
Thinking I’d finally found “the” one, I shared it with a few friends for approvals. They promptly reminded me that I have one rather rotund cat. Even if he fit through the opening, would he be able to hoist himself up-and-out unassisted? I checked the FAQ section of the website and my fear was confirmed. This was not an obese-friendly litter solution. Bummer.
Take Us to Your Leader or Beam Me Up Scottie
I was losing hope. Would I have to resort to the romper-room version of litter boxes out of desperation? But as I clicked on the last fateful link, there it was – – LITTER ROBOT. Or as my friend Nancy refers to it – the spaceship. While it came up short on “discrete”, “compact” and “affordable”, I found the sphere and simple lines aesthetically pleasing.
Guy Friendly? A guy did not have to be a cat lover to appreciate the machinery involved.The cat enters the “globe” to do his business, triggering a sensor that begins a 7- minute “countdown”. At t-minus-7-minutes, the globe rotates and poop is separated and sent out through “waste portals” into a plastic bag I merely had to switch out every few days without coming into contact with fecal matter or litter.
This robot-spaceship combination was sure to mesmerize even the most hardened cat-adverse male. It came complete with a “control panel”. And it was made in the USA to boot, so I was bolstering the economy and I felt somehow supporting the troops (it must have been the flag).
Hitting “confirm” on my purchase I felt victorious. I had found a litter solution that didn’t hide the fact I had cats. In fact, it pretty much put the matter front-and-center given the Litter Robot would only fit in the front room and was impossible to conceal. But I didn’t care, I wasn’t ashamed of it, it sent theright message. I was a proud, sophisticated cat-owner who could have both cats, a sense of self, and good taste.
Now if only it had lasers…..