The blog formerly known as   Fake Plastic Fish

January 15, 2008

Naughty kitties pass the test, as does our drinking water!

I was surprised how easily the kitties went into the box two weeks ago. The blue plastic box that I got from a very nice person on Freecycle. They were so quiet in there, I had to check a couple of times to make sure I hadn’t imagined putting them in. Good thing they get along with each other. We will need to get another cat carrier for when they are bigger and can’t both be stuffed into the same box. Freecycle or Craigslist. No new plastic for these cats!

So we went to the vet and got shots and blood drawn. Well, they did. I just felt their pain from a distance. And today we got the results. No toxoplasma gondii for these babies. Their poop is certified flushable, as is their litter! And pregnant women are safe in my house. Hurray! We’re still using the Swheatscoop litter, although I’m not crazy about the smell. I do sprinkle baking soda into it to absorb odors. I’ve heard that pine litter is good. But I really do want something that’s certified flushable so I don’t have to make decisions about what kind of bag to gather it in and whether to landfill it or find some way to compost.

And to anyone who thinks we are using too much water by flushing their litter, we don’t have kids. So I think we’re allowed this one. (Wow. That was a little snippy of me.)

Oh, and speaking of snippy, Arya has been destroying my legs trying to climb me like a tree. Thanks, David. So I asked the vet to show me how to clip their nails, and now they’re safe for a while. Then, I went out to find my own kitty nail clippers, and guess what. They all come packaged in mondo plastic blister packs! No way! So I posted an ad on Craigslist for cat nail clippers and got one person who offered us his used clippers for free (which Michael picked up for us on Saturday) and about 10 other people who advised me to just use people nail clippers on them. So I guess I’ll try both ways and see which works better.

Oh, there was one guy who wrote back, “do not clip the cat’s nails!!! give them a scratching post, and wear long sleeves.” Um… no. They have a scratching post. I do wear long sleeves. And I am a bloody mess. They’re indoor cats. What’s wrong with a little clipping? We’ll see if I still feel this way the first time I have to do their nails myself.

Now, Look at this face. Doesn’t she look innocent? Don’t be fooled. They are rascally kitties, and I need your advice. What can I use to keep them from chewing electrical cords, eating my plants and knocking them over, and the most worrisome thing, messing with the CFL lightbulbs in table lamps? Soots in particular seems fascinated by those swirly mercury-containing time bombs.

I’ve seen the bitter sprays sold in pet shops, but of course they all come in plastic bottles. Anyone have a recipe I can make myself? I read the ingredients of one of them… rosemary, sodium bicarbonate, and water. But I couldn’t figure out the proportions and it just ended up leaving a baking soda film on my plants. Help!

Oh, and in other un-cat-related news, our water is certified drinkable right from the tap! I bought one of those Culligan test kits from Ace Hardware and found that the levels for chlorine and other contaminants was very low. I sent a sample to the lab to be tested for lead, and that one came back clean too. We are just testing so well today! So that solves our plastic water filter issues. We just don’t need one at all.

Of course, I recognize that there are those in other areas who don’t have such great water and do need a water filter. First, please have your water tested to make sure you need a filter in the first place. If you do, a water filter uses less plastic than all the bottles you might otherwise be buying. But this is why I am promoting a campaign to get North American Brita to recycle their cartridges. Some people have to use a filter and shouldn’t have to toss all that plastic into a landfill. Right?

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Another round of support for nail clipping. We trim every two weeks or so; takes some doing the first few times, but if you work it into the grooming schedule, the kitties should take to it. We’ve tried all manner of litter. Feline Pine was an utter mess. It disintegrated and tracked all over the house (of course, we have two longhairs, so that could have been part of the problem). We finally settled on Good Mews, manufactured in Oregon out of post-consumer paper. It’s flushable, but it does come in a plastic bag. Perhaps you can find another recycled-paper… Read more »


Our cat doesn’t bother my houseplants, as long as he has his own cat grass to nibble. He prefers the oats on their own, over a barley/rye/oat blend. However, we didn’t get him until he was 2 years old, and probably past much of the kitten/chewing phase.

As for making a cardboard cat carrier: Mother Earth News has directions.


With the non-clumping Feline Pine (I’ve never tried the clumping, having never seen the need), you just scoop out “the solids” and can flush. You’re not actually flushing more than a teeny bit of sawdust. I don’t actually flush it all that often — our bathroom is upstairs and the litterboxes downstairs — but if our ancient plumbing doesn’t have a problem, I think you’ll be fine.


Here’s one more recommendation to spray, spray, spray, spray, spray. Have a sprayer in every room and USE it. I call all my sprayers Mister Sprayer. Re kittens chewing cords, I tape to the wall and floor as much of the cord as I can. Tape can be utterly fascinating to kittens, but Mister Sprayer puts a damper on that real fast. Aside from what Julia’s mom does with her plants, I have found NOTHING that will keep kittens out and off of plants except Mister Sprayer. I completely agree with Anonymous who wrote, “…a kitten is a kitten is… Read more »


I like feline pine in the pellets, hate feline pine in the clumping. Does not clump and tracks all over the house. I did not like the wheat or tea leaves for the same reasons. I do not like the sand clumping because the dust is not great for kittens eyes or my rescued persian. I do lots of fostering and have lots of them with URIs and the dust bothers them. Also, cant deal with the cement left at the bottom of the box. For the crazies and into everything I think you will just have to wait that… Read more »


Silly person. Please trim your kitties nails, especially the dewclaws, as they can become an ingrown mess if you have an indoor cat.

I use feline pine but it always comes in a plastic bag. :( I’ve used shredded paper in a pinch, but is totally not smell absorbing.


I hated Feline Pine. Also, the water bottle has worked well for me. My cats seemed to out grow the plant chewing thing after a year or two. Depends on the cat though. Also, to help with fecal/urine odor. You need to make sure you have at least two litter boxes. I use (granted plastic) totes that are about 4 inches deep and bigger then cat boxes. My cats seem fine with it. More litter, easier to clean and less odor. I really only like the clay litters and not the ultra cheap ones. It is however not something you… Read more »

Rejin L

Hillary, I just checked the Culligan website. It seems like the free test they have is for water hardness. Maybe the hardware store/$9.99 one is more thorough.

might I add...?

First, about cutting the cats’ nails… should be fine, I’ve been doing it for ages. Maybe the person who was against it got confused and thought you were planning to have your kitties declawed, a completely different (and horrible) thing. Secondly, about the water tests. You may want to have a full test done on your water. There are many things in the water these days which can be harmful, not just lead like in the old days. Tests can be done for E coli, arsenic, radon and lots of other stuff. Depending on your water source, these tests can… Read more »


I was just on Culligan’s website and they will send you a water test kit for free! Do you suppose this is the same one that’s for sale in hardware stores for $9.99?

Rejin L

Culligan water tests! Wow, it would not have occurred to me to just go check the hardware store. I’ll have to look for those around here. I had already decided to just stop buying filters, but a little extra peace of mind wouldn’t hurt.

Cathy Mullins

Good for you on the drinking water pass! We need to find out if we’re okay.

I envy you your scratches. I wish we could have cats and I look forward to our next home where cats will rule!


Cats don’t like orange or citris smells… try a little orange oil or rind boiled in some water and sprayed where you don’t want it. Cayenne pepper, too will work… but isn’t as clear. It’s what I use outside to prevent cats from digging in my gardens. On a different note, when you get your next cat crate (box), you could try looking for a metal dog crate instead. They come in coated and uncoated… I am sure the coating is plastic, so you will want the plain metal. They generally come with a plastic tray, but generally if you… Read more »


You can always tell someone with kittens by their scratches. The climbing, knocking stuff over and general ‘rascallyness’ will slowly subside as they get older. Until then it’s a bit like having a small child. You’ll need to ‘kitty’ proof. And buy some neosporin. A ‘kitty mama’ friend and I were having the litter conversation last night and I’m really stumped. I have two boys (Jack and Gus) and they need litter that is VERY odor absorbing. I’m sorry to hear the sweatscoop is not good with odor. My friend is wondering what to do now that she has given… Read more »

har mar

aw see beth, idahoans love you and your blog! i wont love you till we get lunch though!

and are you going on vacay this weekend? if you are i hope you have a fantastic time relaxing and take lots of pics to show me. at lunch.


Such adorable little rascals, though. It gets them through this stage – they get less cute just about the time they settle down.

I think we got through the cord-chewing phase by covering up every single cord with furniture or boxes until they got over it.

I know the plant answer was to stop having plants they would eat. At this point, all of my houseplants are cactus or aloe. It’s not so much that I got rid of all the other plants as that eventually the less spiky ones were nibbled to death.

Idaho Locavore

I use Tabasco sauce on electrical cords and anything else that’s not absorbent that I don’t want the critters chewing up. It comes in a glass bottle, too – although now that I think of it, the lid is plastic. Hrm. You can also make your own by whizzing up some very, very hot peppers in a blender with a bit of vinegar and salt. Store it in the fridge afterwards and use it for seasoning your food and repelling evil cord-chewing kitties. ;-) Btw, we have clipped our kitties claws for years and it doesn’t hurt them. If you… Read more »


We use just a regular water spray bottle. It’s plastic, but you could maybe find an old one to reuse.

We clip Samwise’s nails about every 2 weeks. We used to use SoftPaws (vinyl nail coverings), but that’s out for you for sure.

Have you checked your plumbing and are sure your system can handle the flushing of the litter? I’ve heard horror stories about what may happen to your plumbing a month from now.

Enjoy the kitties!


The only thing that has ever been known to keep my mom’s five cats from eating her plants is to put them out of kitty reach. Not a huge help.


Feline Pine works great as a mulch in the garden! Also, regarding flushing the kitty stuff — I usually try to combine it with a flush of my own to save water. :)


I agree, just a spray bottle with water works wonders with my cats. Just keep it with you at all times in the beginnning. After a while just leaving the bottle on the table is enough to remind my kitty to stay off, although they do seem to get amnesia and need reminding every few weeks.

The Biscuit Queen

Use a spray bottle and spray Arya with water when she tries to climb you. Do it the moment her claws sink into your legs. Keep with with you at all times.

Plants, try a spray made from cayanne pepper and water.

I just bought wheat litter last night, had never even heard of it. I will let you know how it works. I am planning on composting it though, as we have a septic tank and can’t flush things like that.

Congrats on healthy kitties.