Category Archives: Cats

What Lurks Below the Shower Drain?

In the never ending saga of household mysteries like “What does that light switch control?”, “Why is there no outlet on that wall?” and “Why do I have better cell service in my closet?” I would like to add one more: “What lurks below the shower drain?”

There seems to be some cosmic inequity in my home.

How is it that the drain below my kitchen sink is the busiest in the house, yet it never blocks (though I bet I have just jinked it.)

True enough, I have been very conscientious about not pouring oils down the drain. I’ve strained out the solids from the stew-like remains of dishes that didn’t quite make the cut. And there is still the occasional leaf, bean, seed or gluten-free something or other that escapes on me, but yet that drain never clogs.

The shower drain doesn’t get nearly the same amount of activity. So then why do I find myself in almost-shin-deep water when I shower? My bathtub drain seems to be having issues.

The drain hasn’t really been able to keep up with the output of my low-flow shower head. After finishing a shower, I would have time to towel off, apply my moisturizer and anti-perspirant, get dressed, have a leisurely breakfast and say goodbye to the cat by the time the water had completely evacuated and begun its trajectory to the water purification plant.

When I put the question of possible causes to my panel of friends and family, one member of my inner circle was very quick to point out “It can’t be your hair!”… maybe too quick.

As the proud recipient of the male pattern baldness gene, that was indeed the first factor I eliminated from my detective’s assumption list.

Could it be Ivy the Wonder Cat’s hair? Considering how her hair follows me around even after a thorough vacuuming, it is indeed a possibility, but the reality is that a bathtub is the last place she would play given her shrieks when she gets even slightly wet.

Could Ivy have dropped a tiny toy down the drain? Possibly, but as far as I can tell, the friends are all present and accounted for.

I wondered if it was a cheaper soap I was using a while back, one that seemed to create a lot of soap residue. Perhaps.

The problem with the shower drain is that it is not like the other sinks in the house, where you just need to crawl under, grab a wrench, loosen the nuts that hold the pipe in place, pull out the pipe, clear it out, put the pipe back into place and secure into place by tightening the nuts. (By the way, I made that sound considerably easier than it is, so just be forewarned).

There is no easy access to the network under the drain, so it’s like a whole parallel Marvel universe could be happening under there and I really wouldn’t know it.

To try to remedy the slow drain situation, I have tried the hot water, vinegar and baking soda trick, which worked to a point, but with limited long term improvement.

On my last trip to the hardware store, I ventured to the drain cleaner section. Without really knowing what the clog contained, it was difficult to know which product would be the right cure. But what I did know was that some of those products would crank up my sense of environmental guilt.

A few days later, my toilet was experiencing some indigestion from a modest amount of bathroom tissue. Yes, that’s progress for you, a low-flush toilet that needs to be flushed repeatedly to avoid blocking. Is it any wonder that environmental guilt follows me like a shadow these days?

In the defense of low-flush toilets, I believe this one is an early generation model. I have two others in the house of different makes and models that work really well.

On the bright side, since the installation of this particular throne, I have had a lot of practice with the plunger and seem to be getting quite talented with it.

Maybe a plunger workout is what the drain needed. Even though I didn’t have a regulation drain plunger, I figured it was worth a try anyway with the one I used for the commode.

(Etymological note: I searched and searched for the correct verb to mean “using a plunger” but to no avail so I shall use “plunge” in quotations marks… you’ll know what I mean)

I “plunged”… No change.

I “plunged” again … No change yet.

But once I concentrated, recalling some bureaucratic nightmares I had recently encountered, I tapped into my inner rage, in Incredible Hulk style, and was able to “plunge” my way to drain freedom.

As I ran the water, I noticed that it wasn’t accumulating at the rate that it was previously. Plus, as soon as I turned off the water I could see that little clockwise water swirl that I hadn’t seen in ages (which incidentally, for your next trivia challenge game, it actually has a name: the Coriolis effect).

By some stroke of divine intervention, by the time I had finished toweling off, the tub water was completely gone.

As the proud recipient of the worry gene, I ran downstairs for a quick home inspection to ensure I didn’t suddenly have weepy walls or a water logged catnip toy falling through the ceiling. All was good. And to be 100% sure, I checked the next day…. And the day after that.

If there’s one thing that 18 years of home ownership has taught me it is that home repairs are a little like a Wile E. Coyote and Roadrunner cartoon. You are presented with a challenge, very little information, a tool box of products and a strong desire for success. And if at first you don’t succeed, try try again.

With time, patience and persistence, the successful completion of minor home repairs is well within our reach. Although I still don’t know what lurks below the shower drain, and I probably never will.

Did you enjoy this post? If you haven’t already, please check out the rest of my blog at andrebegin.blog. From there, you can click on the “Follow” button to receive future posts directly in your inbox. Also, don’t be shy, feel free to tell a friend or to share the link.
Sincere thanks for reading!
Have a great day,
André

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When the Cat Has an Upset Stomach

From the time when Ivy the Wonder Cat joined me, I have to admit that my floors and I have been pretty lucky.

With only a few rare exceptions, it seems that she has a stomach made of steel, metaphorically speaking, of course.

And as much as friends and colleagues warned me about volcanic eruptions of hairballs and everything that comes with them, Ivy has been pretty good in that department as well.

Funny enough, it’s when she is nervous about something, whether it is change, disruption, car rides or temporary relocation that I can almost guarantee that she will need to barf… three days later.

Why three? I don’t know.

But it isn’t a problem, it’s not her fault. That’s her stress reliever.

If that’s her way of doing the Taylor Swift “Shake it off” to move on with her life, all I can do is to empathize and to clean it up. Having experienced anxiety issues leading to severe knots in the stomach and eventually throwing up, I completely understand. Like father, like daughter. Continue reading

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Reprogramming the Cat

At Ivy-the-Wonder-Cat’s last vet appointment, I was told the news that I suspected was coming: It was time to start watching her weight.

I always thought that when it came to her diet, she was pretty much self-guiding. I was reading product labels for calorie counts and I kept an eye on the amount of wet and dry food she ate. Between the days she ate more and the days she ate less, it seemed to average out to the target calorie range… or so I thought.

But it also averaged out to one extra pound every year that she had been with me. If I wanted Ivy to have a healthy, long life, we needed to curb that increase.

After going over our daily routine, the vet and I came up with some solutions. I was apprehensive that Ivy would put up a fuss, but the vet reassured me that cats like structure, and these measures were just going to reinforce what they crave anyway.

When I think about it, there have been times that I could set a clock to Ivy’s behaviour, like when she is heading upstairs between 9:58 p.m. and 10:02 p.m. because to her, it’s bedtime. I don’t even have to suggest it.

Even as I wrote the first draft of this blog at 9:00 am on a Saturday morning, she walked by, yawned and crawled into her cat bed. She’s pretty punctual. Maybe these changes will work.

The first step was to have just one feeding station. Continue reading

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When the Cat Asks for a Massage

I think I’ve created a monster!

When I adopted Ivy the Wonder Cat, naturally, she was guarded when it came to where she would allow herself to be petted by this new stranger. But as we got to spend more time together and she realized that she had nothing to fear with me, she started trusting me more and letting her guard down.

At first, I could pet her back and perhaps the top of her head, but that was it. If I pet her anywhere else, I risked getting bitten.

As she warmed up to me, her head became welcome territory as she loved getting massaged behind the ears. Then she started presenting her chin as she liked a little scratch there from time to time.

When she realized that I was a willing participant in indulging her requests for attention, the “rub my belly” days began. Whether I was just coming out of the bedroom in the morning, or coming home from work, she would collapse to the floor like her joints all gave out at the same time, roll over on her back, front paws up in the air and present her belly for a gentle tummy rub.

What surprised me was the slow evolution with her allowing me to go near her paws. As I discussed in my post about challenges in trimming my cat’s nails, she has never been fond with me touching her paws, even if I didn’t have the nail clippers in my hand. She took a long time to warm up. Continue reading

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It’s Shedding Season Again!

After a challenging winter, when the calendar flips to March, we start looking for signs that spring is on its way.

I have found that a pretty reliable predictor is the sudden presence of cat hair… everywhere! Even though I’d like to think I keep a pretty tidy house, no amount of vacuuming seems to be able to keep up with the pace at which Ivy the Wonder Cat sheds her winter coat.

Last week, I was a little startled when I found a stray cat hair on my breakfast plate, peeking out from under my food, even though the kitchen was spotless. Another day, I was on the couch watching TV, when I suddenly started choking when I inhaled a stray cat hair that was floating around.

Even as I am writing this, I am noticing a cat hair on the lip of my coffee cup.

I conclude that cat hair must be following me around like a cloud. To maintain a more positive outlook, I prefer to think about it as an extension of my aura. Fortunately, it’s just a temporary, seasonal thing.

Just the same, I sprang into action and took the vacuum out. An hour later, after vacuuming in every corner and crevice in the house, the dirt cup was quite full even though I had just done it a few days prior.

What is really fascinating is that it is like it happens overnight. Throughout January and February, there is a modest amount of cat hair in the vacuum’s dirt cup every time I clean, which seems perfectly normal.

But as soon as March rolls around, BOOM! It’s like someone hit the cat’s “hair ejector” button. For the amount of hair I collect, I often wonder how Ivy isn’t bald because there’s just so much of it. Continue reading

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Cat Food: When Her Favourite Is No Longer Her Favourite

When it comes to Ivy the Wonder Cat, mealtime is usually pretty straightforward. She has four or five types of good quality wet food on rotation, she has a bowl of her favourite dry food, she has three kinds of treats in the cupboard, she has an exercise/feeder ball in the play room and she has plenty of fresh water to wash it all down and to stay hydrated.

Most times, she has a pretty healthy appetite and her bowls of wet food are gone in three or four visits. Sometimes, my social eater might gobble them down in two visits.

And based on the way Ivy operates, mealtime seems to confirm what I have heard and read about cats liking structure and aren’t fans of change.

She likes her meals served at the same time each day, and you can set your clock by Ivy. My extroverted kitty has no problem waking me up from a deep sleep that encroaches on her meal time.

Similarly, she doesn’t like me to diverge too often from a small rotation current favourites as it seems to disrupt the routine, resulting in uneaten portions. That being the case, when I am at the pet store, there is really no guesswork involved. I know what her favourites are and I just have to keep buying them, which certainly makes life easy for me.

That is, until the dreaded day one of her favourites is no longer her favourite. Continue reading

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Mission Impossible: Wrapping the Presents

I thought I was doing well this Christmas season, having made a list and checked it twice (OK, I admit, more like two hundred times… per day), the halls were decked early (fa la la la la, la la, la la), I shopped early, and when I did have to go out in December, I shopped at off-peak times. I was organized and on time… or so I thought.

I hadn’t anticipated that my biggest hurdle this year would be wrapping the presents.

The challenge this year is twofold. Ivy the Wonder Cat seems to have made herself at home in my writing room, the room where I keep all the wrapping supplies. Over the past year, this is where she made the habit of going for her morning naps, which sometimes stretched into afternoon naps, sometimes concluded by evening naps.

When I realized that this was THE spot where she felt most comfortable and secure, I moved her cat bed there which seemed to have sealed the deal and her specific purpose for that room.

In previous years, I would hide the presents in the closet of that room, and then when she wasn’t looking, I’d run into the room, close the door and then a couple of hours later, I would walk out with the presents wrapped and ready for the big day. Continue reading

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