“I’m coming home on Saturday. I have to build something,” said Ari, 23.
He lives an hour away now, but he builds things like desks and tables — which means trips back home to visit his tools, if not his mother.
“No problem. What are you building?”
“A box for the litter boxes,” he said.
When he and Taryn moved out, they took JoJo, our old black cat, with them.
JoJo got along well with Shelby, their dog, and JoJo was also getting attacked all the time by the feline Terrorists, Mark and Cairo. When I asked JoJo if she wanted to move out, she had a small suitcase packed by the front door within 10 minutes.
A few weeks ago, Ari and Taryn added Franklin, a wee orange tabby, to their menagerie. Which also meant adding another litter box.
“Stupid Frankie, he takes his hands and pulls the litter out of the box, then rolls around in it,” said Ari.
My sons have had the advantage of growing up with cats while never having to scoop litter. Until now. In true cat owner fashion, Ari has decided he can invent the perfect litter box.
His friends Jesse and Emerson came over to help, though from what I could tell, they mostly just drank beer and watched him. I heard crashing around in the garage, and then Ari stuck his head in the front door.
“It’s really cold out here. Is it OK if I do this in the living room?”
I shrugged. When the kids were young, I reasoned anything that kept them occupied for more time than it took me to clean up, was a win. The same rules still apply, though I no longer have to clean up.
“Don’t bring a mitre saw in here,” I warned him.
Jesse started laughing.
“He already dumped a thing of sawdust all over himself in the garage. He’s done with the saw,” said Jesse.
The boys started hauling two-by-fours, pieces of plywood, hinges, a drill and an extension cord into the living room.
“Do we have long screws?” asked Ari.
I pointed to the basement. When he was down there he yelled up asking if we had short ones, too. “Somewhere,” I yelled.
As he started figuring out how to best assemble his creation, I raised an eyebrow.
“I just don’t see how that’s going to hold two litter boxes, is all,” I told him.
“Sure it will. Like this, and this. I measured.”
“And you’re going to put walls on all sides of it, and have two cats go in through some little opening? Will JoJo even fit?”
“If she wants to poop she will,” he reasoned.
Anyone who has trained a cat to do anything but what it already has decided to do will recognize the futility of that statement.
The drill blared to life, and my cats scattered. Three young men hemmed and hawed, pulling out tape measures and blasting screws through wood forming a box that when finished, I worried, would be too heavy to lift.
Ari’s perusal of his project grew grimmer at each step.
“Emerson, do you need a coffee table?” he asked.
Emerson raised an eyebrow. “You mean that? No, I’m good.”
“You don’t have to tell anyone it was supposed to be a litter box,” I said, helpfully.
I pictured this thing remaining in my living room forever.
I watched Ari screw two big hinges onto it. I watched him back out the screws and do it again. When it finally appeared finished, he stood back and took a measured glance at it.
“When is bulk garbage day?” he asked.