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Rant #399
(published September 11, 2008)
Butt Floss
by Dave Miller
Why do cats have a Jones for all things stringy? Our two cats, Murphy and Sassy, just can't seem to get enough curling ribbon or used dental floss in their diets. Try as we might to prevent it, their kitty radar seems to lead them right to the source of their gastric distress.

I know they are animals, but why the hell can they not learn from their mistakes? They seem to be pretty good at learning other things, but this lesson escapes them.

When I open the pantry door and shake their box of food, they come running. Shaking box sound = food. A positive learned response.

But if I leave the bathroom door open, they find a piece of used dental floss, gulp it down and are miserable until it (hopefully) winds up in the litter box. Gulping down used dental floss = stomach ache. No connection. No learning. What gives?

So a while ago, Sassy is walking around the house, not being his usual Sassy self. He wants our attention, but something is amiss. As he walks by, I notice something dangling from his ass. It's a piece of dental floss. Son of a bitch stupid cat! Dammit! My wife tells me I need to do something about it, which is her polite way of saying I've been chosen for floss removal duty. Great.

Another thing our cats are pretty good at is knowing when something bad is about to happen. If they see me getting the cat carrier out of the garage, they disappear into the furthest reaches of the basement. There is no such thing as a fun ride in the cat carrier.

When Sassy spotted me pulling on a pair of thick rubber gloves, he just knew he was going to be part of the equation, and he took off upstairs. I closed the doors to each bedroom and methodically searched them one by one. I sort of felt like Jason in those Friday the 13th movies, looking for my next victim. All I was missing was the goalie mask.

With two bedrooms eliminated, I knew he was in our bedroom. I closed the door behind me and looked under the bed. I tried to be as non-threatening as possible. "C'mon, Sasser . . . I'm just trying to help you . . . c'mon . . ."

Sassy replied with his "cat in peril" meow, letting me know that whatever I was up to was not okay with him.

I reached under the bed to grab him, but he was just out of arms reach. I tried the other side of the bed, and he moved just enough to avoid my hand. "C'mon, kitty . . . come out from there . . . you stupid son of a bitch . . ."

Clearly, this was not working. I needed something to poke at him and force him out from under the bed. I grabbed a tube of wrapping paper from the closet and poked him out to the side. His "cat in peril" meow had been replaced with a guttural cry. I rushed to the side of the bed, only to see him dash under it again. Dammit!

This "poke the cat from one side of the bed to the other" routine went on for a minute or two. I had to block his escape route if I ever wanted to get this over with. My hands were starting to get sweaty in the rubber gloves and I could feel my face getting warmer by the minute.

I grabbed some shoeboxes from the closet and blocked his exit. A couple more pokes with the wrapping paper tube got him to move. He ran towards the boxes, doubled back, and ran towards my side of the bed, barely escaping my grasp. He was now trapped in the corner of our room, terrified of the rubber-gloved madman that was approaching.

I remembered hearing the phrase "never corner a rat", and wondered if the same wisdom applied to a cat that had dental floss hanging out of it's ass. I didn't think he could bite through the gloves and he had been de-clawed, so I took my chances. I could hear my wife through the bedroom door, "You better not hurt him!" Hurt him? At this point, I wanted to kill the little asshole.

I grabbed him by the scruff of the neck and angled my arm so the rubber glove would absorb any bites. With my free hand, I found the offending piece of floss and yanked it out, halfway hoping Sassy would be turned inside out, like we were in some sick Tom and Jerry cartoon or something. I flushed the floss down the toilet in the master bath and let the cat out of the room. Mission accomplished.

Sassy and I avoided eye contact for a few days after this incident, and we have a silent agreement not to bring it up again in conversation. If you see him, don't let him know I told you about it.

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