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Ok, I give up

by Mothership on January 15, 2013

I took Tabasco for his rabies and final FLV shot the other day and I asked our vet about the toilet training. She, apparently, had trained her Siamese cat to use the toilet.

It took her a year and a half.


No. I’m not cleaning the bathroom and picking poo off the floor every single day for eighteen months.

She also said that, on balance, if we didn’t live on a busy road (we don’t) and we ‘clicker trained’ him to come when we wanted him to, he’d be fine as an indoor/outdoor cat. It’s safer to keep them in, but if he wants to go out – and he does (and so does Husband) -then that’s what one should do.

I’ll wait until I get back from England to start the clicker training, take him out slowly, bit by bit, and then just hope for the best. We do love him so. What other cat plays ‘fetch’?

In the meantime, the litter tray is back and, compared to the toilet seat thingy, it’s really not that bad.


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Good news and the bad news

by Mothership on January 11, 2013

Bad news first: He did a giant wee on a freshly washed basket of laundry.


(at least I hadn’t folded it yet)

Good news: When I shut him in the loo for 10 minutes he used the amber pan for both kinds of elimination.

What am I to extract from this lesson? Don’t leave laundry lying around? Shut him in the loo until the little bastard is forced to crap? Give up like any normal person and accept that Husband is right and he’s going to be an indoor/outdoor cat anyway as soon as the weather is nice and the windows get opened on a regular basis?

I’m taking him for a rabies shot today, just in case.

But I’m still going to hide my clean laundry and persevere with the amber pan (they call me the amber gambler..)


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Oh Sh*t

by Mothership on January 9, 2013

He has been very curious about the hole in the amber toilet seat and clearly very suspicious of the whole (hole) thing.

I’ve found him mewling in there a few times and scratching at the litter and peering into the water but finally tonight I found some droppings on the floor beside the commode (ugh) and him looking very puzzled by the entire thing, so gritted my teeth, got a piece of toilet paper and picked up the pieces, and put them into the water.
He was fascinated by this and immediately jumped up to have a look. Then, encouragingly, he scratched some litter on top of them and sort of moved his body around as if he was looking for a place to do a wee.

Then I did what I said I absolutely wasn’t going to do – I quickly positioned his legs so that his bum was in the right place and he weed right into the water!

It’s actually pathetic the enormous triumph I felt at hearing the little tinkling sound it made.

He seemed rather pleased with himself and scratched some more litter on top of it and then walked around the seat a few times before jumping down and cleaning himself.

Is this progress?

Please God, yes.

By the way, I am having a hilarious email correspondence with a PR person who insists she thinks I have a very well maintained blog (proof itself that she is not a regular reader) and is very keen to write something for me. I told her it was a personal blog and I didn’t have guest posts or promoted content but she insists that it will be ‘good for my readers’ to ‘know the value of the cartoon network’ and maybe she’d write something that pertains to my site, maybe something about kids.  I am considering writing to her asking if they have any cartoons about shitting cats, and if so, please write a piece on that and I’ll let her have a link for £50.

Seems fair?

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Amber Alert

by Mothership on January 9, 2013

No missing kids here, but we have progressed from the ‘red pan’ to the ‘amber pan’ which has a small aperture at the center so that Tabasco can learn to deposit his excess into the water rather than the litter.

This is the theory.

So far he’s sat on the edge of the seat, clearly wondering how to get his head inside the hole to have a drink.

I went out for a few hours this morning and when I got back he’d kicked a bit of the (flushable) litter into the hole so something has happened but it’s not clear what.   I’m dreading finding a poo on the floor or the toilet seat again, but as I’m not quite at the point where I’m going to physically teach him how to crap myself, I’m holding out for his great intelligence (??) to point his bottom in the right direction.

More later


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Ooh, Betty, a Whoopsie

by Mothership on January 7, 2013

I thought I was being quite clever, subtly reducing the amount of litter in the ‘red’ pan before switching to ‘amber’ which has a hole in the center (if you’re totally baffled by this statement, start here), but it turned out not to be quite as brilliant as I thought.  Or maybe it was a clever move but Tabasco got the wrong end of the stick – or the wrong side of the toilet seat because I came into ‘his’ bathroom this morning to find some fragrant brown lumps on the floor just beside the loo. Clearly he had perched on the seat but put his bum in the opposite-to-ideal direction.


Fortunately the floor is tiled and it wasn’t a horrendous mess to clear up – actually less messy than the scatter of litter everywhere and I’m hoping that this is a one-off mistake that can be corrected in time. At least he knows where to sit, right?

I read some literature about cat elimination (wait, that doesn’t sound right, – I mean the way cats eliminate, not feline assassination) and apparently when they’re weeing they can move around but once they settle in for a poo they sort of freeze in position and one is advised to go and physically reposition them so that they know the right place to dump the droppings. It also said one might have to wait around a bit – stalk the cat until he feels the urge to take a crap – so that this correction can be achieved.

Are they fucking kidding? 

I’m supposed to hover by the bathroom door hoping the time is right so I can pounce on him and fiddle about with the back legs of an animal that is in the actual live process of shitting?


Oh sorry, did I put you off your lunch?


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Small success

by Mothership on January 3, 2013

I think Tabasco may be a genius.

Okay, he’s not a genius but he DID figure out how to use the LitterKwitter ™ almost immediately and has used it several times for, erm, both kinds of elimination (yes he took a dump as well as a couple of wazzes) and I duly cleaned up after him (ugh) and made it all nice and tidy afterwards.

This is the bit I don’t like.

However, I’m going to stay on track and in a week I will switch to the ‘amber’ seat with the hole in the center and we’ll see how that goes. I do note that he doesn’t actually leave any deposits in the center of the seat. They’re more off to the side (though not on the actual toilet seat itself) so I’m not sure he’s going to kick any stuff into the hole after he craps it out, but time will tell.

In the meantime. Here is a picture you didn’t need to see.


BTW. The picture behind the toilet is a signed Gilbert & George poster from the  Naked Shit exhibition that I attended some years ago at the South London Gallery in Peckham. It seemed an apt setting and I enjoy the discomfort it provides my American guests.




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Potty training the new baby

by Mothership on January 2, 2013

I haven’t had an infant since I last wrote – I am most definitely done with childbearing – but we have acquired a kitten. He’s utterly delightful in every way – playful, affectionate, clever, handsome – except one. He is still young enough to have to stay indoors and that means using a litter tray which is absolutely disgusting. Husband is counting the minutes until we can let him outside although I am feeling some trepidation at the prospect. Our last cat, Burrito, disappeared on a jaunt – I fear eaten by coyotes – and my beloved old boy, Pumpkin, who came with us from England now 9 years ago, died few years after we arrived. I found him dead in the driveway at 9pm on Christmas Eve which rather put a pall on the holiday. At first I thought he must have been run over but now I think he probably ate some poison that was left out for a wild critter, of which there are many in these parts. I’m terribly anxious that something awful will happen to Tabasco and they do say that indoor cats live much longer than outdoor cats although I’ve never actually had one.

So, this debate goes back and forth between me and Husband, me and myself, me and the wall, and in the meantime Tabasco has to stay in until he’s had all his innoculations and the litter tray bloody STINKS and of course only I clean it.

So. I have decided to toilet train him.

Don’t laugh.

Okay, laugh, it’s pretty funny.

I have seen lots of cats on YouTube pooing on the loo so in theory it must be possible, right? I started today by buying the LitterKwitter ™ and a box of cat treats. It is a series of interlocking rings that fit on the toilet, starting with a solid pan (no hole in the center) that you fill with a thin layer of cat litter. The theory is that the cat will get used to jumping up and using it instead of its normal cat litter. Then you use the next step which has a small hole in the middle so the cat gets used to its waste dropping into the bog. THen you increase the hole size with the next seat modification until – tadahh – the cat can crap on its own without the litterkwitter.

We’ll see.

Today I put the ‘red’ ring on (solid) and put Tabasco into it. He thought it was marvellous. He played in there for at least ten minutes, scattering litter all over the bathroom, but he hasn’t actually used it. Yet.

I’ll report back tomorrow, or as soon as we get a *cough* result.


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by Mothership on November 28, 2012

I can hardly write, I ate so much, and this year, somehow more than previous ones, it’s hit me that in less than a month I shall be obliged to eat another turkey with roast potatoes and all the trimmings. I’m not actually sure I can do it.

While we were staying with my father, Five got to watch quite a lot of cable TV which he hasn’t really seen before. This meant, of course, that he also saw a lot of advertising and his Christmas list has correspondingly grown fatter, greedier and will inevitably lead to greater disappointment.

Plus, I have no idea what most of the things he wants actually are. This is partly because I didn’t watch the TV with him, and also because he still has some speech issues which to my ear are rather endearing, but if he were to whisper them, say, to Santa, would result in frozen smiles and baffled looks. And maybe a suggestion of psychiatric help?

Five wants:

  • A gun and handcuffs (he was willing to negotiate on the gun but he definitely wanted the cuffs. Metal ones. With a key)
  • A Bwo Bwaster. No, I got that wrong
  • A Bro Blaster (something for blasting your bro’s and homies – music related? like a double tape player?)  No I got that wrong, too, it’s a
  • PRO BLASTER. It’s some kind of paintball type weapon for older teens. Not for 5 year olds. Not for my son. Ever. Never ever ever.
    Really, he’s very sweet and cuddly and gentle! I promise! 
  • Ninjago! Not Ninjago, Mummy, NinjaGO! Say it! NinjaGO! Sensei Woo!
    (I say, playfully “Sensei WHOOO?”and he throws himself on the floor in hysterical tears because I’m not taking it seriously enough)
  • A tank. A real one. I can drive it, honest! Or maybe daddy can drive it. Or you if you’re careful (WHAT? WTF?! Sexist little runt. Just for that, no.)
  • A defective kit. (a detective kit, darling?) NO! A DEFECTIVE KIT! I”M NOT KIDDING!
  • Beyblades (he wants, he wants, oh I don’t know, special ones and not others; it’s so complicated that I zoned out. Why are toys so difficult?)
  • An electric car (that’s funny, so does your dad!)
  • cool fings! (ok, one ice cube coming up, har har, I’m so witty)
  • I don’t want ANY BOOKS
  • I don’t want any BORING toys
The last two are unfortunate because I plan to buy him ONLY books and boring toys. or educational art supplies. Or clothes which are the worst thing you can get a little boy as any fule kno.
Eight wants a snake that eats veggies only (but she may settle for a kitten – the kitten as a pet that is, not a snake that eats kittens). She does NOT want Baby Alive because she is baffled by anyone who would choose to own a doll that pisses itself. I second that heartily and can barely recall why I wanted to have any human babies who pissed themselves,either.
I want peace on earth for Christmas. But I’m also accepting cash donations, books, boxes of chocolates, bubble bath and offers to cook the turkey.
What’s on your list?

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October 11th – International Day of the Girl

by Mothership on October 10, 2012

Today, Thursday is the first annual International Day of the Girl.

Did you just scratch your head and say ‘Uh, what? Tell me what that is again?’

Well, we can forgive you for not having heard of it before as it was only officially declared by the United Nations General Assembly late last year, but I’ll fill you in because you need to know.

“International Day of the Girl seeks to bring awareness to the plight of girls in developing countries,  advocate for girls’ rights, and push for greater gender equality for voiceless girls the world over.”

This year the focus is on ending child marriage.

Apparently 25,000 girls become child brides every day. Some of them are as young as seven years old. In Niger, the rate of child marriage can be as high as 75%.


Three quarters of little girls are married off? Are they kidding?

And here’s another charming nugget for you: In developing countries, nearly half of all those child brides (little girls, remember?) will become young mothers.

I didn’t make this up. These statistics come from

These children frequently die in childbirth because their pelvises are not sufficiently developed to carry and deliver a baby, or they develop debilitating fistulas which then cause them to be shunned and discarded by their husbands and families – an effective death sentence.  Girls are regarded as property – they are bought, sold and thrown away at the whim of their husbands.

I can’t even write about this without my blood pressure rising and jumping up to rant at Husband who looks mildly terrified and, after telling me anxiously that he is against gender inequality of all kinds, looks hopefully back at the lecture he is preparing for his students tomorrow.

Goddamn it! Rapists are getting away with unbelievable crimes in France, third world pedophiles are forcing kids into unwanted marriage and motherhood every second of every day, and the GOP thinks it’s better equipped to make decisions on my behalf about what goes on in my uterus because clearly, men are doing such a brilliant job of looking after the ones that are already here, let alone the girls who are going to incubate within them.

We need this day, we need it badly, and we’d better fucking celebrate it hard every year until we’ve made sure every girl everywhere has at least an equal shot at a decent life without fear for her safety and well being, just because she had the misfortune to be born with a vagina.

Happy International Day of the Girl Child



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Popularity Contest

by Mothership on October 3, 2012

Before we left Stepford, Eight had always been a popular and confident girl with many friends and a sense of belonging to her community. The year in San Francisco was a challenge for her – we moved her school three times until she finally settled in November, and then, although she mostly felt comfortable there, she definitely felt more wary around the other girls – for good reason, a few of them were quite terrifying – and seemed to have lost her propensity for inserting herself into any group that happened to be having a good time.
She was so excited about returning to Stepford and her old gang, looking forward to seeing her old friends, being at home in her school, and generally fitting in better. However the re-entry has not been quite a smooth as she had hoped. A whole year had passed since she had seen them all, and in that time new friendships and alliances had formed in her absence. It’s easy to see that she feels unsure of her place in 3rd grade. To add to this insecurity she has been rather aggressively pursued and  befriended by an extremely overbearing girl who was not there when Eight left, and I can see that this association is not helping the situation on a number of levels. Now I know one is not supposed to take against children for characteristics and behaviour that is not exactly their fault, and one should be understanding of different backgrounds and abilities, but this particular child rings so many alarm bells for me that I find myself fighting the urge to tell Eight not to be friends with her and having to grit my teeth and smile insincerely when I am forced to address the kid because she is so incredibly annoying.
Interestingly, one of the children I know from Eight’s former 1st grade class, when observing annoying kid harangue Eight for attention and bully her into playing a game, mentioned to me:

“Yeah, she did that to me last year”

I asked what she meant and she said that the girl had selected her to be her friend, pursued her relentlessly and then sort of taken her over in a mad possessive way, alienating her other friends and making her feel guilty for wanting to get away.

My heart sank at this, and did so even further while I was volunteering in the class and annoying kid distinguished herself by being the only one not even to attempt to do her work, but instead spend the hour trying to disrupt the class and talk to other children who were doing geography. She didn’t know which state she lived in (what?) and when pressed, said that she thought Washington DC was another country, right after I had just told her it was the capital of the USA. Sigh. Oh. And she’s a mouth breather who wears t-shirts with*ahem* unsuitable slogans for a prepubescent person.

Alright. I’ll try  to calm down and be rational.

I can clearly see that she has glommed on to Eight because she’s the ‘new’ girl, and is the only one who is not yet sick or wary of her. Eight is reasonably tolerant and willing to see the fun side of annoying kid, but what she doesn’t see is that her own social standing is being devalued by association and the longer she spends with annoyingkid and the less she is able to make forays of her own back into the world of the other girls, the harder it’s going to be.

Eight is nervous of the groups of 4 or 5 girls that  gather in the mornings and at recess. If they don’t openly say ‘hi’ to her, she doesn’t go over and say ‘hi’ to them and insinuate herself which used to be one of her chief skills (it always worked). I can see her trying to work up the courage and just as she does, annoyingkid comes over and scares them off.  It’s very hard to watch and even more worrying, Eight tries to conceal it from me as if it were a personal failing.

I don’t exactly know what, if anything, I can do for her, but I have gotten very busy trying to arrange playdates with girls she used to be friends with in the hope that this will re-open channels. I ache for her, and I am somewhat at a loss – I was always a loner (still am, really) but it’s not something I see her naturally being, nor is it a way of being I would necessarily recommend.

I know that this is the age when friendships become very real, and girls break each other’s hearts on a regular basis with casual indifference. I just can’t bear the thought of my own sweet, funny, interesting girl being wounded by another, although doubtless she could do it herself.

Once I turned 17 I breathed a sigh of relief that I’d never have to go to school again and I’d never have to endure playground politics and the agony it caused me. But I didn’t know that when I had my own children I’d have to go through it all over again. This time, of course, I have the knowledge and maturity to understand the dynamics of what’s happening, but that doesn’t exactly help because I still don’t have the power to stop the pain.

When she bleeds, so do I.

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