#647: THE CAT AND THE CAULK
Oskar, the first cat we brought home seventeen months ago, has always had his issues. In the early days, he would dive into hot salsa and cups of coffee, because he was used to scavenging and had never been properly fed. He spends a lot of time trying to be as high off the ground as possible and can be found perched atop a door, crying at the one-inch wide door sill a half-foot up onto which he is hoping to fit himself. He is slowly consuming our bedspread. He is so neurotic about using the litter box that we sometimes have to help the poor guy out by removing him from the situation after he has spent five or ten minutes scratching and scratching and turning around and scratching and mewing at the corners. Loud footsteps terrify him, and if you've made the mistake of wearing hard-soled shoes in the house, he can be found standing in the kitchen with his nose pushed into a corner, taking furtive peripheral looks along the cupboards, waiting for his certain death.
In spite of all this, he is a lovely cat. He is affectionate, intelligent, handsome, and when I am ill, he won't leave me alone until he has smelled me over and given me the okay. He has learned to be respectful of our food, and he doesn't steal my socks in the morning anymore. Now that I think about it, he has even stopped that annoying habit he had of throwing himself into the tub every time I filled it for a bath. He didn't like falling into a full tub, but he's kind of twitchy and unfocused, so it just seemed to happen to him a lot. Like every week. He is, how they say, full of personality, and I love him for it. This, I think, is what saves him, because he has a new favourite thing he does that would make me throw his little housebound ass out into the snow if he weren't so damn wonderful.
Whoever did the caulking job in our bathroom smeared quite a bit of it on the tub surround, and flakes and blobs of it have occasionally fallen into the tub. Oskar found those bits and took a liking to them. He chewed them like gum, and then he ate them, because he is obviously missing the polysulfide polymer component in his diet. I was a touch horrified, but he continued to breathe, so I left it at that.
I always underestimate his smarts, though, and I knew that I had done it yet again when I found him procuring his own caulking last week. He has taken to standing up against the tub surround and pulling bits of caulking down with his claws in order to fulfill his elastomeric material needs. Just this morning I found him leaning up against the wall with one forepaw, delicately pulling the rubbery substance from one of his claws with his teeth and looking at me as if to say Mmm, I quite enjoy this. Do you think there might be any more to be had around here? We're running low.
And we are running low.
Before PETA gets on my ass for even owning a pet, much less making lewd, homonym-based jokes about one, I must confirm that I do not want my cat to be ingesting possibly harmful household chemicals. It upsets me that he continues to eat the caulking, and not just because the wall behind the tub surround will probably start to rot from the damp. So, what do I do? Is there some kind of claw-proof caulking on the market? Is there a type of cat chewing gum I can buy to help fill his need for chewiness? Do you think he might leave the caulking alone in the bathroom if I add a bit to his food?