Friday, 21 July 2017

Chester Bennington (1976–2017)

...When my time comes, forget the wrong that I've done
Help me leave behind some reasons to be missed
Don't resent me, and when you're feeling empty
Keep me in your memory, leave out all the rest
Leave out all the rest

Forgetting all the hurt inside you've learned to hide so well
Pretending someone else can come and save me from myself
I can't be who you are
I can't be who you are...



"Leave Out All The Rest"
Minutes to Midnight (2007)
Linkin Park

Monday, 10 July 2017

CATastrophe

Some of my acquaintances by now are familiar with my ongoing battle against at least one cat. To be precise, its p—p.

Early this year, I found "packages" left by what I suspect is a cat (to narrow to be a dog's, too big for rats). So far, I've never caught it in the act; the packages were the only evidence of its visits. But I may have seen it a few times.

For weeks, one of the tenants in my apartment block had taken in a stray. The guy and his relatives run a stall at a nearby coffee shop at night. Some of my neighbours may have fed it on occasion as well. I thought nothing about it, bemused as I was that the place had a cat.

Well, looks can be deceiving, and felines are masters of that kind of deception. Thanks to their misplaced generosity, the cats have come home to roost ... and p—p.

Why do I say "at least one"? Because of the difference in the size of the packages. This made it tough to pin down which animal, as there are several strays in the area.

The first couple of times were a nightmare. The packages were left closer to the front door and when the draft blew in ... g*d. One night, I had to seek refuge in my stuffy long-neglected so-damn-hot-at-night bedroom. The smell lingered the next day, albeit faintly.

Apparently, catshit is a horrible substance; the only thing that's worse is exposed plutonium. From my research, it is toxic and may harbour nasty germs such as Toxoplasma gondii, which looks like the next potential superbug.

It has no value as a fertiliser and will even render the patch of earth where it is buried infertile. Any area saturated with it has to be thoroughly deodorised and disinfected, as T. gondii is incredibly resilient, and a mere hint of the odour acts like a beacon for felines looking for bowel relief.

For a while, germophobic me relied on the cleaner to help with the mess. The building management revealed that he had to be paid extra to do it - not in his job scope. That he did a sloppy job on some days was no surprise - as well as the regular appearance of the packages.

I did research. I begged for help on Facebook but people only paid attention when I threatened to poison it. I paid RM15 just so I could spend some time with the owner of a cat café - not his cats, can you believe it? - and glean some of his expertise. He suggested an enzyme-based odour remover that he uses himself.

I tried everything. Everything that didn't remotely harm the creature. Vinegar. White pepper. Black pepper. Baking soda. Some eucalyptus-and-lemon-based repellent from a pet store. Toilet cleaner. Insecticide (okay, maybe that would've done the trick but I wanted the odour factor). Some eucalyptus-and-mint-based multipurpose cleaner, also for the smell factor. Lemon juice.

With some exceptions, the floor in front of my door is now better and more thoroughly seasoned than some of the food I've eaten.

Some of these worked for a while, including the odour from the gloss paint I repainted the front grill gate with. I don't know whether it was because the cat had gotten used to the smell, or it had merely been away when I was seasoning the floor. Whatever it was, I was doing it almost daily, like a pagan ritual.

No luck. After a few days, maybe three or four, a package would appear. Cat spikes from Daiso didn't work so well - they'd just p—p away from it. Believe it or not, the solid lumps weren't so bad, those come right off.

The worst is when it's liquid. Not only would you need to blot the stuff, you have to be careful not to spread it wider when you clean up. Also, feline diarrhoea means the cat is sick and oh no no no you do not want to know from what.

I sound like I'm speaking from experience because I am. The cleaner's methods mean that remnants of catshit were still advertising the spots' eligibility as a feline washroom, so I took matters into my own hands and g*d, I wish I didn't have to.

I sought help from that cat café but that plan was thrown awry for weeks because it was the fasting month and the area was gridlocked like you wouldn't believe. Plus, he'd closed shop for a few days because of the traffic and the Ramadhan bazaar. When I finally managed to speak to the owner, I was so relieved I went to the exact hardware store he did and found the same odour remover he used.

But like I said, no luck.

I hate it when steps to a solution don't deliver as promised. What went wrong? I don't think I'll ever know. A friend told me it was a sign: time for me to move out. And it's an eerie coincidence that all this began around the time I declared that someone "was dead to me." BRRR.

The cat café owner suggested a solution with chillies. A friend recommended antifreeze: "Everything else will fail," he stated confidently on Facebook. I bet he'll be sniggering when he hears this - but at least I'd have made his day. My other Facebook friends, however, were aghast when I declared I wanted the cat (s) dead, and I learnt that one can run afoul of the law if one deliberately harms an animal.

I want to blame the cat(s) - terribly. I have had dark fantasies about murdering them. But as that previous sentence demonstrated, of all g*d's creatures only man has a heart that can be blackened by evil. Like all animals, cats act out of instinct, and it's perhaps universally logical to only crap in places meant for crapping. Even hyenas observe this rule.

This has caused me much anxiety. Anybody going to call me a pussy if I say this has kept me from doing stuff like writing, blogging, cooking and catching up with my to-read pile? It has.

I scrub myself clean as much as I humanly can, wearing gloves and all, but my paranoia keeps screaming YOU MIGHT HAVE BEEN CARELESS AT SOME POINT AND NOW CATSHIT COOTIES ARE EVERYWHERE. I'd have to scrub the whole apartment in Dettol or bleach if I want to resume baking for my friends and colleagues again.

I shouldn't be this preoccupied with p—p, doing leg work and spending money on cleaning products I don't normally need. IT'S NOT MY CAT! I don't want to pick up other people and their pet's shit! And it wasn't even their real pet to begin with. How irresponsible is it to feed a stray and take it in, only to let it out and make everyone's life a living hell?

What am I being punished for, saying "shit" too much? It's ME ... I tell it like it is! Animal rights? what about mine and my right to live in a clean, fresh p—p-free environment? To do stuff and go to bed without having to worry about another fresh surprise when I open my door to start a new day?

I said "everyone", didn't I? Of course, when the deterrents worked, it found other doors to p—p in front of. A couple of times, packages appeared at the door of the building's management office - top-level trolling. And one weekend, a neighbour upstairs was visited. Perhaps enough of the smell wafted its way to my door that it encouraged the cat to leave another package there.

Some of my neighbours did complain and seemed to sympathise with me, but they're mostly indifferent. Sometimes they would kick the cat spikes aside, even if they weren't really in the way. The air in the stairwell is pretty stagnant and foreign odours can intrude and remain, which might make odour-based deterrents ineffective in the long run.

As a last resort, I'm looking into whether the animal(s) can be trapped and released far, far away. That Trap-Neuter-Release outfit sounds promising. But other alternatives beckon. For the time being, I left some orange peel in the space between the grill and front door.

Meanwhile, the dark side beckons, too.

(A Facebook friend's recommendation of Daiso's cat repellent would go unconfirmed for now, thanks to a blog post that apparently went viral. Daiso outlets at Jaya Shopping Centre, One Utama and The Curve were all sold out. A sales assistant at the latter cited the blog SirapLimau as the reason, and said new stock would be arriving in a week or so. Benci SirapLimau. Benci~)

It's those "humanitarian" neighbours of mine who started it all, I'm sure of it. If this cat is successfully moved away they'll just pick up another and the whole rigmarole will repeat. Maybe I should spare the cats and "relocate" them instead. Their cooking isn't that great, anyway.