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Saturday, January 08, 2005  

Phantom, Menace

You never know what a new pet is going to bring to the house. Strat brought love and humor. Orca brought love and attitude, and some more humor. Turtle brought lots of love and really lowbrow, slapstick humor. Phantom brought chemical weapons.

While Turtle fell instantly and exuberantly in love with us, Phantom was a slightly tougher sell. She had a tendency to bolt when we approached her, but it was possible to get her feeling comfortable enough that she would come up to you. Whereupon her demonstration of her affection for you would take three simultaneous forms. 1) snuggling. 2) purring. 3) silent farts that would clear out a crematorium.

Turtle and Phantom were getting over colds when they came to live with us. They were well past their contagious stages, and we kept them segregated in the basement anyway. Once a day they would get their antibiotics, and Phantom would go back into hiding.

It’s difficult to describe just what it’s like to experience one of Phantom’s farts. This isn’t your ordinary litterbox smell. It’s not even an amplified litterbox smell. It’s on an entirely different order of magnitude, and potentially from another dimension. If you were to, say, scrape a bunch of slime off the inside of a neglected storm drain, and then marinate that in barbecue sauce that had been used to season a toilet, and then boiled that mixture down to its very essence, mixed it into a five-gallon omelet using expired emu eggs and two-hundred-dollar-an-ounce French cheese, and then drove that omelet around in the trunk of your car in Arizona for July and half of August, and then shat in your trunk, you might come close. But only if the storm drain were downhill from a chicken processing plant.

So we’d go down to the basement for Phantom’s medicine, or just to visit her, and she’d invariable greet us with one of her pocket miasmas that had us scrabbling back up the stairs, out the door, and into a different ZIP code as quickly as possible.

I don’t want it to sound like we don’t love Phantom because we do. For one thing, she’s the only cat I’ve ever met who appears capable of expressing gratitude. One day, after we’d opened up the basement door, she was still downstairs because she was still adapting and not quite ready to explore the house at large yet. I went down to find her, and the combination of her slowly departing cold symptoms with the dust and chill of the basement was causing her to produce so many eye boogers that her left orb was in fact sealed shut. I carefully bundled her upstairs to the bathroom, closing the door behind us so she couldn’t get away. Using a warm, damp washcloth, I was able to carefully get her eye open again. “That was awesome!” she seemed to say with her facial expression, body, language, and an increased volume of purring. And the next thing I knew I was waking up on the bathroom floor with bloody tears crusting on my face.

I’d like to say it’s getting better now that she’s getting older, but all I can say is that it’s getting less frequent. It’s no longer possible to track her progress through the house by following a trail of visible brown clouds hanging at shin level. But the unpredictability just makes it that much more dangerous.

The other day, Trash was playing with M. Tiny. Phantom wandered up, and M. Tiny fell silent and still to watch the kitty’s approach. After a moment, he started fussing and wiggling angrily for no apparent reason. Trash was utterly mystified at the unprovoked change in mood, until Phantom’s gases wafted up to her level. At which point the cause of M. Tiny’s discomfiture became clear. And this is a person who doesn’t mind sitting in his own poop. Phantom, of course, was off befouling the atmosphere of another room by this point.

Now I’m starting to understand why she wanted to be outside so much. It’s not because she doesn’t love us, or appreciate the safety and shelter we provide. It’s that it was the only way she could avoid her own smell.

It also explains why she never stays in one spot for very long around the house. For which we, the recipients of her frequent and highly affectionate visits, are so very grateful.

I just wish that Turtle didn’t adore Phantom so much. Maybe then she wouldn’t be trying to learn how to emulate everything Phantom does, including this.

With a dismaying degree of success, I might add.

Today’s best search phrase: “What does 1.5 millimeters look like?” Okay, I’m holding my fingers 1.5 millimeters apart. Lean in close to the screen. Closer. Closer. Keep coming. No, closer.


posted by M. Giant 11:17 PM 15 comments


I laughed while reading your entry, but trust me - it's in complete sympathy. When our cat Tangerine was younger she was the master of lethal farts. What was both awful and funny about them was that she would just sit there, oblivious, while all the humans commenced with the choking and gasping and trying to escape. Plus there is something about cat farts that seem to make the noxious fumes linger far longer than a fart should.

The good news is that your kitty should eventually outgrow it. Of course, the key word here is 'should'. Heh.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 8, 2005 at 11:30 PM  

I had a cat who did that - in her old age, though, not her youth. Once I swear she let one off that was literally visable - no colour, just a tangible field of mind-blowing stink.

So you have my sympathy, oh yes.

Just try to save M.Tiny - you know how sensitive infants are to being gassed.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 9, 2005 at 4:10 AM  

I'm there with you, M. Giant. Our Chester not only farts like an old man, but he SNORES. Add that to the fact that he likes to sleep by my head and you will see why I only sleep 4 hours or so a night.

I'm beginning to think Chester is my reincarnated grandfather.

By Blogger Rachel, at January 9, 2005 at 5:50 AM  

See, this is another one of those times that I remember that I got the best kitten in the world. His kitten farts smell, strangely enough, exactly like popcorn. Mildly stale popcorn, but popcorn none the less. I luuuv Ricky. Which is good because he is currently walking up my arm, around the back of my head, down the other arm, and then back up again.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 9, 2005 at 6:10 AM  

Oh, I feel your pain. When I adopted my kitten from the shelter, he had an upper respitory infection, and I had to give her antibiotics. Not only did they cause her to fart with amazing toxicity, but they transformed her poop into what can only be described as soft serve ice-cream, complete with swirly on top.

As she got a bit older, and she went off the antibiotics, it wasn't really getting much better. I then switched her food to the Science Diet organic brand, and we're now living together in stink free harmony.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 9, 2005 at 8:26 AM  

(laughing so hard) With my cat, the toxic smell of her kittenhood was related to litterbox use, rather than farting, and I'd forgotten all about it until now. My roommates and I used to have to leave the house for an hour or so; our friends were always confused when we'd sniff the air, leap up, usher everyone out through the back door (away from the litterbox) and insist on convening elsewhere for a while, but it truly was necessary, because that first whiff promised a nasal assault that would only grow in strength. Like some of the other posters' cats, though, she did grow out of it quite nicely -- I hope Phantom does too!

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 9, 2005 at 9:27 AM  

You might want to take Phantom back to the vet to have her dewormed again. Sometimes a cat needs a few doses to kill off any hangers on.

I adopted a kitten in July who had the most atomicly stinky farts, and it turned out that he just couldn't adjust to the food that he was getting. He has a very sensitive stomach, and I ended up having to put him on Science Diet I/D, which has cut down on the odor quite a bit. I would talk to your vet about her flatulence and see if they have any suggestions.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 9, 2005 at 2:15 PM  

Oh, man -- I can't get past the 24 season premier. I know, the 2 2-hour season starters might kill you, but DAMN!

Please, please tell me you liked it too!


By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 9, 2005 at 8:13 PM  

My new puppy has the world's worst farts. However, they don't seem to be very frequent at all. He's not even 10 weeks old, and they've already lessened greatly.

But I do -- kind of -- feel your pain.

By Blogger DeAnn, at January 9, 2005 at 9:36 PM  

Hey, I got my copy of The Sisters' Tragedy in the mail a few days ago. Yay! You will have to autograph it when you're out here next, so it will be signed by the playwright hisself.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 10, 2005 at 3:21 AM  

Oh M.Giant, I'm sorry to laugh at your pain...but laugh I did. A lot. And I'm planning to laugh more about it later...thanks man, I so needed that. (And as others have commented, a diet change might be in order if it's not the meds working their way out of Phantom's system.)


PS: 4 hours of 24 for to recap...now that's a pain I WON'T laugh at! Hang tough.

By Blogger Allie, at January 10, 2005 at 9:45 AM  

It's GOT to be a digestive thing. Our old cat, Nermal was the same way. It was the most gosh awful stuff I'd ever smelled. Worse than newborn baby poop - and I thought that was as bad as it can get... have you asked a vet? I really think it has something to do with digestion or the food they eat...

By Blogger Lish, at January 10, 2005 at 11:55 AM  

I have to second the suggestion about another round of deworming. It could help tremendously. --Eden

By Anonymous Anonymous, at January 10, 2005 at 12:12 PM  

I think you should stop feeding her chili.

By Blogger Linda, at January 10, 2005 at 1:25 PM  

As a person with extensive experience with animal farts, I must add that it's not just the smell, it's the density and thickness of the odor. No matter how you move, you can't escape the fog.

By Blogger Katy-Maty, at January 10, 2005 at 1:36 PM  

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