I know that winter doesn't officially start until later in the month, but it is in reality already here. It was cold and blustery every day last week, and we've already gotten three (light) snowfalls. I've had to break out the sidewalk salt. So yeah, it is wintertime, no matter what the calendar says!
That doesn't mean much in the grand scheme of things. Life goes on whether it's freezing cold or swelteringly hot, but there are some changes.
We still take Argos outside for walks and to run around in the yard, but now he has to wear his heavy fleece coat. I don't think that he appreciates it very much - he tries to shake it off frequently when we're walking. The yard is a little less fun for him right now; the snow has melted, but the ground refroze. In all of the spots that I have failed to get grass started, the ground is rough, and since it's frozen, I'm sure those rough spots seem kind of "spikey" to walk across. I noticed that he doesn't run around as much... it makes me wish that I'd forced some sod in earlier in the fall, even knowing that it probably would not survive the winter! Dead grass is still more of a cushion than no grass...
Bit didn't have much to do with me over the summer, probably because she was upset about Romeo being here. But the cold is enough that she is willing to seek me out. I might be annoying her by letting Romeo stick around, but I do generate body heat that she can take advantage of!
The cats have remembered that the radiator covers get warm in the wintertime, so it's rare to not have at least one of them perched on top of the radiators. Sometimes there is one cat per radiator per room!
Winter is not my favorite season, and it never will be. It is, I admit, made marginally better by having the kitties be more willing to snuggle up with me. And Argos keeps me honest - I have to take him outside no matter what I feel like, which is keeping me true to my daily walking exercise. I can guarantee that if he wasn't here, there is no way that I would be dragging myself out for walks, so having him around is clearly good for my health! (At least, it is until I slip and fall on the ice outside, LOL.)
And now onto the topic of Romeo.
I haven't been talking much about the difficulties that we're having with him because it seems somehow disloyal to talk about a member of our little family... but it is getting frustrating to keep it to myself.
I don't know how many remember the story about how we got Romeo, but to refresh memories with the "short version," he had been surrendered to the animal shelter because he'd stopped using his litter box when a new baby was born in his previous home. When we first got him to our house, I was pleased to see that he used his litter box regularly. But as time went on, he started to slip up in his habits now and again. (It was always with poo. Thank God he pees in the box faithfully.) Then it became less of an occasional slip-up and more of a regular habit. He has good weeks and bad weeks, but unfortunately, it seems like we're having an awful lot of bad weeks.
I am almost positive that this is tied with the OTHER difficulties that we're having. Not really with Romeo, but it concerns him... the problems are with Bit. She is simply NOT accepting him. We cannot have them in the same room together, because she will single-mindedly try to make his life miserable.
We try to be equitable about giving everybody the same amount of attention, but it's hard. Romeo stays in our bedroom most of the time now (although he has the entire first floor of the house today.) It means that to pay attention to Romeo, I have to not pay attention to the other three cats, and sometimes Argos. But then I feel guilty when I leave him alone to go spend time with the other animals. I think that I probably still manage to spend more time with my animals that I give myself credit for, and I don't notice anyone "pining" for additional attention, so I'm sure that I'm just guilt-tripping myself here. I'm bad about that.
I'm pretty sure that Romeo's litter box problems are largely a territorial thing. We've tried so many other things... new litter boxes, tall litter boxes, covered litter boxes, low walled litter boxes.. we've tried different kinds of litter: regular scoopable, pine, clay... We even bought the expensive Cat Attract stuff which is supposed to be guaranteed to make cats use the litter box. We've tried placing the litter box in different areas, to give him access to more than one. We've tried covering the floor around the boxes with newsprint. I've tried ignoring him when he's using the box, I've tried praising him when he uses is properly. I've tried to build good associations with using the box properly, such as using his favorite brush on him afterward. But the end result is frequently the same: he'll poop on the hardwood floor. Always close to the box, but never in it.
And yet he's become so loving with us. He usually sleeps with us, using my legs as a pillow. He is a very affectionate cat, and I think that he really likes us. He does NOT, however, like the other cats. And they don't like him.
I don't really know what to do. I feel like we're failing at giving him an environment in which he can be truly content. I'm not giving up; I am not the kind of person who abandons an animal just because they're having some difficulty. My husband and I are both very attached to him, for all that he's making us want to pull our hair out. We'll do whatever it takes to get him (and Bit) past this... I just wish that I knew what that was.