bathroom left, poop box rightOne of my cats has started following me into the bathroom.

Most of the day, he sleeps under the bed, while I am on the couch.  At night, we switch.  As I see it, I respect his territory and he respects mine, with only minimal crossover for such necessary exchanges as food-in-bowl and pet-on-head (he is, after all, a “good kitty”).  But now, oddly, he insists on watching me poop.

“I thought we had an understanding,” I say, knees pressed together in reflexive embarrassment.  “You know…you do your thing and I do mine.  What’s with this?” I make a little noise like a toy-gun to spook him off. It doesn’t.

“Mrrow,” he says, and saunters over, finding my huddled knees as good a place as ever before to sidle up against.

“Cat, this is very unlike you. You never like me. And it’s not like I…”  And it dawns on me.  I watch him poop.

One of them has been pooping on the carpet.  I haven’t been able to figure out which one.  All I know is at night the carpet is clean and sometime in the night, with all the mystery and silence of Santa Clause, a little present is left for me.  What’s amazing is, it’s always left in the same place: three infuriating feet to the left of the damn litter box. Never two feet, never four. That’s poop left, litter-box right: it’s like when your GPS is out of sync and a casual drive down the coast shows you a hundred feet west, driving in the water.

Now I stalk the poopers.  I stay up late at night, later and later. I’m on their time now, waiting for the sound of kitty paws on artificial gravel.  When one of the cats walks down the hall, I wait and listen.  I creep around the corner, shielding my eyes from the ambient light to keen my senses.

Tonight, it’s the fat one in the box.  Good ol’ fat one. (This is the same cat who, after first moving in, would find his way into my girlfriend’s underwear drawer. There he would lie for hours, a true predator. Eight a.m. would bring a scream, and I’d rise just in time to see gravity defied by fur, his paws outstretched, no doubt intending a kill. I was endeared to him then.)

I watch him poop, making sure it wasn’t a trick. I watch for twitches. I watch for silence. He sees me and is unmoved.  I nod, acknowledging him. He is not the carpet pooper. He sits there, proudly, little head upright, the dignity of a prince, and pierces me with his repose like a general standing tall in surrender.

And now he follows me into the bathroom to watch, and I can’t blame him. I would close the door, but it seems a little sad since nobody else is around but the cats. And even that is a little sad. I never wanted to be a cat person: they’re the ones you hear stories about. I’ve seen James Bond, and the most evil of villains, the most twisted, always has a cat curled up in his lap. They are as one.

But that’s not me and the fat one. We respect each other’s territory. Maybe being a cat person just means respecting where the other one poops.

He really is a good kitty.*










*Someone, please help. Spot, “The Fat One,” has had me cornered for two days writing flattering cat stories. Even now, as I type this, he has a paw to my throat. His English is poor but his meowing is clear. I don’t have much time. Send dogs.

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THOMAS WOOD grew up in the nearly quaint, upscale town of Newport Beach, California, and left at nineteen when his father passed away. After traveling for a few years, he settled in San Francisco and got a degree in Philosophy from UC Berkeley. He lives with his beautiful girlfriend in San Francisco, works in medicine as a logistical coordinator for organ donation, and writes in his spare time, hoping to some day feel comfortable with the moniker, 'writer.' His personal blog is ModernSophist.com. You can follow him on the Twitter at Modern_Sophist

46 responses to “Cats Know Where the People Poop”

  1. Mary says:

    LOL oh, cats.
    Always a good laugh with you. Thanks for this one. It was fun. 🙂

    • Thomas Wood says:

      Mary, You’ve found me out. I was telling Greg that, unofficially, I am having a TNB funny-off with Slade Ham. He hasn’t been made aware of this yet – I may just send “the fat one” with a gun and a note.

      • Slade Ham says:

        Ahhh, but I’m on to you now Thomas!

        With that out of the way, funny, funny stuff. I had two cats myself up until last October. They’ve crept into my writing on more than one occasion, though my last cat encounter has made me gun shy of the species as a whole. Anyway, you made me think of them again in a good way.

        I guess I have to step up my output now, damn you.

        • Thomas Wood says:

          Jesus no Sam (what I’ve chosen to address you as in combining your first and last – you may, in turn, call me Tood),

          Please don’t up your output. I can’t contest higher quality, but output has been exactly my biggest problem. I’ve got two or three more pieces queued up and ready to go, though the next one is a tad more somber, so just hold all the goddam horses till I’m halfway caught up.

          Meanwhile, please do more cat jokes. They are an easy win in the Midwest, which is good for your career, and it would be a worthwhile challenge to try to come up with material funnier than Eddie Izzard’s bit about cats using drilling equipment.

        • Slade Ham says:

          It’s hard to come up with material funnier than Eddie Izzard’s bit about anything… He’s sickeningly funny.

  2. Greg Olear says:

    You cat looks like our cat. Only yours is fatter, and much more devious…

    • Thomas Wood says:

      For your safety, and the safety of your family, I’ll try to keep this criticism of him between us. However, if he finds out, god save us both.

      ps. thanks for the edit!

      • big al says:

        got a secret for you. i used to know Spot “The Fat One” Wood and he is a recovering catnip addict. use this knowledge however you want, but having a bag on hand could save your life.

  3. Simon Smithson says:

    There’s a great line from Neal Pollack describing his very young son: ‘He’s developed the un-nerving habit of only being able to poop when the cat is in the bathroom with him.’

    Ye gods.

    I’ve always made it a point of pride to not be around when one of my cats has been relieving itself. Mainly because I wouldn’t want one of them watching me in the same situation. Admittedly, my litter box is much bigger.

  4. Thomas Wood says:

    What you wrote made a funny scene jump into my mind, imagining some grand, people-sized catbox that you both share. Late one night, he ambles over and, dark as it is out, sinks straight down into the sand. You bastard, you left the lid up.

  5. […] Please Read the rest of this piece at TheNervousBreakdown.com […]

  6. Marni Grossman says:

    I’ve never liked cats. My grandmother’s cat would always hiss at us. A stray in my neighborhood tried to bite me when I was nine. And my friend Gwen’s cat, Elouise, has this habit of staring that I find incredibly unnerving. I woke up in the middle of the night once to find her perched on top of the sofa, gaze fixed on my face.

    But you make them sound sort of endearing. I’ve always wanted a bathroom companion.

    • Thomas Wood says:

      Cats, for sure, are bitches. To love them is to accept that there’s a lot of lovable bitches in the world and to have the courage to sometimes look a furry thing straight in the eyes and say, “Fat One, you’re being a real shithead right now.” Oh, and you have to clip their nails too, cause bitches pack the blades.

  7. I’ve always been of the opinion that cats know too much, something about the silent stare that “pierces with his repose” as you perfectly put it. It reminds me of that scene in the movie Go, when the guy’s cat starts talking to him in subtitles. Though intruding in the bathroom is something else altogether.

    • Thomas Wood says:

      At least he’s being direct about his curiosity. I imagine the other cat in the house is, meanwhile, huddled around the corner with a listening device and architectural layout of the bathroom.

  8. Ronlyn Domingue says:

    Our cats once had an open top litter box tucked in a corner in the bathroom. The older tuxedo cat would do his business, then press the right side of his face against the tile wall and scratch the wall with his left paw. He never successfully covered what he left. This cracked me up every time I witnessed it. Funny beast.

    Good luck with the out-of-box pooper. It’s such a pain when cats act up like that.

    • Thomas Wood says:

      That’s really funny.

      I covered the whole floor with trashbags. It worked for a while. Then, one day, I found a trashbag all curled up. There was a poop under it. Consider this, seriously: Cat moved trashbag, pooped, covered it again with trashbag.


      • Ronlyn Domingue says:

        Laughed out loud! Your cat is diabolically smart.

        • Thomas Wood says:

          This is the same cat who got stuck outside the window in the rain for 12 hours, soaked, chilled, frightened. After the rescue, and the drying, I open the window back up (still raining out) for a smoke. Cat starts to climb up to get out.


        • Thomas Wood says:

          In response to myself:
          I can only assume that he tried to get out a second time because he was on a dire mission to save the world and couldn’t live with himself if he failed a second time.

  9. My most favorite cat I’ve ever had – Bob – used to leave a giant upright stink pole right in the middle of the box and not even attempt to bury it (sometimes he would brush the air – like mime the burying – which was a riot). And we learned that the “alpha” cat would would leave the burying for the other lesser cat, which was his brother Joni who would bury obsessively.

    Cats are funny. They definitely communicate through their poop.

  10. Irene Zion says:


    Your ass is grass. “The Fat One” is in charge now. (Woo! Those eyes really creeped me out.) All you can do is hope that you can be quiet enough to sneak out whilst he naps. Unfortunately, they named those light sleepers “cat naps” for a reason.
    How about 911?

    • Thomas Wood says:

      He cut the phone lines a week ago; that’s how I knew the cat-call was coming from inside the house.

      • Irene Zion says:


        “The Fat Cat” is a wily one. He’s one step ahead of you all the time.
        I think a cat that can use scissors or a knife at all is exceptional, but one that can do it with forethought of malice, well that cat there is one in a million.
        Have you had a good life, though, Thomas?
        If someone from San Francisco doesn’t break down your door soon, you’ll starve.
        You can’t even order pizza now.
        It’s been a good run, though, right?
        Let’s look on the bright side here.

        • Thomas Wood says:

          At this point I figure my only chance is a snowstorm – it’s the bit in the movie where global warming (and subsequent ice-age) is an ironic savior. The chill would free his lower body-mass first, and then I’d use his massive, fat fur to keep me alive until rescuers come.

          Or he just shoots me, either way.

  11. Richard Cox says:

    Yeah, once they miss the box, they always miss the box in the same place for the foreseeable future, perhaps forever. You can clean the spot with acid and still the latent smell is like a neon bullseye.

    Plus, they’re bitches.

    • Thomas Wood says:

      I’ve attempted lilies.

      Lilies, when in bloom (I’m serious about this guys, so buck up), perfectly mask all odors. When their petals finally fall the cats eat them and get sick. Sick cats don’t poop.

  12. Matt says:

    One of my cats would do the bathroom thing. The little jerk had somehow figured out how to pop the door open when it was closed, so it was fultile to even shut it in the first place. For a while there he also got in the habit of watching me shower. I’d turn off the water and open the curtain, only to discover him perched on the sink, staring at me. As soon as I grabbed a towel he’d saunter off, affecting utter disinterest in the entire matter.

  13. Don Mitchell says:

    Nice cat piece.

    Have you considered two litter boxes? I had to do that once — I had two cats who didn’t want to share, and the result was what you’re describing (the turd on the carpet, not the voyeur in the bathroom). If you have space, it might be worth a try.

    Another thing to try would be flushing (sorry) the cover, to see what happens then. Maybe one has developed claustrophobia. No, I’m serious.

    Then there’s training the cats to use the human toilet. It can be done! I’ve never attempted it, though.


    And the fat one. I had a very fine cat once, named Big Fatty.

    • Thomas Wood says:

      Terrific reply, Don,
      Funny thing is, the little one is so damned quiet that I have no proof she poops at all, in the box or otherwise, unless I find them. I haven’t found any in quite a while and it’s not a big place. But part of me really suspects, one day, to find a horrible cache and guilty faced kitty.

  14. Slade Ham says:

    Okay… WOW. I totally forgot about this. Hahahaha… yeeeears ago, four to be exact, a few friends and I were relatively drunk and we shot a music video about my two cats. How I blanked on this until just this second is beyond me.

    NSFW. It is definitely NOT safe for work, and probably not something you want to click on anyway… unless you share my distorted sense of humor.

    Nevertheless: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jrlYAlvQHbA

  15. tweeker says:

    I’d watch you poop, too.

  16. Alison Aucoin says:

    My daughter’s potty training has turned the dog into a nervous grandmother. He’s constantly sniffing her & when she heads for the bathroom he’s like a torpedo. He was never particularly interested in her diapers. Maybe now he realizes she’s a real person & not just some odd new pet. Animals can be so weird.

  17. Hugh Thomas Patterson says:

    That was great. I really enjoyed you reading it at the MakeOut Room last week. I had a long talk with my cat this evening regarding his bothering me while I use the bathroom. “Come on, Mr. Peabody, I don’t stand around your litter box when you’re going, nor do I watch you eat with wanton eyes.” The cat said nothing. “Look Mr. Peabody, we have to have boundaries in this relationship. My Therapist (or thera-pest) told me you’re invading my space.” The cat said nothing. I hope you got fruther with your cat than I did with mine. Seriously, this is a genius piece of writing!

  18. Hugh Thomas Patterson says:

    That was great. I really enjoyed you reading it at the MakeOut Room last week. I had a long talk with my cat this evening regarding his bothering me while I use the bathroom. “Come on, Mr. Peabody, I don’t stand around your litter box when you’re going, nor do I watch you eat with wanton eyes.” The cat said nothing. “Look Mr. Peabody, we have to have boundaries in this relationship. My Therapist (or thera-pest) told me you’re invading my space.” The cat said nothing. I hope you got further with your cat than I did with mine. Seriously, this is a genius piece of writing!

    • Thomas Wood says:

      Thanks so much, Hugh. It was an honor reading with you (of course, it’s not like we’re a duo, so maybe reading around you? after you? within minutes of you?). Fat One and I have reached an understanding that he may follow me around so long as i get to pester him with requests for various vocal harmonies and accompaniment when I’m singing. So far, we have mastered hip-hop. I am still working on folk-music, as his melodies aren’t quite off-the-hook.

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