Saturday, May 18, 2019

Feline feces and word aversion

We're babysitting Auntie Josie's cat, Cleo.

Technically, Rachel is, so that she can earn money for girl's camp and so that she can prove to me that she can take care of an animal so that I might possibly consider ever allowing the children to have a pet.

Alexander is obsessed with the cat. He wants to play with cat all the time.

The first thing he said this morning was, "More!" while he signed milk, but after a few minutes of nursing he popped off and squealed, "KITTY!"

And then we had to go see the kitty.

He bangs on Rachel's door, wiggles the doorknobs, and gets right down on his belly to reach under the threshold, all the while yelling, "KITTY! KITTY! KITTY!"

When he starts to speak lazily it comes out more like, "KEE! KEE! KEE!"

He loves that cat so much he can hardly stand it.

Rachel's been doing a decent job taking care of the cat. She feeds her, gives her fresh water, plays with her, and has twice cleaned out the litter box (a decent track record considering she's been in our house for three nights).

Last night her friend Ava was helping her take care of the cat. They emerged from the bedroom with a bag full of cat feces.

"I scooped it out with my bare hands!" Rachel announced.

"Wait...what?" Andrew and I asked.

"Well, you know how you can put a plastic bag over your hand and grab poop and then just pull it inside out and—ta-dah!—the poop's in the bag?" Ava clarified (she has a dog so she's very familiar with poop grabbing). "That."

"Ohhhhh," we said, relieved.

"No!" Rachel said. "I literally picked it up with my bare hands."

"Like, you just saw the poop and picked it up with your bare hands?" I asked.

"With my bare hands, yes," Rachel said.

"Okay, you need to wash your hands really well," we told her.

"Why?" she asked.

"First of all...IT'S POOP...and you touched it with your hands. That's gross. Second of all, cats can transmit a brain-controlling parasite through their poop, so you typically, like, don't pick up cat poop with your hands. Because it's gross and dangerous. Third of all...IT'S POOP!"

"A brain-controlling what?!" Rachel screamed.

Discussion (and much googling) of Toxoplasma gondii followed.

"Why am I the one holding the bag?!" Ava quavered, holding the bag out at arm's length while Rachel ran to wash her hands (again).

The better question is why would Rachel reach in the litter box to pick up cat feces with her bare hands (even before knowing about Toxoplasma gondii)?!


We took the kids (and Ava) swimming yesterday and on the way home Miriam mentioned something about how the word "chunky" bothers some of the kids in her class.

"Oh, awesome!" Rachel said. "I've been collecting words that annoy people!"

Then she exclaimed, "Chunky mucus in a moist crevice!"

I have to admit that Rachel has done a top-notch job in curating her collection. That is a horribly disgusting-sounding sentence. And then all five kids chanted that charming little sentence the entire drive home.

They've really nailing the science behind word aversion.


  1. Yes--the people who are so bothered by the words "moist" and moisture." I don't get it. But, it is a real thing.

  2. Mucus and moist are bad, and now that I say it out loud, I can see the unappealing nature of crevice, too! In high school I really hated the word crisp. And...mostly from books, I don't like the word packet all that much.

    And, yeah, bare hands and poop? Yuck!