Visitors to my kitchen are greeted by a small litter box close to the stove, snug against a cupboard and partially seated on an area rug.
The low-sided $18 litter box was confiscated by my cat, Forest the moment I unpacked it from a cardboard shipping box. Forest was like a magnet to a refrigerator, planting his fluffy bottom in the pan that I specifically bought for my 20-year-old cat, Joan. Joan has arthritis and I felt this KittyGoHere Senior Cat Litter Box would be easier for her to access.
Forest never sleeps in cat beds and he rarely lounges in a cardboard box. He is known for lying belly-up on the floor in the middle of a room or on an oversize ottoman in my living room. However, this beach-sand-colored box with a special 3-inch opening captivated him and I gave up using it for its intended purpose.
I first lined the box with a spare bath towel and Forest purred while resting in it. Soon after, I topped that towel with a mini flannel quilt made by my mom. The quilt extends up the sides of the box and I carefully gather it around the edges so it stays in place when Forest crawls on top.
I have pondered the overall image of Forest in the litter box. He looks like the sweet filling in a little tart-like bed with a flannel quilt crust.
Forest, now known as my “little tart,” has become a centerpiece in my tiny kitchen. He watches me from his litter box bed as I pass through, he watches my 70-pound dog shuffle by, and he watches all activities I perform, from unloading groceries to washing dishes and fixing meals.
He’s also strategically positioned close to my stove so he absorbs soothing warmth when the oven is on.
His senior canine sister, Angel has accidentally stepped on him in the past when he sprawled out upside down on the kitchen area rug. The litter box now provides a safe space where he never falls victim to her large paws.
I come home to routinely find Angel sound asleep on her side on the area rug within inches of Forest who is nestled in his plastic litter box bed.
Experts say that cats are most vulnerable while sleeping, so they prefer to snooze in areas where they feel safe. Those areas are quiet and comfortable, areas where they can escape busy household activity. Some cats crawl under a bed, up on top of a cupboard or inside of a closet.
Forest is an oddity, preferring to sleep in wide-open spaces. While a cat’s stomach is its most vulnerable area and most cats do not like to expose it, Forest obviously feels safe and relaxed in my presence by lying belly-up. My house is also a quiet place. I respect Forest’s nap time and I protect him from being stepped on.
A bonus of all this is that Forest in his litter box bed makes a unique decoration in my kitchen. He’s often partially upside down and twisted, crammed into the 20x15x5-inch structure lined with colorful quilts featuring sunflowers, lion cub faces or pink elephants.
In this box, Forest greets visitors. In this box, Forest receives touches and kisses as I walk by. In this box, Forest always seems to dwell.
I take frequent images of him in various sleeping positions in the unconventional bed and share to a Facebook page called @Forestbellyup. It’s comical finding him sleeping with one leg sticking out of the box into the walkway like a periscope. Sometimes his tail is draped casually over the box side.
At the age of 14, Forest has finally found a vessel he desires as a bed. It’s funny how this little space he takes up on the kitchen floor has not been an inconvenience to me. It’s as if the box was destined to land there, inches from where I unpacked it from a cardboard shipper.