5 Ways the Litter Box Is a Metaphor for Life


Living with cats means keeping literal boxes of crap in our homes. This may seem less than ideal, especially when you live in small spaces (case in point: The litter boxes are in my kitchen).

But buried beneath the sand in each litter box, clumped alongside your cat’s, uh, daily offerings, are several important life lessons — no, really. Just like gardens are apt metaphors for relationships, litter boxes reflect the day-to-day human experience.

Don’t believe me? Here’s proof.

1. Sometimes life is full of crap

When life’s crap becomes overwhelming, sometimes you’ve gotta scoop it out.

This morning, for example, my Facebook feed was clogged with “news” stories about Miley Cyrus twerking and some dude named Liam, whose presence is apparently ubiquitous enough that he is on a first-name basis with everyone under 25. I have never heard a Miley Cyrus song because I refuse to acknowledge that AutoTune is a thing, so I metaphorically scooped that crap by logging out of Facebook, telling the kids to get off my lawn, and eating some M&Ms.

2. You gotta keep your side of the street clean

Just like failing to tend the litter box ensures your cat will use your bed, your entertainment center, or your new rug instead, failing to clean up your literal and figurative messes each day means they will soon overwhelm you like so many errant cat turds on the kitchen floor.

Take some time each day to examine your thoughts and actions. Apologize to people if you need to. Call your mom back. Do the damn dishes. Make your bed. Quit shoving Taco Bell wrappers under your carseat and throw them in the trash. Basically, keep your side of the street clean. Life frequently sucks, but it sucks a little less if you don’t have to dig out a space for passengers in your car or eat cereal with a fork because all of the spoons are dirty.

3. Sometimes it’s best to start fresh

Despite our best efforts, sometimes we let the litter box go a little too long. When clump piles atop clump, there’s really no point in trying to chisel away at the mess. At this point, it’s best to toss it out and start fresh.

Such is life. When a particular job, relationship, gym membership, carry-out order, ill-fitting sweater, etc. is just not working out and the mess it’s creating is overwhelming, it’s okay — brave, even — to walk away and start over. This isn’t admitting defeat; it is trading something that doesn’t work for something that does.

And just like your cats can’t wait to sink their adorable pink toes into a layer of fresh sand, it’s okay to get excited about new opportunities.

4. You have to learn to share

I have two litter boxes in my apartment — or one per cat. Still, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix do not look jazzed about having to share their waste stations with anyone at all, ever. If they had it their way, they would poop alone in a box of fresh sand behind a velvet curtain at the end of a marble walkway. Truth: My cats are snobs.

But the very nature of life dictates that we have to share things with the other humans, some of whom we do not like. This model does not support snobbery. We have to wait in lines, drive slowly through rush hour traffic, and not take more than one brownie square in the break room on Monday morning. Even on days when we’d rather lie in bed alone behind a velvet curtain at the end of a marble walkway, we have to suit up, show up, dig in, and get dirty, because that’s life.

5. A little bit of work yields big rewards.

If you do it every day, it takes only five minutes to scoop a litter box. Do with that what you will.

About Angela: This not-crazy-at-all cat lady loves to lint-roll her favorite dress and go out dancing. She also frequents the gym, the vegan coffee joint, and the warm patch of sunlight on the living room floor. She enjoys a good cat rescue story about kindness and decency overcoming the odds, and she’s an enthusiastic recipient of headbutts and purrs from her two cats, Bubba Lee Kinsey and Phoenix.

More by Angela Lutz:

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