The Rise Of The Machines

This really happened to me. No, I am not Ok. I doubt I will ever be OK. I got my wife a Roomba for her birthday. I had no idea those things were so expensive, but I found an amazing deal on a used one, and was able to bring our home one step closer to the Robotopia that I have always dreamed of. She spent the first few days playing with the Roomba, affectionately referred to as “Robit” [row-bit, long O], letting it zoom around and get acquainted with its new home.

She put its charging dock in the pantry and set an auto-schedule for it to clean up the cat litter off the floor (what the cats kick out of the box every time they enter or exit it) every day at 5am. This was really the whole impetus for the robot in the first place. She’s god damn sick of cleaning up cat litter every day, and I’m god damn sick of walking on cat litter when I go into the pantry to get food, thus making me think of food and cat litter simultaneously, WHICH inevitably makes me stop thinking about food all together (diet idea: surround all your food with cat shit). I am rarely asleep at 5am because I have crazy-artist crazy-work-from-home hours, so for the first couple of days I would hear Robit wake up, do it’s little litter dance for about 10 minutes, beep to tell me it was done and shimmy back into his docking station. If he could eat treat biscuits, you’d better believe I’d have given him one. It was a technological marvel. The next day, the pantry would be free of cat litter’s foul crunch under foot and no humans were harmed in the process.

On the third or fourth night, I heard Robit do his business and dock himself, then the house was just ENGULFED in stink. One of the cats, Replay, doesn’t like to cover up his poops. I assumed he’d just dropped a particularly gnarly one without covering it, and went to investigate. I opened the pantry door and It was like that scene in Se7en when they find the “living corpse.” 100,000 pine-scented air fresheners wouldn’t have abated the horrors I was facing. As the panels above illustrate, one of the cats, finding his box too full, had decided to use the floor as a bathroom. Robit, being a cold, unfeeling, emotionless machine who only follows his predetermined directives with no regard for human well being or the consequences of his actions, plowed right through it. Those of you who don’t live with cats probably don’t know that where as an unbroken cat turd smells bad, a BROKEN/SMUSHED cat turd is an ENTIRELY different animal. There’s some sort of natural protective sausage casing that the cat produces which somehow shields the secret stench within the poop. I can only assume this is an evolutionary necessity in order to facilitate the symbiosis of the domestic feline and the humans that house and feed it.

My Fancy Patrons got to read this comic before anyone else! 



It was a horror show. Not only was the stench truly overpowering and blinding, but Robit had managed to run over the poop FIRST and THEN do his 10 minute “cleaning routine,” spreading… no, PAINTING the entire floor in concentric doodles of despair. Not only was the floor forever unclean, but Robit had managed to “gum up the works,” so to speak, with as much or more than he Jackon Pollack’d the pantry with. It was in his wheels, in his gears, in the brushes and the filter. Like I said. A horror show. The odd thing is, this happens with human babies all the time. They poop seemingly more than the interior volume of their small bodies and it manages to get from toes to forehead before you realize what has happened.

The deal with babies is, you LOVE them. You would do ANYTHING for them. You HAVE to keep them alive and you HAVE to stop whatever important, grown up business you are working on and de-poop the baby. The trade off is the human baby’s CPU is deep, deep inside a rather remarkable water proof casing, and its exterior shell is incredibly supple, yet resilient and stain resistant.  You can actually put an entire human baby in the bath tub (NOT dishwasher safe) and hose them down. Robit, on the other hand, had to be almost entirely disassembled, expunged of poops and reassembled. It was not a task for the faint of heart, which is why I let my wife do it. “Here, Honey. I bought you a robot to make your life easier. Just one thing… you need to take out a million tiny screws, swab out about a gallon of cat shits, disinfect it AND yourself, them piece the Satanic, mechanized jigsaw back together before it can start with the life making easier stuff. HAPPY BIRTHDAY I’M GREAT!”

Calling all Whovians with holes in their ears! Just look at these Dalek earrings my wife made! They’re in her Etsy store and ready to EXTERMINATE your… lack of perfect ear jewelry?

dalek earrings etsy science and fiction

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  1. This has happened to us, more than once, and it is exactly as horrifying as depicted in this comic. They need to figure out how to put cat poop sensors on those things.

  2. I'm no expert, but maybe cats are watching and learning how to most effectively use our own technology against us for when the war comes. I'm just asking questions!

    • It's either that or they immediately captured and reprogrammed the Roomba to carry out high risk mission behind enemy lines.

    • Indoor cats don't just go outside. Tivo is terrified of the outside and Replay gets into fights with/gets injured by strays.

    • Cats that do not go out doors have an average lifespan of 15 years. Cats that do go out doors have an average lifespan of 5 years. Between cars, infectious disease, fights with other cats, and predation by dogs and other carnivores, you're asking for trouble. If you have a choice, do not put your cats outside.

      They also have a huge impact on indigenous wildlife, killing over 4 billion animals per year in the US alone. Cat predation is also one of the reasons why one in three American bird species are in decline. They've caused the extinction of 33 species of bird worldwide.

      • Every indoor cat I've met has seemed entirely off its rocker, whereas almost every outdoor cat has seemed relatively sane (for a tiny predator who doesn't speak any human language, of course). A lot of the "cats are just dumb and/or crazy, ehh???" that people spout has never quite felt real to me until I think for a second about the cats I know that live in condos and such, and then I can connect the dots.

        Also, my housemate has a cat which is currently _19_, which is fucking ludicrous for a cat. Maybe it just has an amazing death stare, but it sure hasn't died from going outside yet. I question how universal those averages are, because my housemate had another outdoor cat which recently died at the age of 14—what's the standard deviation, and what circumstances beyond just outside/inside affect lifespans?

        Similarly, if you keep your kids indoors they'll likely get fewer infectious diseases and cause less of a hassle to the world. But they'll also go batshit insane. It's not a tradeoff to be lightly made, and I wholeheartedly reject your assertion that there's a clear and indisputable choice—the negatives of both indoor and outdoor are potentially pretty damn large. Personally I think the choice is clear, but that comes down to personal experience and philosophy, so I won't judge you for coming to different conclusions. Just, don't judge others so quickly yourself, please.

        All that being said, the outdoor cats I've known still actually tend to like shitting inside, so it wouldn't necessarily be a solution to this particular problem anyways. Although it does mean (if you have a cat door or such) they could go outside instead of shitting on the floor. The only times my housemate's cats have shit on our floors have been when there's nobody home for a VERY extended period of time or when there's no cat door or other exit for them at the house and they're awoken after a long nap but not, despite their plaintive meowing, let outside.

        • I've worked in veterinary medicine for almost 20 years. I will voice my personal and professional opinion and provide the statistics that said opinion is based upon, whether you listen to it or agree with it is none of my concern. Also, my house cats aren't "insane", whatever that means.

        • Every animal is different, so assuming there's a clear choice is flawed. One of my cats really took to the outdoors and spent the first 7 or 8 years of his life leaving when the sun went down and coming home to go to bed when it came back up. The other one is scared of his own shadow and has no interest in a world with more than 4 other lifeforms in it. He's not SUPER fond of the 4 he already has to deal with. Putting him outside would be cruel. He has high anxiety and that would send him into a total panic. Your kid analogy still applies, but as a father and… cat facilitator?… I'd suggest amending it to, "pay attention to those you are in charge of and they will let you know what their limits are." With kids, gently pushing those limits is fine, but with animals, what's the point? Especially when they are perfectly happy to stay inside, sleep 18-20 hours a day, eat from time to time and blend in with various lumps of dirty clothes. He's content.

        • Thanks for reminding me why I'm not a cat person. Don't get me wrong, cats are cute and useful, except when you own them. One of my neighbors has a cat whose name I forget, but my family calls him "Patrol Cat", because he stalks the vineyard across the street from my house to hunt varmints and other critters. If not for food, then for sport. I have so far not given him any snacks, because that might encourage him to stay with us, and Mom's allergic to cats.

        • I think it's greatly dependent on the time spent with the cat. If you have an indoor cat, but you're out 8 to 6 each day, then they're confined AND alone. An outdoor cat will go out in those hours perhaps, and come home when it knows you'll be there for the interactions.
          Our three indoor kitties are very well balanced (and very people-friendly) because I work from home and they see me all day long. They play with each other, get me involved a few times across the day, and (creepily) enjoy listening to me talk on the phone and watching me work.

          • I work 8 hours a day, 5 days a week, away from home. If I let my cat outside during the day I would almost immediately cease to have a cat. He's friendly and adventurous and loves people– when he is indoors. The few times he's been outside he has immediately turned into the most upset, terrified creature this earth has ever seen. He actually urinated on himself out of terror from accidentally going more than two feet away from my patio door once.

            When he is home alone during the day, he has a safe place to nap and play with his toys, and eat, and not piss himself in a blind panic. There is zero evidence in any of his behavior to suggest he behaves any differently now than he did when I worked from home and basically never went out.

            On the flip side, the last cat I had, when I lived with my parents in high school, was let out day and night, despite my protests, and died very young due to my neighbor leaving out chemicals when he was working on his car. So any cats I have from here on out will be indoors for their safety and my own peace of mind.

      • Replay was a 50/50 indoor/outdoor cat for 7 or 8 years, then a new stray moved into the neighborhood and started kicking his ass on the regular. I'm pretty sure that cat's gone now, but he's suuuuper timid about the out of doors now. He'll go play in our yard for maybe 30 minutes at a time ever few days. He "lost his groove" so to speak. Tivo used to spend some time in our front and back yards, but after we moved his entire personality changed and now he's afraid of everything indoors or out.

      • I must have been very lucky then 'cos my outdoor cat lived until he was 16, and only needed to go to the vet once in all those 16 years. Personally I can't imagine keeping a cat couped up indoors. They are territorial, nocturnal carnivores.

        • We had an outdoor cat named Maddie that made her 20th birthday, and on of her neutered sons made 12. They were bad@ss cats though. Maddie once attacked an overly friendly German Shepard who just wanted to say hi to me (I was around 16 at the time) and chased him out of the yard and to the middle of the street. She then stood between me and the dog and let him loudly know he wasn't welcome to sniff me. Her son Precious was way more laid back and just watched from the porch. I felt really bad for the dog since I had patted my leg in invitation in the first place. Oops!

    • Cats are actually crepuscular– most active at dawn and dusk, not nocturnal. A cat will spend just as much time sleeping at night as they will during the day.

      • Yes. In my experience the self cleaning box seems like it was designed by someone that has heard of a cat but never actually seen a live one. We had one but the cat was convinced it was a kitty shredder. I can't blame him. It SOUNDED like a kitty shredder.

      • That sounds like textbook passive-aggressive behavior. "Oh, you got me this new thing to poop in, to make cleaning my poop easier? Here's what I think of it: F#*$ YOU, I'm pooping right next to it, just to piss you off!"

      • That's the noise they make. My cat was terrified of the noise mine made, and stopped using it. I sold it to a friend and went back to regular litter boxes.

    • Is that the one that's supposed to rake all the poo away after each use? A friend of mine has many cats and got one of those things, and it went sort of loopy, going off as soon as it sensed any cats were nearby, instead of waiting until they'd left. It managed to single-handedly stop any of her six cats from using the litter box at all for several days until they figured out what the thing was doing.

      It was 1999 so we joked it had the Y2K bug. No idea if they've improved them since then but I sincerely hope so.

  3. Let me regale you of a story from one Geoff Ramsey of Achievement Hunter/Austin:

    One night, he–asleep and possibly drunk–took a crap on the floor of his house and their Roomba picked it up. It then started spinning around as was mentioned in the comic, sans shit-spitting. When he found out about what had happened, he opened the little thing up and cleaned every piece, but would stop working after a few minutes of being turned on

  4. All this talk about cat poop and technology reminds me of a bizarre cartoon from the early 2000s called "The Ripping Friends". It was made by John K. (the creator of Ren and Stimpy), and was about four over-muscled superheroes that went around punching things.

    One episode was about a cat from the future, and whenever it pooped, instead of squatting on a litter box, it would use a special helmet and make the poop teleport directly into the litter box. Yes, this was a kid's show that aired on Saturday morning.

    I haven't even gotten into the gay gorilla kept trying to make out with humans or the villain with the power to control the odor of his farts.

    • OMG I remember that show!! Haven't thought about it in forever. Remember the one about the alien who became a supervillain because his race were all giant thumbs and when his nail accidentally got ripped off the doctor Ripping Friend accidentally sewed it back on the wrong side?

      –That was the weirdest fucking cartoon, man. XD

  5. I've got two roombas. You really can't let them wander around without supervision. They get into things. They chew up phone charging cords that are dragging on the ground, for example. Or get stuck trying not to fall down the stairs, which they detect, but can't always back away from. They are closer to the broom from Sorceror's apprentice than I think people imagine going in. But its kind of endearing when one finds a lost slipper and brings it back to its dock (also really happened).

  6. Vonnegut included in his intro to "Welcome to the Monkey House" a quote from a letter his brother had sent him, shortly after said brother and brother's wife had welcomed twins: "Here I am, cleaning shit off of practically everything."

  7. I see that no one has posted this yet. . . Have you tried a covered cat box for your two cats? We had one cat that would spray litter in a 5 foot radius around the litter box until we got a covered litter box. Slightly more effort to clean (unlatching and removing the lid, and then putting it back), but it worked like a charm.

    • I own one of those, and the cats now just heave the litter out of the doorhole. All it's stopped is my idiot male cat who used to brace on all four corners and pee rather accurately out of the back onto the floor, and then dig for 10-15 minutes trying to find his vanished pee.

  8. This happened to me and ROOMBA told me when I contacted them to find a repair shop, that Roombas aren't meant to pick up animal feces. I didn't find that the most helpful of responses. I did have to disassemble down 3 layers to clean it but it works now.

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