The cats are out of joint. The problem started maybe about two weeks back, as I noticed an unpleasant smell in my bed. I looked round and found a stain on one of my sheets. Evidently one of the cats had done something unpleasant. So, since I like the nearby comic book shop and didn't want to hang around there harassing the pleasant customers, I changed the bedsheets and attempted to write it off as one of those quirks houses with cats will have.
But it happened again. I could put up with a certain amount of sheet-washing, since particularly if it only becomes an issue once a week or so that's not far off what I probably should do, but it's a really lousy way to get into bed. Last weekend when one of my brothers was over -- the one who's allergic to cats -- we closed the cats in my parents' room for the hour or so he was visiting, and one of the cats peed on their bedsheets too. This moved up the issue's priority. Finally I caught the kitten in the middle of peeing, so I was able to grab her, shout, 'No!' and give her a none-too-hard swat, before throwing her to the litter box.
Luckily my sister -- from whom we got the kitten -- was visiting, so we were able to ask her advice, and she text-messaged her veterinarian. The vet's diagnosis: first, was there anything which might have scared her from the litter box recently? We don't study cat litter box habits. Could we put her food dish where she'd been peeing? No, really, not at all. So her immediate suggestions were to try getting a second litter box; to have her checked for infections; and to consider the possibility she's just being bad. It's possible she has been trying to act out otherwise, but since we're not bothered by things like cats leaping up on the counter or sleeping in bed with us, and we understand her desire to try sneaking out when the doors are open even if we scoot her away from them, this is about the only misbehaving option available to her.
We've closed off the bedrooms and study, meaning the middle cat is missing out on the front windowsill, and the older cat can't hide in my closet. We've explained that it's the kitten's fault, which has not satisfied the general feline agitation. But unless the kitten does take up the new litter box, our only other option is going to be to stop giving her water. We'll see.
Trivia: On Saturday, 7 April 1827, John Walker sold the first pack of 100 matches, with a tin, for 12 pence. They were sold on credit. Source: The 13th Element: The Sordid Tale of Murder, Fire, and Phosphorus, John Emsley.
Currently Reading: A Ball, A Dog, and a Monkey: 1957 - The Space Race Begins, Michael D'Antonio. This was actually a gift from my mother, and I'm glad she got it. For some reason I've let space history reading fall by the side the past few years, despite an urgent interest in the subject.