An Open Letter to the Occupants of 145 Alumni Row Regarding the Deplorable Condition of my Litter Box


Dear Sirs:

Some years ago, I arrived at 145 Alumni Row, disoriented and gravely injured after having been involved in a serious accident involving a large brush cutter that had been negligently operated by a member of the University’s grounds-keeping staff. Thankfully, your predecessors at this house took me in, provided me with some crude first-aid, and designated a section of the common area of this house as “Tripod’s Corner,” outfitting it with a litter box for the performance of my private duties. Although I did not appreciate the unimaginative nickname that poked fun at my recently-acquired disability, I was inclined to overlook the slight in light of the fact that your predecessors could not have known that my real name is Mr. Mittens and also because, even if they had learned that fact, the name no longer fit, one of the mittens having been most savagely removed by the brush cutter. Since my arrival, my time here has been spent in relative satisfaction, in spite of some minor complaints regarding the quality of the food and the erratic and unpredictable feeding schedule. If a cat will not turn his nose up at day-old pizza, and this cat will not, he will never starve in this house.

Up until last semester, the regular cleaning of my litter box was assigned to a young man whose given name is unknown to me but who was commonly referred to as “Tricky Dick,” a nickname which, I am given to understand, had nothing to do with our nation’s 37th president. Unfortunately, late last semester, Tricky Dick was asked to leave this house and, indeed, the University in response to a near-tragedy involving a cigarette lighter, the living room curtains and some of Tricky Dick’s own digestive gases.  None but I, it would appear, feels any loss due to sudden departure of our own Tricky Dick and none of you has seen fit to reassign the one responsibility that he was capable of satisfactorily performing.  Since the date of Tricky Dick’s departure some eight weeks ago, my litter box has not been emptied once, even though I continue to relieve myself with my customary frequency.

I have never harbored any illusions as to the hygienic standards of the occupants of this house. (There is a months-old chicken wing under the radiator in the kitchen that, each week, dons a new coat of mold on top of the old. I have seen ants choose an alternate route when confronted with this putrid clump of fuzz.) Still, the condition of my litter box is really taking things to a whole new level. The ever-growing mound of waste has long since risen past the rim of the litter box, requiring me to adopt a contortionist’s pose atop a pile of my own filth in order to make another deposit upon this mountain of disgust. The stench, it would seem to me, would be enough to stun a small moose, yet it does not even slow any of the occupants of this house to a gallop as they race past “Tripod’s Corner” on their way to the fridge for another can of Busch Light. The young ladies from the sorority house down the street, who once showered me with doting attention during their frequent visits, now give me a wide berth as if the turd collection in the corner was my idea.

And so it has come to this:  I am afraid I must inform you that, unless my litter box is emptied within the week and supplied with a fresh helping of cat litter granules, I will have no choice but to … well, I suppose I will just find another corner in the house in which to poop.  After all, I am just a homeless cat – and a three-legged one at that. 

Good day, Gentlemen.

Yours fondly,

Mr. Mitten, a/k/a “Tripod”


Toots O'Finn

Toots O'Finn

Toots O’Finn spent his typical, suburban childhood collecting baseball cards, riding bikes and doing terrible things to toads with firecrackers. In high school, Toots ran cross-country, a sport that capitalized on his complete lack of athletic ability coupled with his high tolerance for punishing, yet ultimately pointless exercise. (This tolerance also served him well during his dating years in college.) Toots attended a four-year college that neither he nor his parents could remotely afford where, unencumbered by an aptitude for any productive field of study, Toots made the obvious choice to major in English. Upon graduation, Toots received a diploma and a booklet of student loan payment tickets that will follow him around into his seventies. As an English major, Toots found himself with few options other than three more years of schooling, a law degree, and even more crushing debt. Upon completing this short bio, Toots now wishes he could go back and do things all over again, which of course he cannot. He would like to thank the editors of for requiring him to go through this painful exercise. Toots is now going to drink as many beers as he finds in his refrigerator and then go to bed for a very long time.