It's a bad combination--a cat who insists on eating any piece of crud on the floor--paper, dust, food, insects, whatever he can find--and me, a person who for some reason insists upon not brushing his teeth directly over the sink, instead walking over to the TV in the bedroom so he can watch, say David Letterman's top ten list, because he can't see it from the bathroom because he's just taken out his contacts and the whirr of the electric toothbrush is too loud.

One day, I'm doing this. Anyone who has used a powered toothbrush knows it's easy to get toothpaste everywhere. This time, I had somehow managed to have a large clump fall out of my mouth and land on the black bathroom rug in front of the sink. (Aside: we have a late 1930s vintage house, with the original bathroom tile in pink and black. It's cool in my opinion, but the only thing that goes with it are black accent rugs, towels and blinds. We also had to paint the radiator cover black--the previous owner had somehow tried to do it and the walls in pink--of course, a different pink than the pink of the tile--which actually is loitering in the neighborhood of lavender, and clashed horribly with the paint. The walls are now off-white, and everything is either off-white, black or pink. Including the cat we're getting to in a minute.) The cat is in the bathroom with me, meowing (he's obviously part Siamese) because he wants me to let him out or play with the laser pointer, or whatever the hell it is he's meowing about. He's watching me intently as I brush, and follows the toothpaste glob with his eyes, his body tensing into position for the attack.

He moves far too fast for me to stop him. He pounces from the toilet bowl (seat covered with one of those fuzzy black toilet seat bowl covers, natch) and eats the toothpaste (Tom's Of Maine spearmint, if you care. This toothpaste is also off-white.)

His first reaction is one of stunned shock. Then a scream of agony. Cats don't appreciate things that burn their mouth--while I find the sting of spearmint and peppermint lovely, and how I know toothpaste is working, cats seemingly do not feel the same way. Once I realize he did this, I of course try to comfort the cat but that's no use--he has taken off down to the basement from the second floor. I set off after him. He's trying to get the toothpaste out of his mouth, scared out of his wits, spitting, foaming at the mouth. I finally get to him and calm him down and rinse his mouth out the best I can. He eventually settles down and there seem to be no ill effects. It seems he didn't swallow any--both from his condition and the trail he left of toothpaste and spittle all the way to the basement.

Needless to say, he's not done it since. He's not the brightest cat out there, but he does seem to have some capacity for learning. BTW, do keep toothpaste away from your cat--not only from the discomfort angle, but the fact that the flouride would be toxic to them if ingested. (For instance, they do make animal toothpaste that's beef flavored. Mostly for dogs, I believe, but I'm sure your cat would like that kind. Don't let them eat it.)

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