About the time our older daughter was old enough for us to begin acclimating her to the idea of toilet training, the cat we had at the time began her own toilet training regimen: she decided to forgo her own good litterbox habits in order to train us, her negligent staff, to pay more attention to her royal, purebred, Persian self.
Understand that I adored this cat. I'd had her longer than I'd had Great Scott. She'd been through half of high school, all of college and the first few years of marriage, a faithful friend and comfort. Unfortunately, the stress of a new baby immediately followed by a move into a new house while Great Scott was working seventy to eighty hours a week, most of them at night, had strained my nerves to the limit, not to mention my patience.
One afternoon after having stepped (barefoot) in two freshly hacked hairballs and cleaning up three litterbox deposits that had been obviously deliberately left outside the allotted space (halfway across the house, no less), I snapped. Furiously I grabbed the cat by the scruff of her neck and bore her aloft and struggling into the bathroom. Once there, I dropped her in the toilet, flung down the lid and flushed.
I have never heard such a sound since. This cat had a particularly loud and deep voice, and she put its range to full use. Agonized yowls and wails errupted from the bowl; it sounded like a cross between emergency sirens and the heavy groaning of stressed metal. Still shaking with anger, but also horrified at what I had just done, I nearly jumped out of my skin when I heard a faint squeak behind me. There stood our eighteen month old daughter, blonde pixie curls trembling around her pale little face, her eyes as big as teacups, her mouth open in terror as she watched the cat's desperate paws, claws extended, emerge from between the seat and the porcelain bowl, scrabbling for purchase.
Hastily I opened the lid to show her the cat was still alright. Still yowling, the cat agonizingly pulled herself dripping from the bowl like some soggy Swamp Thing feline zombie, her copper eyes bugging out, her thick fur plastered flat against her scrawny frame, her mouth wide open and wailing, and her once plumy tail resembling nothing so much as a giant rat's tail lashing behind her. My child shrieked, "NOOOO!" and ran sobbing in panic from the room.
You couldn't get that child anywhere near a toilet for two whole years.