how to keep track of whose turn it is to change litter?
July 23, 2007 5:33 AM   Subscribe

how do we keep track of whose turn it is to change litter?

my partner and I have a cat, and we want to share the responsibilities of caring for him. More specifically, each of us changes litter every other day.

However, we can't figure out a way to keep track of this effectively. It seems to be quite difficult to remember something you have to do every other day. I've tried putting up calendars with our names pre-printed, but once one person misses a turn, it is useless.

Have any of you figured out an efficient system to do this? Maybe with chores for roommates or children?

Thank you.
posted by esolo to Pets & Animals (26 answers total)
Each one of you puts the litter bag, shovel, whatever back in a certain position. If the bag is on the left of the tray it's your turn today, otherwise it's partner's turn.
posted by stereo at 5:35 AM on July 23, 2007 [2 favorites]

Don't swap every day. Take turns every month. You can remember that even months are yours, yes?
posted by cmiller at 5:40 AM on July 23, 2007

Best answer: Make a tag on a string with your name on one side and your partner's name on the other. When you have changed the litter, flip the tag so your partner's name is now displayed.
posted by ilikecookies at 5:42 AM on July 23, 2007

Like stereo suggests, you can use some sort of marker, like a piece of paper with your names on either side, stuck to your refrigerator with a magnet.

It would be easier to remember if you switched on a weekly basis instead.
posted by grouse at 5:42 AM on July 23, 2007

You thought about just asking each other every couple of days? Or forgetting about "whose turn it is" and just changing it when one of you notices that it needs done? The cat won't give a damn who changes it, as long as someone does!

If you insist on tracking it, then I second the weekly idea above, using the name on a tag suggestion as well.
posted by Nugget at 5:50 AM on July 23, 2007

I also think changing responsibility monthly or weekly would be easiest to remember.
However, if you want to still stick to every other day, I second ilikecookies. I've used a similar system for a similar situation and that worked well. We had the added rule that if you forget to turn the card, oh well you're outta luck and it's your turn to do it again.
posted by like_neon at 5:53 AM on July 23, 2007

Response by poster: Nugget: when I say change it, I mean taking out the "stuff" from the litter box, not changing the whole thing, which needs to be done daily. And asking each other - yes, that's what we have been doing, and it got to be pretty annoying...
posted by esolo at 5:54 AM on July 23, 2007

Swap some other chore. One of you does litter box all of the time, the other one does (Dishes? Trash?) all of the time instead. Work it right and you both feel like you're getting a good deal. (Also no more arguing over "yeah you cleaned it but you did a sucky job and it made it more work for me!")
posted by anaelith at 6:08 AM on July 23, 2007

Do you use a litter mat? Two mats, different colors - swap them out when you take your turn.
posted by ersatzkat at 6:16 AM on July 23, 2007

Just pick days of the week and "own" them. One of you does Mondays and Fridays, the other does Wednesdays and Saturday nights (or whatever). The cat doesn't require 48-hour precision, just a clean litterbox.
posted by nkknkk at 6:25 AM on July 23, 2007

Seconding the ideas above regarding not switching each time. Either weekly, monthly, or just pick another duty. We have a dog so I take care of her while my wife does the cat. Maybe dishes, or cleaning the bathroom, or something else gross. Gosh I hate cat litter. Luckily my wife hates cleaning up after the dog so we've got a good thing going. Maybe there's something like that with you guys. Otherwise, yeah, go by weeks.
posted by monkeymadness at 6:44 AM on July 23, 2007

We switched dirty for clean dishes every other day in my household growing up. I did clean dishes on odd numbered days. My brother did them on even numbered days.

This worked out very well for all but three days a year, and on those days, we argued.

In terms of things becoming a problem if one person misses their day, just don't change the schedule. Either missing your day means you have to do two days in a row (the next day, and then your next regular day) or just ignore it entirely, and move on the with the schedule. Which is a better solution depends on whether missing days is evenly split between the two of you, or something only one of you does regularly.
posted by jacquilynne at 6:57 AM on July 23, 2007

Why not just have a board / whiteboard / postit note that has the name of the next person to do the chore on it. That way, if you forget to delete the name and write the other person's, then that's a negative reinforcement to make you use the system properly!

So if you're, say, John and Kate, write "John", then it's John's turn that night and he has to cross out John and write "Kate". Rinse and repeat. If anyone forgets to change the name, they still have to do it.. and then you learn!
posted by wackybrit at 6:59 AM on July 23, 2007

One of you takes odd days (July 23rd) and one of you takes even days (July 24th).

If necessary, hang a calendar above the litter box and mark off your days.
posted by Andy's Gross Wart at 7:06 AM on July 23, 2007

Having been in a similar situation, I have to ask: does one of you always forget to do it while the other always remembers?

I find that doing stuff like cleaning the catbox if it's part of a routine that happens at the same time every day. Doing it at the same time every day also makes it easier to tell if something is wrong with the cat - since cats also tend to have regular schedules, if there's too much or too little for a couple of days, you have a clue about something being up. This also prevents the forgetter from thinking the rememberer is a nag.

It maybe better for both of you and the cat for one person to just own it, and trade it for some other equally repulsive task (ie, the dishes, cleaning the bathroom). Find something that you never ever want to do and offer to do the catbox if your partner does that thing instead....
posted by jaded at 7:53 AM on July 23, 2007

2nding the odd and even day thing. He gets the odd days (1st, 3rd, 5th, etc), you get the even. When my brother and I were growing up, this worked beautifically, as there was never any question about whose "day" it was.

Be warned, however - the person getting the "odd" days gets shafted a bit, when the calendar goes from the 31st to the 1st.
posted by cgg at 8:01 AM on July 23, 2007

Get a can of green beans and a sharpie. Write your name on one end and your partners on the other. Keep it near the litter box. When ever you change the litter, flip the can upside down. Who's ever name is showing, it's their turn to change the litter.
posted by fair_game at 8:37 AM on July 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

My wife and I have a pretty easy set up. I do them in the morning and she does them at night (3 cats, 1 box, small apartment).

Don't try and track it, someone will always forget. Help each other out and be nice and do it when your partner is not expecting.
posted by corpse at 8:52 AM on July 23, 2007

Different coloured litters.
posted by A189Nut at 9:42 AM on July 23, 2007
posted by happyturtle at 9:58 AM on July 23, 2007

We use the large bags of Tidy Cat, which is enough for two boxes of litter. Maybe one person could always be the person to open the bag and pour in the first half, and the second person would always pour in the second half.

(It's a little cheaper that way, though it takes a while to get the hang of pouring only half the bag.)
posted by malocchio at 10:03 AM on July 23, 2007

Seconding Mon-Wed-Fri for one of you and Tues-Thurs-Sat for the other. Sunday is a day of rest. Or bargain for it with other household chores.

That way, "it's the 20th? Oh, I've thought it was the 19th all day" is not an excuse.
posted by desuetude at 10:56 AM on July 23, 2007

My rationale for proposing swapping every month:

Scheduling something where the period of inflection is the same as the period you're willing to let it slip is innately confusing. A month, however, is far outside the scale of forgetfulness. Also, it's not possible to ignore the problem until it magically goes away in another few hours.

So, if your goal is to share the work equitably, split it and arrange it so you have as few role-swaps as possible. If you knew exactly when you two will part ways, then you have an easy answer. Without that knowledge, swapping only occasionally will keep the scales reasonably balanced without the overhead of keeping up with a oft-changing schedule and removes the reward that forgetting brings.
posted by cmiller at 11:44 AM on July 23, 2007

Flip a coin every morning and trust it'll come out even in the end.
posted by bink at 12:02 PM on July 23, 2007

My boyfriend and I take turns weekly. This means that last night (garbage night), I changed the litter completely, and will keep it clean throughout the week. Next garbage night, my boyfriend will change it, etc.

It works for us!
posted by sunshinesky at 12:24 PM on July 23, 2007

Don't know if Chore Wars helps? Previously.
posted by jim.christian at 2:08 PM on July 23, 2007 [1 favorite]

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