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DeSmit: Litter boxes have no place in schools but please install a hamster wheel for my daughter


Column by Scott DeSmit

My daughter began her first day of eighth grade Tuesday and we were both up bright and early to prepare for the big day.

“So,” I said to her after we wiped the sleep from our eyes. “What do you feel like today?”

Jenna pondered this for a moment before answering.

“A hamster!” she announced, before running down the hall and climbing into the hamster wheel that I set up for just such occasions.

“Hamster it is then!” I said before heading to the laundry room to pick out her hamster outfit.

Wednesday she went to school as a pigeon. Thursday it was a snake, for some reason.

And Friday she actually went to school as herself.

Now, we have a very accommodating superintendent here in Albion.

Mr. Edwards caters very well to the special needs of children and has installed hamster wheels, bird cages complete with newspapers splayed across the cage floor and, of course, litter boxes for the many students who identify as cats. Or kittens.

“The litter boxes are a lot easier to clean than the toilets,” one janitor told me. “Have you ever seen what a student can do to a toilet?”

Welcome to the age of the Furry.

As if two years of dealing with COVID protocols and mask mandates and parents going absolutely ape at board meetings and issues of drugs, vaping, bullying and the constant battle with cell phones wasn’t enough, we now have this: Are schools installing litter boxes in bathrooms to cater to students who identify as cats?

I am not making that up, although I admit I did make up the stuff about my daughter and her school.

The latest incident happened in Hornell at a school board meeting Tuesday night.

Two parents addressed the board and superintendent asking about rumors that litter boxes were being placed in bathrooms.

“On behalf of the school administration, that is not something we do, that is not something we would ever consider doing … not happening,” the superintendent said.

Another parent asked why the school allowed children to dress as animals.

“We have a dress code inside our code of conduct, we follow the dress code, thanks.”

I have been researching this issue for the past two weeks, ever since my girlfriend said she was told that Alexander and Perry schools have litter boxes.


So I did what all serious and dedicated investigating journalists do.

I Googled “Litter boxes in schools.”

The results: 32,800,000 of them.

Dansville had to address the issue.

Schools in virtually every state have had to calm irate parents at board meetings, pleading with them and assuring them that no, we are not putting litter boxes in schools.

It doesn’t matter. People believe whatever they believe, no matter how farfetched it may seem.

A Nebraska state senator said he was “shocked” when he found out about litter boxes in schools.

“They meow and they bark and they interact with their teachers in this fashion,” Bruce Bostelman said during legislative debate. “And now schools are wanting to put litter boxes in the schools for these children to use. How is this sanitary?”

He later apologized after being told what an idiot he was.

Seems you really can’t believe everything you read on the internet Bruce.

A side story: I spent 90 minutes researching Furries one morning and then an hour later was in my car pumping gas near a Dollar General. A group of people came out of the store and one was an actual live Furry! I’m not kidding! I even took his, or her, picture, wearing what appeared to be a fox costume. What a coincidence.

Anyway, my research told me much about Furries, who are real, and about the rumor that litter boxes are in schools.

They are not. Schools will never put litter boxes in bathrooms and will not allow children to attend school as Furries.

I would, however, like to ask our school to install a hamster wheel.

Scott DeSmit is a general assignment reporter for The Daily News. He can be reached at

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