Do I smell like cat pee?

There are several mom fashion mistakes I always try to avoid.  1.  Mom jeans.  If I’ve learned anything from My Year of Fabulous, it’s that there’s no excuse to ever where unflattering jeans.  The jeans market is vast, widely available and amazing, so why walk around in a pair of pleated Lady Wranglers? 2.  Never, ever, ever, under any circumstances wear big, white sneakers.  They are the Hallmark of poorly dressed Americans traveling abroad and matched with a pair of ill fitting jeans, the unofficial uniform of moms everywhere.  3.  Avoid the giant mom backpack.  I know we all have a ton of stuff to carry around, but the lumpy, five thousand pound Jansport backpack strapped on our backs is one of the final nails in our fashion coffins.


I am proud to say that for a couple of years now, I have successfully avoided the mom jeans and big white sneakers combo, but I have yet to shed myself of the Jansport backpack.  I don’t use it that much, so I forget how ugly it is until the moment I’m putting it on.  It just sits on a hook next to the washing machine waiting to make an outfit ugly for me.  When I’m wearing it I always think, I really need to get a cuter backpack, then I put it back on the hook and forget about it completely until the next time I need it.


Like the other day.  My kids and I went to a county fair, so I grabbed my Jansport, crammed a bunch of snacks, drinks and sweatshirts in it and headed out the door.  After about five minutes at the fair, I noticed this horrible cat pee smell permeating the air.  I was really expecting the delightful smell of fried dough and cotton candy (one of my favorite smells of all time), so I was completely confused and annoyed.  I first smelled my kids.  Do they smell like cat pee?  Thankfully, no.  Then I smelled people walking by me.  Nothing.  Then I smelled the guy operating the Zipper.  Still nothing.  (He just smelled like cigarettes and possibly pork rinds.)


It wasn’t until I got on my first ride and took off my backpack that the smell went away.  It was there, on the Scrambler, I deduced what was going on.  The cat pee smell was coming from the Jansport.   I rooted through my backpack and sure enough, discovered some sopping wet, cat-pee coated Cliff bars and several dripping sweat shirts.

We have three cats.  I don’t know who did it, but one of them managed to pee inside my backpack.  Maybe they put each other up to it.  Maybe it was a cat game of, Can you squat over this open backpack hanging on a hook and pee in it?  It could have been an accident, but I doubt it.  Dogs have accidents.  Cats have vendettas.  The pee had leaked onto my shirt so I did smell like a litter box the rest of the day, but no one seemed to notice and all in all, it was a great fun time at the fair.


Midnight Tiger, obviously the mastermind…

On the way home, I realized there might be another reason one of the cats befouled my backpack.  Quite possibly, they could have all be talking together one day and saying, Holly really needs to ditch that Jansport backpack.  How can we help?

So for that, I thank you, cats.  I will start shopping for a new backpack today.


  • Oh, cats that pee in bags. We had one for 18 years and he was a sweet, loving cat but for this one major flaw. (Why did we put up with it for so long? We could never bring ourselves to give him away because we knew he was basically un-adoptable.)

    Cute backpacks are surprisingly hard to find. On theme park days, we abandon all pretense of style and it’s Jansport all the way. Lately I’ve been seeing Herschel Supply packs everywhere on the metro. This one is cute:

    • Holly Hester says:

      I was just thinking that — the cute LARGE backpack is almost impossible to find! I’ll check this one out. Thanks!

  • We got a black UnderArmour backpack when our son was born as the ‘dad version’ of the diaper bag. Even though we are (almost, crossing fingers) done with the diaper bag stuff… it still is perfect for amusement park and beach trips. Also, since it’s all black, my husband and I trade off wearing it. =)

  • Kim says:

    BTW, if you’re looking for great bags and designer clothes at incredibly reasonable prices, try They just started carrying handbags and have a few backpacks (mostly high-end but really nice). You may have already written about them during your fashion blog year (I can’t remember), but wanted to share!

    • Holly Hester says:

      I love thed up but I’ve never searched for handbags or backpacks there — I didn’t know they had that category — thanks!

  • Kim says:

    I’m always searching for comfortable, chic shoes that I can walk miles in – and thus avoid the dreaded white-sneaker-syndrome. Haven’t found the perfect pair yet. What do you (and your readers) suggest?

    • Holly Hester says:

      You should try Jambu, Ahnu or J-41 — three different brands that make AMAZINGLY comfortable, chic shoes you can walk for miles it. You have to check them out if you haven’t already — I swear by all three brands. Love them!

  • Jenn says:

    Isn’t it funny that mom jeans, white sneakers, and backpacks are what the “cool” kids are wearing right now? And they call it “normcore”. I’m too old to look anything but dowdy in that getup so I’ll leave it to the lithe 20-somethings. And smirk at the fact that someday they’ll too have the realization that it’s bad. Nothing like making your legs look stumpy, your stomach look like your rear end, and you actual rear end look 3 feet long. :)

    • Holly Hester says:

      I know! You know I saw this high school girl in mom jeans the other day and she was so pretty that she actually looked good in them! I was amazed that she pulled the look off!

  • Ginny says:

    One word for you: Baggallini. After a decade or so of carrying the Urban Backpack, I graduated to the messenger bag (here: Baggallinis are almost indestructible, yet stylish. There are all sorts of sizes, styles, and colors. Happy Shopping.

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