It had the storyline of man versus beast ó although it involved a co-worker who is a woman and in this story, the beast was a domestic dog.But, all the elements were in place for a story of unparalleled magnitude.There was the co-worker, who recently became owner of a dog that still needed a little help understanding that in this big, beautiful world of chew toys, a dogís bathroom is limited to the great outdoors ó not the great room.She explained how, at the recommendation of a friend, she found doggy diapers at an area store and decided it might make cleanup a little less intense.It was obvious the diapers were designed for a dog, since there was even a portal in the seat for a dogís tail.The only problems were the dog didnít necessarily like the idea of having his doggy parts placed behind plastic, and doggy diapers are not one-size-fits-all.She explained how the doggy diapers she chose were at least one size too small, which in addition to making the placement more challenging, also caused the dog to walk with a hitch in his get- up, so to speak.She even impersonated her dogís diapered gait ó choreography that probably will never appear as an interpretive dance number.Anyway, up until that time, Iíd never given much thought to doggy diapers ó or for that matter, dogs in general.Thatís because my family are cat people, which has its own challenges.Weíve never had occasion to seek modest kitty wear. Instead, our biggest concerns are whether to purchase floral-scented litter or the kind with baking soda.Then, thereís clumping litter and non-clumping litter, which can create quite a dilemma in the local pet store aisle ó especially if youíre seeking out something to mesh with the collection of Glade Plug-in scents already in the house.There are moments when the cat leaves tiny paw prints across a cabinet, even though on numerous occasions weíve admonished her with lengthy monologues about the doís and doníts in our house.Apparently, she knows enough to show her feline independence only when weíre not at home.The most difficult thing about being a cat person is waking in the middle of the night due to a call of nature, quietly tip-toeing through the bedroom to avoid the unpleasantness of awakening a sleeping spouse, and suddenly stepping into something cold, wet and furry ó a hairball.The spouse usually awakens shortly after the ensuing shriek or cussing, anyway.Sometimes, our cat coughs up something large enough that itís only one lung shy of being a living organism.Itís led me to an exhaustive search for remedies.Currently, I apply salmon-flavored petroleum jelly to the catís front paws a couple times per week.Through this technique, Iíve discovered there really is nothing worse than applying petroleum jelly to a catís paws ó unless itís the lingering scent of salmon on a personís fingers ó even after intense soap use.Iíve sought other remedies from the Internet, which boasted such things as feeding a cat butter, a teaspoon of canned pumpkin once or twice daily or a small bit of psyllium or rice bran in the catís food.Unfortunately, our cat doesnít like butter, and we donít keep cans of pumpkin around for use in the cat. I had to look it up because I thought it might be an ingredient in warfare, but psyllium actually is a type of fiber found in some laxatives. Since our goal was looking to slow the flow of outbound byproducts, I decided to stay with the salmon jelly, instead.But the doggy diaper idea got me wondering if there might be an opportunity to invent a solution for hacking up hairballs.I think Iíll work on that this weekend ó right after my spouse gets back to sleep and I finally get the smell of salmon off my hand. Ken Knepper is publisher of The Newton Kansan. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.