Living with Carnivores

A vegetarian human's adventure with cats

An Enrichment Toy the Cats Like

The human tries to keep her 4-legged companions mentally engaged and entertained, so the 2-legged is always on the lookout for an “enrichment” toy. Unfortunately, if you’ve followed this blog for a while, you know that the human has a pretty bad track record of finding enrichment toys the cats will play with for more than 15 minutes — if they play with it at all.

However, the 2-legged struck gold in late January when she purchased a well-made wooden box that has large holes around the sides and top meant to hold squishy balls. Well, the kitties very quickly removed the balls and then wondered what the human would do next. Their servant remembered reading something on the box’s cover that said snacks could be put in the box, so she poured in some raw freeze-dried nibblets. Oh my goodness, the cats all circled around the box and started poking paws inside to cuff snacks out and eat them. This has become a nearly nightly routine. (They might as well do a little bit of work for their treats.)

Wiley Taz Bird has learned to hang back a bit and watch. As soon as one of the bigger cats knocks a snack out one of the holes on the side, she darts in, steals the snack, and runs off to eat it. Meanwhile, the cat that did all the work is left with nothing. Shahjah has his own unique way of interacting with the box. He climbs on top of it and then tries to cuff snacks out. Often, all 4 of his paws are down inside the box.

The cats are entertained by the box and the human is entertained by the cats’ antics with the box. In fact, everyone enjoyed the toy so much that the human bought a second for downstairs, and then bought a third for their kitty cousin back East. Finally, an enrichment toy that does the job.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.


Heavyweight champ Pepe and Welterweight contender Shahjah seem to enjoy dusting it up a bit every day. The Grumpy Old Grandpa cat outweighs the Tiger Baby by at least 10 pounds/4.5 kilos, although Shahjah does a good job of holding his own.

Maybe Pepe misses Caesar, who was the only cat unwilling to kowtow to the Pepster and would give him a good thumping every time Pepe sought out a rumble. Shahjah, who desperately wants the attention and approval of the older cats, seems to enjoy it too.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Working to Cross-Purposes

No, your eyes are not deceiving you. That’s Mac trying to drink water out of the kitchen water bowl. Her antics with water are legendary. Note that she is standing with left paw over right and head turned to the left as she contorts her body to drink over her shoulder. (You can also tell that the absorbent pad she’s standing on is soaked with liquid that the Watery One tossed out of the bowl before drinking.) For some reason, the Merkitty has just never been able to “grok” the concept of a water bowl. If you really want to mess with her mind, you put water in a clear bowl and watch the fun begin.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

No Box Goes Uninspected

Pepe has a storied love affair with boxes.

Very few boxes — regardless of size or condition — are allowed to enter this house that Moon-Face Boy doesn’t insist on checking out.

The ones he especially likes, the Pepster takes over and sleeps in.

He gets quite proprietary if another cat (like Mac) gets inside one of his boxes.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Training Tigers

Fireball has taken the Tiger Babies under his care and is teaching them not only how to be adult cats but how to be proper tigers. Just as Fireball followed Caesar everywhere and did everything Caesar did, including posing exactly as Caesar posed — whether sitting or lying down — Shahjah is Fireball’s shadow. And just like Caesar sought brief respites from Fireball, Fireball now seeks a bit of peace and quiet from the gregarious and chattery Shahjah and his slightly less clingy sister, Taz Bird. Then all the tigers are off racing around again, running on the cat equivalent of their tippy toes, or they’re all curled up together getting a bit of shuteye.

By the way, the tuxedo cat peering at the cuddling tigers is Mac, who appears a bit miffed that her pink puff and her sleeping buddy Fireball are occupied with cats other than her.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

When Morning Starts way too Early

Sometimes Mac and Fireball act like morning comes way too early for them. They skip breakfast and just lounge in the big pink puff as though moving would take far more effort than they could possibly muster.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Tiny Toys go Swimming

Someone has been removing some tiny new toys the meows received last month from the toy boxes and dunking them in the kitchen water bowl, then taking the soggy toy out and leaving it on the kitchen floor. To dry them out, the human has been clothes pinning them to a hanging basket full of vegetables.

The other morning, the two-legged found one very soggy toy still floating in the water bowl (which had mostly been emptied of water and yucked up with dirty feet) and another (also soggy) toy lying beside the bowl.

Both Mac and Pepe routinely stand in the kitchen bowl to take a drink and yuck up the water. And Mac regularly tosses water out of the water bowls and floods the floor…hence the elaborate arrangements meant to stop the tomfoolery.

As for who is taking the toys for a dunk, the human suspects the Tiger Babies — perhaps with initial instruction from the Merkitty. Cats…they definitely keep life interesting.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Languorous Lions

While they sleep most of the day, laying around in comfy beds full of soft blankets in the sunlight seems to utterly exhaust the meows. Fireball (above) and Pepe (below, after taking a spit bath) are shown catching some Zzzzzzs.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

When Your Plant Doesn’t Quite Look Right

Every morning when the human comes down stairs, there is interesting evidence of the kitties’ nocturnal adventures waiting to be found.

This morning, as the human walked by and glanced at the plant stand in the “(wood)stove” room, something just didn’t seem right. She went back to check and sure enough, impaled on the needles of a dangling piece of cactus, a bright green toy mouse was suspended.

The mouse is now free of the cactus (and the cactus is free of the mouse) with no permanent damage to either. Where will that mouse turn up next?

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Mac Steals Pepe’s Box AGAIN!

Macaroni is famous for her brat attacks. Nearly every night, she chases Pepe off the human’s pillow. She spends at most 5 minutes there, then goes off to find other mischief. Meanwhile, Pepe has lost the comfy spot he’d held for several hours and the human has been woken from her sleep. Mac also is famous for chasing Corky out of his kitty bed only to walk away and not even lie down in it. And she chases the Tiger Babies away anytime they dare get near her or happen to be laying in a spot she decides she wants. Why the bigger cats let the Merkitty boss them around and chase them from their rightful places is anyone’s guess. Another thing Mac is famous for is stealing whatever box Pepe happens to currently be favoring. It doesn’t matter if it’s a big box or a small one. If Pepe plays or sleeps in it, Mac steals it from him. In disgust, Pepe plops himself down right next to the box that Mac is illegally occupying and waits for her to get up and leave.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Happy 8th Anniversary Corky & Pepe

Eight years ago today, Corky and Pepe were walked in cat carriers from their old home next door to their new home when their former human had to move and couldn’t take them with her.

Those first few weeks with the bonded trio of Caesar, Mac, and Fireball were not fun for anyone but, eventually, d├ętente prevailed. Caesar was simply not going to put up with bad behavior — not from his crew and not from the brothers.

Now, the Corkster and the Pepster are the elders and having to deal with the striped interlopers from outside. Pepe has opted to play the role of the grumpy old grandfather who has no patience for tiger baby neediness. And Corky has a new life chasing and being chased by the little tiger bandits.

Happy birthday Duo!

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Shahjah’s Turn at the Vet

Just as Shah Jahan was starting to trust the human again after his scary visit to the vet for a checkup and shots in late November, and after seeing his sister Mumtaz incarcerated in the bedroom for a week in early January, the bad human trapped him in the bedroom and off to the vet he went the next day for neutering.

Poor little guy was so scared but he came through the procedure with flying colors. He only required 2 days in kitty prison for recovery before he was freed. Since then, he and Taz Bird have terrorized the household and kept the silly human in stitches as the Tiger Babies get into one thing after another.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Telling the Human You Disapproved of the Food Offering

The human is clumsy and stupid, doesn’t understand cat speak, and can’t purr to save herself. Worse, she often leaves a lousy food offering for her masters. Since the 2-legged doesn’t understand when the cats try to explain to her that they don’t like their food, the best way is to show her by leaving a toy mouse or two in the bowl. <<<Food not even fit for a (toy) mouse!>>>

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Taz’ Very-Bad, Awful Week

Back in early January, poor little Mumtaz (left) was having a grand time running around like a manic inside the house, which turns out to be loads more fun than the (formerly great) outdoors. Taz Bird was chasing her biological brother and main squeeze, Shah Jahan (right), as well as Corky and Fireball, often tackling the bigger males and knocking them to the ground. (She’s a force of nature when she gets wound up.) And at 4 am one morning, she started making noises that — to the evil human’s ears — sounded like she was in heat…weeks ahead of time and weeks before her spaying surgery was scheduled. Worse, she had her butt in the air and the still-intact Shahjah was sauntering down the hallway with a grin on his face. When Taz went to relieve herself in the litterbox in the guest bedroom, the very bad human pulled the door shut and trapped her. That was early Sunday morning.

On Monday morning, the evil human brought her to the vet to get her second distemper shot and learned that they could squeeze little Mumtaz in on Wednesday for her spay surgery, so back to the locked bedroom went a very angry Taz. When Wednesday came, off to the vet she went again. When she woke up, fur was missing from her belly and she felt awful. Back to kitty prison once again she went. Worse, she had to have painkiller administered several times/day by the evil human, which did not endear the 2-legged to Miss Fierceness.

When one cat is locked up in the bedroom, the other cats have a sweet habit of bringing toy mice upstairs from the toy boxes and leaving them lined up outside the door. Taz was a prisoner for more than a week, so over that time a lot of little mice were deposited beside the door for her. It’s the kitty equivalent of get well cards and balloons or flowers.

When she was finally freed, off she went. Since then, she doesn’t let the evil human get too close. Clearly, that 2-legged creature is not to be trusted under any circumstances.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Happy 11th Anniversary Mac & Fireball

Eleven years ago this afternoon, Caesar, Macaroni, and Fireball crossed the threshold into this house for the first time. (Thank you Kim!) While we lost dear Caesar a year and a half ago, Mac still rules the roost and Fireball has transformed from the little kitty brother who followed Caesar around and mimicked everything he did to now mentoring the Tiger Babies and teaching them how to be proper cats (and proper tigers). When not bossing around the 2-legged or other 4-leggeds, Mac and Fireball are still the best of cuddle buddies. Happy anniversary kitties!

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Crazy Tiger Babies

There is much to report about the crazy tiger babies that the evil human brought into the house in late November. However, that same human has been working long hours 7 days/week with almost no break, and she’s quite behind in her postings — which, it must be said, does not please her masters.

Nonetheless, to give you a sense of how Mumtaz Mahal (Taz Bird) and Shah Jahan (Shaja) have enlivened this household, we present two images. The first is a newly opened 20-pound/9-kilogram bag of sunflower seeds that the human found tipped over on the kitchen floor early the other morning. (The kittens weigh 7 and 9 pounds/3 and 4 kilos, respectively.) See the little kitty tracks in the seeds? While no real harm was done, it took the 2-legged 15 minutes to clean up the floor before kitty breakfasts could be served, which also displeased the masters.

Then, this morning, the human came downstairs and found that someone had knocked over her rolled up yoga mat onto the floor and then caused the mat to unroll. Do you suppose the 4-leggeds are suggesting the human get back to practicing her yoga again? (Note that Mac is there watching things, not that we suspect her.)

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

The Mighty Mushroom or What to do When Your Cats are Engineers

Another really cool gift Sandy Claws brought the kitties was a multifunctional mushroom-shaped play center. As designed, the unit is predominantly made of unvarnished wood — some of it covered with a sisal scratching surface. The bottom-most disc is grooved and, together with the next disc, holds several large plastic balls with bells that can be rolled around inside the groove. Balls can be accessed both from the side and through a series of large holes on the upper disc. That large upper disc also is grooved on the top surface. When combined with two smaller discs, it holds a series of 5 small wooden balls. A central spindle provides a tough sisal scratching surface, and the large cap also is covered with sisal, providing yet another tough scratching surface. There’s even a pom-pom that hangs down on a string from the top, which is what Pepe is beating on in the image above.

It only took a few hours the first evening for the kitties to figure out how to tip the mushroom over on its side and pop the 2 large balls out of holes from the top of the second large disc. Where those balls have gone is anyone’s guess. Also missing are 2 of the 5 small wooden balls. The human really did crank the whole assembly down pretty tight with the supplied Allen wrench — not enough that it hindered movement of the balls, but it certainly should have been tight enough to keep the cats from popping over half the balls out of the assembly. The human tried adding some additional big balls, but the replacements have also disappeared.

Despite the fact that only 3 small wooden balls currently remain in the system, the cats — especially Mac (shown above) and the Terrible Twins — really enjoying sharpening their claws on the sisal scratching surface. And occasionally, someone will knock the remaining 3 small wooden balls around inside their discs. Thanks, M&J!

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Cold Weather Cuddles

In addition to hiding out from the Tiger Babies, Mac and Fireball stay warm and cozy by being cuddle buddies. Note that even in sleep, there is paw dangling going on.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Mac Steals Pepe’s Box (Again!)

Maybe it’s a tuxedo cat thing?

Nah, it’s a pure brat cat move by the Merkitty.

Fortunately, Pepe eventually recovered his property.

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Sandy Claws brings Kitties a Stocking (Tunnel)

Those fortunate kitties received three fun toys from Sandy Claws this holiday. Their first was a large Christmas stocking tunnel made with crackly fabric that Pepe had to try out right after inspecting the box it arrived in (just to the left).

Goofy Boy began by checking out the secondary escape hatch. After studying it for a minute, he stuck his head and neck inside.

Then he pulled out and stuck his paw in. Always the paw…

Next, he came around to the front of the toy to check it out.

After a quick sniff, he stuck his head and neck in this end. More of him fit this time, but clearly not all of him did. (He’s a big boy.) He pulled out and discovered the two dangling balls hanging down. It’s hard to see in this shot, but he batting them wildly with his right paw.

Every few days, the human sees him walk by the toy and stop to bat those balls. He sure is intrigued with the dangling toys, one of which has a bell and tinkles when he hits it. Many thanks to JC for the gift!

(c) Copyright 2023, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.