Living with Carnivores

A vegetarian human's adventure with cats

Category: Play

A Recent Hit Toy

Not everything the human buys the kitties is a complete failure.

They’ve always loved laser pointers. However, the challenge with most of them is that they require a number of tiny batteries that cost more to replace than the laser pointer costs in the first place. The inexpensive laser pointer suddenly becomes far more costly, not to mention that they contribute toxic waste to landfills for those who have no way to recycle batteries locally.

The human recently found a great laser pointer that solves the problem by being rechargeable via a USB port hidden under a cap on one end. That makes the $10 USD laser pointer pay for itself by the second or third charge. Even better, this LED-based laser pointer has 2 additional settings that activate a flashlight, handy when stumbling around in the dark, and a blacklight, which is perfect for checking for urine (over)spray around litterboxes. Even better, the laser “dot” seems to be slight wider than that of previous laser pointers, and the kitties chase it day and night. In fact, this enrichment toy has proven so well loved that the human ended up purchasing a second one for upstairs as well as down.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Enrichment Toy Failures

Knowing that her furry monsters have no opportunity to go outside, except on the “catio” (screened in porch), the human tries to keep them mentally stimulated and physically active. One way she does that is by purchasing so-called enrichment toys, which are supposed to make them think and move. Now, on balance, most of these toys have been a complete flop with a few exceptions. It’s not that the (completely unbiased) human thinks the kitties are not very smart, it’s that she thinks they are equal parts devious and lazy. Why go to the trouble of pushing the dome around on the puzzle feeder in order to get a few crunchies, when throwing a tantrum at 3 am almost always guarantees that the drowsy human will overfill the crunchy bowl? <<<So much more food for so much less effort!>>> And why run around chasing something when it’s clearly far more entertaining to make the human run around and retrieve things instead?

Here is a sad list of failed enrichment toy purchases that did not live up to their billing.

The flopping fish (too scary for big kitties)

The puzzle feeder (mostly the 4 that could operate it just sat around looking at the human and imploring her to turn the dome instead of doing it themselves)

And the newest flop? The (soundless) clear ball that flashes a sequence of colored lights when bumped (they just look at the toy, then at the human, as if to ask <<<Why? What were you thinking?>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

A Leisurely Cat Fishing Session

Three of the felines were bored. They kept interrupting the human and her work. Finally, the 2-legged gave up and took a 15 minute break to play with the meows. The infamous (cat) fishing pole — arguably the most successful cat toy the human has ever purchased — came out and the kitties began to play.

First Caesar made a very energetic showing of chasing the little scrap of denim material at the end of the fishing line. So fast (and scary) is he when he’s jazzed up, that it requires both the human’s hands to keep from being run over or losing the entire pole to Caesar’s swatting paws and biting teeth (hence, no photos). However, his burst of energy depleted, the Big Guy laid down and watched Corky take over.

Corky, too, had a great time until big brother Pepe decided to get in on the action. At that point, the other two kitties looked away and the Pepster had the fishing pole all to himself. Eventually both 2-legged and 4-leggeds tired of all the action and retired to their respective corners.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Toys for the Toys

In the “Gee, what were they thinking?” category, the human noticed that the new flapping fish toy had been brought 4 little toy mice of its own. In this house, everyone gets to have some toys. <<<Don’t you just wish you how your cats’ minds worked?>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Fishy

The silly human came home from the pet-supply store the other evening practically cackling with delight. She’d found a new “educational” cat toy — or, rather, one that promised mental enrichment for the cats. It was a sizeable “fish” stuffed with fluff, catnip, and a USB-chargeable unit that causes the tail to flip back and forth. This creates the effect of a thrashing fish, as if it had suddenly found itself out of water. The fish effectively flips itself across the floor while also making a clicking sound. The 2-legged had to charge the unit before first use, so she removed the innards and plugged them in, then brought the rest of the fish upstairs for the cats to check out. Both Caesar and Pepe gave it a sniff, and several times that evening Pepe gave it a good thrashing.

It’s probably appropriate then that as soon as the human and cats came down for breakfast, and the human reassembled the toy and put it on the ground, Pepe came over to check it out.

He was soon joined by Caesar, who rushed over to see what was up with this strange creature that had found its way into their house. It turns out that the fish is touch-sensitive, so after thrashing around and clicking for about 90 seconds, it lays still (and goes silent) until someone touches it with a paw or nose or hand in the middle section — not at the tail or head where the Big Boys were sniffing. By now, Corky had joined the team investigating the interloper.

The human has been moving the fish around the house for the last few days. In the long run, it may fail to hold their attention, but at least for now whenever Caesar hears that particular clicking, he rushes into the room and starts sniffing the creature. This morning, the human found the Emperor laying beside the fish toy, as though on guard. And when he got up, the human found 5 toy mice sitting beside the fish. Did he think the fish was hungry? Or did he think the mice would teach the fish some manners? It’s times like this that the human really would love to know what her masters were thinking.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

A Little Morning Exercise

The human was eating her breakfast and the Pepster was right beside her. For a while, he was content to just lay sprawled out on the chair, but then he got bored.

He started looking for something he could steal to entertain himself. The human pulled out a small piece of metallized film from a treat she’d finished and began waving the piece back and forth along the back of the chair.

The Pepster had a grand time attacking the shiny object the human was moving here and there.

Eventually he tired and left for the upstairs. At least he got a little exercise.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Monkey See, Monkey Do

The Tiger Boys spend a lot of time hanging out together. They snuggle, they chase each other up and down the stairs, and sometimes they have a little dust up with fistacuffs.

Although not actually related, they’ve spent over a decade together, so are tightly bonded.

Just like a younger human brother, Fireball tries to immitate Caesar’s actions and behaviors — even down to moving his head in the same direction as Caesar’s when they’re lying beside each other.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Corky Strikes Gold

Corky was in luck. He got to play with catnip-laced crackly paper and the spinning toy all by himself. There wasn’t another cat in sight, so he could relax and play as much as he wanted. That doesn’t happen too often, so he made the most of it.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

MY Catnip!

Corky was taking a trip without leaving the farm, enjoying a bit of the wildwood weed.

Mac, who’d already indulged, sat close by glaring at Corky, who was pretty much oblivious. It was almost like Mac resented seeing him have his fun. So intently were the cats focused on each other or the catnip that the human managed to get quite close without either of them paying her any mind. There were no scuffles, but Mac made no secret of the fact that she thought Corky should have waited until she was completely finished and had left the room before enjoying some nip. The funny thing is, that’s what he usually does. He’s not food aggressive like she is.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

I Have a Bone to Pick with You, Human

Four of the five cats were milling around in their early-afternoon foray asking for snacks. The human put down some dried catnip and silver vine.

Several of the meows checked out the catnip, then wandered over to sit and ponder the situation.

Undeterred, Mac walked over to tell the human just what she thought about the food offering.

<<<What part of ‘We want crunchies’ don’t you understand, human?>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Intoxication by Osmosis

Mac has an interesting dance with catnip. You never actually see her eat any of it. Any inhalation must occur while she’s rolling around on top of it in a wild frenzy. Although her coat ends up coated with catnip, she shakes it off as soon as she rises.

It’s as though she gets intoxicated by osmosis.

And woe to any human foolish enough to put a hand near the inebriated kitty.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Big Red Crackly Bag

The human placed a big plastic bag from a takeout meal on the floor. Pepe, Mac, and Caesar all came over for a look and a sniff.

<<<Nah, we’ll pass. This isn’t so very interesting after all.>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

The Things they REALLY Like to Play with

Notice that despite the fancy twirling toys, the things the cats most seem to enjoy playing with are crackly sheets of paper sprinkled with catnip and paper bags? It just goes to show that if the human buys a toy, they won’t play with it, but if they think they’re stealing something from the 2-legged, then it’s the best toy ever.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Cloth Bag

<<<A cloth shopping bag whose handle is sticking straight up in the air. I’m sure I can fit inside.>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Afternoon Migration

The human took a break from working in her office one afternoon and found not one, but two toys had been left outside the door for her entertainment. Such thoughtful cats!

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

What do You Mean that’s Not Dignified?

<<<Complaints from the peanut gallery will not even be considered today.>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

A Thoughtful Afternoon Gift

Caesar, being the polite and thoughtful cat he is, likes to bring his human little toy mice as gifts several times per day. In the early morning hours, he hopes his gift will encourage the lazy human to exit the kitty nest and get going with her day (and the feeding of the meows). During the afternoon, when the human is often on conference calls, he likes to bring toys to the edge of her office in the hopes of getting her to wind up her day and feed the meows their dinner. The fact that his gifts are usually preceded by loud moaning sounds just adds to the interesting things that humans on the other end of the call get to hear.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Why Does She Behave Like that?

Caesar was stumped. Macaroni was flipping back and forth on top of the sheet of crackly paper with limbs akimbo. Her coat was coated with catnip. She was insensible to reason.

<<<Such a lack of dignity…and with the human watching….>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Second Kittenhood

Caesar Tiger Bear is very big and dignified kitty. (He’s not overweight, he’s just huge.) He’s the household peacemaker, when other cats have a dust up, but he’s equally judicious at administering paw bops when he thinks either four-legged or two-legged people aren’t behaving properly. In short, he’s the epitome of decorum and he rules the household with a velvet paw (but one equipped with sharp claws). The Big Guy must be feeling really good of late because he’s regularly been stepping out of character and acting positively silly. It’s like he’s enjoying his second kittenhood.

For instance, the human often gets out the laser pointer and runs the red dot around on the floor and up the walls in colder, darker weather when the dot shows up better. Caesar has sometimes stopped to sniff the dot, but in 8 years he’s never given it any more than a passing glance. However, a few months back, he actually chased it around on the floor and up the wall…several times. As big and powerful as he is, he’s kind of a scary dude when he gets moving fast like that.

And while Corky and Pepe love sliding around on crackly sheets of paper (repurposed packaging materials that get more play time than actual purchased cat toys), Caesar has never shown much interest.

Mac and Corky are real catnip enthusiasts and Fireball and Pepe can be talked into imbibing from time to time. While Caesar will happily eat a leaf of fresh catnip, and has been known to take a trip if the human sprinkles dried nippy on a rug, not so long ago he rolled around on a catnip-dusted sheet of crackly paper. He made a ton of noise and put a big rip down the length of the paper while flipping back and forth chasing an imaginary object. Even the other cats are careful not to get too close when the Big Guy is all wound up.

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Scott’s Blanket Needed Inspection

<<<The human’s idea of quality control is definitely not up to par.>>>

(c) Copyright 2021, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.