Living with Carnivores

A vegetarian human's adventure with cats

Category: Toys

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

New Arrival

<<<Hello, my pretty. Where did you come from?>>>

<<<Ah, a California box. You’ve traveled far.>>>

<<<What secrets do you hold?>>>

<<<Now, don’t move. Let me have another sniff.>>>

<<<Yes, a particularly nice size for a box too.>>>

<<<And I’m the first of my kind to conquer it. Hooorahhhh!>>>

(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.

The Craziness of Comets

Fireball is a mellow little dude…until he’s not.

The other night, the human walked in to find the Little Red Bee all curled up on the bed, enjoying a snooze on the flannel and fleece. The two-legged picked up a couple of toy mice from another kitty bed and gave them to the ginger tabby, but he soon got up and headed for the now-refilled crunchy bowl.

After chores, the human was reclining in bed reading. The baby comet hopped up for some pets and some attention a couple of times, but soon left.

Not long after, big brother Caesar came in and all of a sudden the copper kitty got all jazzed up. He tore up the side of the kitty condo, hopped over onto the bed, then did a series of short runs, followed by abrupt stops, and sudden pivots in another direction, followed by short runs all across the bed.

All the time, his tail was flipping one way and then the other.

He picked up one after another of the toy mice the human had brought him and started tossing them in the air and cuffing them around on the bed. It was so funny to watch that the human grabbed the camera and started shooting pics.

Not long after, the Big Guy got wound up himself and went racing under the bed. His feet make the funniest sound when he’s silly — almost like he’s running on tip toes.

As Caesar came racing out from under the bed, Fireball, alerted to his brother’s imminent departure from the bedroom, barreled down off the tall bed and went running after his big brother, whom he shadows all over the house. The human marveled at how charged up the kitties were.

Next morning, when she opened drapes and shades from the night before, she saw a new batch of snow on the ground and understood that they’d all had snow sillies the night before.

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

Jule’s Blanket Gets Pepe’s Help

Another blanket that benefited from Pepe’s beneficence was a lovely lavender and purple one for Jule’.

<<<I’d like to meet the person who invented pin cushions. They are way more entertaining than the toys our human buys us. Why can’t she be creative like that?>>>

Fortunately, the human’s friends are tolerant of receiving gifts with bits of cat fur on them.

<<<We need to talk about the quality of your work. You consider that a straight cut? That’s the best you can do with a template? What would this blanket look like if I weren’t keeping watch?>>>

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

Corky Cuts Loose

Corky had all the tools of the cat entertainment trade before him. He had a box to climb into as well as a paper bag. He had a piece of crackly paper dusted with dried catnip and silver vine. (You can tell from his coat that he’d recently had a roll in the nippy.) And he had the spinning wobbly toy, which, despite all his best efforts to push it over onto the ground, always managed to stand back up again.

Unfortunately, before he had exhausted his appetite for self entertainment, an interloper appeared.

Yes, the Merkitty (aka Macaroni) had just entered the room. Talk about stealing his chill.

Since the Mer loves nothing better than jumping in the middle of whatever the other cats are doing — be that snoozing in one of the kitty beds, having a grooming party, noshing on snacks, or playing with toys she’d ignored for weeks until another cat decided to have a bit of fun — she hopped right into the middle of Corky’s game without even asking if he’d mind. He minded.

However, uncharacteristically, he didn’t leave the room. Instead, he skulked around the outside edges for a few minutes. Since Mac likes other cats to entertain her a whole lot more than she likes entertaining herself, she quickly tired of the toy and flopped down on the floor to take the measure of her situation. Perhaps she was hoping Corky would come over and lavish some attention on her.

And that was all Corky needed. Quickly he zoomed in and started cuffing at the wobbly toy again.

Mac looked a tad put out. Such is life in this house.

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

Toys Need Snacks too

Sliced chicken. Check. Toy mouse. Check.

Clearly, that mouse needs a bath after frolicking in the food bowl. Good thing the human discovered (by accident) that the toy mice can go through a full load of laundry and not delaminate. Oddly enough, that’s not the case when they spend the night in one of the water bowls. <<<Sigh.>>>

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

Playtime for Corky

Corky is a big fan of the flat scratching disc with a single ball that rolls around it’s perimeter. He’s even a bigger fan of the 3-tiered tower with 3 different balls that can spin around the outside at the same time.

The Corkster hates it when the human catches him having a bit of fun by himself. If she’s not quiet while taking pictures, he stops what he’s doing and sometimes leaves the area.

Still, even when he’s aware that she’s watching, sometimes he’s just having so much fun that he forgets to be self-conscious and goes back to chasing the spinning balls.

He’s got the cutest little white paws and, when he’s into it, he really gets all 3 balls spinning simultaneously.

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

Don’t Try Pinning that on Me!

<<<Just because I stopped to look, doesn’t mean I’m the one that caused this. As we’ve discussed before, correlation does not imply causation. And, besides, I just got here.>>>

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

Feeding Your Toys

The care and feeding of your toy mice is an important aspect of being a responsible feline master. We didn’t like this food anyway, so we put our toy in the bowl to see if the mouse would like it. It didn’t. Still, it’s important that we offered.

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

Mischief Makers?

The human walked in on a meeting of the monsters. Doesn’t it make you wonder what mischief they were planning? <<Who, us?>>

 

(c) Copyright 2020, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Image my own.