Living with Carnivores

A vegetarian human's adventure with cats

Category: Toys

Outsmarted by the Merkitty Once Again

Let’s be honest and acknowledge that the human isn’t very bright — not compared with the kitties. Still, it has taken the Merkitty a year to figure out a way to flood the floor since the human switched to the heavy, straight-sided water bowl in the kitchen. While the Little Mischief quickly learned to climb up on the lip of the bowl and stick both forepaws in the water (and taught Pepe to do the same), when she scooped water up in her paws and attempted to toss it out of the bowl, the tall straight sides of the ceramic crock frustrated her efforts. The human would walk by and note the multitude of water droplets still clinging to the inside walls of the container and chuckle under her breath. The Merkitty clearly heard and finally has figured out a way to get revenge.

The human isn’t sure if the reason she’s been outsmarted is that she’s gotten overconfident and started filling the water level up higher or if the Watery One modified her scoop & toss technique. Regardless of how she’s doing it, she’s been flooding both the boot tray with dish-drying mat as well as the kitchen floor multiple times every day during the past week. In fact, just to rub it in, after a flooding session, she seeks out the human seated at her computer typing away frantically and hops up on the desk surface, forcing the human to move her keyboard out of the way. Then she head butts things off the desk while standing there with soaking wet paws and at least one foreleg wet all the way from toes to chest and shoulder. She is such a Merkitty!

The human is not sure what strategy to adopt next but she really does need to focus on solving the problem, as Miss Macaroni will not stop her mischief. Still, this has been the longest period of time the human has managed to outsmart the little monster, so at least the 2-legged has that going for her.

It is possible to outsmart a cat, at least for a little while. <<<Don’t let me hear you say or even think things like that!>>>

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Little Toy Mice Practice their Yoga Skills

Over the last week, the kitties have brought down more and more toy mice and distributed them around and on the yoga mat during the night. The positions change, the color of the mice change, but the general trend is for there to be more rather than less toy mice arrayed around the yoga mat each morning. The record, to date, is 5 mice. Why do they do this you might ask? Because, in this house, everyone and everything needs a toy mouse or two for good measure. <<<Such thoughtful kitties!>>>

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Yoga Mat as Cat-Enrichment Device

A few weeks back, the human finally got the last of her tropical plants dragged out onto the deck, which freed up lots of space in the “stove room” for her to layout her yoga mat, blocks, straps, and roller.

Of course, as these things go, the human hasn’t done much yoga, but the cats have been having a grand time with the mat, blocks, etc. In fact, Pepe so likes the feel of the sticky mat that he often can be found lounging on it.

It turns out that, after knocking over the formerly neat pile of blocks, the cats have been having a ridiculous amount of fun while the human flicks the small piece of fabric tied to the “fishing pole” in and out of the obstacles. They crouch down and pounce on their prey. They jump up on top of yoga blocks, and they even have figured out how to fish out the fabric on those rare occasions when the human manages to whisk it inside the roller. Mac, who usually is far too sophisticated to play with the rest of the cats has been inserting herself in the middle of the action and often has to be invited to share the toy with the others.

Sadly, the human has spent no small amount money on “expert-designed” cat enrichment toys over the years. However, most of those purchases have been consigned to the “what were you thinking?” pile that get recycled to other people with less fussy pets.

Still, the human is deeply pleased that her yoga blocks and mat are getting used by the kitties, who not only benefit by honing their hunting skills and keeping mentally sharp but also get some physical exercise as well. You just never know what will entertain a cat. <<<Certainly nothing you pay good money for will ever of interest for more than 10 minutes!>>>

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Prisoner Cat Receives a Consolation Prize

While Corky was recovering from his dental procedure and still in lockdown, the other kitties kept vigil outside the door to his room. The morning after he returned from the vet, the human found one of the kitties had thoughtfully brought a toy mouse upstairs and left it outside his door. <<<Awww!>>>

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Now Why Do You Think They Did That?

The kitties have been very busy carrying little toy mice all over the house. There even have been some visitors to the kitchen of late. However, their favorite location is the stove room, where the crackly paper resides. The other morning, the human came down stairs only to find on small black toy mouse partially covered over by a leaf from the Ficus tree.

Odds are good that the leaf didn’t just fall off the tree and land in such a way that it partially covered the toy mouse, since the mouse was halfway across the room from the tree. So what, the human wonders, could possibly have motivated a cat to move the leaf onto the toy him-/herself?? This is yet another of the grand mysteries of the feline masters.

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Twinkie Twins

Mac and Fireball were chillin’ in the big pink puff when the human walked in. (Apparently, the Merkitty was feeling generous and decided to share the puff with the Little Red Bee.) The 2-legged started snapping photos in her usual annoying way.

Fortunately, no one was dangling their paws out of the puff, so the human and her camera posed little threat. (Note Fireball’s prehensile curled tail?)

A while later the human came back upstairs and found that the twinkie twins had changed places. However, this time someone had brought a little green mouse up on the bed and left it right beside the pink puff. Neither kitty looked like they were welcoming of attention, so the human left again.

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

The Inspector

Few appreciate the skills required and the responsibilities involved in being a box inspector.

First the outside must be completely sniffed. Then the inside must be completely sniffed. It’s important to know where the box originated and what it contained. How else can the house be kept safe?

Lastly, the box must be considered for its potential for sitting and snoozing. Is the bottom a bit springy? Do the sides have enough give to expand upon contact without collapsing? How hard will it be to turn around in and will all our body parts fit? This particular box, although a bit on the small side, does have potential.

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Happy 7th Anniversary Corky & Pepe

The dynamic duo arrived at this house 7 years ago today. They definitely have stirred things up and kept things very interesting. Here they are chasing the laser dot amidst the pile of crackly papers, which are among their favorite playthings.

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

A Change in Technique

The human has been noticing that Mac the Merkitty has been walking around lately with not just a damp paw but two sopping wet paws. <<<What in the world is she doing?>>> the human wondered. Well, now the human knows.

During breakfast this week, the Mer came to get a drink in her splash pool. Instead of doing her usual routine of climbing up on the rim of the big bowl, then reaching a paw in and swishing it around to make sure there’s water inside, then stepping down and putting her face in the bowl to drink while running one then the other of her forelegs around the outside curve of the bowl, the Girly Girl has developed a new technique.

She still climbs up on the rim of the bowl, but now she puts both forepaws in the water and stands in the bowl while drinking. Maybe it makes her feel one with the water. This may also explain the puddles in front of the boot tray the human has been finding. Perhaps it’s those dripping paws leaving the water behind as the Mer swims away from her splash pad.

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

…Except Perhaps Piles of Crackly Paper!

The only “found” object that might be more fun to play with than a cardboard box is a pile of crackly packing paper….or a box stuffed with crackly paper.

Pepe, Corky, and even Mac have been having so much fun jumping into the growing pile of crackly paper and exploring.

Other than having a sniff to see where it’s been, the human has no idea why Pepe likes to stick his face into the paper.

Pepe’s technique for playing with the paper differs a bit from his brother or sister. He spins around and jumps on the pile, throwing paper this way and that. Corky likes to jump onto a piece and slide across the floor. And Mac likes it when the human sprinkles catnip on a sheet. She’ll flop down and roll back and forth until her fur is coated with the wildwood weed.

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

Boxes are the BEST Toys…

In this house, toys that are purchased seem to be far less interesting than toys that the cats imagine (or actually) steal from the human.

Case in point: an empty box that recently brought something into the house is far more interesting than a light-up ball or a toy fish that flops around on the floor.

In most cases, it’s a waste of money buying fancy enrichment toys, as the kitties prefer to find their own enrichment from things the human has lying around.

(c) Copyright 2022, PeggyMalnati. All rights reserved. Images my own.

A New Box to Explore

Given that it’s the holidays, a lot of boxes have been coming into and leaving the house. That’s great news on two accounts. First, there are all kinds of new boxes to explore and mark with kitty scent. Second, there often are sheets of crackly paper the human removes from the boxes and lays on the floor for Corky and Pepe to slide around on and have fun. And soon Sandy Claws will come and leave the kitties more presents. Truly, this is a great time of year for the furry people.

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

Almost Back

Thanks to all the kind people who sent their condolances.

Life without Caesar takes some getting used to, but this house is slowly getting back to some semblance of normalcy.

The human was really worried about Fireball, as he was inseparable from Caesar. He’s spent a lot of the last week hiding, but he’s beginning to come out again for pets and cuddles. In fact, he’s been vigorously chasing the laser dot around in the morning. And little toy mice are starting to leave the toy boxes and work their way around the house, so the kitties are starting to play again.

The other cats too are back to flopping on top of the human and demanding cuddles. Cranky Corky has been amping up his demands for earlier and earlier crunchy bowl fillings in the afternoon. And we’ve had a lot of paw-dangling action going on as well.

We miss you terribly, Big Guy. Thanks for 9-1/2 great years.

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

Tiger Boys go Fishing

The spooky and not-so-often-seen red tiger boy came down to play with his big brother. They had an early afternoon romp with the fishing pole.

There was much dramatic pouncing and leaping…

And astoundingly fast air-swats.

There was good ground action with rapidly moving paws…

And cuteness abounded.

There even was some skillful team action.

Eventually, the tiger boys tired and left to take a nap while the human returned to her keyboard and deadlines.

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

Big Boys Plot & Plan

Pepe and Caesar are the big boys of the house with each approaching 20 pounds/9.1 kilos. Although they have their share of tussels — Pepe does not appreciate Caesar’s intense need to groom every cat in the house, especially not him! — for the most part they get along great. It’s quite common to see them curled up back-to-back or feet-to-feet on the bed. And they often hang out together in other areas of the house, as they were this particular morning when the human happened to walk by. <<<Doesn’t it make you wonder what they were talking about? And who do you suppose took the toys out of the toy box?>>>

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

Play Station

The cats have a new “toy” to play with. It’s a tall cardboard box that the human turned on its side and has filled with sheets of crackly paper. Pepe and Mac are especially prone to leaping into the box and smunching down the paper, although Corky will chase the laser dot or the fishing pole lure in there as well. When the human walks by and feels as though she’s being watched, a quick peek into the front of the box often reveals a pair of eyes looking out at her. Of course, in this house, the most successful toys are not the ones the human buys but rather the found ones or the ones the human makes of unneeded materials otherwise destined for the recycle bin.

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

Torture from Above

<<<Where did that pesky toy disappear to now? When I catch it, I’m not going to let go!>>>

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

It Doesn’t Get Much Better than This

Trail of crackly paper: check.

Really big box: check.

Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy, so much fun!

Where do you suppose the crackly paper trail ends?

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

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.