Toys, Part 2

The second half of the previous post.

Crinkly stuff: Newspaper, wrapping paper, wrapping-tissue-paper – does life get better than this? If the paper’s on a smooth hard floor, run at it from as far as you can and stop as soon as you’re on the paper, it slides! If you can get it all crinkled that way, it makes even more noise when you slam into it, and that makes everyone jump! Crawl under it and use it as an ambush spot for fellow cats and human ankles; humans feel neglected and unloved if you don’t include them. Bat a toy or a martian under it or into a pile of it and let yourself go crazy trying to retrieve it. The possibilities are endless! If you have a smart human, you might be able to train them to drag a string of some kind (see below) under it, and you can practice your pouncing skills on something buried like a mouse in the grass. If you can get them to help you stuff some in a sock you stole, then the sock will make noise while you kill it.

The other kind of crinkly stuff is paper bags. Mom gets us huge bags (the kind for leaves or grass cuttings in the yard, very cheap usually, and recyclable) so big even my Momcat fits in them without feeling squished, and cuts an escape hatch in one end so we can get all the way through, and it makes the best spot for ambushes ever because it makes so much noise when you leap out. Also, you can bat toys into it and then run in after it, or chase other cats in, or jump on it with another cat inside, and if you’re human is trainable, you might be able to teach them to dangle a string at the open end for you to attack from cover. Sometimes she cuts them so one end is kind of like a box, and the rest of it makes a shorter tunnel all the way open at both ends that we can run through while racing around the apartment chasing each other or the red dot (laser pointer). These are very multi-purpose toys! (If you use any kind of paper bag with handles, be sure to remove those – you don’t want your cat getting caught in the handles and panicking or choking!)

String-like things: I like these sometimes, if they’re in rattly stuff or if the others are playing with them, but Freya who lives here too goes just crazy over them! We have long heavy shoelaces, and strings Mom got at something called a fabric store as remnants cheap, and miles of thin cotton rope. (But she likes the ones Mom makes for her best, Mom keeps trying little changes to make them more right for Freya, I can’t see the difference and I don’t know if Freya does or even cares, but that’s my Mom….) Tape measures are fun, too, once that hard thing on the end of some of them is gone (the flexible sewing/craft kind, not the hardware kind). Ribbons can be fun, but the plastic ones from presents split into little strands and that’s less fun (and less safe). Mom sometimes ties a string so it drags behind her on the floor like a long tail, when she’s doing a lot of stuff around home and “doesn’t have time to play” (whatever that could be, that’s more important!), so we can chase it around and hunt it. Mom’s gotten good at reacting to the string suddenly not coming with her! Strings under crinkly stuff, strings dangled in the air or dragged around on the floor, strings that hang down… Freya can’t get enough, and neither could Loki when he was on this side of the Rainbow Bridge. Every string moves differently, even when your human makes the same movements. Another very multi-purpose toy!

Other things: The whole world is full of fun things! With some work, you can train your human to recognize the play-potential of things they usually ignore. Plastic shower-curtain rings are fun alone or if you can steal a whole chain of them or if the chain’s hanging somewhere you can bat it. Pingpong balls and golfball-sized whiffle balls for golf practice are lots of fun, especially in the tub. If you see your human blowing bubbles, chase the bubbles, but don’t be surprised too much when they keep disappearing every time you touch them and sometimes without you even touching them! Drop favourite toys, especially ones that roll, into your human’s shoe so the toy runs down into the toe, and then fish it out again – and sometimes there are shoelaces, too, and shoes have interesting smells. Toss a favourite toy into a narrow box that has fallen on its side, something that you can’t fit into, then reach inside to see if you can get your toy back without having to yell to your human to help. If they tie a ribbon or something to a fan so they can see if it’s on (they don’t have whiskers to feel air movement, so they have to improvise), attack it! Never ever let a box be in your home without investigating its possibilities, and be insistent about keeping favourites, but remember, if they take one away, wait for the next one, and you might get lucky and have one that’s an interesting shape! Blankets and curtains and things like that, hanging down nearly to the floor, make wonderful ambush points, and if it’s something lightweight and not attached to anything, you might be able to drag it onto the floor with you when you pounce, which is lots of fun if you have feline family who can jump on you so you can wrestle through it.

Mom’s newest is to make a funny ball thing out of paper and put stuff in it (it’s an origami water balloon or water bomb, lots of instruction pages online) so I can shred it and get at the ‘nip or treats. Thin paper only takes me a few seconds, but heavier paper is harder to get into and more of a challenge, and after all, I’m an expert and experienced paper-shredder, so it might take a novice longer.

And is there anything more fun than having your human move the red light dot thing around? (That would be a laser pointer – there are cheap ones, although we’re finding a more expensive one is much more efficient on batteries, even cheap batteries.)

The world is your playground! You just need to reach out a paw and claim what you want!

(Note from Cory’s human Mom:  There are things your cat can’t really suggest, and you’ll have to arrange it or invent it yourself.

Cats are basically small tigers. Watch a video of a big cat, and you’ll see your little lion in the way they move. With that in mind, I get ideas sometimes by looking up the enrichment that zoos do for their animals and finding ways to adapt it to housecat conditions. Not just the large felines, either. You know your cat best, think about some of the ideas and see if there’s anything yours might like. A tuna-water ice-cube in a bathtub is easy to clean up and might cool a cat down in the summer heat, something like otter-pops. Be creative. Scent is a very important thing for cats so, just like zoos do, try interesting smells – leaves from trees (safe ones!), maple keys, a piece of fabric your friend’s pocket-pet has slept on… the list is endless. Don’t do this with spray air fresheners or anything similar, though, overwhelming those sensitive noses isn’t fun

Catnip can be put in plastic two-piece easter eggs or in a piece of fabric folded and tied into a knot with any loose threads trimmed; catnip or treats can go in a toilet paper tube with the ends folded over and a few holes in it.

Think outside the box as far as furniture. If you have a coffee table with space underneath, now and then thrown a blanket over it to make a cave underneath – and vary what you use, opaque has one appeal, something they can see outlines through is a whole new game, something sheer-ish is different, so is something with a pattern that breaks up what they see. Make sure that if they jump into it they aren’t going to pull things down onto themselves! Turn a chair into a tent. Use cardboard or wood or old clean carpet to turn the unused space under something into a semi-permanent or permanent kitty-den. Look around your home and pretend you’re a cat, and let your mind go!

Turn sturdy cardboard boxes into a kitty jungle-gym by duct-taping or non-toxic-gluing or piercing-and-cable-tying them together, with holes in between for them to reach other boxes. The kind some litter comes in work well; so do boxes used to ship bottles of alcohol. Make sure they’re strong enough to hold your cats’ weight; strategic use of an occasional length of dowelling wedged into place can help. Also, make sure they’re well-secured so nothing will fall apart under the thrust of a jump. The cardboard tubes used to cast cement work for this, too.

Cut multiple holes in a cereal box or something similar, a bit larger than your cat’s paws, and put something inside your cat will want to fish out, so s/he has to dig around in it and try to get ahold of it – favourite toy, soft treats….

But it’s mostly a mindset. Every home has plenty of safe toys, no cat should ever be bored even of their human can’t afford a lot of shopping trips to the pet store.)

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