Since I began using a digital camera, I have a big buildup of folders full of photos. Most are truly crap – but some gems are in there too so I don’t delete them. The wise idea is that I go through all the folders each January and sort the photos I want to keep into other more organized folders and delete the rest. Confused yet? Well it’s tiring! I’ve gone through about 2500 photos so far – mostly garbage since I hate my new camera (for the fact that don’t really know how to work it and haven’t read the online-only user guide which is unexaggeratedly 1000pgs long and a 200pg manual of how to make it work wirelessly).
Muddling through this mess, I found a few photos of Oscar that I’d forgotten I had! I had looked for these when I made his slideshow, but couldn’t find them. And I found a great video -albeit really dark- of J playing with Oscar almost exactly a year ago today. He had just learned about ‘play’ and to be unafraid of the toys. I remember the days when I rolled a ball at his feet and he looked quizzically at me as if to ask why I was attacking him instead of sitting by the window so he could glue himself to my thigh. He ducked and hid from the bug toy in this video the first time he saw it.
Here’s Oscar’s Video
Yes – he came such a long way! Here are some of the photos too…
Neuroplasticity. Use it or lose it. Learning helps you become a better learner. Yes, I know we all have to keep our minds active or we stagnate. Kitties are the same way – they need little challenges, boredom breakers, puzzles, and new things to help them stay young, playful and intelligent.
Yesterday after weeks without it and about a 3-day re-introduction, Oscar discovered how to work the treat ball. I used to ‘use my paw’ to roll it in front of him and let a treat fall out for him. Then once in a while Nuala was allowed to use it (she’s a savant with the treat ball and can empty it in about 2 minutes). So Oscar watched and learned.
Maybe he learned too well? I came in and saw him eating a treat and was impressed: about an hour later, he had emptied the ball! Like a child he had eaten every treat he could get his paws on. I had to laugh.
Oscar, you’re not just a pretty face! (I always said he was one smart guy!)
I’ve got those black marks on my lens for the past 3 days – and they’re not coming off! URG!
Last night I heard a strange sound… a hard plastic ball being batted around on a tile floor. Oscar had discovered one of the balls and had a good 5-minute session of kitty tennis all on his own. Hurray!
Just drawing the McD’s straw across the floor drew out the kitten in Oscar today. He was happily swatting it and so happy to have interactive play (maybe my absence brought this out in him). So after a purry petting session and some swats at the straw (my what big claws you have Mr Oscar!), I decided to pull out the bug toy.
Oscar has been interested in the bug toy (aka catnip dancer) for well over two months. At first he watched it. Then he ducked when it went by. Later he began swatting at it. He won’t chase it, but he will lunge at it and chew it. So today, I spent quite a while in creative play with the bug – it swooped down from above, it flew past his ear, it hid behind me, it ran along the carpet. It was irresistible for Oscar and he had a long session of swatting, biting, pawing and some pretty impressive lunges at it.
Oscar has the most serious eyes. Bug swatting is serious stuff. Rolling on his side to be petted is serious. Getting up to chase a treat is serious. Everything is looked at with a level of consternation.
Before bed, I sat petting Oscar and I spied the Senses Circuit toy. Oscar has ignored it since it was introduced. I started batting the ball… and suddenly serious eyes were interested. He watched me as I sent the ball around and let it slow and stop. Then again. And again. Suddenly a little buff paw swatted at the ball! I could actually see him think – he was puzzling out how to swat at the ball, how the ball worked, where it was going. He was fascinated and clawed at the ball again and again. We played for about 20 minutes – he was so engaged! I was happier than I can describe – a blissful giddiness – and grinning like an idiot.
I was still smiling as I snuggled into my pillow.
Not the balls he decided to play with – he liked the hard plastic one
In case you are wondering about these toys – I don’t buy expensive toys for the kitties. It’s not in my budget and I’m a believer that cats can be engaged with and play using the simplest of things. My kitties share their toys, and some things go into rotation so they don’t get bored. This link is to the toys Nuala and I suggested at Christmas
Whoo hooo! The season is merry and bright and … it’s time to play Santa Claws to our kitties. We rarely splurge, but try to give them interactive, fun toys that can be used for a long time. Here’s our family’s Kitty Gift Guide. Ready? (Music to read by: Zat You Santa Claws)
Before you jump in – will you consider buying one of these toys to donate to a cat shelter? When you buy your next bag of cat food, will you buy a second (same brand) and donate it to the shelter near you? Many pet stores have a donation box right there for you. It’s giving from your heart, and you will know that your gift is feeding the neediest of kitties. Thank you!
- Da Bird: To say that Nuala loves this is the understatement of the year. Picture a fishing pole with a spinner made of feathers. As you pull this through the air, the feathers spin and create a bird’s flight-like motion. Cats go nuts for it. Nuala goes for broke with it, and ends up doing some crazy aerial flips to get it… and it leaves her panting. This means I must not let her over-exert. Even 17.5 yr old Mouci is very attentive and will attempt a swat at it. Rated 5 Paws – Irresistible, simple, fun to play with (for cats and their people) and inexpensive (About $10).
- The Wave Scratcher: Tried and tested, the wave scratching post is a favourite! It’s a necessary accessory – but also a removable toy with a spring under it. If you have kittens in the house, this is a perfect first scratcher – they love playing on, under, over it. Three litters of kittens in our home can attest to it – the Mousketeers, Spice Rack and Rascals each got one of these. They last quite long (until claws rip the natural scratching surface to shreds). The interesting thing is that both cats and kittens like sleeping on it too. Rated 5 Paws – great for home use (try rubbing a bit of catnip on it), effective, and long lasting (This was about $34 but since it’s both toy and essential equipment, it’s on our list!)
- Catit Senses Play Circuit: Originally bought for Nuala’s litter, the kittens played with this every single day. Then the Rascals played with it. Nuala still plays with it, and sometimes sleeps in the center. It’s loved and never put away. You can also buy more than one (we got our second last Christmas) and the pieces can interconnect to make long waves or circles… it keeps it changing and interesting. This circuit contains a ball which moves in ways that create irregular motion and cats can poke and push the ball around. Rated 5 Paws – Inexpensive, durable, washable, easy to adjust and seems to hold interest for a long time. (About $20)
- Squeaky Mouse on a Stick: If you find this please let me know where! Picture a hard plastic fishing pole with a string and an electronic squeaking mouse on the end. This was originally bought for Nuala when she was young. She loved it to death… literally. She not only chased it everywhere every time, but she’d drag it around the house and bring it to us so we’d play with it. She washed the mouse in her water bowl once too many times. Long after it’s final squeak, she continued playing with it until it was threadbare. Failing to find this toy again, we bought squeaky mouse (available everywhere for about $5) which cats like the sound of. The original was more fun since you could drag it around and it would squeak when it bumped into anything. Rated 5 Paws – fun, quirky, interactive (about $15)
- Mousey Mouse: Okay that is not the toy’s name: it’s simply a plush mouse from Ikea. It’s precisely $1 and it’s soft, cute, stands up to chewing, pawing, and laundry machines. It is better made than the stuffed mice I’ve bought before. There is no built-in interactive play with this, but it’s just SO cute! I have a couple – one is put into the catnip container to soak up the ‘yummy smells’ – then a week or so later, I pull it out and Nuala goes nuts for it. She sometimes spontaneously plays fetch with this mouse and it’s adorably cute. This is my choice of catnip toy for Oscar and he holds it down with one paw and licks it to death. So sweet! Rated 5 Paws – ridiculously cheap, well made, oh so cute.
- Krazy Kitty Catnip Bed: I can’t remember when our house didn’t have these! They are cotton pads with a little batting in the centre. There is a hole to pour in some catnip … and then just give it a rub and give it to kitty. They roll, chew, and otherwise krazy-enjoy this pad. I have used one on our sofa, on our cat’s window stool, or even just on the ground. They come with funny cat fabric designs… and stand up to washing and drying. Just re-fill the catnip every so often. Rated 5 Paws – Easy to use, locally made, lasts years, and the kitties love it. It also can be used to train kitty to sit on particular places (About $20)
- Catnip Dancer: Tried and tested by Nuala, Catnip Dancer is a winner! It’s very simple, but the bouncy movement is really irresistible. Something about those little bits of paper really entices kitties to pounce, chase and swat. The green mouse end smells like catnip and offers two toys in one. 4 of 4 cats we tested it with found it aMEWSing – even Oscar gave it a swat. Rated 5 Paws – inexpensive (about $6), interactive, effective, and long lasting
What’s not on our list? The red dot (laser pointers) and the i-pad games don’t make our list since they actually frustrate the kitty after a while because they are not chasing a ‘thing’. There is no satisfaction of the ‘win’ or ‘capture’. They are fun and easy, but don’t make up for the actual tactile interaction a tangible toy offers. Just our opinion.
What’s YOUR pick for great toy for kitty?
It seems just a few minutes ago when I was writing about how calm and wonderful things were in the kitten room.
About 20 minutes after I was in with them… just after my last post, I went back to see the Rascals. I arrived to find Mattie meowing at me in complaint, and 5 kittens sitting in the bottom of my big corner tub. Minx was having a disagreement with the drain stopper. Jinx was chillaxin’ in a corner. Maverick looked rather stricken as he was jumping and scratching the tub and unable to get out.
Well, they had used the towel over the nesting box to climb up, jump to the tub surround, and dive into the tub. Capability has met ingenuity and we have critical mass.
Poor kitties. Silly kitties. Not sure if I should laugh or cry. They are too small to be doing this. Someone should tell them this, because they are defying my logic. So they are scratching my tub. Well, I suppose it’s a good thing that someone is using it since I never take baths. I should have paused to take a photo for you, but I was too busy climbing in to get them out.
More of an immediate issue is the fact that they might try it again. And Minx did. The most acrobatic and large of the group at the moment, she was back in the tub in 3 minutes flat. I have now moved all climbing assistance away from the tub surround; the wave scratching post, the tent, the kiddie step, the cardboard box. Minx still got up 5 minutes later. Hanging from the tub surround and scratching her way up the wall. This time I got her before she dove in.
I have put a carrier in the tub now… so kittens who go into the tub can use it as a staging platform to get back out of the tub. Thing is, I still think they are a bit small for this manoeuvre.
Looks like I’m on tub duty.
Just sat down after ‘kittening’. Everyone is eating and playing and it’s a mild form of chaos in their room. My favourite chaos is kitten play chaos.
We decided to reintroduce their play tent into their room. It took them less than one minute to decide that they love it. Mattie gave it a sniff-over and then a meow of approval, but she was already being batted at from the windows.
Come along for the ride! Enjoy! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ent7jFdIZU