Such A Player

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.

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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

Zat You Santa Claws? (Kitty Gift Guide)

 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!

  1. Da Bird: ImageTo 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).
  2. The Wave Scratcher: ImageTried 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!)
  3. Catit Senses Play Circuit:Image 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)
  4. Squeaky Mouse on a Stick:Image 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)
  5. Mousey Mouse: np102Okay 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.
  6. Krazy Kitty Catnip Bed:Image 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)
  7. Catnip Dancer:Image 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?