As the dedicated servant of a number of cats over the years, I am fascinated with their games and antics. Now everyone knows that if you buy a cat a new toy, he or she will be endlessly amused for a day or two – by the sack or box in which the toy was packaged. This is even more true if one should happen to wrap the toy up in gift-wrap with a bit of catnip to entice the cat to tear into the package. (Yes, I have done this with my fur babies’ Christmas presents.)  I should’ve taken a picture last year of Shira rolling around in the brightly colored paper on Christmas morning. It was a sight!

Once the novelty of the package has worn off, some cats will take an interest in the toy. Over the years my cats have demonstrated that individual cats have personal favorites. Some, like Maggie Mayhem and my daughter’s cat Crockett, prefer furry, mouselike toys that they can kill. At least a headless toy mouse in the middle of the living room isn’t as disgusting as the real thing. Others, like Shira, prefer balls they can bat around. Shira loves fuzzy little balls that she can bat across the floor, then she grabs them with a claw and throws them up in the air. Since she does this on the hardwood in the kitchen, it can be more entertaining than television watching her run, jump, and slide (often into the front of the refrigerator) after the fuzz balls.

All of my cats love feather teasers. But how they play with them varies. Maggie likes to chase the teaser across the floor. She will leap over things to get it, but if I wave the feathers in the air, she’ll usually ignore them. Zeke, on the other hand, only wants to chase airborne feathers that zoom over his head. Shira doesn’t care what you do, as long as you are playing with her. The most fun for me is watching her acrobatic leaps through the air trying to catch flying feathers. Shira’s kittens are like her – hopelessly addicted to feather teasers and doing whatever necessary to secure the prize.

Even without toys, cat can find plenty of ways to play. A favorite at our house used to be “race cat”. Usually this involved only two of the three, and was most often played at an obnoxious time during the night. We would hear a thundering of cat paws (sounding more like a herd of baby elephants than eight pound cats) racing up the stairs. They would charge into our bedroom one after the other, leap onto the bed, race across two no-longer-sleeping humans, jump off the other side and gallop back out of the room and down the stairs. 

Another favorite game is “marble in the bathtub”. My old cat, Tacwen, invented this game. (If you’re wondering about that name, just read it backwards.) Wennie would take marbles into the bathtub and bat them around for what seemed like hours at a time. They make a lovely noise, perfect for waking up humans in the middle of the night. Which is probably why it seemed like she played for hours. I would take the marbles away and put them in my desk drawer. Wennie learned how to open the drawer and retrieve the marbles herself, insuring that she could play marble in the bathtub at any time of the day or night.

Shira’s latest favorite game is “ferocious cave lion”. Maggie has loved sleeping under the covers for almost as long as we’ve had her. Nearly every night (unless she’s been sent to kitty jail for head butting the lamp), Maggie will end up sleeping between Ken and me under the covers. When Shira started insisting on crawling under the covers, I thought she was just imitating Maggie. I was wrong.

Shira comes up the head of the bed and head butts the comforter, trying to get underneath. When I lift it up for her, she crawls under just far enough to be covered, but not so far that the top edge of the comforter touches the bed. Thus, Shira has made her “cave” and there she awaits the unwary. I have learned that if Shira is under the covers, it is a very bad place for my hands to be. She will bite anything that moves near her, purring loudly the entire time.  One night Maggie made the mistake of deciding to cuddle under the covers only to find Shira there. Shira does not limit her cave lion attacks to humans. 

Another new favorite at our house is Spaz Cat. This game is played mostly by young Shadow, but occasionally I will catch one of Shira’s offspring doing it, too. Instead of a feather teaser, this laughter inducing game uses a wand made of flexible metal with a ball at the end. By shaking the wand quickly one can make it vibrate up and down. Shadow begins by following the movement with his head, then his front paws, then his whole body. Soon he is vibrating up and down in time with the wand, the back paws still on the ground. Eventually, as tears roll down my face in mirth, Shadow leaps into the air to catch the toy. 

Soon I will be off to another cat show, the sixth in as many weeks. There I’ll be tempted by toys and teasers and catnip – all sorts of wondrous accessories to keep the kids happy. And sure enough, next Sunday night, I’ll come home with yet another plaything for the kids…

(--> Cat Tails, Pg15)

2002 lisa s vasa


(Please note that you will see a number of photos of our cats and kittens that I've taken outside in a natural setting. The LostWoods cats do NOT go outside unsupervised! When we do go outside for pictures and occasional adventures, there is always one person and usually two watching them closely. We do have an outside, fully enclosed run to which the older cats are allowed access, but even then we check on them often.)

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