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Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Cache & Carry

If you share your home with cats or kittens, or spend any time with animals of the feline variety, you will know that one of their favorite things to do is to poke their paws into things. Around things. Through things. And under things.

So it came as no surprise to me, and probably wouldn't surprise anyone who knows kitties, to have come across our Calvin with his little furry paws madly scrabbling underneath the bookcase in my kitchen. Probably a lost kitty toy, I figured.

Calvin trying to reach something.

Who could resist that adorable face? I had to help him get what was underneath the bookcase.

I tried to reach under the bookcase, but my hand couldn't fit.

Now it so happens that we keep a yardstick under the couch in the family room. This would make perfect sense if you knew anything about our friend Tucker's favorite game--well, second favorite after chasing The Ball. This game involves putting The Ball in an inaccessible place, unsuccessfully trying to retrieve it, and then whining pitifully until somebody gets it for him.

Such an inaccessible place, for example, is under the couch. This has happened enough times that we decided it was expedient to keep a yardstick under the couch for the unfortunately not-so-rare occasions when Tucker decides that it's the best place to roll his Ball. Then all we have to do is reach under the couch, grab the yardstick and pull it towards us and, somewhat miraculously for Tucker, we've saved the day as the slobbery blue Ball comes rolling out from underneath.

But I digress.

Getting back to the cat-astrophe at hand--or paw--I grabbed the yardstick out from under the family room couch and used it to sweep under the bookcase to get whatever toy was under there that was tempting Mr. Calvin so.

Calvin, the ever Helpful cat

Looks like I found something

And what I found was the Mother Lode.

If you look past the begonia petals from the plant on the plant stand above, you will see no less than 20 kitty toys--and an arrow-shaped magnet, which had become a kitty toy.

For a moment, Calvin is more interested in the yardstick than the toys.

One might well ask, why so many toys? And thus, I will provide one with an answer. Every night, Jasper, Lilah, and Tucker sleep in our bedroom with Brian and I, while we leave the cats the run of the house. And right before we head upstairs, I take a handful of cat toys and scatter them on the floor, so that the cats and kittens can amuse themselves in the evening after we've retired. In the mornings, when I come downstairs, I pick up whatever toys are left, and put them away. This is because my dogs think all toys are dog toys and great fun is had by all of the pups as they run  around with tiny kitty toys in big slobbery doggy mouths. The end result is usually a mangled mess of crunched up fuzzy bits, which aren't even interesting to kittens.

Now don't worry about whether the cats and kittens have enough to play with during the day. There's always each other and of course the dogs themselves. And there are always a few toys left out that they can pounce on and chase and bury in blankets and run around with. And while the dogs still sometimes get to those toys, there are usually one or two survivors. And of course, there are nighttime toys.

So now, another routine is added to our evening ritual. Before I grab some cat toys and throw them on the floor, I grab the yardstick from under the family room couch and take a nice sweep underneath the bookcase in case there are toys that are needed for the evening.

Dawn stops by to assess the Evening Recovery Mission.

They might even be enough to share? Well if there were a word for "share" in Cat.

During one of my nightly sweeps, I made yet another discovery: I noticed that all the toys were the same.

(I guess, at this point, I should admit that I did buy some kitty toys in bulk. Because, well, there's Jasper, Lilah and Tucker.  And it's less expensive to buy a couple dozen cat toys wholesale.)

While I was pulling the cache of similar cat toys out from under the bookcase, Ms. Athena  made an appearance. And it seemed that she was even more interested than usual in what I was doing.

Athena takes notice.

And Calvin joins in the fun.

That's when it occurred to me: these must be Athena's favorite toys, her favorite mousies. And what made this so interesting was because in all of her two years with us, Athena has rarely ever played with toys. She seems afraid of them--or afraid that someone--let's call her Dawn--will pounce her and take it away if she tries to play with a toy.

Lots of the same kind of mousie.

It turns out that Athena does, in fact, have a favorite type of mouse. And she plays with that mouse-- or those mice--in a special spot in the corner where Dawn and the kittens don't tend to bother her. I guess somewhere along the way, during the night, Athena loses them under the bookcase.

Now I pay special attention to the kitty toys that I toss on the floor every night. And I make sure that there are at least a few of Athena's favorites included among the evening's choices.

Athena with one of her special mousies.

I think everyone should be able to have their own special mousie.

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