Wednesday, February 26, 2020

toys according to cat

One thing Tybalt is entirely enthusiastic about is his cat toys. Frequently, especially after breakfast, he will jump into B's chair in the living room and start trilling loudly. That means he expects me to start wiggling toys so he can chase them.

But what kind of toys? I seem to get the best results with things that are attached directly to the end of a stick, without a string, or at least not a long string, separating the toy end from the pole. That way I have more control over the movement of the toy end than I do when it's on a long string. Recently I bought a stick with a passel of strips of suede dangling off the end. This is a huge hit, and even attracts Maia to play, determined to keep her end up in Tybalt City.

We have some others of the same general sort, and I've also been getting good results with peacock feathers. The problem is that with a cat of Tybalt's ferocity, a feather will last only a couple days before it's mauled into unusability, and the supply is limited. For some reason pet stores don't sell them, and we can only get them from vendors at cat shows.

Tybalt's goal with the other toys is to grab the toy material in his mouth. His jaws are pretty strong, and once he has it in there I can't wrest it out without risking breaking the toy. We've had a couple of plush fish and mice detached from strings that way, though it turns out that Tybalt likes chasing the string as much as he did the original toy.

He can clamp that in his jaws too. In that case I just give up and drop the pole. He trots off, carrying the toy in his mouth, while the pole dangles along amusingly behind him. He'll then take it to a corner and drop it. From which I must fetch it again, for I've found that if I leave it there, he'll eventually come back and take it to some other corner, one which isn't obviously visible. This is not a wise move on his part, since I can't play with him if I can't find the toy.

The blurbs on cat toy packages often emphasize the invisibility of the string, so as to fool the cat into thinking the toy is independent prey. I don't think that matters to cats. Their hunting urge is focused on moving objects, or non-moving objects that they know will move if they don't pounce fast enough, and they don't really care if it's attached to anything or not. Even if the hunting instinct was designed by evolution to catch prey (and there's actually some doubt about that), that doesn't mean that cats will most efficiently hunt that which most closely resembles prey. The instinct focuses on certain characteristics of prey, and it's that which most has those characteristics that most attracts them, whether it looks like prey or not.

As you can see from all of this, cats in action take up a lot of my attention at home.

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