I bought my cats Da Bird. They gave it right back.
Nobody ever comes right out and says they want to become a cat person.
It just happens gradually, and eventually you realize that not only do you like some cats more than some people, but your main concerns, like theirs, center around your next meal and your next nap.
That’s how it was for me, anyway. I’ve noticed that the older I get, the less playful and more sleepy I feel. I make catty remarks and complain loudly when things aren’t to my liking. About the only cat-like thing I haven’t mastered is the litheness, but maybe I’m using the wrong approach; I never saw a cat on an exercise bike. Then again, the eating and lounging lifestyle that seems to work so well for them has proven a disaster for me.
Cat people cede management of their lives to their cats. My cats wake me up and tell me when and what to feed them. They sit on me and refuse to move when the phone rings.
They even act as fashion accessories, adding hairs from their tri-colored coats to my clothes. It’s sort of like bringing them to work.
Lest we become complacent and take them for granted, the cats are continually raising the bar for their care. In our house, they have baskets and scratching posts and plenty of toys to ignore. They would have a floor-to-ceiling condo had my husband not vetoed the purchase, reasoning that they already have a 1,500-square-foot house.
Of course, they are bored with the house and often cast wistful looks through the windows. And like any good cat person, I look for ways to brighten their lives.
I thought I found one last weekend, when I went to visit my dad, his wife and their cat, Mister Blu, in California.
Mister Blu is a solid gray, shorthaired cat with a slight paunch and a long tail. He has always been sort of snooty to me, possibly because of his pretentiously-spelled name but more likely because he came with papers. He was pet of the week in the Marysville Appeal-Democrat back in 1995.
But Blu became a changed cat when I visited. He was continually trying to get at a cluster of feathers tied to a string on a pole, and tirelessly stalked and leapt after the feathers as I twirled the pole around him. By Sunday, he was sitting serenely in my lap.
If this toy – Da Bird, it’s called – could make such a profound change in Blu, I imagined it would greatly improve the lives and maybe attitudes of my cats. I went right out and bought one.
They had convinced me that their lives had grown dull in the indoor realm. Apparently, so did their hunting instincts.
The response to Da Bird was underwhelming. Buckley retreated immediately and would only approach when the feathers were at rest. Then she wrapped her jaws around them and took off. She was stopped short in her quest because I was still holding the pole.
Murphy was intrigued by the buzzing, whirling feathers, but made no effort to catch them. The game ended when I accidentally whapped her.
I was dismayed. I had bought them Da Bird, and they wanted to give it back.
What’s a cat person to do? The answer is obvious. Someone recently gave me a cat garden.
I’ll plant it, but to prevent further disappointment, I’ll be sure not to promise them it’s a rose garden.