Just like people with children soon discover, the best toys in life are free. Little Betty and Johnny soon lose interest in all the expensive, flashy, shiny toys and happily occupy themselves with the box they came in. The bigger the better. When my friend had her firstborn his favorite toy was a penny in a film canister. (Remember those?) It made an awesome rattle apparently.
My cats are no different. They went through and destroyed many poorly built cat toys – from wands that lose feathers in seconds to plush things on a string that they have no interest in, the best toys have typically been either accidental or free. In the accidental category there was a memorable children’s toy that looked like a ring with flashing lights running around the perimeter. The children it was meant for never got to see it cause the cats went wild trying to chase the flashing lights that ran around and around. Their heads would spin in circles as they pondered the mystery of the lights until crazy with frustration they would pounce on the ring and spin in circles in the middle.
A perennial favorite of Cheney’s is the laser pointer. Since he’s deaf toys that make noises have no appeal to him, but the laser pointer brings out all his super-cat hunting instincts. I mentioned before that he’s not the most graceful of the felines and he romps around with the finesse of a dumptruck running into furniture and crash landing into walls. But he sure loves it.
Alfie has a totally different MO. She doesn’t understand the appeal of the laser pointer one bit, and looks on the whole endeavor with disdain. Being pretty smart she totally understands who’s holding the toy and glances from my hand to Cheney with a puzzled look, thinking ‘where’s the fun in that?’ Her playing style is pretty distinctive though. She plays soccer. Alone. Her preferred soccer balls are bottle caps from pop and milk that we’ve learned to throw on the floor for her, but the odd hazelnut will do if no caps are available. Accompanied by very high pitched squeals she bats the cap around chasing it all by herself until the cap finds itself under the couch or somewhere else irretrievable. Every time we move the furniture we retrieve dozens of caps, nuts and any other small objects that she hoops under every possible surface. When we moved from our last house we found a motherlode of bottle caps, nuts, and small objects that she batted deftly under the door to the furnace room.
Tweaks prefers hiding to play. She can easily be tempted into the odd chase of the pointer, and she’s the most responsive to wands, strings and any other objects she can jump to retrieve. But her absolute favorite thing to do is to find some space to squeeze into, the smaller the better, and hide. She tries this with any receptacle no matter how small and seems to think that as long as her head is hidden, her bum can stick out all it wants. Over the years she’s wedged herself into beer cases, cases of bottled water, baskets, bookshelves and many many bags. Paper bags (with snipped handles), plastic bags (same), fabric bags, she does not discriminate but crawls into them with abandon and sometimes even falls asleep inside. We try not to step on bags in our house for fears of squishing a lounging cat and sometimes the only clue they leave is a paw or a tail sticking out.
Cheap thrills – can’t beat ‘em.