Saturday 17 May 2008

The Thing And Other Alternative Cat Toys

The Thing (pictured above, alongside a spellbound Bootsy) arrived in the post the other day, free with a package of overpriced German cat biscuits. Its ambiguity frightens me slightly. I'm calling it The Thing because I'm not sure what it's supposed to be, or what it's made of, though I have my suspicions that the fur stuck to it is not man-made. Also in the package were a rattling ball and a small catnip mouse, both of which have proved to be of nowhere near as much interest to my cats as The Thing. I have already posted the video of the six spoilt little gobshites ignoring their twenty quid-plus Panic Mouse, and I am now on the point of giving up buying conventional or interesting toys for them, since none of these seem to be as exciting as bargain oddities and the various everyday detritus they find on the floor of my house. With this in mind, I felt it was time to ask them to give me a rundown of the top five 'alternative' feline toys.

NB: At the time of writing, none of the following are stocked at Pets At Home:

1. The Dried Noodle
Janet: "It's always one of life's letdowns when your human puts the hob on and it turns out there's nothing fish- or meat-based in the offing, but sometimes when there's boiled water involved, it's worth sticking around. After all, you never know: something brittle and magical might end up on the floor. Noodles might not taste as good as a turkey's wattle or a mouse's face, but there's really nothing finer to bat round a parquet floor on a bored Sunday afternoon - particularly when we're talking about the dried, uncooked version. Watch! as, under the control of your deft paws, the noodle skitters across the floorboards, under chairs, stools and cabinets! Recline! and stare for literally hours at the curve of the dried unleavened dough! Fantasise! as the noodle becomes a shrew, pike, triceratops or any mythical beast you care to imagine! Sod feathers on sticks - these cheeky little fellas do it for me ever time."

2. The Polystyrene Bead
Bootsy: "Squeaky, durable, cheap, and great to bed down on after a mad-half hour. What more could you wish for?"

3. The Random Chunk Of Cardboard
Shipley: "Most cats say boxes are best for sleeping, but that's just propaganda. And while newspapers are good for casual chewing, nothing feels finer between the teeth than a well-made bit of household packaging. Recent personal favourites include the protective shells for the Vax Integra Carpet Washer 7652 and the latest wireless audio fm transmitter from iStuff, but nothing quite beats the timeless chewability of Big Yellow: This Way Up. Tear it off in strips or chunks! Casually masticate a corner while your step-brother is curled up peacefully inside! The choices are endless..."

4. The Rotting Pampas Grass Leaf:
Ralph: "The pampas grass is a double-edged sword - and I mean that literally. Given a patient, play-happy owner to hold the other end of the blade, there's nothing better for playing 'Clappy Paws' with. It's hard not to appreciate the craftmanship, as you watch it slide across a freshly mown lawn. Squint and you can even convince yourself that it's an unusually pointy-headed snake. But beware: get overenthusiastic, and those sharp edges can sting. Not recommended for kittens under 10 weeks old."

5. The Bootsy
Pablo: "Rare but perfectly formed, the Bootsy comes in one colour (grey) and is extraordinary lifelike - both in the pained squeaks it emits as you scrag its neck, and in its habit of laying in catlike positions in the crevices of armchairs and duvets. Terrific for indolent neck-biting, back-sitting or - my personal favourite - 'The Castrato Hump'."


Unknown said...

On of my cats, Gus, likes to bring in the round plastic rings found on top of bottles he can play for ages with one of these. Also, he likes to bring in babys' dummies found discarded in the road. He doesn't like babies but can play happily with the dummy.
I have bought play mice in the past but find they prefer the 'play with the invisible toy' where they pretend they have a mouse and chase round like mad things.
But you must continue to buy these toys for research. So as to try them out for us so we know not to buy them!!

Victor Tabbycat said...

Proof again that anything not nailed down is a cat toy! We have that Thing, too, and it's great for chomping, tossing, and grooming! Bonnie's favorite when she was younger was any bit of foil rolled into a ball. She still begs for candy wrappers (Hershey's kisses) and occasionally will chase one if flung across the room.
Great post!

Karen said...

Tara will come running if you she hears you scrunching up paper, she especially loves rolled up receipts and will play with them for a good few days. She will play with the odd raisin that ends up on the floor too, other than her normal fabric fish toys.

Artsy Catsy said...

Those are wonderful alternative toys! And I have my own version of "The Bootsy" only mine's brand name is "The Fracas!"

But you left one out: the human's hair clips. They're great fun, and even though they don't squeak or have bells, they do cause squealing, shrieking noises to come out of the human! Wheee!!!


Unknown said...

Read about the book on Petstreet so thought I'd take a look - well done...and on the rest : 0 )Lesley

Unknown said...

I bought a fluffy "thing" like this for my own little horror, Jazz Cat. She gave me one of her special looks she saves for when I'm being particularly dense. I bought her a remote control mouse; Jazz Cat hid under the table for six hours. She will happily play for hours with a beansprout dropped when cooking though, or with the long leaves of my most delicate houseplant.

Occasionally, she'll chase a piece of screwed up paper across the room, but more often she watches me go and get it myself with that quizzical "Are you having a good game there?" look on her face.

I try not to think too hard about the money I must have wasted on cat toys over the years!

Nancy Weitz said...

The "thing" is obviously a tribble...

Alex said...

One of my cats has a potentially fatal addiction to elastic bands which, obviously, have to be carefully hidden so he doesn't choke himself.

And yet I persist with the idea that they're pretty smart, really.

L Wallace said...

We'll definitely be trying out the dried noodle with Poppy soon! I find feet under the duvet to be good, and inexpensive (unless you don't own a duvet) and failed crochet attempts work well too. Just leave a long piece of wool hanging off the knitting/crochet and tie around a door handle until it's mauled to bits :)

Anonymous said...

Ours sniffs out any elastic bands aswell and eats them.
Her favourite toy is a 99p plastic snake that you get from the toy shop- the long thin rubbery ones. We pull them along the floor and under our knees for her to chase. When we're in bed she spends her time chewing them to pieces. We have 4 on the go at the moment.

Julie said...

When he was younger my Kismet had a thing about earthworms. Whenever it rained he would go out and dig up one and bring it back, draped in his mouth like a Fu-Manchu moustache. He'd then spit it on the floor, pat it a bit to get it thrashing, -then go out for another. Some nights the catflap would be going continuously and the carpet would have half a dozen worms squirming around and heading off in various directions. I guess he was looking for the perfect worm. He was nice enough to fetch his sister one and get it going for her -but she'd just give it the usual horrified look she gives all his prey.
She likes moths, the bigger and flutterier the better. She eventually learned not to open her mouth to miaow to tell me to look at what she'd got as they then escaped. She now says "Mffff" with clenched teeth until she's sucked all the dust off them. Nice.

eCommerce Solution said...

I've seen this kind of thing already. It was a hair clip with feathery design. What you've shown looks the same and it looks cool for cats to play to.