Tuesday, July 20, 2010

My House is a Cat Playground


It's true. Anyone who visits our home will observe two obvious things. One, we own a lot of books. Two, our cats dominate our lives. We have a friend with whom we trade cat-sitting duties. We take care of her two guys when she's gone and she does the same for our three guys. I was talking to her the other day and she remarked that our house was quite the complete cat playground.

We didn't really plan to decorate our house around the entertainment needs of our cats, but it seems to have evolved into that sort of environment. There's a great picture window in the living room and when we first moved in, I built a foot wide, carpeted bench that runs the entire length of the window, just at the height of the sill. It's a perfect place for a cat to nap in a sunbeam and still safely keep track of what's going on outside. That bench proved so popular that we have added window-ledge shelves wherever we can -- in the dining room, in our bedroom and in my office. We have even gone so far as to hem the curtains in the living room a foot short of the bottom of the window so the cats have an unobstructed view out.

There also seem to be cat toys in every room except the bathroom. In the kitchen there are a number of small toy mice that we keep on a little shelf just above kitty eye level. When it's play time, Quint will drag down whichever of the mice he wants to play with and we'll throw that one for him to chase. The living room contains the biggest collection of toys, some in a basket on the floor and many in the space under the glass top of our cocktail table. There are cat sized openings around the bottom of the table so the boys can reach in a grab a toy whenever they need one. The toys from the living room eventually get scattered around the rest of the house, so we gather them up from time-to-time and return them to the toy box.

We also have "napping towels" scattered all over the house. Whichever spot in the house, except for the dining room table and the kitchen counters, that a cat picks for a napping spot gets a towel placed upon it. This makes for a softer little bed and helps to keep the unattached cat hair under control. We've also covered most of the furniture with towels and blankets for the same reasons. On laundry day, we just gather up all the towels and blankets and run them through the washing machine and dryer. When we have company, we uncover the furniture and our guests don't get completely coated in cat fur when they sit down. Of course, there's always some cat hair on every exposed surface, but the towel and blanket method does help to keep it to a minimum.

And then there are the scratching posts and cardboard scratching blocks which we also have in nearly every room. We have one of each in the living room and bedroom. In the kitchen we have this nifty little cardboard scratcher shaped like a fish that I found at Cost Plus Imports. There's no room in the bathroom for any cat accessories, and, for some reason, none of the cats seems to find my office furniture appealing to the claws, so those two rooms don't have scratchers in them.

For quite some time, we'd been debating the merits of a cat climbing tree. Part of the reason for the delay was figuring out where the heck we would put one. When we finally decided to go ahead and get one, we found a three level, carpeted climbing tree that more-or-less fits in our dining room, right next to a window. For the first couple of weeks, the tree was the napping, climbing, and playing location of choice. Hedge would occupy the topmost shelf, with Quint one tier down. Eventually, though, the novelty wore off and they have gone back to napping in the more usual spots. The novelty has also gone from the kitty jungle gym, though it still resides in the front entryway. It was fun for a while, back when Quint was an only cat. Now it seems that he has better things to do.

The best entertainment for the cats right now is each other. At least for Hedge and Quint that is the case. Ebony is still trying to figure out his place in the family. Hedge and Quint, though, spend quite a lot of their awake time chasing each other and playing together. Hedge is very often the instigator of the games and will seek out Quint and poke at him until he agrees to play for awhile. It is great fun to watch them interact as they change roles back and forth from aggressor to victim, all it good fun, of course. They never growl or hiss as each other, no matter how serious it looks, and no one every seems to get injured.

I do seek them out at various times throughout the day to pet them and tell them what good boys they are. They know that I mean it and I want them to know that it makes me happy to see them getting along so well. One thing is missing, I think. I'm going to get them one of the those play balls inside of which you can put cat treats that will then fall out when the ball is played with. I believe that would be a fun thing to have.

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