Wednesday, May 11, 2011


I may have written before about how my cats play, but it, like so much else about them, evolves, so I thought I’d put down how each likes to play now. That way I can compare it to later, when each has become jaded with his or her means of having fun, and moved on to new methods.

Most cats like to play. Even Tungsten enjoys a session now and then. She becomes a different cat when she plays. She’s like Jekyll and Hyde (though, in fact, I don’t think Stevenson’s characters actually played with fuzzy mice - though it’s been a while since I've read the book). Much of the time, I will drag a string toy past Tungsten and she will not react. Then a skinny little leg will shoot out, stopping the toy. She may jump on it, wrestle with it. Sometimes, she will leap into the air after it. Once she jumped what must have been two and a half feet, maybe three, straight up; another time she leaped and bounced off the couch to try to get the toy. Her favourite seems to be what is called a mouse but looks rather like a six inch fuzzy brown worm. I'm not sure if cats can see in colour, but they must be able to distinguish hues because once in a while, in her frenetic spasms, Tungsten will mistake a little furry brown mouse for the toy - never any other colour of plaything. Another time, she grabbed at her own dark orange tail, thinking it was her quarry. She prefers to play on the new sitting room rug or around the vertical scratching post in the bedroom, though sometimes she will race after the retreating string toy. (My orange one has only a single picture because it's so unpredictable as to when she will actually choose to play.)

Tucker used to leap and wrestle with string toys. Since his dental surgery and subsequent problem with licking his skin raw, he jumps much less. I’m sure his rear end, where he licked the fur off from under his tail, was sore and that prevented him from leaping. I’m also sure that it no longer bothers him, but he’s gotten out of the habit of jumping while playing. Now he likes to hurry behind a cat tree as soon as he hears the string toy being pulled out. He hides behind the central post while I gently whip the string around one side, then around the other. He’s never sure where it’s coming from. Now and then, he’ll run after the toy as I’m dragging it away, and sometimes roll over on his back and bat at it as it flicks and flies above him. When he plays by himself, he will frequently stamp repeatedly on a fuzzy mouse or ball with a hind foot, perhaps an instinct left over from nature: stamping on prey to kill it.

Renn’s routine once was to rush to the bed when it was play-time. He would lie on it and roll and flop in attempts to catch the string-toy. Now he prefers the nylon tunnel. He likes to lie inside and try to snag the toy as it pops past one of the holes. His method of entering the tunnel is interesting. Instead of slipping easily into one of the open ends, he shoves himself through one of the two holes in the top of the tunnel, though it is usually on its side at the time. He can barely fit through the hole, so as he struggles to get in, the tunnel twists and bends like a hospital straw. At last, he is inside. Then I usually see only a muscular foreleg or a snout as he tries to catch the toy. It’s behaviour such as this that demonstrates how higher animals understand the concept of games: in nature, cats and dogs would use every dirty trick they know in order to survive. Domesticated, they willingly handicap themselves in order to create a fun setting.

While my big boy provides the most amusing manner of play, it’s Josie who makes me smile the most. My Chubs will sometimes roll about on the floor, like Tucker, grabbing at the string toy as it floats and bobs about her. But more than that, she likes being on top of her beloved cat-tree, where she will lie down and wait for me to toss the businss-end of the string toy in her direction. She flings her front legs wide and opens her mouth; I know she’s trying to claw and bite the toy, but it looks very much as if she’s laughing and spreading her arms in merriment. And if I take too long with one of the other cats before coming back to her, I’ll hear about it. She’ll squeak and groan and, as a last resort, come down to see what’s taking me so long.

I wish I could give my cats more time at play, but to compensate for an ending that comes all too soon, I conclude play-time with some food. ‘Dinner’ or ‘snack’ signals the last of games for the moment. And when she hears one of those words, Josie comes down from her cat-tree even faster than if she’s looking for fun. Taking too long over preparing a meal gives her another reason to complain...


  1. When I play with my cat, who knows whether or not she is amusing herself with me more than I am with her? - Michel de Montaigne

    Hard to put it any better than that.

  2. What a cute entry! You have four really wonderful cats!

  3. What fun cats you have.
    Welcome to the Cat Blogosphere.
    Tomorrow KC will post your message on the front page for those who might have missed it in the comments.
    ~Mom ML & KC

  4. Your fur family is well-loved, that's obvious. :-)

    We saw your comment on the Cat Blogosphere and came to say hi. It's nice to "meet" a few more Canadian kitties! We're 2 tabby adoptees and one human female in southeastern Ontario. We were three, but sadly the mom's beloved Annie had to be helped to the Bridge this past February. We boys keep her entertained...and "help" her hair turn grey, she claims. LOL.

    -Nicki and Derry at Fuzzy Tales

  5. Cats seem to especially love to play with things they shouldn't, according to our Jan. But let's face it, how can a kitty resist?

    Cotton, Cyndi, Percy, Cameron & Rusty

  6. Hi! It's nice to meet you!! We look forward to getting to know you and your cats!

  7. What beautiful furbabies you have, and it is so obvious how much you love them and they love you.
    Hugs from Momma Jan, and purrs and headbutts from Sabrina, Sam and Simon

  8. Hi There,
    Nice to meet you all!
    We found you at Cat Bloghoshere and we are sure glad we did!
    We are following you all now and hope to see more adventures in the future!
    Come and say Hi to us on our site, we would realy like that.
    xoxo Lars and James

  9. You have such a great looking family! I saw you over at the Cat Blogosphere too, welcome!!!

  10. We saw your comment on the CB and stopped by to say hi. We all likes to play too. We likes to eat more, thankfully Scylla meows very LOUDLY to tell the beans to feed us. We are 3 cats and our very large doggie. Artemisia likes to play so much she plays with the doggie

    Artemisia, Scylla & Socks (The Cats) and Fenris (our doggie) Together we are known as AFSS

  11. Enjoyed your post today..saw your intro on Cat Blogosphere and wanted to say hi.

    Playtime seems to be a favorite at our house too, and some of the cats (Tanner especially) will ask to play many times a day. His signal is sitting by his string. This is asking nicely, as opposed to head butting the water fountain to get attention!

    Looking forward to reading more about your cats.

    ~Four Crazy Cats

  12. Hi, we came over to visit from the Cat Blogosphere!
    Love your pretty pictures, and how you play.
    Happy Friday!
    ~ The Bunch

  13. Hi Josie, Tungsten, Renn & Tucker! We read about you at The Cat Blogosphere and want to welcome you to our cat blogging community. Stop over and see us some time.

    George, Tipper, Max & Misty (The Crew)
    Cricket, Tiger & Gino (the visiting Crew)

  14. String toys and mice are definitely Avalon's favorite toys; all the rest is just there to fill the toy box :) I'm a new follower.

  15. Ah, play. What a fun word. We all have our peculiarities and favorite toys too. And usually they're something Jan doesn't want us to play with. sigh. :(