The Winter of Feline Discontent

A small plastic ball with a bell inside it makes an excellent alarm clock, especially if your alarm has been set for 4:35 in the morning. Kind of like buying a drum kit for a three-year-old, buying toys for cats that make a noise is ill-advised at best and sleep-depriving at worst.

I just got new furniture, which required moving the existing couches elsewhere, in this case downstairs, (which, I’m happy to report, is shaping up nicely as a well-appointed cat dormitory.) Behind both couches combined, there were eight spherical cat toys of various sizes, colours and sound-emitting capability. I don’t know why we buy coloured cat toys since apparently cats can’t see colour. Oh wait, I do know why. It’s so we can differentiate the bright orange, neon green and electric purple from the colours of the rug and floor so we don’t trip over them. And we all know how well that works.

Anyhow, Dennis is delighted with this discovery of all the “new” balls. He is also delighted that the design of his particular favourite makes it easy to pick it up with his teeth and walk around with it, deciding where to drop it for maximum noise effect. The stairs are good – the ball can bounce and jingle itself down, then get retrieved at the bottom of the stairs and transported back to the top to start the game all over again, with additional slobber. The bathroom is also good, because it has lots of hard surfaces and the bathtub makes a great ball-raceway. The very best thing to do, though, especially in the pre-dawn hours, is to take the ball into the bedroom and chase it under the bed. Did I mention that carrying a ball in his mouth does not prevent Dennis from announcing his satisfaction with his creativity? The only consolation is it won’t take long before the noisy toys have migrated back under the new couches, never to be seen again until the next move or a diligent cleaning lady, whichever comes first.

Henry doesn’t mind going out in the winter. He hops through the snow drifts following the trails of the bunnies that appear to camp out under the garden shed. He also spends significant time manufacturing dreadlocks that would make Bob Marley proud, and in the process, shaming me for not brushing him. Yesterday, I cut enough clumps of cat hair off to form an entire kitten. Regurgitated fur balls that look like renegade pieces of poo lie in wait for my bare feet at 4:45, when I get up to rescue Dennis’ toy from behind the toilet in an (unsuccessful) attempt to stop the indignant yelling.

Meanwhile, Henry is content to hang out on top of the kitchen island, tail draped over the bowl of oranges, ignoring the fact this is, and always has been, strictly forbidden. “It’s your fault for giving us the unfettered run of the house while you were away jet setting to London, New York, and the Caribbean!” he whines. He has the SPCA on speed dial and isn’t afraid to use it. Luckily, he does not have opposable thumbs so can’t unlock the phone. Me: one. Cats: 142.

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