Friday, August 19, 2005

Humans are the best cat toys

I just saw an online promotion of a remote controlled cat toy that's supposedly the most technologically advanced thing around. Apparently it mimics the movements of a mouse (of the type that goes squeak squeak, not click click) and that drives the felines wild. The website has a movie of two sleek domestic types having a whale of a time with this gizmo, which whizzes all over the room while the owner controls it remotely from the comfort of her sofa.

Entertained feline, entertained human
One of my favourite pastimes to date is watching cats play. The way they dash around, change directions midair, hide under long tablecloths leaving a good six inches of rear end sticking out and bat energetically at pencils just delights me.

Unfortunately, sometimes cats just won't play when you want them to. Instead, they sleep. When they wake up, you think this thought is going through their little heads: "Ooh, good nap, that. Now for some play!"

Instead, it's more along the lines of: "Oooooohhhhhh... good nap. Goooood nap. Goooooodd... zzzzzz". Sometimes, there's a little spare energy in there for a cursory lick or two of the belly before Nap, Part MCVXXIX begins.

Feline Entertainment Then
Sometime during my secondary schooldays, my parents once took us on a trip to a small, kampung-style resort in Melaka. There were cats practically everywhere on this island, including this resort. Wherever you looked, whether in the lounge, gardens, recreation area or function rooms, there you would see cats.

Evidently, management and staff liked cats pretty well, too. In the mornings, an elderly security guard would tease whichever members of the feline population were present with a ball of paper tied to one end of a long lidi (coconut leaf stick thingy). By holding it at the other end, he could make the paper wad dangle, quiver, sway, wave, lie dead and then scuttle off... and you could never tell who was more entertained, the cats, the guard or the hotel guests who were equally cat-sympathetic.

Feline Entertainment Now
So along comes this big-ticket toy manufacturer with its new-fangled cat toy that's got fancy words like "chaos theory" and "algorithm" in its story. RRP: US$25. Meanwhile, for all I know, the folks at that island resort still get a piece of used printer paper from the office every now and then, amble out to the garden in search of a suitably springy stick, and make a cat toy. And do those cats feel cheated of the US$25 experience?

Who knows? As I write this, Figaro is curled up, soaking up the last few rays of today's sun and Mudslide is doing ballet leaps and twirls chasing butterflies and fairies only she can see. They both look happy to me. As I'm sure the island cats are.

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