Cats, especially young ones, love to play, and they often have their favorite toys. But my kitty, Summer, doesn’t just have a favorite toy – she’s obsessed with it.
It’s a fishing pole style cat toy, with some sort of feathered and winged critter on the end of the string, and she can’t get enough of it. When I pull it out, she charges after it in leaps and bounds, racing around the living room until she’s panting. When she manages to catch the toy, she will run away with it in her mouth, and if I let go of the pole, she will run down the stairs with the pole clattering behind her.
Playtime is crazy enough, but when the toy isn’t out, she longs for it. I’ll walk into the living room and she’ll be sitting on her scratcher, gazing at the top of the wooden cabinet, where the toy is put away. She does that, really, more than I think is healthy for her. I wish I could pull it out and play with her whenever she wanted me to … but I have to earn a living, buy groceries and even occasionally take a shower and brush my teeth. She wants that toy all the time.
The other day, I caught her creeping around the cabinet, deep in thought, wondering just how to get to the top and make a grab for the toy. Alas, the cabinet top is too tall for her to reach, and there isn’t anything nearby that would be a good perch for her to make a leap up to her one true love, that elusive cat toy.
What makes this toy such a resounding success? It’s the perfect prey, mimicking real life flying prey in a way that’s very satisfying to feline instincts. Because if you haven’t figured it out by now, when cats play, it’s almost always some variation on pretending to hunt. It’s hardwired in their genes to stalk and attack unassuming critters … or toy mousies, or flying things attached to a fishing pole string. Each cat has a preference –some enjoy small toys they can fling like a dead mouse. Some, like Summer, like chasing things that are flying through the air (incidentally, when we are outside, she will sometimes stalk birds, even though she’s on a leash and has zero chance of coming near any of them). My older cat, Boodie, prefers larger toys that she can carry in her mouth, singing proudly of her amazing catch. You know you are on Boodie’s good list if you find one of her favorite toys on your pillow.
With cats, play and prey are one in the same. I like to think that Summer aches for playtime because it’s an opportunity to spend time with me, but I know where her priorities really lie. She just wants to kill that toy and I am merely the handler.
Do your cats have a toy they can’t get enough of?