The cats have never taken a real shine to Sam, because when Sam entered our lives, out went all of the digestible cat toys (aka the fun ones). Where they used to bat toy mice under the door for hours or throw them up in the air and chase them around the house, they now get to beat a ball around a plastic track or hope that a large cardboard box will appear and sit around long enough to have some real fun. Sam has eaten feathers on a stick, toy mice and the larger catnip filled toys. We would occasionally find a plastic husk, devoid of fake fur, sitting in the middle of the floor. The only things Sam has ignored are those little plastic balls with the bells inside of them, for that matter, so have our cats. They’d prefer we not insult them with such chintzy little baubles. On a really good cat day, a drawer might remain open long enough to curl up inside for a minute or two before being unceremoniously scooped out.
Earlier this week I noticed Hodi flirting with a polite young cardboard box. She coyly paced around it, rubbing her face against it to show her interest. Unfortunately, the lid on the box was closed and you could tell she was hoping the box faeries would allow her a few private moments of frolicking about on the inside.
Since the box fairy ran away with Santa, the Tooth Fairy and the Easter Bunny many years ago, it fell on me to begrudgingly assume the role. I spun around in my computer chair and uttered the magic words, “FINE!” and TADA the box was open. Within the box was bonus tissue paper, so I spread that out on the floor for their amusement. (One of the joys of having both a vacuum cleaner and a pair of hands is the knowledge that no matter how big a mess the furry beasts make, you can actually clean it up.)
Immediately, the box was forgotten because “OMG! YAY! Tissue paper!” As you all know, tissue paper is not something you just lay next to and smack; it must be pounced on repeatedly from multiple angles while contorting your body in new and interesting ways. Sometimes you need to stalk it a bit – that’s when you get a foot away, spy on it silently, wiggle your back end for many moments and finally fling yourself on top of the unsuspecting paper. (In the wild, this would be the older or lamer paper that couldn’t keep up with the paper herd – a circle of life kind of moment.) Sadly, the noise of tissue pouncing has been known to draw the attention of your litter mate (aka your sister, that horrible thing you grew tired of after about five years – sure, you used to do everything together, but while tree climbing was fun, unceremoniously smacking her on the head or biting her ear became even MORE fun).
Several days passed as the tissue paper became tissue confetti. Then the game became “place the remaining larger tissue bit on the ball toy that runs on the track and smack the ball while also hitting the paper.” FUN!
Sam, the cat’s own personal fun-sucker™, decided that too many days of fun had been going on right under her nose (and she realized she was helpless to stop it since she couldn’t digest all of the paper along with the ball in its circular plastic track), so she decided to make a stand. Sam began to growl at Hodi who was lazily draped across the floor with a paw outstretched for ball batting and paper smacking.
Neither Hodi nor Sage put up with Sam when she “gets like that”. And Hodi wasn’t about to make an exception that evening. Hodi narrowed her green eyes and eyeballed Sam while taunting her by slowly smacking the ball just one more “I dare you” time. The look made me stop what I was doing. That look said “Mom, if you don’t stop her, I’ll be on her face like the alien parasite in the Alien series. She’ll be birthing mini-me’s from her chest by the time I’m through.” The kind of look that says “I mean business; I will tap dance big paddlewheels on her head.” I stood up and got between the two of them, backing Sam down. Where Sam might be able to bark Sage into hiding, Hodi would put Sam in a full nelson while mewing, “whose your daddy, now?” In other words, it wouldn’t be pretty.
So for now, the cats have reclaimed some “toy” turf and Sam has returned to her place at the omega pet (the one whose face has been spared being rearranged by a fluffy tissue predatory Manx with a bad attitude) and all is good.