I am just seven months old, but I am big for my age. I’ve recently found a new home with a family of humans and since I look like I’m practically grown up they think that I don’t need any cat toys. They bought me one dumb catnip mouse that doesn’t even have much of a scent. Clearly this is unacceptable, but what can I do? It’s not like I can just dash over to the pet store myself and load up on some cool toys. I’m going to have to make do with what’s around here. Do you have any suggestions for which human items make the best cat toys?
Although it was very nice of your humans to give you a home, they really seem pretty clueless when it comes to cats. Sure, kittens love to play (and at seven months you’re definitely still a kitten), but so do grown up cats. Somalis are playful all their lives—that’s one of the reasons my human got me. She didn’t want some boring “doorstop of a cat” (her words, not mine). So my home is loaded with cat toys. Of course, my human has the bad habit of getting the wrong cat toys, but that’s another problem altogether, and certainly a better one than yours. I mean, even the wrong toys are better than no toys at all.
Like many cats before you who have suffered through the same dilemma, you will just have to play with whatever you can find lying around the house. The great thing is that cats’ imaginations are far more fanciful than humans’ are, so there is probably a wealth of potential toys that your humans may consider mere “junk.” In fact, some of the best places for you to start looking for makeshift cat toys are the various trashcans around the house. If there’s an office, it’s probably filled with crumbled up papers you can dig out and bat around. Crumbled papers make really fascinating sounds, especially on wood floors. You might also find some small cardboard containers in the office trash or in the bathroom trashcan (those cardboard tubes in the bathroom trash will give you some good action). Small, empty plastic bottles also make fun play toys. The best trash can, in case you haven’t figured this out already, is the one in the kitchen because you can not only find things to use as toys, you can also occasionally grab a handy snack or two. Some humans know about this cat treasure trove and have taken measures to keep us out of it. I bet your humans are not yet be aware of how awesome kitchen trash is, so take advantage of their ignorance—it probably won’t last very long. Do, however, stay away from anything really stinky, like old cleaning rags. They’re toxic—but then, they smell so bad you will probably not want to touch them anyhow.
Of course, the trash isn’t the only place to find great toys. Maybe there are some knickknacks sitting on tables or mantelpieces that are just waiting to be knocked to the floor and batted around. Are there children in your family? They usually have loads of stuff that cats love—small, plush animals to kill, action figures to carry in your mouth, Barbie accessories to knock around until they disappear under the dresser. Perhaps the best item of all, however, isn’t even a kid toy or a knickknack or even trash. It’s those long plastic things that humans call “pens.” Pens are a joy to play with and inevitably they roll under the couch or somewhere else that’s equally inaccessible to humans. I heard of one cat that used to keep his humans virtually penless—they’d have to move all the furniture in the living room if they wanted to write any notes. Half the fun was watching the humans hunt for the pens! Which is another source of amusement—watching the humans react after you turn some boring object of theirs into a fun toy. The curious thing is that, instead of being grateful for the insight, they usually get kind of annoyed. And since you signed your letter “vaguely annoyed,” I think it’s only poetic justice that your return the favor.