Missy Kitty and catnip

Friday, October 7, 2011

Almost anyone who is owned by a cat will not likely find anything startlingly surprising in what you are about to read. For thousands of years domesticated cats have been developing their special abilities to confound human beings.

But sometimes humans take the upper hand.

Just for a few minutes, mind you. But having the advantage over a cat even for a period of time measured in seconds is a goal to which all cat-loving humans can aspire.

What is the secret? It's quite simple.


Of course, you'll want to start with the feline gateway drug: catnip.

As you already know, catnip is (1) legal, (2) cheap and (3) readily available.

While at the supermarket recently, my wife asked me if I thought our new resident cat, Missy Kitty, might like playing with a toy. You know, a toy made for a cat. I said maybe.

Both of us have seen Missy Kitty playing in the yard. She recently found the clod of dirt that was a favorite of her predecessor, the late Miss Kitty. The brick patio became a toss-and-roll arena for quite a while. Then, as usual, Missy Kitty tired of playing and stretched out on the patio glider and took a nice, long nap.

On another day, Missy Kitty caught a blue jay. Keep in mind that Missy Kitty's last officially recorded weight was six pounds, and blue jays must weigh close to that, because the one Missy Kitty caught was bigger in size.

As cats do with their prey, Missy Kitty spent well over an hour "playing" with her feathered prize. She crouched and wiggled and pounced and chomped and tossed with abandon.

Now here's the thing about Missy Kitty. She is smart enough to know what her humans expect from her as a house cat. She is entitled to be in certain rooms and not others. She is permitted to be in certain chairs and not others. Mainly, she is expected to be a lap cat, the lap in question being my lap, not the lap of my allergic-to-cats wife.

So you know where Missy Kitty tries to spend most of her indoor time: on my wife's lap and in the wrong chairs.

So my wife thought a toy might result in a change in Missy Kitty's behavior -- for the better.

My goodness. Do you know how many cat toys there are in a typical American supermarket?

The one we settled on was a made-in-China mouse filled with catnip. We paid for it. We took it home. We had no idea if Missy Kitty would be overjoyed or would ignore the fake mouse.

As it turns out, she not only plays with the toy mouse, but in just a few minutes she gets high. I mean zoned. Goofy. Laid back. So 1970s.

We knew she was high when her eyes went wobbly. And when she fell asleep. In my lap. Right after she said -- I'm pretty sure I heard this right -- "Hey, dude. Whatever."

Joe Sullivan is the retired editor of the Southeast Missourian.

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