make way for duckling

November 25, 2004

My cat has a new friend–I suppose I must resign myself to no longer being his sole companion. After much trial and error, we have happened upon the cat toy that is more than just a toy. This little catnip-filled stuffed duck is already losing the sparkle on his yellow fur, and some of his limbs are beginning to loosen. But Aslan, now he is one happy kitten.

It all began shortly after I brought Aslan home, at 4 months. He adjusted quickly to being an only child (after being raised by an expert cat-breeder, surrounded by his siblings), but I simply could not satisfy his need to play–a lap to sleep on could only keep him content part of the time (and the vacuum cleaner doesn’t help either, as he has not yet gotten over his deathly fear of it).

At any rate, I soon browsed the small cat section of the grocery store and found a 5-pack of those little furry catnip mice. My experience with all myriad of cats made me quite confident that this would appeal to him. Sure enough, he eagerly leapt upon the first one I tossed to him–and the next, and the next . . . and approximately 25 more. I found myself buying one package per week, every single mouse disappearing who knows where within the hour, it seemed. Still, for the life of me, I cannot figure out where he put them all, but they are most definitely gone.

Realizing that I had been spending about $4 on each pack, I figured I should perhaps put a bit more thought into his toys. Surely, I could find something that would amuse him sufficiently but that would not disappear into cat-toy never never land quite so rapidly. So, after reading an article about homemade dog toys, I decided to manipulate the strategy slightly, making my own braided-fabric toy for him. I had an excess of cloth napkins, so cut one into strips for the project, chuckling to myself about how it befitted my housekeeping neuroses for his cat toy to match my home decor.

Sadly, he was not quite so amused. Sure, he humored me, it seemed, batting at it congenially when I dangled it in front of him, but without that prompting my labored-after toy stayed rather dejectedly abandoned. It didn’t help either when a friend teased me incessantly, insisting to everyone who was here that it looked like it was made out of “panties.”

Then, last weekend, the 2-pack of stuffed animal styled toys caught my eye. They seemed rather fitting for Aslan, as he has a nature befitting his kingly name, and they were obviously durable. Sure enough, he immediately loved playing with the little duck, tearing from room to room with it. It was only this evening, however, that I realized just how much he liked it, and that it was his companion, not just something to play with. He had retrieved it from the other room and was bringing it in to the room where I was working at the moment, and I saw the wear and tear that it was getting. And then I laughed at the way he was trotting about with it, and remembered how attached he’d been acting towards it. Yesterday, I had shut my bedroom door when I left (I still am trying to get over my paranoia after a brief urine-everywhere episode we had when I mistakenly tried to switch cat litter one him . . .). When I got home from work and had managed to get in the door (he has this habit of lying on his back when I arrive, directly in front of the door, waiting for me to slide him along the carpet in order to squeeze in the door), I opened the bedroom door and saw him dash in the room, under the bed, and then triumphantly emerge again, his little yellow duck cradled lovingly in his jaws.

I wonder what sort of crisis we will have the day the duck dies??


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