The end of February already. Here in the UK the first signs of spring are appearing but it's still very cold. Bandit has spent much of this winter curled up on a hot water bottle (refilled at regular intervals, much like his food bowl!) and 'hibernating', occasionally surfacing to eat and play for a while before going back to sleep again.
And it's play we're talking about this month. At the end of January's newsletter I promised that this month we'd
take a look at ways of keeping your cats happy and amused indoors, because I was asked this by one of our readers, Wendy, on behalf of her kitten Bodhi.
I shared this question on our Facebook page and got lots of great suggestions from the large to the small. (Big thanks to you if you made one of them!)
Things become difficult to find on Facebook with time though, so I'm writing a summary of the suggestions here to 'catch' them
for others wanting similar advice.
Bodhi - on the lookout for new toys
With thanks to and copyright © Wendy Hughson
"I have a 10-month-old kitten. He's a beautiful handful and I'm trying to find great puzzle/toy ideas for him.
He's incredibly smart and ever curious. He fetches anything (especially likes small bits of crumpled paper), greets me at the door, gets into all cupboards, follows me everywhere, and gets easily bored when I'm not at home (I work full time).
No toys here! Bodhi explores the bathroom
A number of people suggested getting another kitten to keep Bodhi company and while this would of course be a great option, Wendy's not in a position to do this right now. So the hunt was on to find fun things to keep Bodhi occupied and amused while Wendy was out at work.
We had some great suggestions for small toys including craft pompons, ping pong balls (in the tub for extra fun!), milk tops, cardboard toilet paper rolls, cat tunnels, cat wobblers, beanie babies, crinkle toys, rattling mice, jingle balls and squeaky toys, and even a fish aquarium to look at (which would be a great choice as long it had a top on it!)
And Krista, who wrote a page for us here about her own cat Watt, told us about the many very creative ideas she'd had to keep Watt amused. Too many, in fact, to list here, but I've added Krista's notes to Watt's page, which you can read here and is well worth a look.
Bodhi checking out a toy
Krista's top choice was, in her own words:
"Nano bots. My favorite. These are little electronic 'bugs' that have two rows of silicone legs. If run on a hardwood floor they'll flip themselves back over if knocked upside down. The movement is very insect-like in that it's fast and random. I know for a fact that a fresh battery will last 8 hours.
They're large enough that a cat won't choke on them and are gratifying for chewing on because they're squishy and hard at the same time - good texture. They make for epic eight-hour bug hunts. Some days I'd just let one go in the house before work. Other days I'd turn it on and hide it in something like toilet paper rolls with stuff holding it in. In the second case, he'd have to find and dig it out in order to release it for the hunt. These are still among his favorite toys.
I have no idea how
many are around the house any more but he'll find one and bring it to me
in order for me to bring it back to life."
There were some suggestions for twisty ties, hairbands and 'dangly' toys which have something on the end of a string. While these are great fun when you're at home and playing with your cat yourself (when he was younger, Bandit used to love retrieving elastic bands, for example) it's important not to leave them lying around while you're out.
Anything string-like can be extremely dangerous to your cat's insides if chewed or swallowed, so better to be safe than sorry. And always make sure that, as Krista says above, any small toy is robust and large enough that a cat can't swallow it or chew it to bits.
From the many suggestions (you can find the whole thread on Facebook here) we totalled up the votes for each suggestion and there were some clear winners, which you can read about below.
In joint first position, the most popular suggestion was for a cat tree or cat condo similar to the one on the left, which has hidey-holes, perches, dangling toys and sisal scratching posts.
This is of course a great option, especially when, as several people suggested, placed near a window so your cat has a view of the outside world too.
Tying for first place, puzzle toys similar to the one in the photo opposite had many votes too. In addition to the balls shown, people mentioned putting other, smaller toys in the box, as well as crumpled paper and foil, cat food, and cat treats. (Bandit pricked up his ears at the mention of treats!)
In runner-up position, several people mentioned a toy that simulated a mouse's tail running round under a circular canvas. So I did some digging and discovered that this is known as a Cat's Meow. The Cat's Meow didn't have very good reviews on Amazon though.
A better option perhaps is the SmartyKat Hot Pursuit version, shown in the photo, which had better reviews (and is also available in Walmart).
After providing us with a lot of amusement and some great ideas, we're making Bodhi our Meezer of the Month for February. We hope you enjoy all the ideas and have fun playing with the toys, Bodhi!
Bodhi says "thank you for the ideas"!
Image with thanks to and copyright © Wendy Hughson
This month's fun photo from our Facebook page is of Karen Hall's 'Band of Brothers' Hershey, Bear and Little Wee. I chose it as it looks like a meeting of the 'Toy Testing Committee'!
Hershey, Bear and Little Wee - the Toy Testing Committee
Image with thanks to and copyright © Karen Hall
As part of a strategy to encourage Facebook Pages to pay to have their content distributed, the number of people who see our Facebook posts is continually decreasing. (All part and parcel of the increasingly weird machinations of social media!)
So ... those of you who enjoy our Facebook page and the photos shared by others there, do remember to stop by the page occasionally and like, share and comment. That way you'll see more of our posts, and the post itself will be distributed to more people.
Bandit is now eleven or twelve. In human terms this means that he's now in his sixties and although he's still quite well he is showing signs of slowing down, as befits an older gentleman. So next month we'll be taking a look at what it means to be an older cat, and how you can best care for your own 'Meezer Geezer'.
Have a great month!
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