This week in “Things my cat likes to get his head stuck in”: Tupperware.
This past weekend I went to the Smithsonian’s National Zoo and Conservation Biology Institute (aka the National Zoo) and had a chance to watch the lions.
Remember awhile back when a scientific study of feline behavior found similarities between house cats and lions? (And then a bunch of people picked up and ran with the idea–disregarded the study’s real findings–and claimed your cat wanted to eat you?). Well, my cats aren’t plotting my demise, but while I was watching the lions I couldn’t help seeing large muscular versions of my house cats.
Here was a lioness who wanted to get back into her indoor enclosure:
And here is Fafnir wanting to be let in from our porch:
Update: He’s staying.
The little bundle of adorable black fluff has cuddled up in our hearts and can no longer be trusted to the care of anyone else. Faced with a ball of cuteness that purrs like a motor boat when held, curls up in our laps for a nap when we’re reading on the couch, and who has become better at fetch than Fafnir–there is no longer any choice but to accept him as a permanent resident.
The decision was made weeks ago, but life has been busy. My phone’s camera folder has been filling up with pictures and videos, though, and now that I have an open Sunday afternoon, it seems like the best time to recap what has been happening and share some of the documented cuteness. I tried to group them in some kind of coherent order, but it’s mostly just chronological.
* * *
First step towards integration: letting Caliban out from his seclusion in the bathroom and allowing him to interact with our other cats. Caliban took it in woobly kitten strides.
(The “hey” from me in the video was to stop Fafnir from grooming Caliban, who wasn’t in the all-clear for worms yet.)
The sounds you here in the above are Fafnir, not Caliban. It took us a few incidents to figure it out since Fafnir had never meowed like that before. I kept rushing into the room thinking Fafnir was hurting Caliban at which point they always scattered. It took being in the room already to realize Fafnir was the one vocalizing to get Cal to play with him. He’d most often “scream” before Cal had even finished a jump.
As much fun as they were having, there were still times when Fafnir’s energy wasn’t quiet up to matching that of a kitten. At which point, Caliban usually went after his tail.
Nate knew he wanted to keep Caliban as soon as he brought him home. Fafnir accepted him at first sniff. I melted after a bit over a week (I loved him right away–I mean, duh, a kitten!–but the whole idea of keeping 3 cats took longer to accept). Our female Grendel, however, took a bit more time to decide if she would put up with him.
She never bit or scratch him, but there was plenty of suspicious hissing and a few well-aimed smacks of the paw when he got too friendly with her. Caliban didn’t appear to mind. As skittish as he was starting out with us–and still is with any human visitors–he has always been eager to befriend other cats.
One of the funniest early-day interactions between all our cats was when Grendel was trying to come through the crack in the bathroom door (to steal Cal’s food) and Caliban decided to just run under her legs to get through the narrow opening. Grendel leap right in the air in surprise, hissed, and fled, but Caliban didn’t give her a second glance and trotted on to his food bowl.
In the above, Grendel isn’t hiding in a litter box. It’s just a litter box lid that we’d left out and she’d decided she liked hiding in.
She still hisses at him sometimes–mostly when he decides to interrupt her naps or accidentally jumps onto her in the climbing tree–but they now play with one another, will sleep in the same area (though she won’t cuddle with him like Fafnir does) and for now, I call it a cat family at peace.
Caliban can keep himself pretty occupied too, and enjoys playing with Nate and I. Grendel and Fafnir, usually exhausted and hiding up in a perch somewhere by the afternoon, much certainly appear to appreciate some alone time.
Fafnir keeps Caliban pretty clean. While Grendel was still hissing over Cal smelling like the vet after he came back from his latest shots, Fafnir immediately went to work grooming him down.
Caliban has not been able to join the Fafnir and Grendel grooming parties. But he doesn’t appear to mind much.
Caliban REALLY likes watching computer screens and after a few cat-on-keyboard incidents, he’s learned to just watch and not try to catch the mouse. He makes a good study-buddy.
That is, assuming I don’t stop my homework to try documenting how cute he looks when he falls asleep.
Caliban tends to have two states of being (like many kittens). Playing and sleeping.
Caliban also has a thing for catnip.
As I mentioned above, he has also learned fetch. Fafnir plays fetch with the feather toy or hair ties, but Caliban prefers his catnip-stuff beaver toy (it came free in the “Kitten Kit” we got from the vet). Any of his mice toys work as well.
Like with Fafnir, I “taught” him fetch by modifying his already existing playing behavior. I noticed he was intentionally bringing his toys to one spot to play and I stepped into that spot so that he would be bringing it back to me. Grendel’s never shown this behavior, so she has yet to learn fetch.
Fafnir would put hair ties on the end table because they’d glide better when he bat them and he could “chase” them when they fell over the edge. Caliban preferred dropping his mice in a shoe box lid, so he could bat them in and out of it.
I stood by the shoebox lid, threw the toys out, and he would trot it back to me. After awhile, he started to equate me, not the lid, with the game. Although, he still prefers bringing toys to the bedroom since our current routine usually involves throwing his toy for him while we get dressed in the morning after our run.
And lastly, to wrap this massive gathering of photos and videos up. Caliban being adorable:
And falling asleep.
Well, I guess there is no denying it now. My cats are spoiled. Before, I could at least claim to be thrifty about it—making toys and puzzles for them out of boxes and game dice and hair ties. I let them go out on our deck to enjoy fresh air, but their dry food was just a quality brand, not organic-locally-sourced-gourmet.
But this last weekend, I couldn’t resist the temptation of a cat tree. Nate and I had already speculated it would be a nice addition come winter when it’d get too cold for us to leave the porch door open for the cats to mill around outside. And seeing as Petsmart was running a Labor day weekend sale… why wait until winter?
Thus, we brought this beautiful contraption home with us:
After an excited battle with the feather toy that came with it, it was promptly deemed an appropriate napping spot. Their existing scratching post had always been the contested spot to sit. Now, there are more perches available than cats to fill them. : )
We re-positioned the post and cleared off the tops of our bookshelves so they might continue their exploration of the places of up. And they have been thoroughly content ever since.
That feather toy (which I’d shrugged off as “well, if it comes with it, sure) turned out to be just what they’ve been craving. Grendel prefers to lock her jaws on it, like she’s crushing the throat of a sparrow, and run away to gnaw on it in peace, but Fafnir realized that if he brought it back to us, we could make it fly again, just like with his hair tie. And thus, another round of fetch:
Also, of out two cats, Grendel is usually the more elegant. At least, in contrast to Fafnir:
When it comes to hunting though, Grendel loses all dignity. Her eyes are on the prize and she prefers to jump first and think later. Which can lead to such graceful instance while we were playing with her as this:
I’m not sure what to say about the fact that Fafnir regularly gets his head stuck inside our tissue boxes. On the one hand, he isn’t exactly “stuck.” He has proven, after that first incident that he is capable of getting himself out. But on the other hand, I’d think he’d have come up with a better method to get things out of the boxes by now that didn’t involve lodging his head inside them.
On this occasion, he was being oddly insistent and I’d already pulled the box of his head two times before I decide to start filming him. (If you’re wondering why I have a box of tissues on my porch, the answer: allergies suck).
After he started backing himself along, I quit filming to make sure he didn’t back himself off the edge. It was after pulling it off and placing it far away from the edge that I noticed a small beetle chilling at the bottom of the box.
Sometimes I worry if I’m doing okay as a cat-owner.
What if they need more space than our one bedroom apartment? What if we leave them home alone too often? Should I be playing with them more? Pet them more? Pick them up more? Pick them up less? Give them better food? More food? Less food? And so on with the worrying…
But then I’ll look over at Fafnir, lolling about belly-up, and think “Yep, that’s one contented cat; maybe I’m doing okay.”
Fafnir apparently missed the cat memo that bellies are off limits because he frequently lies around on his back and not only lets us pet his belly but doesn’t proceed to claw and bite us afterwards. Most times, he just mellows out even more into a floppy kitty blob. That combined with his joy in playing “fetch the hair-tie” and I think our cat might just think he’s a dog.
Here’s a compilation of his lackadaisical upside-down poses:
See also from the post Fafnir Rolling:
Fafnir likes playing fetch. Sure, it’s strange cat behavior, but it’s a fun game to play (And a lot easier than running around the house with a string for him to chase). Sometimes I’ll turn around in the kitchen and find him patiently sitting with the hair tie in front of him, just waiting for me to throw it. Other times, he’ll jump up next to us on the couch (we assume to be pet), but then he promptly drops a hair tie on our lap and starts batting at it to indicate what he wants us to do.
He’s started bringing other toys to us too – like his mouse toy or a game dice, but there’s something special about how a hair tie can zip across the room that he just can’t resist.
In this one he’s playing with a milk ring. We don’t let him play with them anymore though because he started chewing on and eating the plastic.