By Claudia Jacobson

As I said in my first story about Archie, our big yellow ‘Stretch’ of a cat, in early spring a close friend of ours emailed to say she knew of a cat who needed a new home. This person was making a life change and her new home was not a good home for her yellow and white freckle faced friend. Ginny knew we needed a cat.

Archie came with a fancy dark blue ceramic food dish. He had over a month’s worth of his favorite food. He came with a full medical checkup and clear instructions on how to feed him. Since what goes in must come out, Archie arrived with a first class litter box and plenty of litter. He was loved and adored and maybe spoiled.

Unbelievable as it was, however, the little guy had no toys. Surely it was an error in their purchasing department. My caretaker is a woman enriched with knowledge of cats. She said play and toys are necessary for a cat’s well-being. We want a cat who feels well cared for and plays during the day and sleeps at night. Our foolishness never fails to amuse Archie. He’s young, healthy and lives too close to the street to leave the house. To solve problems you never knew you had, but your cat always knew you had, go to the internet.

Of course I ordered toys, while at the same time my hubby shopped for cat toys at Peabody’s Pets. They have full shelves that don’t move around and nice people. No cat can have too many brightly-colored, jiggly balls. How would you or your cat know?

The package of goodies I ordered over the net arrived. We introduced the fun stuff to our guy. He saw no reason to pursue any fancy balls. He looked at us as if we’re daft for tossing fake mice in the air. He does not retrieve. Feathery things tied to a string terrify him. Bouncy, flouncy fluffy fakes he doesn’t notice. However he does like cheap cardboard scratchers when introduced covered in catnip. My sister-in-law gave him a soft cuddly mat for my birthday, which he sits on when he’s using a scratcher. He was trained well because he doesn’t attack furniture but he will attack bare legs if he’s hungry or unhappy with the menu.

One of the toys I ordered caused us excitement, foolishly. It’s a blue plastic circle with an enclosed path for a white ball with a cardboard scratcher center and it’s “made in America.” Unbelievable. John demonstrated the toy by giving the ball a quick tap while we both watched as it circled the speedway. John tried to entice Archie’s interest and stood doubled over this miniature roulette wheel, spinning a small white ball, afraid someone would peer in our front window, while we joked as if we had cabin fever or dementia, or both. Finally, after numerous rotations his little foot gave it a pat, which caused it to speed up and he jumped backwards. Reminded me of a “shy,” an attempt by a frightened horse to unseat and dispatch a rider. Then came trouble. He got brave enough to stand with all four paws on the scratcher and dig in when John gave the ball a solid whack. When the ball flew the cat dove underneath the couch. Far underneath the couch. We could hear his thoughts though, “ Scare a guy to his death.”

Months have passed. The bright balls are gone. Archie prefers to steal little balls made of woven grass from my decorative bowl. He chases bugs, moths, little scraps of plastic or paper. He’s worn out one cardboard scratching pad. He is a successful mouser and loves watching birds. Our Arch-man is still attacking legs and enjoying it immensely. Someone said he’d put on a little weight. Archie now sits in my lap, too. The blue, racing-ball circular pad is the perfect self entertainment center. He uses it at about 4:30 or 5:00 a.m. to wake up his sleepy muscles and begin his day. John doesn’t hear it.

Serves me right.  ~