Day 950 – Cat Day
“If cats sleep for a living, what do they do on their days off?”
I love all animals (and almost universally prefer their company to that of humans) but i have a special fondness for cats. I’m unsure why this is since we had a couple very nice dogs as pets when i was younger. I have an affinity for cats and, often, they for me. Many times i’ve been to a person’s house and been told “oh don’t even try, my cat never comes out” and after 10 minutes the cat is head-butting my face and purring. Probably should add this skill as a résumé line.
Back in the Minnesota Days i was fortunate to be involved with these guys. After they did their thing at Ordway Center’s Children’s Festival they moved to the Minneapolis Zoo for another stint. I was asked to come down and assist keeping the big inflatable thing safe from overly rambunctious kiddies. Hey, i’ll even deal with children if it gets me more time to exist inside one of Alan’s sculptures.
But whilst on a break i visited the bengal tiger enclosure and was surprised to find this big catapult-like thing next to one of the viewing areas. I asked a zoo staffer what this diabolical thing was and without breaking stride she said “cat enrichment device.”
That night i googled “cat enrichment” and was greeted by volumes of research both popular and scholarly on the subject. The next day i waylaid a zoo staffer of a higher pay grade and compelled more information.
“One of the most important things you can do for a cat is provide random stimuli. Cats, especially cats removed from their native environment, must discover surprising things or they can’t thrive. So, every now and then we use this thing here to hurl objects into their enclosure so they can discover them when they walk a perimeter. They really like footballs sprayed with Chanel No. 5.”
I went home that day with a mission! I was going to assiduously apply cat enrichment techniques to the two kittens Annette and I had recently adopted from a friend’s farm. The results have been hilarious for me, and, anthropomorphizing a bit, fun for my cats. The bottom line is i’ve been graced with two cats who are basically fearless, deeply curious, incredibly loyal, boundlessly affectionate and not aloof at all. Their behavior is similar to pre-verbal human children who have developed a sufficient sense of self to explore without unreasoned fear. Of course they’re domestic cats so they have a predilection to like people as opposed to wild or more feral cats, but my girls know who they are and they know what people provide. Mora (above) more than Isa (below) probably knows she is quite capable of living on her own should she choose to do so, but for now knowing where there is a reliable supply of food out weighs the desire to claim new turf of her own.
So, bottom line: my cats don’t sleep for a living, they prowl, guard, explore, report back, hunt and play.