Yesterday, I was doing some recording with Nadav Rayman of White Noise Carousel. At one point, passing the bathroom, I noticed something unusual … Oh, and one more thing. Tweety Bird caught a mouse today. Polly managed to confiscate its lifeless body and decided to give it a final resting place with a brick and a 'blanket'.
I wasn’t certain whether it was polite to inquire. When I directed an interested glance at Nadav’s partner, Liz, I could see at least some reluctance to discuss the matter. But, of course, there was no way I could resist.
I ought have guessed it would have something to do with cats. They have two: a dark brown Devon Rex whose fur is indistinguishable from astrakhan and a Tangerine Burmese. Since they are flat-dwellers the issue of the cats’ toilet habits is of some concern, therefore they have taken some innovative and, quite frankly, bizarre measures.
What I saw in their bathroom was a device for training cats to use a human toilet. Once the cats are acclimatised to using the pan of litter fitted over the toilet bowl, the central portion of the pan is removed, leaving a doughnut of litter. Later, a further section is removed, leaving a thin ring on the outside, then, finally, the entire device is removed. I would expect that the substance of the litter is steeped in catnip, or something similar.
Apparently, it works. Liz has seen the cats use it, though describes their reaction at being observed as ‘embarrassed’. This I understand. One of the many little things about cats that makes them so appealing is their ability to experience embarrassment. You may accuse me of anthropomorphising, but I have often seen cats embarrassed – particularly the more rarefied breeds. Usually when they fall or do something awkward, something at odds with the dignity and fluency of their physical style. They will turn, look directly at you, and quickly, humourlessly, depart. There is no mistaking it for anything but embarrassment.
Another cat-related device which I recently acquired from a rubbish heap somewhere:
For some reason, this strikes me as fiendishly clever. It’s a cat toy and Tweety Bird loves it to death. There’s a rail around the circumference fitted with a false mouse which moves freely and at lifelike speeds. The mouse disappears in and out of the concealed portions of track, giving the cat an impression that the mouse is fleeing in and out of holes. The device even has a bit of scratchy carpet fixed to the top, but I think this is more of an afterthought. Tweety Bird has never used it.
I don’t know whether this toy – or the cat toilet - are a waste of the planet’s precious resources. They’re rather an elaborate way of enriching the lives of our companion animals, but they’re ingenious and strange and I like them.
To close, here is an wholly irrelevant photo of Polly which I secretly took half an hour ago. She is having a picnic dinner with her friends, including Sea Turtle, Baby Alive and Potting Mix.
Oh, and one more thing. Tweety Bird caught a mouse today. Polly managed to confiscate its lifeless body and decided to give it a final resting place with a brick and a 'blanket'.