Sunday, January 13, 2008

~ elaborate feline accommodations

Yesterday, I was doing some recording with Nadav Rayman of White Noise Carousel. At one point, passing the bathroom, I noticed something unusual …

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'.

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angel wings and hearts said...

the last two pics are so precious. the little tea party. what innocence. the tiny little mouse treated with reverence and covered with a blanket just as if he is having a little nap. i wish i could return to that innocent and oblivious time in my life.


Anonymous said...

NO,no,no... a toilet for cats???? Of course the poor cats feel embarrassed! I'm sure they just want to shit and piss like nature intended, not perched up on a toilet bowl! Why would you have TWO cats, if you live in a little flat anyway????? Set them Free!

Polly is so gorgeous Sam.
Love Amanda

Sam Sejavka said...

I found that little mouse bed almost too cute to bear. And infinitely sad ...

I'm undecided on the cat toilet. Our cats have evolved with us over the millennia, and could this not be just another step we are taking together?

lily was here said...

Yes, this was just SO adorable Sam. And Polly's friend potting mix .. too funny. Id love to have seen the expression on her face under that hatduring the pow-wow.

Not sure about the cat toilet but in circumstances i guess you do what you gotta do? :)

Sam Sejavka said...

The expression was one of frowning concentration. She was making certain all her guests were comfortable and properly catered for.

I wonder if we're spoiling our cats? I just gave Tweety Bird some raw eggs and tuna with a 'slightly smoked flavour'. [Don't ask why.] She refused both. substances