It’s difficult for me to both read and have an adorable fluffy thing mercilessly rolling on the pages open before me. Whenever my brow is furrowed with the reading-concentration of a zen master, my cat Kuro will begin rubbing himself on my book, be it in-hand or on my lap. He has a longstanding paper fetish, so whether I’m writing or reading, he will be there, licking, biting, drooling, rolling, or rubbing himself all over the pages.
And let’s be real, if you’re a serious fan of the literary arts, you too will have some obscure tabby named Arthur laying around on your Victorian rug, the cherry atop your sophisticated achievements and accomplished persona, but Arthur gets just a little too snug. While he’s very good at projecting a detached and intelligent air, he does not possess an ounce of focus to keep himself occupied.
Here are some tips for how to get your cat engaged in some high-minded activities of their own while you sit down with your copy of Lolita.
YouTube Bird and Rodent Videos
My cousin was showing me the ropes of cat-sitting her two lovely cats, Peanut and Tyrus, while she would be away for the weekend. Before demonstrating how to empty the litter box, she turned on her desktop and pulled up YouTube videos of birds and various rodents filmed with the sole purpose of entertaining cats. The second she pressed play, it was like being launched into 1984’s dystopian universe where people become magnetized by the hypnosis of Big Brother. Peanut and Tyrus immersed themselves in the worlds of their virtual prey, bobbing their heads as they scampered about. If you’re trying to snuggle up with a book in the corner of your living room, only to be washed over with guilt by your cat’s dilating pupils and ever so slightly tilted head, take out your laptop and play one of these videos. It is the smokescreen that will ensure hours of peace and enjoyment for the both of you.
Buying a Laser Light Disco Ball
Maybe it doesn’t look great next to a rustic chimney, but a laser light disco ball will surely be better than trying to one-hand a novela whilst whirling around a mouse toy to divert your cat’s attention. Simply switch this baby on and your cat will have a great party on its own, though it may be too distracted to dignify itself with a solo like John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever. Caution, before the members of your book club “Worldly Patrons of High Society” show up to discuss the issues of feminine power raised in Jane Eyre, turn it off and stow it with haste!
Hiding Catnip or Treats in a Nearby Place – Perhaps in A Treat-Puzzle-Toy!
“But that’s just encouraging Arthur to be a thoughtless philistine! I want his mind to be nurtured!”, you protest. Well, they’ve already developed a kind of Rubik’s cube for cats, a treat-puzzle toy, which both flexes the brain muscles and provides a nice incentive for its successful completion. [There are a number of these.] Cats have also been shown to improve their performance over time, bestowing a sense of confidence and superiority over their lesser, lowbrow peers. If you yourself are hitting the books in preparation for a test, let your cat be a companion, if not a role model, as it paws its way to mental aptitude!
Put a Bird Feeder Outside and Close to a Window
This one could be a little sadistic if your cat is an indoor cat only, common among, and highly recommended, for Angeleno felines.* But maybe you want your furry one to be amused just enough, but not so much that you can’t inch in some pets every once in awhile! If I’m reading under duress, sometimes I need to hear that soft classy purr as my eyes strain to read dense sections of text to put me at ease. So, put that plush armchair by the window where you’ve smartly placed a bird feeder just beyond the glass. This might not be much better than television, but at least it’s real time.
There are many ingenious ways to keep Arthur and you happy on your journey to intellectual enlightenment. The sheer presence of some puzzle or diversion will satisfy your beloved cat’s curiosity as you satisfy yours. Except now, you don’t have to worry about being held hostage to a rolling fuzzball just as you’re about to reach the cathartic resolution!
[*Editor’s note to non-Angelenos: In Southern California, non-cartoon coyotes are ubiquitous, hungry and never, ever hunt with rockets strapped to their backs.]