Of all the expensive toys I’ve spent my money on, the one thing my cat can’t get enough of is literally garbage (or at least recycling). My little love is completely obsessed with playing with, and collecting, plastic soda bottle caps.
Ghost Cat begs for them, chases them, plays catch with them and hides them under any piece of furniture that will provide a refuge for her bottle cap buddies. There’s really no denying that my cat is a hoarder — and my husband and I are straight up enablers.
The truth is, we’ve known about Ghost Cat’s addiction to bottle caps for some time. It wasn’t long after we brought her home that my husband was drinking a Diet Pepsi on the couch. As soon as he twisted off the top, Ghost Cat came running toward the noise, nosing at my husband until he finally tossed the bottle cap onto the floor. That was the first time I heard that distinctive sound of bottle cap hitting floor. It’s a sound that became all too common in our household.
Ghost Cat won’t chase just anything. She is pretty specific in her bottle cap selection — she prefers the caps from one-liter bottles of diet soda. Just like her dad, she goes nuts for Diet Pepsi, and I think Diet Dr. Pepper is her second favorite. She’s even sprinted up to me when I’ve opened a can of Diet Coke, only to stand in my lap, disappointed and cap-less. She didn’t need to stay sad for long, though, as soon as her dad was home he had a bottle with the lid she was lusting after. As my husband feeds his addiction to Diet Pepsi, he also feeds Ghost Cat’s addiction to plastic bottle caps. I don’t know which is worse, I only know which one we’re stepping on.
I do admit that I am just as guilty of enabling Ghost Cat. I may not be buying the Pepsi, but I am definitely contributing to the problem. The first time I swept a collection of caps out from under the couch I felt sorry for her. Here she was trying to build something of her own in her new home, and I was ruining it by sweeping it all up. So despite my husband’s protests, I just couldn’t throw the caps out. I saved some and put them in a Tupperware container. I told Ghost Cat that she could play with them only during daylight hours. Every night we would walk around the loft picking up wayward bottle caps before taking Ghost Cat with us up to bed.
Despite my nighttime cap ban, the sounds of caps scraping across the floor in the dark routinely pulled us from sleep. Somehow, Ghost Cat was getting her little paws on more caps that weren’t being doled out from her Tupperware hoard. The answer was clear — we were giving her more caps than we were throwing away, and she was tucking them away in places we couldn’t see, only to pull them out at night.
What was annoying at night seemed adorable during the day. The first time I ever found a bottle cap in my bed I thought it was cute. After all, Ghost Cat’s just trying to share her favorite toy with me. But when more caches of bottle caps were discovered under the couch, the stove and the dresser, I could no longer deny the scope of Ghost Cat’s problem. It was practically pathological. Soon we were waking up to find caps beside our pillows, caps under the covers at our feet, and my personal favorite — caps pushed under the bathroom door for us to step on.
I’ve tried to break her cap hoarding habit by getting her interested in little catnip mice, bell balls and other toys. I play snake with her every day, dangling her long-tailed toy in front of her so she can leap in the air and catch it. In fact, I’ve spent a lot of money and effort on cat toys over the last eight months — but no matter what I bring home, or what she got in her Christmas stocking, all Ghost Cat wants are caps. As someone who loves Ghost Cat (and shares a home with her), I know her obsession for small plastic disks must come to an end for the sake of us all, and now I have the perfect opportunity to wean her off the plastic.
When I found out that we were moving, I thought back to a time when I had conquered a bad habit during a long-distance move. A smoker for years, I finally quit when I was making a move that required a 16-hour drive in the moving van. My dad was helping me move, and he just didn’t let me stop for cigarettes. When I got to my new apartment and my new job, I didn’t associate smoking with my new surroundings, and I didn’t pick it back up.
Now that we are making a similar move with Ghost Cat, I am taking the opportunity to take break her (and us) of the cap-hoarding habit. I want our new house to be tidy, and I don’t want Ghost Cat to think that she can stash caps under our new living room furniture. We started by not bringing a whole bunch of her caps with her during the initial move; my husband only brought along two or three, and threw out the rest. We are also doing our part by not giving her new caps when we finish a drink. I just screw the lid back on and send the whole thing off to recycling.
So far, Ghost Cat seems to be adjusting to her life after caps quite well. It’s hard to tell because we are currently staying with friends while waiting for the possession date on our new home, but I do notice that Ghost Cat is playing with other toys more and more now that her caps are gone. She’s arranged them in a little nest in the corner of the room, so maybe she still is hoarding, but at least she’s not hoarding garbage!
Does your cat hang on to anything strange? How do you break your cat of making little nests of treasures? Let us know in the comments!
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About the author: Heather Marcoux is Ghost Cat’s mom. She is also a wife, writer and former TV journalist. Some of her friends have hidden her feed because of an excess of cat pictures. If you don’t mind cat pictures, you can follow her on Twitter; she also posts GIFs of her cat on Google +.
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