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My Cat Guilts Me Into Moving “Treasures” Across an Ocean

We're moving from Japan to Hong Kong -- but not without Brandy's 3 most sacred objects.

Louise Hung  |  Aug 20th 2015


I’m a devoted cat parent.

I’d do anything for my cat.

I’m a sucker. (And my cat knows it.)

She knows she has me wrapped around her little paw.

She knows she has me wrapped around her little paw.

I’m planning another big move. A year ago, I moved with my cat from Hawai’i to Japan. Brandy and I fared well (due in no small part to tons of preparation and mountains of paperwork). She has since settled happily into her Japan life.

Now we have to move again.

My husband completed his doctorate research in the Tokyo/Yokohama area, and  in a month we move to Hong Kong so he can continue his research and I can work on a professional project.

Once the move became a reality, Brandy became the focus of my preparation. After hours on the phone with government officials and airlines, a few carefully scheduled vet visits, and more mountains of paperwork, Brandy is ready for the next stamp in her kitty passport.

Then there are Brandy’s “creature comforts.”

Brandy has accumulated more “treasures” in Japan than ever. By treasures, I mean less the heated cat bed that joined our family at Christmas, and more her beloved cardboard toilet paper roll that she guards on our bed. These are her comforts, her toys, her mementos.

While I may be throwing out or donating practically all of my stuff, including my bed (RIP amazing Japanese mattress) and all the too-small socks I kept buying, hoping for a proper fit, I will devote part of my suitcase to Brandy’s treasured junk. I mean possessions.

Despite the necessity of this move, I feel guilty for moving Brandy again. She knows it. And she’s taking full advantage of it. For penance, I’m letting her.

Here are a few of Brandy’s most beloved earthly possessions. They may not seem like much to some other cats, but to my kitty, they are everything.

The orange paper shopping bag

A few months ago I brought home a t-shirt in an orange paper shopping bag. For the record, it was a cat t-shirt from a cat-themed store.

Brandy looks on from her bag.

Brandy looks on from her bag.

While putting the t-shirt away, I threw the bag onto the floor. When I turned around Brandy was sitting on the bag looking at me. She seemed to be saying, “Well, isn’t this an unexpected treat!”

Brandy has always loved stacks of paper as well as paper bags, but few hold her attention for more than a day. So I left her to grow bored of her new toy, thinking I’d just recycle it the next day.

Then six months passed.

Moments before she swatted me away from her bag

Moments before she swatted me away from her bag

If I sweep the floor and forget to return the bag to “The Bag Spot,” she whines and yowls until I’ve put it back. Once, when she hadn’t sat on it for a couple of days, I figured she’d finally grown tired of it, and I put it in our paper recycling pile.

Within the hour Brandy was NOT HAVING IT.

“Where’s my bag?! I wasn’t done with that! Why do you hate me? Why? WHY? WHY???” she cried from the Bag Spot.

“Seriously, catface?” I asked as I put her bag back.

She immediately parked her rump on the bag and gave me a withering glare. I’ve made no attempt to toss the bag since. She favors a bag-sit after a big meal.

The bag is coming to Hong Kong.

The toilet paper roll

Brandy discovered the cardboard toilet paper roll after I forgot to throw it away and left it in the bathroom.

The bathroom (also known as Brandy’s Laboratory) is a favorite hangout for my kitty. I have yet to figure out the allure of the dark, tiny room, but she regularly retires there. She probably considers the toilet paper roll a gift from the extraterrestrials she communicates with in there, and my attempt to “steal” the gift is akin to an act of interstellar war.

Sometimes she bats the toilet paper roll around. Sometimes she cuddles with it. Sometimes she just sprawls across it.

Can you see the toilet paper roll peeking out from  under her rump?

Can you see the toilet paper roll peeking out from under her rump?

It lives on the living room floor (I gave up on a “kitty toy box” a long time ago), but I’ve found it in the bathtub, in our pantry, and in our bed. The roll has seen better days, but all I have to do is pick it up and Brandy perks up.

Like a well trained FBI agent, she gives me a cautious look as if to say, “Okay, let’s all stay calm here. I want you to put the communicator — I mean toilet paper roll — on the floor, and kick it over to me. That’s it, just keep your stupid eyes on me.”

And yes, I’ve tried to replace it with a new toilet paper roll. Denied.

Don't tell Brandy I posted this picture.

Bath time with toilet paper roll.

The toilet paper roll is coming to Hong Kong.

The purple catnip toy that begs to be killed

Okay, fine. This one is an actual cat toy. Should be no problem, right? Except, I have dreams that the soul of the catnip toy comes to me in the night and asks, “Why won’t you let me pass beyond this mortal coil?”

It’s more like a “Franken-catnip toy” now. It has been gutted, its “skin” washed, and new catnip-innards stuffed back inside (to avoid mold).

But no matter how many catnip toys I buy Brandy from the same U.S. company, no matter how many times I try to inspire her jealousy and entice her favor by personally pretending to play with a new catnip toy (there’s video on my husband’s phone that will ruin me when I run for president), Brandy wants only THE PURPLE CATNIP TOY.

brandy and catnip1

I interrupted a private moment with the purple catnip toy and Brandy.

Some time ago, the purple catnip toy got lodged underneath the shelf where we keep our plates and condiments in the living room/kitchen/office. (Japan living is tiny.) Brandy spent the day alternately transfixed on where the catnip toy had gone to die, and trying to pull soy sauce and mustard bottles off the shelf so she could stage a rescue. Not knowing what she was up to, I kept trying to distract her with other toys or even treats — my efforts seemed to offend her.

“Have you no dignity? No respect?” she seemed to spit at me.

It wasn’t until I flattened myself on our floor to reach under the shelf and retrieve the purple catnip toy that she relaxed.

The purple catnip toy is coming to Hong Kong.

As much as I tease Brandy for her collection (as I type she has been watching me from her bag … judging me), nothing makes me happier than seeing her active and content. Truth be told, if the entire contents of our recycling bin or my collection of tiny socks brought her comfort, I’d consider packing the whole lot off to Hong Kong.

Makes a handy pillow too.

Makes a handy pillow too.

Like I said, I’m a sucker.

Has your cat become attached to similarly “random” objects? Have you ever found yourself being “guilted” into keeping such objects?

Read more by Louise Hung:

About the author: Louise Hung is a morbidly inclined cat lady living in Yokohama, Japan, with her cat, her man, and probably a couple ghost cats. She also writes for xoJane. You can follow her on Twitter or drop her a line at IamLouiseMicaela@gmail.com.