It was the cutest thing for the first couple of months. After that it started to become slightly annoying. Now it’s just plain pest-y. The subject is behavior: I am talking about my cat, James, and his fascination with playing fetch. Don’t get me wrong, it is a great exercise that has helped him lose four pounds. But what started as a fun discovery has turned into a maniacal routine.
1. Smell the ball. BE the ball.
You see, James has always had weight issues due to his lack of enthusiasm towards exercise. He is not amused by any toy — not the string ones, hates the laser, not even cardboard boxes interest him. We were running out of ideas until one day my boyfriend threw a Nerf ball … he chased it … and he brought it back … and he brought it back … and he brought it back … and he brought it back … James the catcher was born.
2. “Really, a string? A rainbow snake? What am I, two years old? Please do not insult me.”
And boy, did he get into his game. Running as fast as he could. Going all David Beckham, kicking it side to side. Jumping higher than ever, catching the ball mid-air. Bringing it back in his mouth walking with a proud lion’s swagger. The event got so intense that even if none of us were ready to play he would, ever so casually, kick the ball to our feet and just sit next to it as if saying: “Hey man, time to play catch.” It was just too cute to resist. So we gave in. The sessions became a big routine and the rewards were visible. He worked out ’til he couldn’t run anymore. We have read about the consequences of teaching a cat to play catch, but never believed them to be real. They. Totally. Are.
3. James brings his prey back, National Geographic theme music playing in his head
4. “I will take a nap now.”
As the weather turned warmer, playtime slowed down considerably. And though it is normal for cats to chill during the summer, stopping the game almost completely was not the correct option. He still needed to catch, even a little. Through this ordeal we have noticed that if the balls were just too chewed up, he will play less. So we’d buy new ones. This time the trick didn’t work. He still preferred the old ones that barely bounced anymore and had the shape of the Death Star under construction.
5. Experimenting with new toys
We decided the reason he didn’t like the new toys was a smelly one. The new ones didn’t have his smell. So we experimented a bit.
6. Experiment failed
We rubbed the ball against his coat. He loves being petted, so cat was happy, but no play. We dumped them in his food container. He licked the hell out of them, still no play.
We prepared a catnip-and-Nerf-ball cocktail. He smelled the concoction and after the catnip effect wore off he decided that he was so disgusted by the idea, he actually spit on the ground and used foul language. Not pretty.
Parents’ panic is setting in. What’s going to happen when the old balls finally disintegrate? But hope is not lost. Maybe as with all sports, playing catch is a seasonal one and will return when the weather changes. Fall will bring back his energy and appreciation for those new balls.
Does your cat love to play fetch? Tell us about it in the comments!
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