8 Funny Things I’ve Learned About Shopping for Cats


Those of us who have indoor-only cats have an obligation to keep them entertained, stimulated and equipped with enough space — horizontal and vertical — to minimize their stress. Manufacturers of cat products have obliged us by creating zillions of toys, furniture items, snacks, and even videos and music, to help us provide a paradise for our little house panthers.

This means that we cat caretakers have ample opportunities to be frustrated, bemused, annoyed and rendered almost broke for the sake of our feline overlords.

Here is some of the wisdom I’ve gleaned over the years. Learn from my win — and from my fail.

1. Buy a designer cat bed, and the cat will spend lots of time in … the box it was shipped in

Every once in a while, I lust after some of those high-end, super-modern cat accessories because, well, they just look so cool. It also seems like a cat couldn’t help but enjoy it. Well, I broke down and bought one of those fancy egg-shaped cat beds, and this is what happened.

2. The enjoyment a cat gets from a toy is inversely proportional to the cost of that toy

Sure, go ahead and get your cat one of those expensive puzzle toys. Dollars to donuts, he’ll ignore it as soon as a milk jug ring hits the floor.

3. The cheaper the cat tree, the happier your cat will be with it

More than once, I’ve been sorely tempted to get one of those beautiful six-foot-tall curved wood cat trees. Fortunately, the $400 price tag has given me good reason not to click that “buy” button. On the other hand, they love the eight-foot-tall cat tree I bought for just over $100.

4. Cats will turn their noses up at perfectly good cat food in favor of your junk food

I go out of my way to feed my cats a species-appropriate, nutritionally balanced diet. But heaven forbid I give myself a rare treat of milk and cookies: I get a three-way assault, and eventually the cats win … at least with the milk.

5. The noisier the toy, the more the cat will like it

Bella loved this chirping bird toy and assaulted it multiple times a day with a vigor and determination only seen in hyper little kittens. But as soon as the chirper stopped working, she shunned it in favor of a crinkle ball and a plastic ball with a bell in it, which cracks and jingles riotously as she bats it around my hardwood floors.

6. Always go for the good nip

If you think your cats don’t like catnip, maybe it’s because you’ve been getting those toys at the pet superstore that are filled with dried-out, nasty nip that’s more stems and twigs than delightful leaves. Try again with a locally made toy filled with recently harvested catnip and see if it changes your cat’s tune.

7. If it seems like a great idea, your cats probably won’t agree

I won this awesome new cardboard scratch toy in a raffle at a pet bloggers’ conference. I was sure that the cats would love it. After all, it’s got delightful scratching surfaces and a hole in the middle where they could rest if they chose to do so. This is the most interest any of my cats showed in it, even after I sprinkled it with fresh catnip.

8. Given the choice, a cat will pick a ridiculously uncomfortable place to sleep

Thomas has half a dozen super-soft cat beds, sofas, people beds, chairs and random other cushions where he could nap. But what does he choose? A hard, lumpy basket with a few old lumpy toys in it.

What about you? What lessons have you learned about shopping for cats? Please share them in the comments.

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About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.

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