Confessions of a Florentine Pet Sitter

Blondie’s Wad

Papier-mache Blondie Sculpture

A tall and skinny kitty, Blondie’s coat is a soft warm rust and cream color with both stripes like a tabby and spots like a leopard, but she is a domesticated Blue-Eyed Spotted Snow Bengal, the rarest of domesticated Bengal breeds. While caring for her I discern some of her wild ancestry in her hunting, especially in the chase. Suddenly she zooms through the living room, leaping from floor to sofa to table all the way into the master bedroom, on to the bed and over to her cat tree. Shes in her jungle.  She hides behind a door or a corner, stalking me.  When I walk by, she zooms out from the invisibility of her hiding place. Startled, I am now vigilantly watchful of her antics, very careful to not trip over her as she zips in front of my feet. She could be hiding behind every door or corner, anticipating my slightest move.

Of course, this is an ancient instinctual behavior, what all wild cats do to catch their prey. It’s a matter of self-preservation. For Blondie, she does this as a form of hide and seek. She’s having fun, playing, stalking, and scaring the heck out of me, while expending all her wild-natured energies. She can hide from me, but always knows where I am hiding.

wadShe has lots of cat toys, red balls, tiny stuffed balls and critters, catnip-filled snakes, but one of her favorite so far has been the tiny crumpled-up paper wad that a friend gave her. It’s simple, light weight, and makes crackling and skittering noises as it slides across the tile floor. Its diameter is slightly larger than a quarter. Crunch the white computer paper into a tight roundish shape with a tiny piece of paper sticking out from its circumference, and you have a paper wad. Easy. Inexpensive. Cats love them.

The wad is so light-weight that all Blondie has to do is bump it slightly with her paw and off it skitters like a spider across the slippery tile floor, Blondie in fast pursuit. It’s not just an inanimate object; it’s a living thing with its own volition…or so it seems. It’s a soccer ball for Blondie …with a mind of its own. . .and like a footballer, she chases it all over the field, accidentally toe-kicks it here and there…she can’t help herself…and sometimes scores a goal. All I have to do is sit back, watch, laugh and hoot an’ holler Go for it Blondie! Good kitty! She races after it, slipping and sliding this way and that, bumping into walls and furniture, following the path of her wad. She chases it again and again until she gets close enough without bumping it into motion and can gingerly grab it with her mouth. Goal!

Inevitably, the wad gets kicked under the giant brown sofa in the living room. Usually when she lost her toys under the sofa or chair, I was the one who had to get down on hands and knees with a long broom handle to fetch them for her by hitting them out from under. But with the wad, Blondie flips over on her side, scrambles and slides under the sofa, only about five inches of crawl space. With her teeth she grasps the tiny piece of white paper sticking out from the wad. Still on her side, she slides and pushes her way back out from under the sofa with the wad looking like it’s stuck to a bit of taupe fuzz that mimics lipstick. She proudly trots over to me with her head held high, her tail straight and tall as a goal post, and a white paper-wad attached to her lips which she drops it at my feet. Goal!

At first, Blondie just wandered off with the paper wad and deposited it in odd places. It didn’t take her long to grasp the concept of retrieving and bringing it back to me, but I didn’t train her to do so. All I did was stand and clap my hands, calling her name, calling her back, telling her she was a good kitty whether or not she brought the wad to me. She always came back to me for the adulation. One day she dropped the wad at my feet. Surprised, I praised her profusely and gave her a head-to-body rub all the way up to the tip of her tail. She loved it. When I threw the wad again and again, she retrieved it each time, carrying the wad in her mouth, dropping it at my feet, and later, directly into my hand. And for this she got a big body rub. No food treats, just lots of love.

It was incredulous that she could learn that fast, especially when I had not been trying to teach her to fetch. I just wanted her to feel good, to let her know I was enjoying her game with the wad. I always rewarded her with body and tail rubs whether or not she retrieved anything. I rewarded her for simply coming to me when I clapped my hands. She figured out the fetching thing all by herself. On another day, instead of bringing it to me, she dropped it in the Fred Meyer grocery bag I placed on the floor for her to play in. Mind blowing. A cat that retrieves like a dog. Maybe she learned this from Rusty, the iron dog.

It seems fitting that this papier-mache replica of Blondie is constructed with paper… and paper makes a toy she loves to play with.

To watch her mad scramble under things to get her wad and ultimately bring it back to me brought me a wad full of joy. The simplest little toy, like a wad of paper, like an empty box or a black Fred Meyer’s grocery bag brings unbelievable delight to Blondie. And thus to me. It reminds me of how I once loved to play in boxes and build forts in the living room at my friend’s house. We stretched sheets and blankets over furniture building secret hiding places. Places to play with our dolls and bears. It reminds me of how my friends and I used to slide down a steep sand dune at Asilomar beach in Pacific Grove. We used pieces of flat cardboard or boxes and surfed the dunes until the Pebble Beach Corporation destroyed the entire area by building a new golf course and resort hotel. The beautiful large dunes, disappeared.

The simplest things always make the best toys. Cat sitting Blondie has reminded me of this tiny truth.

© 2014 Susan Canavarro. All Rights Reserved.

Leave a Comment so far
Leave a comment

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: