Cat Suitcase Vigil

From Blogger to Cat Assistant

Purina One and Late Enough are teaming up to talk and learn more about the true nature of cats. I’m writing a four part sponsored series on my experience with my cats. This is part one.

Cat Assistant Tweet
I agree.

Last month, Purina One flew me out to their headquarters in Saint Louis, Missouri to learn more about their True Nature of Cats program because my four cats are that weirdly awesome.

(Vine video tips: Click on the vine video below to get it to start or stop moving and click the small icon in the upper corner to hear my voice and then click anywhere else on the image again to get it to start again. If you can’t see the vine video at all, click here.)

For the past few years, Purina One has not been satisfied with accepting LOLCats at face value. They wanted to know WHY so they studied African Wildcats, which are the closest living relatives to household cats still living outside of domesticated areas, to see if cat antics are less about being willing to wake us up at 5 a.m. by knocking books on our head and more about instincts.  Based on their findings, they are creating better activities for our cats. For example, cats are crepuscular, most active at dawn and dusk, so if owners have active play times with them near these times (within reason on the dawn end says the non-morning person), they are less likely to wake us up.

Since my trip, I’ve been journaling my cat bizarre behaviors and responses to the amazing toys and food puzzlers Purina One provided. (I also have a second set of toys, food puzzlers and Purina One Health Metabolism food to giveaway to my fantastic cat-loving readers as well, and the giveaway will start week two.)

As my cats’ assistant, I set aside at least 15 minutes of special playtime — like people do with dogs except with more ignoring and unpredictability — because while we certainly did lots of snuggle and “why are you looking at me like I’m the crazy one” time, we didn’t do active “let’s play with this particular toy right now every day” time. This week the Mystery Motion: Concealed Mouse Motor Toy was front and center. It’s the equivalent of your hands and feet under the covers or for wildcats, a mouse moving under the brush.

Mystery Motion Concealed Mouse Motor Toy

My 13-year-old cat, Juno, who could kill a mouse by looking at it, destroyed the plastic mouse in less than 15 seconds and never played with it again, but my 3-year-old cat, Huckle, was like: I will catch this mouse for days and I have no idea what else to do with it. AWESOME! I also found her playing with the toy memorizing, but I managed to cut down the video from 13 minutes to 2 minutes. I also have commentary during the video as well as voiceover because I was a little excited about the True Nature Of Cats Week One with the Mesmerizing Mystery Mouse (click that title if you can’t see the video).

My male cats had very little interest because they had to keep up their suitcase vigil.

Cat Suitcase Vigil
Mama may never leave again.

PS. I emailed the behaviorist at Purina One, who are on-call for my adorable furry mysteries, to find out why only my female cats cared about this toy, and if my hypothesis on why my seasoned hunter cat, Juno, stopped showing any interest after she “killed” the mouse is correct. I’ll update this post once I hear back.

Update from Purina One expert, Sandra Lyn:

I can’t speak to the AWC [African Wildcat] but there are references out there that indicate gender differences in time spent hunting, hunting efficiency, and specific prey preference or capture efficiency for domestic cats. These differences may not all be due to gender as hunting behavior can be influenced on whether cat has to depend entirely him/herself for food and also whether females are mothers or not. In general it appears females spend more time hunting than males.

Yes some cats are like us in that once they have solved a problem (in this case “killed” the mouse) they are not really interested in doing it again — she may benefit from increasingly challenging tasks and who knows if you get her on a routine play schedule you may even find her on occasion getting excited about old challenges. For her boy cats she may actually have to engage in social play or try using bigger toys.

Disclaimer: I was given the materials to take my cats on the true nature four week journey. However, my experiences are based on my cats and those guys will not be told what to do even for food.

Alex Iwashyna

Alex Iwashyna went from a B.A. in philosophy to an M.D. to a SAHM, poet and writer by 30. She spends most of her writing time on LateEnough.com, a humor blog (except when it's serious) about her husband fighting zombies, awkward attempts at friendship, and dancing like everyone is watching. She also has a soft spot for culture, politics, and rude Southern people who offend her Yankee sensibilities. She parents 2 elementary-aged children, 1 foster baby, 3 cats, and 1 puppy, who are all Southern but not rude. Yet.

11 thoughts on “From Blogger to Cat Assistant

  1. Ha, Purina would never want to sponsor my pets. My dogs are on some fancy, local food. 😛

    Also: You have an iPhone? Eh, it’s okay, no one’s perfect.

    Also, also: You used the word crepuscular(!) (and used it correctly).

    1. 1) Cats didn’t have to be on Purina food to be chosen for this. For me, they liked my cats, cat posts and love of cats. I did have to be willing to shift at least one of my cats to the newest Purina One food, Health Metabolism, which was no big deal because my cats never liked fancy food so were already on Purina One (perhaps, for my oldest cats, it’s from my days of not being able to afford it?). My puppy is on fancy food and loves it.
      2) My iPhone is my BFF so we have a love/hate relationship like anyone who uses BFF seriously would.
      3) I’m a cat scientist. Of course, I use crepuscular well.

  2. My cats would love this – is it available in stores? But, I’m not sure if this would save my feet at bedtime or just create more excitement for them! Great post for us cat people – Thanks Alex!

    1. So what the behaviorists at Purina said is if you set a specific time each day for play time, they will get on the schedule and will be less likely to go after your feet or create a ruckus at night. And I haven’t seen it in stores personally although I imagine it would be at a PetSmart. I did see it on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B006ZL3578/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B006ZL3578&linkCode=as2&tag=lateno-20
      (The 6 reviews there are mixed but if you read them it says everything I say in the post and everything you can see and hear in the video. Like all cat toys, you have to know YOUR cat. One of the 4 star reviews recommends crazy glueing the mouse on so it can’t get knocked off, which I thought was a great idea. Maybe Juno would play with it again! Maybe Huckle wouldn’t like that though! Cat politics.)

    1. YES! I thought it was a prank at first. HA!
      I don’t hate you for not liking cats as long as you don’t chase them away in favor of creepy chipmunks like one cranky person I met the other day (WHAT? no really.)

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