In the time since Beloved Wife and I have been an item she has been owned by six cats; each with his or her distinct personalities and quirks although, being cats, there have been more similarities among them than differences. Six cats. Thirty years. A pretty good sample size, you betcha, to get a handle on the very basics of cat behavior, no? She is, by any standard, “a cat person,” wise in the ways of cats, as any human can be, with years and years of experience. And yet.
Cat Number Six arrived not long ago in the person of Bumpus, AKA Monsieur Le Bump, prompting Beloved to spring once again into action for the uh, sixth time, announcing “We need to buy cat toys! We need to buy a scratching post.”
Armed with the wisdom of a long-married man, I shrugged off the feeling of deja vu, muttered something sounding like assent, and off we went to the big store in La Fleche, where we dropped a small mortgage payment on a scratching post and a fine selection indeed of cat toys. Now, if you have ever been owned by a cat you know exactly where this is going, and where it has gone for, oh, the last six cats that have owned us, and before that at least since the Egyptians.
Some will tell you that cats cannot speak, and if they do speak, they most assuredly do not speak English. Especially French cats. But I will tell you that after the scratching post was unwrapped, assembled, and presented to Monsieur le Bump, his immediate response was a clearly audible, “Meh.” Then he thanked us for all of the excellent draperies and door moldings we provide for his claw sharpening pleasure.
“We got him the wrong kind of scratching post! We need to get him that rampy kind of thing that he can scratch on.” (That was not me speaking.)
“You’re kidding.” (That was me.)
She wasn’t, and so we returned to the store, bought an even more expensive rampy kind of thing, and hurried home to present it to You Know Who. And you know what’s interesting? I think the French word for “Meh” is “Meh.”
Undaunted by the scratching post experience, Beloved was still anxiously looking forward to The Presentation Of The Cat Toys, which would surely provide Bumpus and us with a world of entertainment, and which, of course, it did not, as it did not for cats 1 through 5. Just as was the case for 1 through 5, Bumpus gave the toys a passing glance, groomed his groin in a Jabba-the-Hut-like presentation and moved on, looking for better things to play with. Apparently only one of the two humans in the room was not surprised by this.
Later that evening we finally presented The Bumpster with the Greatest Cat Toy Of All Time, his all-time favorite. He loves it. It is the bestest-ever toy a human could ever give to a cat…he told us that. He plays with them all day, and most especially, all night long. ALL NIGHT LONG. It sounds at times like he is moving furniture, or perhaps entertaining a visiting herd of cattle running laps up and down the hallway stairs.
We didn’t actually present it to him, per se. It was more a sort of fortunate accident. I was opening a bottle of wine, as I have been known to do here at chez nous, when the cork let fly, hit the floor, and I believe the clinical term is, he went nuts. We now have the world’s least expensive and most effective cat toys littering our floors. We open a bottle, we get the wine and Bumpus gets the cork. Everybody is happy.
I had an idea the other night that if we painted our used corks with cute mousey-looking faces, we could sell them for like 10-euro apiece on Etsy as can’t-miss cat toys. We’d make a fortune and the proceeds would pay for our drinking habit. Of course, if we were to have a Cat #7 enter our lives, I don’t think for a moment that would keep Beloved from yet again announcing “We need cat toys!”
Some habits are hard to break.