Thursday, February 01, 2007

If this isn't typical cat behaviour, I don't know what is

Many moons ago, when Scarlett was my only cat, I decided she needed a big huge cat tree. For months she had been using my leg as a telephone pole to get a higher vantage point, and, having gotten a wee bit tired of daily doses tending to the resulting wounds on my legs, back and torso with peroxide, I decided she needed something tall that she could sit on that wasn't me.

I figured a cat tree would also be fun because she was insanely interested in playing and swiping at anything that moved, and a cat tree would be the perfect jungle gym for her to crawl around, attack from, and surprise the wiley, vicious feather toys she destroyed at an alarming rate. (I think she destroyed six or seven of them in one year.)

Since I was living at home that summer, my dad and I went to price them out at a local pet shop, but we were quickly dissuaded. Despite the appeal of having legs and a back and torso not covered in huge long cat claw scrapes, I didn't have $360 plus tax to spend on such an item.

So, we set out to make one of our own. I bought a sonotube (used for pouring concrete post holes, etc) at home hardware, we used some scrap plywood, and bought a couple of 2x4s and some rope. We found carpet scraps and glue to cover it from a local flooring company, and built it in one afternoon. I think the whole thing cost us under $40.

Scarlett LOVED it. She could jump from the floor to the 6 foot platform in almost one leap. She climbed through the tunnels and lounged on the high perch, looking out the window and chattering at the birds outside. I'm sure she was telling the birds that if it weren't for that thin pane of glass she would be mercilessly tearing their pretty little bodies to shreds. She played on it for hours, and slept on the top perch without fail.

When I adopted Rhett from the Humane Society in Windsor, she used it as a platform from which to attack him, and the two of them had turf wars over who would sit on the high perch. (he used to be a skinny cat - he's the one in the reflective collar)

A few years went by, and the thing is still in not-too bad shape, though the carpet on the high post has certainly seen better days, and now sways back and forth from years of being shaken as a cat clawed his or her way to the top. One corner of the base is bleached white after a doggie diarrhea incident (you wouldn't believe how gross that was, so I'll refrain from including details). It is, though shedding little carpet tufts regularly, and hadn't been getting much use of late. The cats had been largely ignoring it as it sat in the corner of our dining room.

So, the other day when I was out at Costco, and saw a floor model, pre-assembled new cat tree for $87 I decided to splurge. It wasn't as tall as the other one, but it certainly was prettier (wallpaper in the little kittie den!) and I figured with the huge twine-wrapped posts they would really like the new one.

Actually getting the bugger home was another matter entirely. Dave and I had to go back to pick it up in his car, and even then it barely fit.

Walking in our house, the cats are almost always at the door greeting us. This time we joyously announced the New! Improved! cat tree, complete with catnip and cat treats and they curiously smelled it, ate the treats and catnip, rolled around, and left it alone.

Since that moment I'm pretty sure there hasn't been more than three or four seconds where one cat, or both have been on the old tree. (Rhett first, in all his chubby glory, and Scarlett below.)

They've probably spent those three or four seconds sniffing or scratching the new cat tree, but that'd be about it. It's been more than a week.

It's as though they're saying "this new thing you've bought for us? and spent gobs of money on? I don't care to even try it out. Suddenly, though, I love the old thing. Do take that new thing away, I don't like it, I can't be bothered with it. I like the old thing. You can't make me like the new thing, I don't care what you think."


TB said...

Hahaha! It's so true. I've gone through the same thing with scratching posts/pads. There is only one my cats will use even though it's been torn to shreds. I've bought three or four new ones and they have all sat unused.

DebbieDoesLife said...

I like the old one better too. Pink carpet like that is mighty pretty!

I think cats are just professionals at being persnickity!

Teena said...

Our cats would LOVE LOVE LOVE something like that! But we don't have room for it.

The Waghorns said...

Very well written! I wonder how many people have spent hundreds of dollars on cat trees only to have their cats react the same as yours.

Jess said...

oh, the discarded cat toys we have around our house. My cats turn up their noses at anything I spend money on, and instead love things like wine corks and plastic bags. And shoe boxes are heaven. I'll second TB: total brats.

kittenpie said...

You are a girl after my own heart. We thought the $200-400 cat trees were stupid too, and were making do with a roll f carpet scrap until we got organized to build one, nad then I saw a nice small one with branches for posts for about $50, so I did buy one in the end, anyhow. But still.

Izzy said...

We've never had one of those but knowing my cats, they'd ignore it completely, too!

(you're kitties are so pretty!)

KAT said...

We don't actually have a dog tree, but our puppy does the same thing with toys. She'll turn her nose up at the squeaky things we pay lots of money for, but spend hours playing with a sock she steals from the laundry!

I like the cat tree you made, although I can't stare at the carpeting too long... it's the same shade of pink carpeting we're currently ripping out of our new house. Perhaps I should start a business selling the scraps for cat trees.