I’m not a big fan of laziness. It may be a little bit of my ADD, but I’m constantly looking for my next project. Even if I may or may not have finished my current project… (Fiancé, if you’re reading this, I’ll finish the laundry room, promise). It just wouldn’t make sense for me to have a pet/lifelong playmate/best-friend that sits around unresponsive. Which is why I chose a high energy cat breed.
Enter Monkey! Wait, not enter a monkey. Enter my Monkey…wait, I’m not sure how that sounds but just stick with me here. Monkey is what I named my Bengal cat. Monkey-Bane is actually his full name, but we’ll get back to that later.
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Over the past year Monkey has redefined my previous definition of a cat. I’ve had cats all my life as my mother is a big cat person. However, Monkey is not like any of the cats we’ve had growing up. Most of the cats we’ve had, though affectionate, really didn’t want to do much with their days. They were perfectly content vegging out and waiting motionless all day for their lasagna suppers, cough- Garfield-cough. If you threw their favorite toy past them, they may, and this is a big may, lift their head to watch the toy roll by before gently laying their head back down for more cat-nap time.
Monkey, on the other paw, is so much fun! I often refer to him as a good puppy, because he is so much like a dog it’s uncanny. Let me just out with this now… HE PLAYS FETCH. And he absolutely LOVES it. He even has a ‘puppy’ bone shaped thingy made of yarn he’ll chase down, carry in his mouth and bring right back to you. Amaze-balls! How did we get him to do this? Easy! He already had the inclination to bring a toy right to me. So I made sure to have treats at the ready for him. When he’d bring me one of his toys, I’d give him a treat. Then I’d throw the toy, if/when he brought the toy back, I’d give him another treat. Quick word to the wise, make sure whatever treat you are giving your cat is also high in protien like his/her regular diet.
Now, having a companion who always wants to play is wonderful but you need to be prepared to… you know, actually play! It’s a large part of your responsibility to your buddy. You need to keep your little high energy cat constantly engaged and stimulated. For my case, if I’m on the couch trying to relax from a long day of work, Monkey may jump on the couch, toy in his mouth and drop it at my side. It’s play time, even if I’m tired and frustrated, it would not be fair to ignore him. He’s waited all day for me to get home, now is his time. Not unlike any other relationship in your life, you have to make an effort.
Speaking of effort, train your cat! This is something that takes patience and a bit of dedication, but is rewarding. Starting with feeding time, you can train your cat a simple command like sit, lay down, or wait just before feeding your cat his/her daily portion. Within a few weeks your cat will learn that in order to receive his/her delicious dinner he/she will need to perform a small task first. Though I have not personally tried this, many trainers suggest using a clicker to evoke commands as well. Take a look and see if that method may work best for you and your feline friend!
If your buddy has a favorite toy, hide it for him/her to find! Don’t hide it somewhere they never go, but move it around the house to some of their favorite sleeping spots for them to find it. A window sill, that dining room chair you keep finding him/her on, the bathroom sink (I still don’t know why he does this). They are smarter than one might think. You can even leave the toy somewhere a little more challenging for them to get to, along with a treat next to the toy. If you consistently do this, they’ll figure it out.
If your cat plays fetch too he/she may even bring it right to you when you get home. If they don’t find it, and you’re sitting on the couch relaxing, your cat may do what Monkey does… rear up, lunge at my face with both paws, tackle me, jump off my face and proceed to sneakily run away. Clearly they will have energy to burn, so give chase! Monkey and I play cat and mouse all the time. Sometimes I’m the cat, sometimes I’m the mouse. He’ll run after me and pounce on my leg in stride. It’s hilarious and good fun!
What is toy? Anything. Seriously anything can be a toy. This is good and bad. That pen you are writing with… yeah, put it down for a second and boom, it’s being kicked under the couch by your favorite furball. Personally, I don’t really understand pet store toys. One of Monkeys very favorite things to play with is a pipe cleaner all crunched up. I don’t know why but he loves those!
Don’t get me wrong, if I go to a pet store and buy the entire shelf worth of cat toys, within a week I will be digging the entire shelf worth of toys from under my couch, but I doubt Monkey will choose any one of the store bought cat specific toys over his pipe cleaner. Cardboard boxes are a big hit as well. We leave leftover boxes open on the floor for playtime. Monkey tends to jump into their open tops with reckless abandon then chew the corners and flaps into a heaping mess. I tried chewing the cardboard too, it didn’t taste good, so I don’t understand the appeal. But as long as he’s happy, I’m fine with it.
You’ll always have someone to play with. Just make sure you give your high energy cat has the attention he or she deserves. Go nuts and build him/her a cardboard house mansion. Hide toys with treats around the house. Train your buddy some simple commands to wow your friends and chase your cat around the house when no one is watching (because you’ll likely look pretty silly to other people). Just remember, happy cat, happy life, pretty sure that’s how that saying goes right?