5 creative ways to cat

For crazy cat ladies and gents, aspiring or otherwise

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Some of the fun kitties from Neko Atsume.

By Ellen Margulies

I have been accused of being the crazy cat lady so often in my life that even the cats have gotten wind of it. You know how it is. As soon as you take in a cat temporarily until he can be adopted out, people with cats that need fostering come out of the woodwork. And the strays and ferals themselves must put out some sort of newsletter — they are possibly using Twitter but this as yet unconfirmed — letting everyone know about the sucker on the corner who puts out a bowl of kitty kibble for every sad puss that comes along. I’ve got 3 permanent indoor residents, and a host of changing characters outdoors who come by for a nosh and the occasionally hastily-built shelter against the elements.

A few years ago, a feral kitty I called Gypsy (for her roaming ways) had a litter of kittens under my HVAC unit one cold April morning. She moved them, one by one, to a protected nook on my roof where the porch meets the main part of the house. She and her three babies lived up there all spring. Passers-by would constantly stop and say, “Did you know you have a family of cats living on your roof?”

Why, yes, thanks, I DID know that.

When it was time for them to be weaned, Gypsy insisted each kitty follow her lead and hop down from the back of the roof onto the deck railing and then make his or her way to solid ground below. Two of them did fine. The little grey kitty, however, hung back, pathetically crying from the gutter as is two siblings and Gypsy watched, unwilling to help. I ultimately had to call a critter catcher, who nailed a humane trap to my roof until we nabbed the kitten. I put him in a dog kennel with a little litter box and some food and a comfy towel. He was terrified at first, but every time I petted him through the bars he grew more and more receptive. I named him Otis, because he was perpetually in “jail” — that’s an Andy Griffith Show reference for you youngsters out there — and by Day 3 he was so socialized that he refused to eat until I picked him up and cuddled him first. A friend of mine adopted him, and he’s happily living in West Nashville with three humans and a couple of feline siblings. (I love that they kept the name “Otis.”)

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Otis the Wonder Cat, post-roof and pre-adoption./Photo by Ellen Margulies

And then just this morning, a colleague stopped by and asked, “Did you know you have a cat on your roof?” Sure enough, right in the nook where Gypsy and her first litter lived for six weeks, there was one of the little black strays I’ve been feeding. Like I said, there’s some sort of newsletter or Twitter feed happening.

So, in the end, I embrace my crazy cat ladyness and the creativity that is a necessary accessory (along with the fur on my black jeans). And you should, too — embrace your inner cat lady, no matter your gender. To keep things interesting, just in case you don’t have a cozy roof nook that all the neighborhood strays can rent out at below-market prices, here are 5 creative ways to cat, curated from all the finest sites on the Interwebs.

  1. DIY cat toys. As you may know, cats often reject the toy and go straight for the packaging. But there are ways you can engineer your own cat toys. Or, if you’re feeling fancy, you can use the term cat enrichment activities. Crazy Cat Nerd blogs about some fun items here. I also tried a few of these hacks from Buzzfeed, but my cats, being utterly useless, weren’t having it. You’d probably have better luck with the under-5 set.
  2. Let him be a catstronaut. I love this backpack so hard, even though I can’t imagine fitting one of my kitties into it without having a pint of blood on standby.
  3. There’s an app for that. Neko Atsume is my favorite new digital obsession next to Hay Day. It’s Japanese, as all truly wonderful cat things are, and it is surprisingly addictive. Put out different kinds of food, snap photos of your visitors, see who comes by and leaves you a sock or old cat toy or other gift. The kitties have names, photo albums and personalities, and yes, I know it seems perfect for a 9-year-old girl, but trust me on this.
  4. Didn’t John Mellencamp sing about felted cat houses? Felines are notorious for rejecting everything that has ever been manufactured for them in favor of the cardboard box it came in, but these are so gorgeous I don’t think you’d even care. More examples are here and here.
  5. Glade isn’t quite there yet: cat-smelling. Ok, I was not aware this was a thing. Once again, we have our friends in Japan to thank for this bizarre new accessory.  

So, what’s the point of all this, you may be wondering? Let’s circle back again to your creative itch and how you scratch it (heh heh). The opportunities are literally everywhere. Plus, doesn’t it just make you happy seeing pictures of kitties? And happiness, as you know, is quite good for stimulating creativity.

Feel free to share any of your creative cat hacks/ideas/stories in the comments below. You’re also welcome to fill us in on creative ways you care for/entertain other pets (birds, rabbits, ferrets, koalas, etc.) And I’ll keep you posted on my new crop of roof cats.

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