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October 2, 2007



Olive's favorite toys besides her old, ratty blue ribbon are rubber snakes. Her preferred snake is long gone- it was of medium floppiness and a little squishy, perfect for carrying around in her mouth and ideal for chewing. We've tried to replicate the favored reptile with limited success. Those in the above photo were acquired at a party store. She likes to chew on them but they don't bring her the same kind of joy.

Last night I brought our two rubber rats into the living room. When you squeeze them, they squeak, and the sound caused both Olive and Irving to go bananas. When I put the more lifelike rat on the floor, Little-O immediately pawed at it, picked it up by the neck and took it into the corner. I thought that this was very interesting. If Olive has ever seen a rodent before, it's been a small mouse, and I don't think she ever even got a chance to bat at it, as their appearance was in the pre-cat isolation era and Frieda reined over any rodent that made an appearance.

Do cats innately know what they prey look like, even if they aren't even alive? Or does Olive just have a preference for plastic replicas? Furthermore, does anyone know where we can buy some new rubber snakes- floppy enough that Olive can thrash them around but not too squishy as to allow her to accidentally eat them?

Posted by callalillie at October 2, 2007 9:20 AM | Feline Musings , Inquiry , The Littlest Feline


I will check the museum gift shop for you.
Also try evolution on Spring Street (?)

oooh - would these freak her out too much?

Posted by: tiya at October 2, 2007 10:43 AM

cats have an instinctive attraction to prey-shaped things. things that have a 'neck' are attractive, and they will strike at them even if they aren't really a rat or whatever. unfortunately, human ankles closely resemble the neck-shape and are often mistaken targets!

Posted by: ChrisG at October 2, 2007 12:01 PM

i can't imagine harriet knowing what to do with any sort of mouse. bugs frighten her.

Posted by: alyssa at October 2, 2007 7:12 PM

Have you ever read Elizabeth Marshall Thomas's "The Tribe of Tiger: Cats and Their Culture" ? She raises this question about cats and their (innate?) ideas about prey. In one anecdote, she relays how one of her cats attacks a loaf of bread; the cat bites it where she imagines the loaf's "neck" might be.

Posted by: C.B. at October 3, 2007 12:03 AM

You might try Archie McPhee http://www.mcphee.com/ for fun rubber things for cats to chew on. I didn't see a snake category, but they sell that rubber martian eye-popping thing. Oh and don't miss the band-aids that look like bacon. Priceless.

Posted by: Kate at October 4, 2007 9:59 AM

i need your address so i can mail the snake i found to her!

Posted by: christine at October 10, 2007 1:01 PM

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