Which brings me to some animals where I would let cats have their way. For many years, cats have been prized for keeping rodents down. And in our urban house, bugs and flies don't stand a chance. We actually had an evening ritual with Kato (before Ava's arrival), where we would walk around the apartment, cat in arms, searching for any bugs. When we saw one, Kato would balance in our cupped hands, stretching all the way up to reach the ceiling and get that bug. He purred the whole time! Ava's arrival brought home to me how much of an understanding of this ritual Kato has. He understands the word 'bug' and will come running. As soon as we pick him up, he purrs and starts looking at the walls and ceilings. And when we lift him towards a speck, he will balance on our hands and also reach for that speck. Ava meanwhile, has absolutely no clue that when we lift her away from our body, she should 'balance and go after the dark speck'. She remains floppy and looks back at us as if we are daft!
But Ava certainly understands mice. I have a soft spot for these furry critters, and wrestle with myself - I don't want them to suffer, but I don't want them in my house! And actually, I never thought we'd ever have mice in such a city location, in such a modern apartment. I scoffed at a neighbour who asked us last week if we had seen any mice, saying 'well, if there were any, we'd know FOR SURE'. And for sure, as of last night, we know there are mice!
Early in the morning, both husband-man, and our sentinel cat Kato, heard a noise. Kato jumped off the bed to investigate. When he reappeared at the door of our bedroom, huffing and growling, husband-man was fortunately awake enough to ask, 'WHAT have you got?!' He had a mouse in his mouth!! I think he was actually bringing it to us, so luckily he didn't have to get our attention by bringing it all the way into our bed! Then Ava jumped off the bed because she wanted the mouse - and Kato let it go for her. Cue 15 minutes of mouse chasey through the living room, before it finally wiggled up through a crack under the dishwasher. Every time Ava caught the mouse, she'd hold it in her mouth, and look back at Kato growling, before trotting off with the mouse to let it go somewhere else. And that's another bad part of playing with prey - we really didn't need to have a mouse still scampering around somewhere in some crack no-one ever knew existed. Husband-man spent the day blocking up all the cracks he could find - after pulling things apart to make sure no mouse was in there, and our TOY mice received new attention from both cats.
Observation of prey, and stalking, even if without an actual chase and capture, expend a lot of feline energy. We always notice how content and tired Kato and Ava are when there have been birds or bugs to watch and stalk. And even if you don't take your cats out on a walk, a window or outdoor enclosure can provide this stimulus. I have also heard of people having a terrarium - a glass enclosed 'tank', where they have had greenery and butterflies. Some have lizards. And of course some people have fish in tanks. All of these options provide that feline stimulus that leads to a very contented cat!