Toys for Putty-Tats

A month ago our adorable kitten, Fuzzy, undermined his adorability when he started peeing on our expensive leather couches. These acts of madness seemed to coincide with Ana’s decision to let Fuzzy roam in the gardens outside our apartment. “It makes him so happy, so fulfilled,” she said. It also turned him into a peeing fool, I responded. I was sure that the West Philly woods (and hoods) had reverted him to his worst animalistic self.

When we went to the vet, though, this theory was quickly discardedas was Ana’s smarty-pants med-school idea, that Fuzzy had a urinary tract infection. No, all test came back negative, and Dr. Andeer, DVM, said that in all likelihood, Fuzzy was just bored. The prescription was simple: toys, games, and more toys.

A month later, our apartment is filled with more jangly balls, feather boas, catnip voodoo dolls, and stuffed monkeys than I know what to do with. Bottle caps, curiously enough, are his favorites, but they are by far the most irritatingpartly because he likes dribbling them nosily around the bedroom at 3am, but more so because each cap is a sacrificed entry into the Pepsi Billion-Dollar Sweepstakes. Dr. Andeer also mentioned the option of walking Fuzzy on a leash, which she does with one of her cats. But, as I told her, I’m not about to subject the neighborhood kids to the creepy visual of a grown human walking a cat around the park. There was a guy on Perry Street who used to do that. We called him freaky cat-walker.

Recently, I’ve felt like my goalto amuse Fuzzy to the point of exhaustion, so that he completely forgets his diabolical couch-peeingis becoming a daily chore. Over the 4th of July, I hung a birdfeeder outside the living room window, with the expectation that the local pigeons could shoulder some of the entertainment burden. Then I hung a suet cage, because the pigeons were starting to bore me. Aside from the avarium, we also have a lifetime supply of laser pointers from eBay, which we burn through at the rate of about three-per-week.

All of this is my labored way of saying, I thought my cat indulgences were extreme. But then paid my friend Andy a visit this weekend. Andy had just purchased one of the most state-of-the-art lasers I’ve ever seen (a green one, with a powerful beam that I’m convinced was designed to dissect kryptonite), and unlike my cheapy 50-cent gizmos, his didn’t punk out after 10 seconds. His normally aloof cats were bouncing off the walls following it. But the laser wasn’t the half of it. Andy had also purchased a two-foot tall robot called the Robosapien.

Ever since I was a kid, I’ve always wanted a robot. At age 10, it was the Omnibot that made my Christmas list every year (see image on left). But in recent memory, I’ve moved on to the Aibo and the Roomba. The only robot I’ve ever purchased was the Furby, a device that was touted for its AI ability to learn languages. Sadly, when I sat the Furby in front of the Playboy channel, it didn’t pick up a lick of porn, but instead just kept rambling away incomprehensibly in a language called Furbish. It suffices to say that Andy’s robot is cooler than the butler Omnibot, vacuum Roomba, and dyslexic Furby, combined.

I’m sorry to report that Andy’s cats didn’t have much use for the Robosapien. Andy said that they were willing to swat at it the first night, but by the time I arrived they’d completely lost interest. The initial plan for the $100-gizmo, to race it around Andy’s row home, terrorizing the kitties, didn’t work either. The Robosapien walks by rocking itself from side to side, and moving its feet forward by a half-inch with each sway. In other words, it moves at a speed of a foot per minute. Still, you can’t understate the value of a robot that can roar, burp, and fartin exactly that order. And what could be cooler than programming a robot to pick up the TV remote control?

So, Mom and Dad, I hope you’re listening. Cross that Omnibot off my Xmas list. There’s a new robot in town! And as for the cats? Honestly, haven’t we entertained them enough by now?

(Well, maybe one more toy wouldn’t hurt.)