Cat toys: do they pass the Percy test?

Percy at around 12 weeks, copyright the author

Kittens will be…well, kittens! I had forgotten just how inquisitive, energetic and naughty kittens could be and as I watched Sir Percival of Ashburton ping from one work surface to another and then surf across the paperwork on the desk, tailed fuzzed up like a bog brush, I wondered how on earth I was going to keep this mini tiger entertained long enough t0 stop him destroying the whole house.

Poor dear Caramac whom we lost to cancer after 15 years was never such a little fiend! Or was he? I then recalled that he had been kept in check by Rory and Spitfire, older cats who had swatted him everytime he annoyed them…or me. Ideally, we would have had Percy’s sibling as well, but she was already spoken for. A single cat would at least be focused on us, we reasoned. And Percy is. Oh yes.

Pretty much everything he does is geared to getting and retaining our attention and he has twigged that the naughtier he is, the more attention he can command. Sliding across the desk, chewing papers, balancing on the top of computer screens and batting pens etc to the floor have all been surefire ways to interrupt work. We have a water spray, but that is now part of the fun and a drenched pusscat and sodden paperwork are a part of our daily routine.

We do play with him a lot. I have learned that I cannot focus on my screen in the morning until he has had a good 40 minutes of rough and tumble, hide and seek and feather chasing. I have no doubt he would happily play most of the day, though, so money has been spent on toys in an attempt to contract out some of the interaction.


Percy is a bright chap with, we now realise, a very low boredom threshold so what follows has to be understood in that context. Other cats may have different views!

The only thing that kept him occupied for a serious length of time was a large elastic band which he found, chewed up and swallowed, leaving a few scraps which, thank goodness, gave the game away. This little feast necessitated an out-of-hours trip to the vet and a mild dose of anaesthetic to get him to regurgitate his ‘treat’. The fragments were then pieced together to ensure that the entirety of the band could be accounted for. Stressful? Oh, yes. We are now paranoid about leaving anything around that he could ingest. We just hope he doesn’t have pica syndrome, which causes cats to eat the inedible and often results in the need for surgery…

Anyway. Back to the toys. (£ = under £10, ££ = £10 to £20, £££ more than £30)

First up is the brush plus boingy mouse (££). Played with it on and off quite a lot in the first few days. Now he occasionally bashes the mouse en passant but still thoroughly enjoys a good old rub and scratch on the brush. 6/10

The twirly ping pong ball helter skelter (££): I thought this was a huge hit at first. One hour of solid play. Now? Sneered at! 4/10

The creepy-crawly critter (£). Caused huge consternation at first but then had its tail bitten off (fragments quickly retrieved before eaten!) and is now hugged to the chest whilst it vibrates…evidently enjoyably. If it does escape and roam around ( in circles), it is ignored. 7/10. It was cheap and it’s funny.

The Catit ball rollercoaster thingy (£££). Wow! Two whole hours of solid play on this extravagance, bought in desperate hopes of a few hours of peace to get some work done. Two hours. That was the lot. Now the ball might be lucky enough to get a desultory pat. I am reminded of Alan Bennett’s mum saying of the Stannah stairlift in the old people’s home: “I’ve been on that. It’s nowt.” 3/10

The ‘trying to slow down the rate at which kitty bolts his treats’ digging pots (££). Gets used a lot…but not because it takes up loads of time. More that Percy gets treats. Maybe too many. He loves it. 8/10 for entertainment value. 2/10 for length of time he’s distracted.

Fake sheepskin pad from Ikea (£). Dragged around like a kill and ejected from his hammock bed, this scrap of material has provided us with hours of amusement and, therefore, been a major diversion from work. Oh dear. 10/10 but also 0/10!

Next time, Percy will tell you about all the food options he has rejected!

Percy at about 12 weeks