« September 24, 2002 | home | September 29, 2002 »

Like a dog with a bone

"My cat plays fetch, too!" the photographer told me. We were in a crowded bar on Valencia street, at a schmoozefest for media professionals. He really just wanted to get access to the bar to order a drink, but we started talking about where we do our work, and I'd remarked how hard it can be to work at home with a new kitten. He gave me hope. He couldn't solve the problem of my kitten being too cute for me to concentrate, but his own cat still plays fetch at eight years old. All I have to do is keep playing with him.

The problem is that when a kitten discovers a new thing, that's all they do for a while. My dad told me recently that he was impressed by my series of pictures of my kitten chasing his tail. He couldn't understand how I got my kitten to chase his tail on command in several different parts of my apartment. What my dad didn't realize is that my kitten did absolutely nothing for two solid weeks except chase his tail. Chase chase chase chase chase. Even now, in fact, at this very moment, he is sitting on my desk, and the tip of his tail is jerking around a little. It's not quite rhythmic. He's staring fixedly at it, as if he has no idea what it will do next.

The big thing right now, however, is playing fetch. I barely remember how this got started. I was sitting in bed, reading before I went to sleep, trying to distract him from my toes. I threw something. He brought it back. Our first few games involved me trying to get him interested in playing -- or just off my toes. In the past week he's started initiating games of fetch himself. He won't take no for an answer.

At first, we had a game of fetch at some point during the day. Then it became a brief game of fetch first thing in the morning. There was an interlude during which we played "catch" on the bed. He'd roll the ball over to me. I'd roll it back. He'd roll it over to me again.

Lately it's been a game of fetch every hour or so throughout the morning. I suspect he can go all day, but it's so hard for me to work under that kind of pressure that I've been fleeing the apartment with my laptop in the afternoon. I am careful, as I walk out the door, not to tell him in so many words, "I'm leaving -- because of something you did," and so far he seems tolerant when I leave and pleasantly cheerful when I return. I sit down to sync up my laptop and desktop, and I hear a little ball drop and my feet. And a small meow.

Yesterday his fetch game leaped to the next level. I played a few rounds with him as I ran my bath. Tub full, I went into the bathroom and settled in for a nice soak. He wasn't finished. He bounded into the bathroom, jumped onto the edge of the tub, and dropped the ball into the water next to me. When I stopped laughing, I gave it a good throw, out the door and down the hall. He brought it back. Over and over again. I somehow got my hair washed and rinsed, dried off, and got dressed. Then I packed up my laptop and got out of the house for the rest of the day.

September 26, 2002