An unanticipated challenge with Duke was toys. As an avid hunter, Duke played with his prey. He knew birds, he knew mice, he didn’t know string. He did like to steal things. He stole Jerry’s socks. He stole pens (or anything small) off the coffee table. We bought a variety of toys for Baby Duke. He looked at them. He stared at us. Looked back and the toys, and back at us. We made baby-voice talking noises, and flipped those sticks adorned with ribbon, waiting for him to leap into the air and catch them! Nope. He looked at us like we were insane. 

My favorite experience is when we break out the laser. Oh, Ted LOVES the laser and he will run spastically. Seriously, he is completely spastic, even at 12 years old he still plays like a kitten. He gets wide eyed, and his legs sprawl out, he spins in circles, making himself fall over. He will chase that laser around the room and practically up the walls and across the ceiling like a cartoon character. Cecilia will partake, but only if Ted isn’t around (neither CeeCee nor Duke will play with Ted because Ted is a toy hog). But Duke? He sits there and looks at them with an expression that says, “You’re chasing a ray of light that you cannot catch. What are you doing?” It makes me laugh every time.

Finally, we discovered that Duke enjoys toys with feathers. Feathers on a stick work because we can kind-of-sort-of make it look like a bird in flight and he will jump in the air, catch it and walk off with the pride of the lion. We always give him huge praise for catching his toys, which may be the only reason he does it: to please his humans.

As he’s gotten older and I suppose resorted to pure boredom, he’s become more accustomed to playing with other things. We keep a toy box in the family room and the cats help themselves to the toys they feel like. We currently have a collection of stuffed toys he enjoys. The Cosmic Carrot is a favorite of all the cats in our house. I think we have three or four currently floating around. Duke brings them all into our room at night as little gifts. He also brings us his condor, and Buddy. Buddy is a stuffed little dog with a squeaker. Daily, Duke kills him and brings him to me. I haven’t trained him to bring the toy ALL the way to me, usually when I make eye contact he drops the dog and runs to me; but the antics are something to listen to. I always miss the actual kill, but he meows and howls, then howls with his mouth full of Buddy as he carries him by the head, trotting from one room to another, delivering the squeaky dog to me (or near me).

Interestingly enough, none of the cats really care for the fake mice, nor do they care for balls. It’s all about string and feathers in our house. And catnip pillows. I keep those hidden away as special treats for them to drool over and roll on every once in a while.