I know, I know, Ottie-mas isn’t until the day after Christmas . . . but what’s the sense in waiting?
Ashley told me a few days ago about her idea for the perfect gift for Ottie: a Zhu Zhu Pet. I had no idea what the hell one of those was, but apparently they are “interactive toy hamsters, each with their own set of over 40 sound effects, squeaks, and chirps.” The way Ashley described it to me, it sounds like a Roomba only smaller, furrier, and lacking the ability to vacuum along the baseboards. They are the hot toy this year, so I am told by people trying to sell them — the new Tickle-Me Elmo. Or Furby — remember Furbies?
Anyway, the idea was to go out and buy one of these prized state-of-the-art mechanical mice, and let our cat have fun killing it over and over and over again. We’ve had Ottie three years now, and she’s been a wonderful pet, and had a pretty goddamn good life, if I don’t mind saying. But I can tell she misses the hunt, ya know? She misses the stalk, the pounce, the warm rush of fresh blood over her tongue. And, really, don’t we all? So, since our apartment is so blessedly free of rodent infestation, and knowing cleaning up the remains of shredded mouse carcasses would probably get old a lot faster than I think it would, we went out yesterday to find the cat a Zhu Zhu . . .
. . . at which task we failed utterly. Hagerstown is a Zhu Zhu-Free Zone, it seems. We hit Wal-Mart, we hit K-Mart, we hit Sears, we hit Target, we hit Wal-Mart again (the first time was just for kicks, anyhow), no Zhu Zhu.
On the way out of the shopping center we ducked into PetSmart on a whim, and found something even better, I am pleased to report, however. It’s a remote controlled furry brown rodent, with little wheels under him and an antenna cleverly disguised within his tail. The remote control unit is shaped like a cheese wedge, with crackers for buttons. Inside the mouse is a place to conceal a bit of catnip, as though getting to chase and attack a radio controlled mouse wouldn’t be enough to get Ottie interested.
We brought the RC mouse home, charged its battery, and let it loose for Ottie to play with. She kept her distance initially, seeming cautiously curious more than bloodthirsty. I ran it back and forth in the kitchen, and she followed alongside, watching its every move but never touching it. Then, finally, she struck. Ottie pounced on the mouse, trapping it between her front paws and rolling over, kicking at it with the claws on her back feet. Any live mouse would have been dead a dozen times for what she did to it. And me trying to drive it out of her clutches only made her want to kill it more. It was twisted and fucking sick, in a totally awesome way.
Ashley then unleashed a stroke of genius, painting the mouse’s fur with the faintest touch of olive juice. Ottie, for whatever reason, is absolutely nuts about the smell and taste of olive juice, though she has never been very interested in the olive itself. Once the mouse had been anointed with the scent of olives, it was all we could do to keep the cat away from it. To recharge the thing I had to take it into the bedroom and close the door.
The RC mouse was a better choice than a Zhu Zhu would have been, Ashley and I agreed. The Zhu Zhu just runs around wherever the hell it wants, while the RC mouse allows you (not really you . . . me) to play with the cat. Of course, in this form of play you’re placing yourself in the role of the tiny mammal which the cat is hoping to soon kill and devour . . . which only adds to the fun, I find.