Unfriends and SuperScratchers

David brought home a new SmartyKat SuperScratcher®.

It’s made of strips of corrugated cardboard glued together in a narrow box about two feet long. You tear off the top and pour dried catnip onto the cardboard, then set it on the floor. According to the puffery on the side of the box, it “Saves your furniture!” because “Cats love it!”

We bought a similar item last spring when William and Ernest came to live with us. But, although William used it, no one loved it. I suspect that’s because it was a high-quality brand from a real pet store and consequently wasn’t stinky enough to engender feline ardor.

The SmartyKat SuperScratcher®, however, a Wal-Mart purchase, caught William’s attention. He watched David infuse the thing with catnip, then waltzed over, sprawled out on it, and proceeded to get high. A half-hour of scratching, wallowing, flipping, and flopping ensued. Finally he turned the scratcher upside-down and dumped the catnip out.

One area of our carpet is now a sacred space.

While William cavorted, Ernest watched. Ernest doesn’t do drugs. He’s hyper enough as it is.

Later, when I reached down to give William a goodnight pat, he grabbed my arm and threatened not to let go until he’d drawn blood. I managed to extricate myself and went upstairs to bed.

But instead of falling asleep, I lay in the dark, counting the cost of leaving Mr. Hyde to his own devices for the next eight hours. How many lamps could come crashing to the floor? How many cut glass vases? How many china cheese keepers?

We have only one china cheese keeper and one cut glass vase, but the loss would nonetheless be staggering.

So I went down, confiscated the new toy, wrapped it in a garbage bag, and hid it in the small upstairs bathroom.

This morning I returned the SuperScratcher® to its place before the hearth. William walked over, sniffed it, lay down beside it, and then got up and walked away.  For the past four hours, he’s been oblivious to its presence. I suppose he’s built up a tolerance.

Last night after dinner, while the mania was at its peak, William and Ernest engaged in a no-holds-barred wrestling match. I recorded it with my new camera but can’t get it to play back, possibly because I haven’t read that chapter of the manual. In fact, maybe it didn’t record at all. The little numbers on the screen said it was recording. Today I shall work on learning the video function.

Of course, if it did record, I don’t know what I’ll do with it. I might send DVDs as Christmas gifts. But I suspect the relatives wouldn’t appreciate receiving a 15-minute video of cats in headlocks.

And it’s possible that  the relatives aren’t speaking to me as it is. It’s possible that I have offended everyone I know. At least everyone I know on Facebook.

A couple of nights ago, I posted pictures of William and Ernest accompanied by the sentence, “I know they’re cats, but I don’t have grandkids, and I have a new camera.”

I did not mean that as a slam against grandparents who post pictures of their descendants. I like pictures of descendants. When I posted that line, I was simply trying to be humorous and self-deprecating. But, as frequently happens, it’s possible I came off as other-deprecating.

Oh well. One friend liked the album. She doesn’t have grandchildren.

And David’s brother posted a favorable comment. He wrote, “They are striking beasts.” He doesn’t have grandchildren either.

David doesn’t do Facebook, but his brother is my friend. It’s possible that he will soon be the only friend on my list.

I read the other day that the New Oxford American Dictionary has chosen unfriend as the 2009 Word of the Year.

It’s possible that I shall soon learn the definition.

William in ecstasy
No holds barred

Update: William and Ernest

Lest this blog be mistaken for one of the abandoned variety, I’m posting this brief pictorial update on the feline family members:

William and Ernest celebrated first birthdays in October.


Ernest amuses himself by stealing ballpoint pens from tables and by sharpening his claws where he shouldn’t. William bites.

Ernest with weights

After squinting for six months, William has finally opened his beautiful green eyes; unfortunately, he usually closes them when he sees a camera.

William posing for camera

As hardworking adults, they spend significant amounts of time warding off fatigue.

William relaxing to Chopin's "Waltz in C-sharp minor," Op. 64, No. 2
Ernest sacked out on human's leg

That’s about all there is to report.

William and Ernest crisscrossed