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I gave the cats a gift this week. I decided I would share some of my “profit” from all the cat sitting I was doing this summer, and reward the beasties at home. This was no $1 rubber ball from the pet store on the corner. They have a drawer full of those now hardened beyond a bounce so I’m not inclined to add more to the pile. In their young years, they used to play with them, well, as long as I stood at the bottom of the stairs throwing the ball up and fetching it when they didn’t catch it. But as they’ve aged, they decided that was entirely too much work for so little pleasure so I stopped buying balls of any sort. And I certainly would not treat them with a toy that  resembled a rat or mouse. Ever since someone in DC gave my first cat, Mili, one that looked so life like I screamed every time I saw it, I decided there would never again be a stuffed rat in my home. I didn’t mind when Mili caught the odd mouse that stupidly ventured into the kitchen every winter. I did mind when she deposited the carcass on my chest as a good morning gift. I’m not sure the current cats would know what to do with a real mouse — and I hope that I never have to know that.

It’s not that I’m not normally overly generous with these cats. Have they not had the best, most expensive, food to eat from their early years to the present? You bet they did. Of course, part of the reason I did that was to try to avoid, if at all possible, frequent trips to vets which could bankrupt me in no time. And, am I not  the considerate, concerned owner who, ever since the putrid, humid, yucky weather landed on us, kept the air conditioning on every day just so that they didn’t suffer too much? Isn’t that something they should be thankful for? But, oh no, they — or Rose at least — would claim that having air conditioning comes under the umbrella of Universal Animal Rights. I suspect that if I didn’t turn it on, she would probably report me — anonymously, of course — to the SPCA. I daren’t take the risk, so the air conditioning stays on even though the bill for this summer will cost me my next Social Security check. I exaggerate — but only little.

I chose the gift from my practical  Capricorn self. I decided to buy them something with purpose, something useful, something that would make my life easier.Through the


The Perfectly Fine Bubbling Water Fountain

wonders of Amazon, I found them a nifty, bubbling, guaranteed-to-please-any-cat, water fountain. A couple of my cat clients have the exact, same model and told me it was the best. After watching them slurp and splash the water like there’s no tomorrow, I figured they could be trusted.  I told the beasties a surprise was coming in the mail. Rose immediately thought of food and Nick got moderately interested because it meant a new box would be arriving.

True to Amazon’s word, there it was on the porch on exactly the day they said it would be delivered. (How did I ever shop before Amazon?) The cats were moderately interested when I opened the box. Nick helped rip out all the paper filler so we could get to the box itself. I was disappointed that the fountain  was plastic but I figured they wouldn’t notice. After perusing the easy-to-assemble instructions — offered in five languages in case I wanted to practice my Italian — it was ready for a test run. I put it in the same spot where they have been drinking non-bubbling, non-filtered, just plain-old-water for the entire summer. I plugged it in and the water began to gurgle. Nick smelled it and walked away. Ms. Muffet never bothered to climb down from her perch on the back of the couch. No problem, I thought, they’ll get used to it. Three days passed and not a trickle of interest.

There was nothing to be done but call my brother, Joe, owner of a plethora of cats, for his opinion of the feasibility of these cats ever using this expensive fountain. He said it took his brood a good week to start using theirs. “They’ll get thirsty enough that they’ll drink water from anything,” he offered. He suggested that I remove all other water bowls so they’ll be forced to like it or lump it. I just couldn’t do that. Every day there are those dire warnings on the radio about keeping your pets hydrated. Wonder if they never took to the fountain. Would Rose be calling in the old SPCA again?

I think the reality is that old cats, like old dogs — never tell my two that I compared them to a dog, for goodness sake — do not like to learn new tricks of any sort. Why bother, eh? They know I’ll give in and put the water in what they want, where they want, and when they want it. One of my friends suggested I get down on all fours and demonstrate to them the purpose of this gurgling machine. That would be fine, I told her, but then I’d have the additional, more serious, problem of figuring out how to get myself up off the floor. I guess I’ll follow my brother’s advice and leave it for another week and see if they show even a smidgen of interest. If not, well, I can just wrap it up and give it to some younger, non-jaded, adventuresome, thankful cat.