“I wrote 63 songs this year. They’re all about Jeter.” Just kidding. The game we love, the players we hate, and more.

Culture and Criticism

From Norman Mailer to Wendy Pepper — everything on film, TV, books, music, and snacks (shut up, raisins), plus the Girls’ Bike Club.

Donors Choose and Contests

Helping public schools, winning prizes, sending a crazy lady in a tomato costume out in public.

Stories, True and Otherwise

Monologues, travelogues, fiction, and fart humor. And hens. Don’t forget the hens.

The Vine

The Tomato Nation advice column addresses your questions on etiquette, grammar, romance, and pet misbehavior. Ask The Readers about books or fashion today!

Home » Stories, True and Otherwise

Toy Crazy

Submitted by on September 15, 2004 – 2:41 PMNo Comment

To: The cats
From: The tall, exasperated food source to whom you never, ever listen
Re: Policy review

It has come to my attention of late — if by “of late” I mean “beginning in August of 1995” — that some confusion exists as to what does and does not constitute One Of Your Toys. So, let’s take this opportunity to clear up any questions and misunderstandings, shall we?

The following items, contrary to popular feline belief, ARE NOT toys, for cats or otherwise:

Hand (whole)
Hand (finger, single)
Hand (fingers, multiple)
Hand (thumb)

Foot (mine, whole)
Foot (mine, toe or toes)
Foot (guests, whole or in part)

Ankle (mine)
Ankle (guests)

Hair (down)
Hair (in ponytail)
Hair (in braid)


Garbanzo bean
Lettuce fragment
Grain of rice
Noodle (Ramen)
Noodle (other)
Cracklin’ Oat Bran (single, dry)
Cracklin’ Oat Bran (multiple, floating in milk)
Bagel chunk
Piece of cheese
Piece of cheese (on cracker)
Piece of cheese (on cracker, en route to human mouth)
Piece of cheese (on cracker, already in human mouth and undergoing mastication process)
Sesame seed
Burnt Tater Tot fished out of garbage with Swami Claw Of The Damned
Clove of garlic
Olive (green)
Olive (black)
Ritz Bit
Milk Dud
Cape Cod Chip

Toothpaste cap
Length of waxed dental floss (unused)
Length of waxed dental floss (used)
Tablet of ibuprofen that fell on the floor for five goddamn seconds

Kleenex (used)
Kleenex (unused, but waving temptingly in breeze made by fan)

Pen (ballpoint, black)
Pen (ballpoint, blue)
Pen (ballpoint, red)
Pen (felt tip, black)
Pen (felt tip, blue)
Pen (cap)
Pen (any, in act of filling in crossword puzzle)
Pencil (sharpened)
Pencil (in need of sharpening)
Pencil sharpener
Sharpie marker


Shoelaces (motionless)
Shoelaces (being tied)

Snow globe

Lighter (Zippo)
Lighter (other)

Drink coaster

Page of book in act of turning

Button (loose)
Button (attached to shirt cuff)
Button (attached to shirt front)
Button (attached to pants)
Button (attached to coat)
Button (just gnawed off coat)

Drawstring (laundry bag)
Drawstring (pants, standard)
Drawstring (pants, pajama)

Candle (in box)
Candle (lit)

Electrical cord
Telephone cord

Incoming fax

Cell phone




Jewelry (in box)
Jewelry (on human)

Cigarette butt

Remote control (TV)
Remote control (DVD player)
Remote control (stereo)

Other cat (whole, sleeping)
Other cat (whole, walking)
Other cat (whole, sitting)
Other cat (whole, eating dinner)
Other cat (whole, taking bath)
Other cat (ear, right)
Other cat (ear, left)
Other cat (tail, at rest)
Other cat (tail, twitching)
Other cat (tail, walking past)
Other cat (tail, sticking out of litter box)

And now, please allow me to present a short list of items that you may OCCASIONALLY consider toys:

Empty toilet-paper roll

Styrofoam peanut

Plastic ring (hummus container)
Plastic ring (gallon of milk)

Bottle cap

Bag (plastic)
Bag (paper)


Wind-up hopping pig



It may interest you to know that the list of your ACTUAL TOYS is quite lengthy, as follows:

Stripy ball (purple)
Stripy ball (green)

Extra-bouncy rainbow ball

Orange ping-pong ball, donated by Tempus after excessively pathetic whining and thereafter ignored


Bee (jingly)
Bee (silent)

Mousie (leopard with bell)
Mousie (leopard with broken bell)
Mousie (sisal)
Mousie (with rattle)

The orange…shape

The formerly green, but now kind of brown, doodad

Felt toy (shamrock-shaped)
Felt toy (spider-shaped)

Felt leg belonging to spider (3)

Canvas turkey toy (whole)
Canvas turkey toy (loose feathers)

Plastic mousie/fishing-wand contraption

I believe that you will find these toys perfectly satisfactory in both quality and quantity (if somewhat dusty from neglect), and that henceforward you can amuse yourselves by playing with said official toys instead of gnawing on, say, a brand-new Paul Frank wristwatch.

Related to the toy issue is the question of where cats might properly take a nap. I might point out here that you have veritable acres of nappable couch, floor, chair, and bed space available to you, and need not siesta in an off-limits area. A list of places not suitable for the grabbing of feline winks, forty or otherwise, appears below. Do NOT nap in these places:

Bathroom sink, in

Empty salad bowl, in

Printer tray, in

Unzipped boot, in

Clothing drawer, in
Linen drawer, in
File cabinet drawer, in

My messenger bag, in
My messenger bag, on

Toaster oven, on

Cable box, on

TiVo, on

Microwave, on

My foot, on
My other foot, on

Sweater shelf in closet, on

Precarious bookshelf, top of

Pot of scalding hot coffee, next to

Oven, directly in front of

Front door, directly in front of

Desk chair, directly behind (tail)

I hope this memo resolves any uncertainties about what you may play with and/or where you may nap. Please review it, and when you have done so, ask yourself what you want out of your house-pet experience: to reap the many and varied benefits of good behavior, or to spend the rest of your natural lives in The Tiled Chamber Of Incorrigible Imps From Hell.

Thank you for your attention.

Tall, Exasperated, et al.

September 15, 2004



Leave a comment!

Please familiarize yourself with the Tomato Nation commenting policy before posting.
It is in the FAQ. Thanks, friend.

You can use these tags:
<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>