The bestest toy in the whole house

I will not post cute cat pictures. I can’t. Our cat is in her manic phase right now, darting about the house, pouncing on us as we try to fix breakfast (her next phase will be her hyper-manic phase, in which she is just a blur), so she won’t hold still for photos. I can show off her handiwork, though. She has lately discovered the most fantastically wonderful cat toy we’ve got:


I think it’s been ripped down to the bone.

If you think you’d like living with a spawn of satan — and what atheist wouldn’t? — contact the Stevens Community Humane Society and ask for Ivy. Please.


  1. Al Dente says

    It certainly is nice to see PZ is enjoying his cat’s antics. This blog post shows how he’s turning into a real felinophile.

  2. rq says

    Awwww, wook at the kwoot wittiw kitty being a kitty, and its faithful master servant faithfully recording all the best parts!! I look forward to more such posts!

  3. cgilder says

    Speaking as someone who had 22 foster kittens come through the house this summer…put the toilet paper in a drawer. It’s the only way to have it still around when you need it!

  4. Dick the Damned says

    Buy, or make, a scratching post for her. She’ll probably ignore it, (like our current incumbent), but at least you’ll have tried.

    Many years ago, we took on a young cat from a homing/rescue organization. When he tried to scratch the furniture, I made a scratching post, & presented it to him, conducting, on all fours, a demonstration of the manner in which it should be used. To our amazement, he then immediately proceeded to use it, & subsequently left the furniture alone. (He was a noticeably intelligent cat.)

    I do wonder if a rustic, home-made scratching post might work better than a shop-bought one? Our current cat is intelligent, but she doesn’t seem to get the idea with my demonstrations of scratching post techniques. Could it be that it just seems to be another item of furniture to her, & she knows she isn’t supposed to scratch furniture? I think I’ll try making one when i get time.

  5. carlie says

    I made a scratching post for my cat last year. She likes it. However, once I totaled up the cost of all of the materials, it ended up costing just about the same as one on sale from the pet stuff store (if you didn’t have the stuff lying around already). Maybe mine’s a bit more sturdy, but it wasn’t much of a savings.

  6. shouldbeworking says

    I can see PZ in his new t shirt “Come to the dark side. We have catnip”.

  7. throwaway, never proofreads, every post a gamble says

    Now when someone adopts Ivy they can finally say, with confidence, “This was PZ Myers’ cat, Ivy.”

  8. Dick the Damned says

    Carlie, i wasn’t really thinking in terms of cost. Even a biology prof can probably stretch to buying one ready-made.

    The sense of smell is vastly more important to cats than what it is to us. A home-made device using wood from out of doors wouldn’t smell like furniture, so the cat can distinguish it from all the other stuff indoors that they know they shouldn’t scratch, (but can’t help themselves, sometimes).

  9. Onamission5 says

    Around these parts it’s not so much the tp we have to worry about but rather one grey fuzzball with an affinity for batting child crafted ceramics off of flat surfaces.

    If I have to glue the fingers back onto my kid’s kindergarten hand print one more time… Oh who am I kidding. I will glue the damned fingers back on and get fuzzball some more catnip, that’s what I’ll do.

  10. hillaryrettig says

    After years of PZ’s reckless cat disparagement, this really is sweet to watch.

    “Where’s your tentacled messiah now?”

  11. geekysteve says

    If you really wanted to encourage adoption, we all know that you would be posting all the cute/adorable pix you have taken instead of the occasional inconvenience. And we know you have some – Ivy sleeps occasionally, right? Now that you have publicly admitted the truth (and don’t try to fool yourself or us), how about posting some of the cute pictures.

    And I highly recommend the flat cardboard scratching pads/boxes. Buy a few and sprinkle a little catnip in the holes and place them wherever you need to refocus attention – TP, couch, anywhere. A nice thing about the cardboard scratchers is that they don’t hurt when you stub your toe on them in the middle of the night.

    Enjoy your life of servitude.

  12. Trebuchet says

    I highly recommend the flat cardboard scratching pads/boxes.

    Seconded. One of our cats scratches only on those. The other still uses the furniture, but only when she knows we’re looking and wants attention.

  13. ledasmom says

    I’m still considering paying them to make you keep the cat.

    Need I point out the potential for the best fundraiser ever?

  14. geekysteve says

    She sleeps. But when I sneak up on her with the camera, she jumps up and runs circles around me.

    No worries. She will grow out of this kittenish phase soon enough.

    Although, with the whole people years vs. pet years thing, it may seem like seven years.

  15. says

    Well it could have been your router, laptop, or it’s mouse…
    Now you can go to the local store to get this fixed and not trek to MSP in -25F.
    Although you can go to MSP on Monday, because of your wussy governor… who is just fallen short of calling for a curfew..

  16. raven says

    Buy, or make, a scratching post for her. She’ll probably ignore it, (like our current incumbent), but at least you’ll have tried.

    My cats just use their scratching posts. Or one of them anyway. They have two but ignore one and use the other.

  17. raven says

    FWIW, cats have to scratch something.

    They aren’t really sharpening their claws. They are getting rid of old keratin.

    If they don’t do that, their claws just keeping growing. And will start to grow into their footpads.

    One of my old cats stopped doing it. I had to trim them myself. He was good about it though, or I can imagine what my hands would have looked like afterwards.

  18. robro says

    We really are just fostering this beast!

    Yes, yes, like the 85 pound dog that we foster. It all started 12 years ago…

  19. Anoia says

    When you get a new scratching post make sure to put some drops of valerian on it. It makes it more attractive for them. (Bonus: they get high from valerian.)

    Regarding the toilett paper, get yourself a tp holder that covers the tp, and keep the loose end of the tp under the cover, so they can’t pull it out.

  20. fentex says

    I feel your pain. My girlfriend recently got herself a kitten and it’s the most energetic thing I’ve ever met. Takes hours of concerted play to tire it to the point it will let one sleep.

  21. playonwords says

    Begging doesn’t become you – try bribery using the millions you earn as a lecturer supporting Atheism an Evolution.

  22. Sili says

    My cats just use their scratching posts. Or one of them anyway. They have two but ignore one and use the other.

    As the old joke about the Englishman/Jew discovered on a deserted island goes: “That’s the club/temple I attend, *that’s* the one I won’t set foot in.”

  23. magistramarla says

    Catnip rubbed onto the scratching posts works with our boys.
    My hubby’s cat will very willingly lie in his arms while getting his nails trimmed. It’s a good thing, too, since he’s polydactyl and has a lot of claws.
    My cat doesn’t take it quite as well. If you want him to vacate a seat quickly, just show him some nail clippers!
    Hubby’s kitty will only tear up the TP if he’s very, very angry at us. We will sometimes go away for a weekend, leaving the boys with lots of food and water and taking the dog with us. If we forget to close bathroom doors, we find our TP looking exactly like the picture. We know who does it, since we’ve caught him at work a couple of times.
    He also has a bad habit of eating anything that is soft plastic. After he ate part of a grandson’s toy which blocked his intestine and required an $800 surgery, we’ve gotten very careful about keeping the house soft plastic free. Any guests are warned to keep any ziplock bags or similar containers zipped in their suitcases.
    The things that we humans will do for the love of those furry creatures!
    I think that we are winning PZ over though – “our cat”, indeed!

  24. Alverant says

    I just came back from rehoming a kitty I took in back in August. She did not get along with my current cats (or they wouldn’t accept her, it’s hard to tell which). She’s now a single kitty again with one human to receive all her love and attention. I hope it works out. It does seem for the best for everyone. She had a way of getting into your heart and it was hard to let her go. I hope she’ll remember me and be happy.

  25. Dick the Damned says

    Alverant, i suspect that the incumbent cat thinks, ‘I’ve spent a lot of time & effort training my human, so I don’t want another cat coming here & ruining things’.

  26. Alverant says

    DtD. I’m not so sure. I read up on cat behavior. The new cat never lived with other cats before so didn’t know what to do. That made her very defensive which put the other cats on edge to the point of hostility. When I got home after visiting family for the holiday last Sunday I discovered one of my established cats bit the new cat so badly she had to go to the vet. That’s why I decided to rehome her. I got so lucky the vet knew someone who was interested in adopting an adult female cat at the time. If I believed in divine intervention, I’d use this an example. I mean the realization my new kitty needed a home where she’d be the only cat happened a few days after such a home opened up. Call it fate. Call it luck. Call it karma. I’m just glad it happened.

  27. Fionnabhair says

    Got new headphones the other day. Went to use ’em the first time, but one of my foster kittens got to them first, apparently. No sound was coming out, so I checked to make sure the cord was plugged in properly, and realized I had more than one cord. Here’s the cord I was trying to use. Thanks, kitten.

    Anyone in Nova Scotia looking to adopt, by the way?

  28. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    Here’s the cord I was trying to use. Thanks, kitten

    Looks like something our rabbits would do.

  29. geekysteve says

    Alverant, Introducing a new cat to an established household can be tough. We had good luck with the gradual approach. And I do mean gradual. On several occasions so far, we have introduced a third cat, very, very slowly.
    We start by putting the newcomer in a separate indoor room (obviously with food, water, litter box, toys, etc.) For the first week or so, NO contact at all except for whatever they can smell of each other beneath the door, not even when humans change rooms. Spend approximately equal time with old and new cats and allow each of them to notice the others scent on your clothes. If you have an SO to share the duties, so much the better.
    During week two, start allowing them to see each other when you go from room to room. Even better, if possible separate them by a glass door (we have a sun room which works well). After they become somewhat used to each other by sight and smell, start gradually introducing them in person. One at a time, take one of your original cats into the new cats room for gradually increasing lengths of time. The new cat should be comfortable in familiar surroundings and the old cat will be (hopefully) less likely to regard the new cat as an intruder. Give lots (but equal amounts) of attention to each cat while they are together. Once again, take plenty of time – too slow is much better than too fast. Usually about three weeks total is enough, but you’ll have to use your own judgment.
    Even after new kitty is introduced to the main house area, keep an eye out for trouble. It is better to segregate them in different rooms if you have to leave the house for an extended period. The same rule may apply for overnight periods. But, as I said, usually about 3 weeks of the initial routine is enough to ensure harmony.
    One important tip: don’t create conflict – have plenty of dry food and water bowls and multiple litter boxes, especially at first. As they become “family” you will probably be able to cut back – we have two food bowls and two litter boxes for three cats with no issues.

  30. Rumtopf says

    That’s some good advice, geekysteve C:. I have a somewhat amusing story about pet intros, different species though. I was introducing some 8 week old female rats to adult does. The adults were being unusually hostile to the babies for the first week, even after giving them all a bath to remove smell and introducing them in a space that was new to them all. The babies were being overly defensive and that only seemed to set the adults off more, but it never got to the point where any skin was broken, just all of them seemed miserable at the situation. Until one day they were ALL “in heat”(happens every 4 days or so in rats) and humped the crap out of each other while I had them out in the neutral space. I put them all in the baby cage for the night(in my bedroom so any fighting would wake me up) and woke up to them all sleeping together in a pile. We had absolutely no problems after that.

  31. geekysteve says


    Seems like irrefutable scientific evidence to me:

    More Orgies = World Peace

  32. Dick the Damned says

    Steve, you see, the incumbent cats can see that the new cat isn’t going to significantly disrupt the training they’ve carefully given you.

  33. geekysteve says


    Oh, did I forget to mention that the entire point of the three weeks was to give the cats time to train the servants. Humans are notoriously difficult to train.

  34. Rev. BigDumbChimp says


    My Labrador would have pulled that roll off and brought it into the front room to shred into a billion pieces so that he could show me just how much he missed me.

    I know this because every time we leave tp on the roll when we leave the house he does that.

  35. Alverant says

    Unfotunately, Steve, I tried my best but the cats weren’t cooperating. I did try to introduce them slowly but one kept running into the new cat’s room and being hostile. I spent five months trying to help everyone get along and when I found a bad bite on the new cat I knew it wasn’t going to work. It’s a moot point now since I found a new home for the new cat. She’s now queen of a house with no other cats or dogs, the same situation she spent most of her life.

    I think I’m better off with two cats anyway, I’m not sure if I was able to give all three of them the time and attention they deserved and trying to make peace between them was stressful. I think it’s better this way.

  36. geekysteve says

    Sorry, didn’t mean to lecture. Sounds like it all worked out for the best.

    Some cats can be incredibly stubborn, no doubt about that. I think we are just lucky that they (at least as far as I know) don’t know how to argue on the Internet. No Randroid, MRA or Ken Ham acolyte could possibly be more persistent than a stubborn feline.

    (Just kidding PZ. Ivy “wuvs you very much”)

  37. Alverant says


    It’s OK. Just about everyone had advice on how to help integrate the new cat. But the animals do whatever they please and there’s not much I could do. I have some satisfaction that her new home is about as ideal for her personality and history as reasonably possible and she has a Mom who’ll be patient with her and has experience with single cats. I confess to having some relief that she’s gone since it was affecting my established cats. They seem calmer now.

    Of course now they want the scoopable litter the new cat had. I’m not sure if they used her litter box because of the litter or to establish territory.

  38. poose says

    PZ, I’ll be as gentle with you as possible here.

    You don’t own the cat. The cat owns you.

    I have a decrepit-looking chair that Izzy decided long ago to use as a scratching post so be thankful that Ivy just likes to shred TP. Like all youngsters this will probably be “just a phase” before moving on to far more destructive traits.

    At the moment I’m trapped inside with her (we have about a foot of snow down now) and I’m happy that she seems to be more interested in sleep than bloodshed.

  39. michaelvester says

    Cats are very intelligent but it is possible to train them. I have 5 cats and the toilet paper is never molested. It seems a single cat has the great PZ Myers completely outclassed in the intelligence department.

  40. Markita Lynda—threadrupt says

    PZ, have you read Greta Christina’s post on play-aggressive cats? That sounds what like you have. Or maybe she’s just full of energy. Dragging a string around for her, shooting elastics all over the room, or throwing balls of paper, foil, cork, etc. could help.

    For pics, use a zoom function and a camera that doesn’t click, such as a cell phone camera with the sound turned all the way down on the phone.

    As for cats that knock things off the table, I suggest keeping them in a clear plastic box. It doesn’t have to be sturdy.

    Enjoy kittenhood while it lasts! I mean, talk up all the cute and amusing things your cat is doing to potential adopters. And how _smart_ she is (you won’t get away with good).

  41. AussieMike says

    “49. Markita Lynda—threadrupt……….As for cats that knock things off the table, I suggest keeping them in a clear plastic box. It doesn’t have to be sturdy.”

    Now keeping the cat in a clear plastic box sounds like the answer. Does it need to have air holes in it? What am I saying; of course it needs air holes. It can hear you better when you talk to it.

  42. robinjohnson says

    Get a plant-mister.* Wonderful things. One light squirt will stop my cat shredding things (and she likes shredding things), and now I don’t even need that – whenever she sees me so much as reaching for it, she’s on her best behaviour, if a little sulky.

    * Insert ‘It’s “professor” to you’ joke here

  43. Lurkeressa, Always Late to Juicy Threads says

    51: Won’t always work. It makes my friend’s cat crazy, but in another way: she loves the thing. If anything, she got more eager to climb on top of objects so she could get a better chance to slurp at the water coming out of it.