Here, as promised, is a list of Mouth and Tail's favourite non-mouse toys.
(5) In fifth place I give you the Catnip Sausage. This was a Christmas gift from one of my cat-owning friends. She tells me the catnip is so strong that her own cats attacked the postman when it arrived.
The Catnip Sausage bears a brown stain that looks worryingly like a bodily secretion of some sort (Tail does get excited), but my boyfriend assures me that is just what catnip does when it is drooled on.
I give it a wide berth just in case.
(4) At number four I present ... a box. This is no ordinary box; it is exactly the right dimensions to house Mouth's rather ample bottom, and, if he hunches down, allows him to demonstrate the 'Muffin Top' position.
Judging by the bite marks around the edges, it also appears to be very tasty.
The box originally contained some books I bought online. When the supplier asked me to write a review of their product, I was tempted to write: "Excellent packaging. My cat has barely moved since product arrived. Would buy again. ★★★★★"
(3) In third place comes my nose. Not a conventional toy, I'll admit, but it is one of Mouth's most treasured things to lick, paw, show his bottom and sleep on.
My nose has come to accept this.
(2) In the coveted number two spot is the Weird Wiry Thing. We don't really know what it is. It is basically just a wire with wooden chewy things at each end.
We bought it at a pet fair for about £4, and it came with a paw-shaped sticker so you could fasten it to the wall. "WARNING: STRONG ADHESIVE," warned the label. "THIS TOY WILL NEVER COME OFF YOUR WALL," it said. "YOU WILL PROBABLY NEED TO BULLDOZE YOUR HOUSE IN ORDER TO REMOVE IT," it cautioned. (I may be misremembering slightly, but it was very insistent.)
It fell off the wall after a couple of hours, so we just gave Mouth and Tail the wire.
They love it though, so it has earned its runner-up slot.
(1) In prestigious first place comes an old aerial that fell off my boyfriend's car.
No, really. Mouth cherishes this aerial like nothing else (it is on a par with Tail's sparkly ball), and will even abandon freshly plated food to chase it.
Friends never cease to be entertained by Mouth's devotion to his aerial. He will fall asleep clutching it lovingly between his paws. He will carry it in his mouth like a dog with a particularly impressive stick. He will give it a lingering lick now and then, to reassure it of his continuing adulation.
Mouth has a distinctive Aerial Miaow (mrrrOO-OO-OOWW!) that means "I feel I have not spent a sufficiently high proportion of my time chasing the aerial of late, and this displeases me". The only acceptable response to the Aerial Miaow is to find the aerial, pronto, and drag its tip along the floor for him to pursue.
Well, it is the only thing he stands any chance of catching.