We have brand new Button Quail that we just bought from a man who raises them to sell on the internet. Since he kept them in his basement with a heat lamp on them all winter long, we cannot now put them outside until the weather warms up a bit. So, for the time being, we have eight little Quail living in a glass aquarium in our house. The three cats love this, as it has proven to be better entertainment than television for them. 24/7/365 those cats take turns holding a “vigil” staring at those goofy little birds.
The birds are completely undisturbed by this continuous staring, and have in fact, gotten a bit spoiled by it. If several minutes pass without someone to stare at them, they will actually stand up as tall as they can and scream to the top of their lungs. This is a great way to get attention fast, especially since Quail that scream sound an awful lot like little air raid sirens going off. When you ignore them, they scream. When you stare at them, the screaming stops. Like I said, this is great entertainment, not only for cats, but for any living thing with ears.
Quail are slippery little birds that cannot abide being touched, or handled in any way. Therefore, you also cannot open the lid of the aquarium for any reason, or you end up chasing a little bundle of feathers all over your house. This is not a good thing in any circumstance but it is really not a good thing when you also have three cats in the house, who just love to play with living creatures smaller than they are. You may think, well, of course. Cats are predatory, they just naturally attack little animals. True enough, but these are house cats we’re talking about here. Over fed and spoiled, all these cats want to do is PLAY with the small animals. They can’t help it if a mouse has a heart attack and dies ten minutes after play time begins.
I have seen my cats play with an insect they did not want to kill, and this is a rather unique sight. That great big paw reaching out, claws hidden, to pat the bug to make it move. The poor bug, terrified within a centimeter of its little bug life, is afraid to move, so the cat makes it move. This game continues until either someone squashes the bug to put it out of its misery or the cat gets bored, whichever happens first. If the cat gets bored first, before the squashing takes place, the little bug will scoot out of sight as quickly as its remaining unbroken legs will carry it. (Hey, the cat is trying to be gentle, but come on..he’s a cat.)
I have been told that the quail really don’t like the cats sitting and staring at them, but I see it a bit differently, since during the essential times that the cats must curl up and nap, the quail scream for them to come back and stare at them some more. We used to have pet mice at one time that also proved to be perfect entertainment for the cats, because mice do cute little mouse things that a cat simply cannot ignore, such as….existing.
But a mouse in an aquarium, although entertaining is sort of like television for felines. They will sit and watch for hours until they fall into a near vegetative state, just like we do if we spend too much time watching TV. A mouse on the hoof however, is another story. This is interactive technology that the cat can throw his whole self into. A cat, waiting for a mouse to appear out of the woodwork will sit and stare at a blank wall for three days, and never gets bored with this activity. Then, when the mouse finally appears to chuck little mouse cuss words at the cat, the cat will pounce on it, play with it for a few moments and then release it back to the wild again, so it can sit and stare at the wall some more, which is what a cat lives for.
There is a very good reason why God designed the average mouse to live only three years. This is because if the mouse lived any longer than that, the poor cat would never get any sleep. Three years is about how long a cat can survive doing nothing but staring at a wall. Beyond that time they will require food, water, sleep, and a short litterbox break. God is wise, He knows what He’s doing. He knows that the feline has no common sense while in full attack mode, so He designed their prey to die young.
Yes, birds and mice and other small cat toys are wonderful inventions and can never be replaced in the cat’s mind with other more machinery inventions. It would be just awful for a cat to have the best entertainment he’s ever had taken away from him. Perhaps we television watching humans could learn a little something from the cat. For example, we could learn how not to clean our plates, as cats will never eat from a bowl that has a bare spot on the bottom, and we can learn how to make the biggest mess possible while still keeping our paws clean….and we can also learn how to keep ourselves entertained for days on end without the use of power tools or credit cards. Just watch the family cat,–and learn.