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Published June 06 2010

Swift: Cat finds no love in tunnel

Somewhere, a rich man is laughing.

He is congratulating himself for cleverly spinning a favorite pussycat pastime into profit.

That man is the inventor of the Crinkly Kitty Tunnel.

It’s a cat-sized, expandable tunnel that appeals to the feline’s instinct for exploring dark, narrow passages. The nylon-like material is engineered to make a crinkly sound kitties crave.

Lured by the crackling tunnel of joy, cats will supposedly take time off from their busy schedules to play with it.

They will spend hours chasing their kitty friends through it. They will hide in it so they can suddenly pounce on your unsuspecting ankles. And if you’re really lucky, they will stick their adorable heads out of the little sunroof atop the tunnel so their owners can videotape them and post it on Facebook with the caption “Ahoy! Captain Kittypants Sees an Iceberg!”

I applaud this. Any animal who sleeps 17 hours a day needs a little excitement.

I also congratulate the man who created it. He obviously has owned cats himself. He noticed cats love to duck inside the crinkly grocery bags their owners sometimes leave on the floor. Even more brilliantly, he found a way to transform a 5-cent household item into a posh, $13 toy.

Bravo.

In fact, I was so impressed by this toy that I decided to buy one for my own cat, Sebastian.

You may not even know I have a cat. That’s because he is 16 years old and almost completely inanimate. He makes an appearance three times a day: one time to eat, a second time to use the litter box and a third time to glare balefully at the dogs who have destroyed his rightful place as only child.

But Sebastian wasn’t always a doddering old statesman. He was once a wild, young tom who attacked my visitors.

He lived to play with noisy things – balls of wadded-up foil, squeaky toy mice, jangly ornaments on the tree. And he loved paper bags. He used to get his head caught in the carrying handles of grocery bags and then proceed to rocket around the apartment, pulling it behind him like a covered wagon. (I finally learned to cut off the handles.)

And so I figured he would benefit from a little stimulation and exercise. Surely this overpriced cat toy would trigger the fond memories of his youth. Maybe it would be like a cat’s Disneyworld. I sprinkled catnip inside it and lured him over to it with a trail of kitty treats.

Sebastian sniffed it. He attempted to enter it. Unfortunately, I hadn’t paid attention to his Charles Durning-like stature. The tunnel was built for a normal, 10-pound cat, not one whose father may have been a Kodiak bear. He backed out and sat down. He resorted to some nervous grooming. Then he walked away.

The dogs, meanwhile, could not contain themselves and played with it with such enthusiasm that it sounded like two Sumo wrestlers grappling in a Mylar-balloon factory.

So much for kitty Disneyworld. Heck, it wasn’t even Euro Disney.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Tammy Swift at (701) 241-5525 or tswift@forumcomm.com