cat_1 cat_2By Anna Hoke, Publisher  |  November is all about the start of winter for me. The beginning of the snowy season means spending time winterizing various things and necessities. We do our vehicles by replacing our regular tires with studs, we also prepare by digging out the snow shovels and snowblower. We shut house vents and dust off our winter clothes and gear. Another thing that we do in our household is brainstorm alternative things for our cat to do when he cannot adventure outside for as many hours as he does the rest of the year. First of, I must make an apology if I write about my cat too often. I certainly have been told that I post too many photos of him on Facebook and that I don’t deny, nor am I that sorry for. I’d probably be a crazy cat lady if I wasn’t married and busy, I kind of already am but with only one cat.

Our cat Tron is one outdoorsy cat. He loves to be outside regardless of the weather. Seasonally, the issue is with heavy snow there are less places for him to explore. I do keep a close eye on him because he ventures where areas are plowed, meaning the streets and driveways. I know some people get irritated when a neighborhood cat ventures into a yard that isn’t their own and for this I sincerely apologize, there isn’t a lot that I can do and believe me I’ve tried. Tron is very adventurous and from the moment we got him we knew he was an outdoor cat. We kept him inside for the first four months of his life and it was no easy feat. He’d bolt for the door anytime someone came in or went out. We’d have to plan exit strategies and hang signs on the doors warning people not to let the little escapee out. When we felt like it was appropriate for Tron to see the great outdoors we put him on a leash and harness and walked him daily for the entire summer to establish home boundaries for him. We then let him out off the leash but stayed outside with him and then finally we let him out on his own, for the first few weeks I would stay inside glued to the window and wouldn’t take my eyes off him and when he ventured too far, I’d run outside and shake the treat bag so he’d return. I never EVER go to sleep without making sure he is inside at night, even if that means calling him and shaking the treat bag until he comes home at 3am, yes this has happened a couple times. That being said, we’ve tried hard to establish property boundaries for Tron but he still ventures into the woods and into other people’s driveways.

Now back to winterizing the cat; my husband and I have a number of games we play with Tron and we’ve found it’s funny that pets choose the cheapest non-pet things to keep themselves entertained. Tron’s favorite thing is something we call “mint-ing him.” We take a dinner mint that’s wrapped in crinkly paper and slide it back and forth on the floor between us. Tron loves the sounds of the wrapper and chases it, we will throw in a bounce here and there and he will stop at nothing to tackle and subdue that mint. Then when that becomes monotonous we move to the laser pointer on the carpeted stairs, we race him up and down as many times as he will go, treating him at the end of the session of course. Tron also likes to play tag for very short periods of time and only likes to be the tagger. He occasionally will fetch a crumpled up piece of paper. Also, for being a cat, he sure loves certain forms of water, he hates a bath but loves snow and ice cubes. Anytime anyone puts ice in his or her cup from the dispenser on the fridge he makes a dash for it. Once given a piece of ice, he chases it all over the house until it’s lost forever under the stove or fridge. When the holidays come around he likes to “help” wrap presents and he especially loves boxes. When we get something new that comes in a box we don’t immediately recycle it but leave it out in the living room for Tron to jump in, explore and spontaneously pop out of. And, if all else fails to keep him entertained there’s always catnip… a little catnip on his cat tree or the floor and he’s occupied and then sleepy for at least a little while. It’s important to keep pets stimulated during the short days and dark months and we enjoy spending quality time entertaining our furry one. What kind of things do you do with your pet to keep them entertained during the winter?

Anna Hoke is the graphic designer and owner of Southeast Living Magazine. She can be reached at