Fun and Games

Cat’s Play

“Play and predatory behaviors allow cats to fulfill their natural need to hunt,” according to the American Association of Feline Practitioners. According to my association, our do-nothing cat Chester has no predatory or hunting skills, unless you think meowing for a bowl of kibble fits the bill.

As lazy as he is, even Chester likes to burn off some built-up energy by playing games.

Chester’s favorite contest is the wire cat toy. He’ll spin around chasing the end of the device until he catches it. After I pull it away from him, it’s lay on his back time and let the toy come to him until he loses interest. Chester also likes to be chased, fetch a toy mouse, chase a ball and play hide-and-seek; all normal stuff for a cat. Just don’t confuse his play with replicating the primal instinct other cats have to stalk and hunt prey.

According to the Animal Medical Center of Chicago, “Another way to stimulate your cat’s mind is by teaching them new tricks, like sitting or coming on command.”

Former Soviet and Russian World Chess Champion Vasily Smyslov takes on his cat Belka. Courtesy: Dagobert Kohlmeyer.

I read that to my semi-awake cat laying on the sofa. When I finished, we both looked at each other and started to howl.

There’s a saying, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.” For cats it’s “don’t waste your time trying to teach a cat any tricks.”

If you ask Chester to do anything, he’ll just sit there and look deadpan at you. I asked Chester what he was thinking during those moments.

“You’re an idiot is what I’m thinking,” my tempestuous tabby said. “Higher forms of life from other galaxies know you can’t make a cat do anything it doesn’t want to. Even if you did ask a cat to do something it wanted to do, it wouldn’t, out of principle.”

“So, what games do you want to do so long as I don’t ask,” I asked.

“Despite my few milliseconds of action playing wire cat toy, I’d rather do more sedentary things while showcasing my superior mind,” Chester said snobbishly.

“Like what,” I inquired.

“Playing Cantankerous Cats, Slap Cat, Schrödinger’s Cats, Cat’s Cradle, chess, Rubik’s Cube or counting cards while winning at blackjack in the casino,” my brainy cat said.

“OK cat, there’s a lot to digest there.” I said in amazement. “When do you get to go to the casino and how much money are you winning?”

Casinos across the country have gotten wise to card-counting cats.

“I don’t go to the casino anymore,” Chester said sadly. “I got banned because I was raking in the mulah.”

“You don’t say,” was my skeptical response.

“Listen disbeliever, you know why they post signs outside casinos that say no pets allowed? That’s not for stupid dogs, it’s to keep us cats out,” Chester said in a raised voice. “Any cat who tries to walk into a gambling house is purrsona non grata because they know we’d wipe them out.”

“You mean persona non grata,” I checked with my now Latin speaking puss.

“I’m a cat stupid. For cats it’s purrsona non grata.” Chester said, now even more agitated.

“Between the eyes in the sky and pit bosses, we can’t get near a card game. I wanted to sue but my attorney said cats don’t have the same rights as people do so I wouldn’t win my case. What’s wrong with this country?

“I bet if I was with SPECTRE’s Ernst Stavro Blofeld, no casino would dare keep me out,” a now shouting Chester said. “He’d show them. Blofeld would blow the place up and then charge them to clean up his mess. That’s what a real cat lover would do.”

“Where did you learn to play all those games,” I asked meekly, afraid Chester was about to tear into anything and everything within his reach, including me.

“Prison,” Chester sneered. “Remember I was holed up there for eight months. I had plenty of time to learn lots of stuff including how to be a card shark and a grandmaster chess player.”

“Who taught you to be so good that you attained a grandmaster rating,” I opened, trying the Queen’s Gambit.

“Bobby Fischer,” Chester said proudly as he countered with a Queen’s Gambit Declined.

“Bobby Fisher died way before you were born,” I yelled, happy to have caught Chester in a lie. Check.

“I know that you patzer.” as Chester countered my yell with his own. “I read his book, Bobby Fischer Teaches Chess. You know what reading is, right? At Cattica, I read many books, but none that can explain what an imbecile you are,” the cat said deftly moving out of danger.

“Ok smarty, who’d you beat to be a grandmaster.” I countered hoping to take his knight.

“Garry Kasparov, Magnus Carlsen and Alireza Firouzja,” my Bobby Fischer of a cat said with a smile. Now he had me in trouble.

Chester beats former World Champion Garry Kasparov during the goodwill tour at Cattica Penitentiary in front of a select audience.

“Where did you play those guys,” I asked while picking my jaw off the ground and castling.

“Prison. It always comes back to prison, my little wood pusher,” Chester said. “Those guys made a stop at Cattica as part of a goodwill chess tour. I played them, then I played them, if you know what I mean.” Checkmate.

“Have you ever solved Rubik’s Cube,” asking as I probed for some weakness in my clever kitty.

“A kitten can figure that toy out in 30 seconds,” Chester said. “And before you have to ask, I did it in 15. Not bad for an animal without thumbs.”

“I won’t ask about the other games you play,” I said sounding defeated.

“Those who will play with cats must expect to be scratched.”

Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra

“You do have some smarts,” my pompous puss purred.

“I’m hungry,” Chester declared.

“It’s not your feeding time yet,” I said.

“Fine, how about we play Texas hold ’em heads-up,” my Doyle Brunson of a cat exclaimed in excitement. “We’ll draw a high card to see who starts with the button and deal first. Small blinds are five pieces of kibble, large blind is 10.”

“Ok, but where are you getting your kibble bits to play,” I asked.

“Can you float me a loan,” Chester sheepishly asked.

“How much?”


“500! You don’t come close to that when we feed you,” I reminded my furry friend.

“We’re playing big-time poker here,” Chester said. “I’m not playing for the paltry amount of kibble I have to pry out of your miserly hands for my meals.”

Much to my chagrin, I caved and Chester got his kibble bankroll for our Texas hold ’em showdown. Five hours later I was busted and my little hustler was gorging on his winnings.

Chester with his poker face at the final table of the World Series of Poker.

As I was trying to comprehend how I could lose to a cat, Chester had another idea.

“I’ll tell you what big guy, how about a little chess. Two out of three with the winner getting another 500 pieces of kibble,” Chester said innocently.

“Not sure about that cat,” I said. I’m not looking forward to being taken to the cleaners twice in one night, but if I agree, at least you can put up your own kibble in now.”

“No, I can’t,” Chester said in a guilty voice.

“Why not?”

“Because I ate all the kibble from the poker game.”

“You ate 1,000 pieces of kibble,” I exclaimed.

“Can you float me another 500, you know I’m good for it,” Chester pleaded.

“You literally ate my last loan to you. No way,” I said.

It took this kitten 30 seconds to figure out Rubek’s Cube. Courtesy: Rubek

A loud belch that seemed to last 30 seconds emanated out of the depths of Chester’s tummy.

“You’re a sore loser,” Chester said, putting an exclamation mark on our night of fun and games.

And yes, Chester’s correct; I am a sore loser. So, I ended our evening by banishing my card shark to the basement for his nightly sleep sans his usual bowl of kibble, since he ate more today than he ever would in a week.

“Goodnight Chester,” I said while locking the basement door.

Then I heard another belch from Chester that lasted longer than the first, followed by maniacal laughter. I made sure to double-lock the door.

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