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I got the Cat a car for exercise

June 30, 2008


Do I look like a Zip-Zaps pilot to you?




 I thought some exercise might help regulate Coolidge’s diabetes. I’m doing all I can with diet and insulin, but his glucose values swing wildly, mocking any meaning of regulation. This Cat isn’t exactly what you would call exercise-motivated. He will play with a toy if it lands within inches of him. I have to toss it there. Then he lies on his back and shreds it with his back feet for a while, looks bored, and waits for me to toss it again. Then he regards the toy with indifference. Yes, you tossed that last time. It’s no longer interesting. Guess what I really want….

I decided he needed something that would move under its own power, something to engage the hunting instincts years of life lying in his window hammock have suppressed.

 My husband looked online at various robotic birds and cars, and we decided that something moving on the floor might inspire the Cat to get up and move around to investigate. We were afraid something flying overhead might send him under the bed with a nosebleed. Besides, reviewers said the robotic birds were noisy.

The iBird reminded me of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s “Artist of the Beautiful,” a story about a watchmaker who makes a wonderful, lifelike mechanical butterfly that flies of its own power. The watchmaker presents the butterfly in a jewel box to his master’s daughter. The girl opens the box and the butterfly flies forth; she reaches out delightedly to catch it, and unthinkingly crushes the mechanism to bits. The iBird is not as beautiful as Owen Warland’s butterfly.

I went to Radio Shack, and they had a special on little radio-controlled cars. Explaining that it was for my Cat, I bought a Zip-Zaps Bumblebee for $6.97. It is unimaginable that anyone would have paid the original price the salesman said had been $25.00.

The Zip-Zaps Bumblebee is for kids 8 and older. Coolidge is 10, thus age-appropriate for him.

What was age-inappropriate was me trying to read the instructions. They were written for people who rely on pictures and don’t read. They were written by Chinese manufacturers who have the inside scoop that American 8-year-olds can’t read. I lack the icon gene; I need words. Crisp Anglo-Saxon action words get things running in this country.

I chucked the instructions and went at it intuitively. I put batteries in the “RC” and turned the unit on. The green power indicator light came on. I moved a directional button. The car did not move. I chucked my intuition and called the guy at Radio Shack.

He didn’t want to be insulting, but had I put batteries in the unit? If I brought it in, they could figure it out or replace the whole thing. Had I charged the car? Um, no, was I supposed to charge the car? I thought the green light meant I was good to go.

It took a minute, but I finally noticed some possible contact pins and contact points on the car’s underside and the RC’s topside that clicked together. The light went red. It turned green in a few minutes. I removed the car and moved the directional button. The car sped off the table.

The Cat was fascinated. He descended from his window hammock and investigated. I mastered forward and backward, but had trouble with turns. Coolidge approached the Bumblebee cautiously. At least he was moving around, and he wasn’t going to pounce on the car and shred it.

He padded after the car while I powered it down the hall. It went down the threshold but couldn’t get up again. I got it to turn around and enter the study. Coolidge looked disdainful that such a thing would enter his tower room.

He worked up an appetite watching the Zip-Zaps Bumblebee. He walked around the car and ate half a bowl of tuna. Then he went to the study window and sat on the sill. I started the car and he paid no attention. He regarded it now as a disturbance. What is that stupid noise? I am scanning the western front of my domain now. I am not to be disturbed.

I cannot recommend Zip-Zaps as a feline diabetes management tool; but then, that is not the purpose for which the thing was intended. The guy at Radio Shack said I could return the car if my Cat didn’t like it. And I will, unless my husband wants to keep it.

Coolidge does not esteem the Zip-Zaps BumblebeeBut he's thinking about it, as the mighty Bumblebee whizzes by, towing the stuffed rat!


One Comment
  1. June 30, 2008 3:20 pm

    It must be frustrating for cats. Just when they think they have us properly trained we come home with a remote control car :)
    I am sure it is they who domesticate us rather than the other way around!
    Good luck with the exercise regime.

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