At the shelter, the cats were kept in rooms with tile floors. They had soft cat beds to sleep on, but the only thing available for scratching were these corrugated cardboard scratchy boxes. It’s a brilliant strategy on the part of those running the shelter, as it teaches the cats to scratch their claws on those cardboard things, rather than something made of carpet or upholstery. So when we brought Duchess home from the shelter, all we had to do was provide her with a scratchy box and she used that for honing her claws.
But the scratchy box was more than that; it was a security blanket. We had brought her to a completely unfamiliar place, where there was nothing and no one she recognized. The only familiar thing in this ocean of strange was the scratchy box. As soon as I put it down, she ran over to scratch it. Then she lay down on it, claiming it as her own. Here was something she recognized. She understood its purpose, and better yet, she doesn’t have to share it. It’s hers.
Her Majesty is very possessive of that scratchy box, even more than she is of her toys. At first she would flee when we walked too close to it, and quickly return as soon as it seemed safe. Now that she’s becoming established as household nobility, she’ll hold her ground even if we actually move the scratchy box. My son finds it very entertaining to gently slide the scratchy box out from under the coffee table as she sits atop it, looking bemused.
If anyone should touch or move the thing, she will immediately dash over to re-establish her claim. And we often have to move it, because she’s fond of leaping onto it from a full gallop and surfing it halfway out from under the coffee table. After she seems done with cat craziness for the time being, I’ll slide it back under. And she’ll run over and perch on it, to make sure we all know it still belongs to her.
Once while doing yoga on the floor, I absent-mindedly put the TV remote on the scratchy box. Duchess darted over and draped her front half on the other end, looking alertly at the intruding device. I apologized and moved the remote to the floor.
This photo was taken right after a vacuuming. I move the scratchy box to vacuum under the coffee table, and as soon as I’m done and the horrid noisy thing is safely locked in the closet, she reclaims her scratchy box.
So, just in case we’re not all clear: that’s her scratchy box.