Not-so-Crazy Cat Lady

They say the first step in overcoming addiction is admitting you have a problem.

I think I may be a crazy cat lady.

There, I said it. Let the healing begin!

Except – well, wait a minute. I don’t think I need healing or a twelve-step recovery. I don’t actually mind being a crazy cat lady. I have three cats, all of whom I adore for their finicky, fidgety, furry and ferocious personalities. I have tailored my house (and my routine) to the cats (and even the poor family dog has had to come on board with this, as she is an elderly Irish Terrier who has had no option but to accept life with cats). And I must admit I spoil the cats, enough that my seventeen-year old daughter who lives in Calgary to attend school has evoked some envy of the felines and their rather luxurious lifestyle.

Even so, I have denied the crazy cat lady (CCL) label until just recently, when I picked up a new technological marvel for pet owners and simply decided to give in to the CCL side of myself.

I saw it online some time ago. I considered it briefly but dismissed it as a bit absurd, until I began to experience some issues with the cats. You see, all three cats are adopted from the SPCA, all were adults when they arrived in my home and all have very distinct personalities. Two of the cats – the two males who were adopted first, although a year apart – are thick as thieves, and one would think they might be litter mates except that that are completely different in physical appearance. The third cat – a female – arrived one year later, and things were going along fairly well until the evacuation in May and all of us spent a very long month crammed into a string of hotel rooms with one litterbox.

When we returned home, things began to take a slide sideways with the cats. Occasional cat fights would break out, usually between the fat fluffy orange and white male cat and the sleek fluffy grey female cat. And on at least two occasions I emerged from the shower to what can only be described as the scene of a crime, complete with broken home décor and blood splatter gore, as a fight had gone beyond the hissing and growling stage into something far more physical. In the lack of direct evidence, though, I only had suspicions as to who was involved and theories as to why; but in recent weeks I found a device that would help to unravel the mystery.

The PetCube Play is a small innocuous device available at many electronics retailers. It is, fundamentally, a kitty spycam. It is equipped with night vision, the ability to both hear and speak to your pet, motion and noise detection, the opportunity to take photos and videos, and, just for fun, a laser pointer. And you control it all through an app on your smartphone.

When I looked at it initially it was really more out of curiosity than any sense of need, but after the second blood splatter incident I realized I needed to determine a few things, like who was fighting and when and over what; as the fights were always breaking out in the same location, a camera set up to spy on them 24/7 seemed like a novel way to learn the information I needed.

And so I took the plunge and purchased the PetCube, setting it up in my living room. It could not have been any easier to install, and it worked exactly as promised. In fact, it worked even better than I could have ever imagined, as on the first night I found myself staying up way past my normal bedtime simply to marvel at the ability to spy on the cats in the dark.

What I discovered through my new kitty spycam is that the cats sleep all day. Literally. One of the cats, in fact, rarely moves during the day aside from an occasional yawn or stretch, spending most of his time sprawled out on the sofa back. And the other two cats, the ones I suspected of fighting?

They don’t fight during the day. Ever. In fact, what the PetCube has shown me is that the two suspected assailants only ever assault each other at one point in time: when I am home. The common factor in every fight is the presence of their owner, which seems to indicate they fight not over territory or turf but over access to the single human in the home. In fact the female cat rarely ventures into the living room during the day, preferring to be other places until I return home – and that is when the trouble begins, as she wanders into a space the male cats have deemed their ‘hood.  This alone has made the kitty spycam worth the $350 it cost.

But, as they say on television, wait, there’s more!

PetCube Play allows you to set up access for others to the camera feed. This means my daughter, who initially dismissed the concept of a camera for the cats as some new level of batshit crazy her mother had sunk to, can watch and even use the laser pointer to play with the cats – from eight hundred kilometres away. I can always tell when she is online as I find a red laser beam dancing somewhere around my forehead and cats frantically swarming the sofa in an attempt to capture the elusive red dot, smacking me with barely sheathed claws in the process.

I have now observed the cats during the day and during the night. I have seen how, when I arrive home at the end of the day, they leap off the sofa to greet the human can opener, the only creature in the house with opposable thumbs and therefore of some limited value in the feline mind. I have witnessed zero fights and I have seen a lot of enviable sleeping, stretching and yawning.

Most of all, though, I have discovered this small technological wonder allows my daughter to connect with her cats again, diminishing some of her longing for them. It allows me to keep an eye on them and to occasionally peek into a serene scene at my home, cats lounging on the sofa and an occasional woof from the kitchen, where the elderly dog prefers to spend her daytime hours as it is free of cats and cameras.

This is not a paid review – I paid full price for the PetCube Play and I would do so again, as it has already been worth every dime. This is also not a full admission of my descent into the land of the crazy cat lady, as the kitty spycam is not nearly as nutty as it may initially sound; in fact, I think many pet owners would enjoy seeing what their pets are up to every day (and night, should they be the kind of stalkers I am).

And if one reads this and happens to think I am a Crazy Cat Lady, then I accept that label with pride and with a complete lack of regret. But, I am a Crazy Cat Lady with a kitty spycam, and that, my friends, makes all the difference.


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