Cats don't just love their comfort; they insist on it. Because of it, our home is stuffed with comfy cushions.
Target's favourite is a giant, soft red-and-blue medallion print that sits on the red chair. The Sarawak batik that we share at night comes a close second.
Swooner's is delft blue-and-white pad that lies on the garden bench outside. We've had to repair two little rips in it because it's worn from the hot sun and quiet, happy clawing. We don't dare replace it, though, because it's been his since he was a kitten.
Tic Tac sleeps on her high shelf, queen of all she surveys. Also, like Goldilocks, she tries out all the different spots.
Her current favourite is the Malaysian Conservation Society batik throw that lies on top of the Indonesian batik pillow. It is currently edged with a "purrfect cat" pillow, a gift from Charlie, the cat who lives across the street.
That corner spot on the sofa is also one of Target’s best spots. He crawls in underneath the turtle batik in the chill of the morning air and during the monsoon when the temperature drops to a freezing 20°C.
As our pets' passion is well-known among our friends, we also have red and gold chinoiserie, plain purple cotton, and cheery daisy flower cushions scattered across strategic snoozing places. Each is upholstered in cat fur and lovingly clawed on a regular basis.
So, when I spotted a purple faux fur pet bed online, I was convinced instantly that fuzzies would love it. Half a meter across, 15cm deep, and rich with fringe, it looked like the Rolls-Royce of feline lounge equipment.
Inspired, I placed an order and within two days, the package arrived.
At first, it went splendidly. The cats squeaked with excitement at the sight of the parcel. It was squished up tight, and as I slit it open, all three cats watching carefully, the new bed expanded rapidly, exploding out of the wrapper.
Target, Swooner and Tic Tac scattered. When they were certain it lay still, our three furry hunters held their tails low, pinned back ears and whiskers, and crept closer.
Target being the eldest and bravest, was the first to sniff it. As the purple monster didn't devour him, the other two leopard-crawled nearer, patted it and danced away histrionically.
When they established it was safe, they sat around it and stared. That was my great moment. I ruffled the fringe, exclaiming at the softness, pointed out the generous thickness of the padding, and lavishly praised the magnificence of the whole.
Pure cotton, I assured them, made to look and feel like lamb's wool. It was ideal, I proposed, designed for purrfect catnapping.
The cats did not agree. They stalked off, determined to revile it.
We thought it might smell weird. So Tom and I took turns sitting on it. We did so, fully aware that non-cat guardians would laugh at us, but we did it anyway.
Considering maybe they were spooked by the crackle of the anti-skid bottom, we turned it upside-down and invited them to play. Tic Tac had a go, biting the fringe, but stalked off when we turned it the right way up.
We tried putting them in it. We tried holding it on our laps and inviting the cats for cuddles. Finally, we even tried stealthily switching it with Target's medallion print and the daisy cushion. Our obstinate furries refused to go near it.
Ruefully, we had to admit it's pretty typical: if a manufacturer goes out of their way to design and build a special product for cats, the contrary furries inevitably prefer the box it comes in.
As friends advised us, mostly between gusts of ill-concealed laughter, we finally resorted to bribery. As Tic Tac is the youngest and least cunning, we thought she was our best bet for conning the cats into engagement.
A small plate of liver and squid goop, her favourite, set deep inside the cushion, attracted her attention. Nostrils flaring, whiskers twirling, our kitten frisked over, stepped daintily into the soft frills – and then scoffed the treat and scampered.
Now we're at an impasse. All three cats will step into the new cushion but only if we pay them in goop to do so.
As usual, they have the upper paw. However, we have had some heartening news. My brother in Saudi confided that his cats, Christine and Angela, have rejected their 5-star cat basket since day one.
However, when my brother stumbled out of bed in the small hours last week, he came across Christine, fast asleep in it. When she saw him, she looked guilty and pretended she wasn’t really enjoying herself.
So, I will be sneaking around in the middle of the night, hoping to find the purple bed filled with furries. We'll keep you posted.
Cats adore cardboard boxes, sofas, chairs, bookshelves and your bed, but if you want to offer a present, your pet may appreciate a cushion or pet bed. Here are some tips for picking items that work.
Measure your pet when he or she is stretched out. When picking a rest, make sure it’s long enough to lounge in upside-down with all four paws up in the air. If in doubt, buy an inch bigger than you need, just in case it shrinks in the wash.
Expect your kitty to claw and chew their pillow sometimes. Therefore, favour natural fibres like cotton and silk rather than nylon, acrylic, and other synthetic fibres. Don’t forget to check what the stuffing is made of.
Be certain to avoid items that have buttons, toggles, loosely sewn-on items, and anything that may be chewed off and swallowed.
Test the material to make sure it’s colour-fast. With our orange boys, it’s not a huge deal if dye comes off on their fur but as Tic Tac is pure white, we’re testing new things with a bit of damp white cotton. If it stains, we wash the object in cold water and add a splash of vinegar.
Note: There are no international safety standards for pet items, so you can’t rely on claims that items have been checked by professionals to ensure they are pet-friendly. If your pet is a chewer, or you have any doubts, talk to your vet about what to look out for in terms of products as well as signs of tummy trouble.
Maisie is nine months old, spayed and fully vaccinated. This sweet lady cat is very calm and sweet-natured. She would make an ideal companion pet for an elderly adopter.
Interested adopters, please contact SPCA Penang, Jalan Jeti Jelutong, Jelutong, Penang (phone: 04-281 6559). Please make an appointment before visiting.