A few days ago I put together my largest order of kitty-come-home balls to date: 13 of them, each being sent to a supporter of The Wild Hunt. Since I was alone in a room for several hours (for reasons which will become clear), I figured it was also a good opportunity to document the process of how I create the world’s first magical cat attractor.
In case you don’t know, I came up with this design after losing one cat, and nearly losing another. Some cats are simply not going to be happy and healthy if they are cooped up inside, try as we humans might; a minority of mine insist on going out. The purpose of the kitty-come-home ball is to create a link with those cats and clear away any barriers to them returning home for dinner.
Creating a magical item that will be used by an animal is only successful if that item works in concert with the animal’s nature. Hence the string ball: lots of cats enjoy playing with them. My cat Peregrine is the poster animal for this cat toy because he knows exactly what to do with it. Every time he comes back inside, he seeks it out and bats it around for a recharge. It’s really quite adorable; sometimes he’ll just walk over top of it and start in with his back feet before falling over and getting all four paws involved.
I selected lodestone as the core because it’s got attractive properties. Magnetite, as it’s often called, can be magnetized with little effort and is a common ingredient in spells that involve drawing things toward the caster, such as money, love, or in this case, cats.
Unfortunately, the only sources of drilled lodestone beads I’ve found only have these flat ones, which can be a pain to wind initially. However, I have found it gets easier with practice. Thanks, Wild Hunt readers, for helping me!
Wrapping string around an oblong, slippery, tiny object can be tricky; keep in mind that this is when I begin working the magic into the kitty-come-home ball and the complexity is easier to appreciate. I have thought about using an adhesive for this stage, but only if I can find one that’s completely edible and non-toxic. Until then, I’ll just learn to visualize while squinting.
What separates real magic from prestidigitation isn’t a spelling variation that is impossible to detect in conversation. No, it’s the fact that forces which are poorly understood work in concert with forces that have been studied and tested more rigorously. In the case of the kitty-come-home ball, catnip extract gives many cats the impetus to play with it in the first place. However, there are catnip toys in my home that are more than twenty years old, and lost their drugginess before the current crop of kitties every encountered them, yet they are still popular. There’s more even to catnip than meets the eye.
When calculating my costs for creating the kitty-come-home ball, I didn’t factor in the dry catnip needed to distract the local beasts while I work, lest they drive me insane by whining outside the door.
As it happens, I also didn’t properly factor in my time, and when I applied the cost of goods sold I realized that I was only making about two dollars an hour. That was a revelation! I’m glad I realized this while putting together donations.
My work space can be closed off to restrict access to cats, but it in no way eliminates the scent of the catnip extract. If it weren’t for the window panels I might have been able to soldier on, but that face! How can anyone be expected to resist it? Dawn spent half the time just staring at me like this; once she started to mew, it was all over. I will always be a sucker for an adorable face, a fact that she has ever understood.
Once the toys are assembled and charged, I put them in plastic zipper bags which I then store in a sealed plastic container on a high shelf of a cabinet with a door until it’s time to pack them for shipping.
I have no illusions that my cats would not, given enough time, figure out how to get to them no matter where I hide them, which is one of several reasons why I will always make them to order. Nobody wants strange cat drool on their new magical cat toy, after all.
If you have made it to the end of this rambling post, dear reader, then you get to be among the first to learn the bad news, and the good news, about the kitty-come-home ball. As indicated above, the price is just too low, and I had to raise it to cover my costs and actually make these worth my while. That’s the bad news. The good news, though, is that the coupon code PEREGRINE will take $5.00 off your order when applied at check-out. That’s a limited time offer, and expires on January 31, 2017.