I don’t know about your cat, but mine is all about trash. She loves eating trash. She loves playing with trash. She loves being trash. No matter how many cute, not-cheap cat toys I purchase for her with my hard-earned money, she will always have a preference for bits of refuse that fall to floor. (What does she do if there’s no trash on the floor? She pulls it out of a trashcan.)
Just a couple of days ago, I found her playing with an un-popped popcorn kernel, and she was having more fun with that piece of corn than I’ve ever had with anything (including corn, which is saying something). She was batting it to and fro, chasing it here and there, trying to pick it up with her mouth and failing. This went on for like half an hour—a long time for something to hold her attention.
I thought I had finally figured out the kind of “proper” toy that would appeal to her, but I was wrong. After many hours of careful observation, I concluded she had an affinity for things that move like bugs, so I was optimistic about a little battery-powered bug toy that my parents bought her for Christmas. But an un-popped popcorn kernel it was not, and she remained unmoved.
This broke me, somewhat, and I realized that all the fancy cat toys had been for my entertainment, and that I should just let her play with trash. I’m not buying my little garbage goblin any more fancy cat toys, not when I have plenty of bottle caps, packaging material, and un-popped popcorn kernels literally at my disposal, and all I have to do is not dispose of them (at least not immediately). From here on out, I’m going to let my cat play with trash, and I suggest you do the same. (The Cat Dancer is the only exception to this “no real toys” rule, but the Cat Dancer is a piece of cardboard affixed to a piece of wire—aka glorified trash sold at a slight markup.)
You should, of course, make sure it is safe trash. Things your cat could swallow and choke on (like ribbon, string, or small bits of plastic) should be taken from them, because they are stupid and ruled by strange instincts. But if you find your cat playing with a piece of garbage that will not endanger their wellbeing in any way, let them. Let them bat a bottle cap, chase a packing peanut, and pounce on some wrapping paper. Let them play with trash. Let them be trash. (And tell me what trash your cat loves in the comments, please. I love to read about trash cats.)