For many, the feline agility competition — we prefer the term "cat gymnastics" — is very serious, perhaps even fierce athletic enterprise. For The New York Times, it's a worthwhile window into a quirky trend piece that's literally worth a thousand words. (1,075 to be exact — we counted.) Due out in the Saturday Sports section but just posted online, Times reporter Jennifer A. Kingson's take on cat gymnastics is a terrific way to spend your Friday lunch break. All the news that's fit to print, ladies and gentlemen:
Some cats tear through the course in seconds. Others make it clear to the eager onlookers that they could not care less.
"You have to get the cat to focus on the toy," said Anthony Hutcherson, who raises Bengal cats in Port Tobacco, Md., and whose oldest cat, Justin, has run the course in nine seconds. "Cats will pretty much chase a feather on a string anywhere."
Newspapers will pretty much chase linkbait anywhere, we thought at first. But Kingson is a pro at taking off-beat, viral traffic-friendly posts you might expect to see on BuzzFeed and crafting it into an informative story. She's the same Timeswoman who taught us how Dippin' Dots are made! (May they rest in peace.) Kingson even covers the pet health angle of the issue:
Veterinarians are in favor of this kind of play. “I think we let cats’ brains rot, and I think it’s really sad,” said Cynthia M. Otto, an associate professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine.
She herself has trained her cat to ride a skateboard, and her dog to push it. “If you start doing this, it really changes your relationship with your animal and enhances your bond,” Otto said.
Now for the obligatory YouTube video, for all you owners of lazy kitties that refuse to go to gymnastics class.