As I mentioned a month or so ago, I live up high, high enough that the upper branches of old ponderosa pines are what I see when I look out my window. I like this a lot, but it presents certain problems for the creature I share my apartment with: my cat.
Dinah loved the house I sold last summer, because it afforded seasonal fun: during months when the weather was nice, she could hang out on its awesome screened-in porch--she could sit at the door and watch bunnies hop across the lawn and birds hunt for bugs; and when she got tired of that, she could always retire to the couch and just look really cute. When it was cold, there was a stairway perfect for games of cat-and-toy-mouse (I'd throw them and she'd swat them away like baseballs if she felt like making me do most of the work; other times, she'd attack them fiercely).
But this apartment has no porch for her to go out on, and the windows aren't even very kitty-friendly, because the screens are on the inside, which is annoying in a bunch of ways: it means that I have to open the screen, then open the window, then close the screen--two extra steps--every time I want to open a window. Second, it means that the sill a cat would normally hang out on is behind the screen. Dinah was often very bored and I didn't know what to do about it--until recently.
Given that there are all these tall trees around me, I figured there should be birds on the branches. I wished I had a bird feeder to attract them, but I wouldn't know how to hang it from a tree 100 feet in the air. So eventually, I decided just to scatter bird seed on the very wide ledges on the outside of my windows. I went to a pet supply store and bought mixed bird seed guaranteed to attract a variety of song birds.
Except it didn't. Oh, a few birds would show up, but not reliably. And, as I noticed one day when I inspected my window ledges, they seemed to eat the sunflower seeds and leave everything else.
So I went and bought a big bag of sunflower seeds, spread them on the ledges, and waited.
Well! Suddenly there were birds, and birds, and birds--mostly different kinds of sparrows, which weren't all that thrilling for me, but I didn't do this so I could engage in birdwatching; I did this so my cat would be entertained. And my oh my, has it worked.
She'll sit for hours on the other side of whatever window the birds are at, her tail twitching in whatever cats feel while they're imagining killing a bird they can't get to. Her ears go back, and she crouches low enough that she can see the birds but they can't see her. If it's warm enough I open a window, and her nostrils flare as she evaluates some birdy scent I can't detect.
In this photo, you can see the birds on the ledge. Notice how she's trying to hide.
Here she is on the table where I set my laptop to work. This window ledge is my favorite one to spread bird seed on, because then I watch the birds and Dinah myself. But if I really want to get something done, I use a different ledge.
Here she is being all Cheshire-catish--notice the curled tail.
Here she is being Cheshire-catish and cute and looking at me instead of the birds because I was clicking a camera and distracting her.
When I see her sitting like this, utterly rapt and entertained, for the better part of an hour, I feel I am fulfilling an obligation as a pet owner as important as giving her adequate food and water. It makes me happy--as does the fact that she's not crouched at my chair, meowing plaintively because she's bored.