not a professional. just crazy.

All 6 Cats in My Family Go Nuts Over This Giant Unicorn Tunnel

Rio’s sister’s cat, Tarzana, peeking out from the unicorn. Photo: Courtesy Rio Viera-Newton

It may or may not surprise you to learn that I am obsessive in more areas of my life than just beauty. And that is especially true when it comes to cats. More specifically, my cat, Martini, who came into my life one year ago.

My love for cats isn’t new. I’ve always had a feline companion close by: My parents have three (Disco, Nike, and Blue), and I was my sister’s go-to cat sitter throughout college (her “children” are named Tarzana and Marmite). But when I got Martini, things changed — I began texting my mom and sister — both of whom have a very good track record for keeping healthy, friendly felines (Nike is nearly 17!) — constantly for advice. I pepper them with questions, from which flowers I can bring home from the bodega (avoid lilies at all costs!), to the best odor-eliminating litter tricks (cat-safe baking soda is a must). I obsess because I am obsessed with Martini: When she is happy, I’m happy — watching her merrily gobble up food or enjoy a blissful snooze on her cat bed gives me a real sense of joy.

A couple of weeks ago, my sister texted my mother and I a photo of her cat Tarzana peeking out of a strange giant tunnel. Upon closer inspection, I realized the tunnel was actually the tubed “leg” of a giant toy that loosely resembled a unicorn. “This thing … ” she wrote dramatically, “Is the best money I’ve ever spent. Tarzana is obsessed.” Cute, I thought. A few days later, I got a text from my mom — it was a photo of the same bizarre unicorn toy, but in her house, with two of her cats peeking out of two of the unicorn’s “legs.” “The cats are losing it,” she wrote.

If you’re a cat owner, you know that not every toy is a success — I’ve purchased dozens of chic, MoMa Design Store–esque cat toys, like these beautiful felted wool balls, that Tini hasn’t even so much as looked at. But since Disco, Nike, Blue, Tarzana, and Marmite were all fans of this strange unicorn monstrosity, I decided I’d buy it to see if Tini would respond the same way.

It arrived in a compact circle; when I untied the two strings on the side, it immediately popped up, expanding into the giant unicorn creature I’d seen in the pictures. Martini promptly lost it. And has been losing it more or less ever since. She sprints through all the little tunnels, weaving in and out of them like a maniac. And then when she’s finally out of energy, she slinks up into a little ball in one of the unicorn arms, all cozy. She can entertain herself on her own in it, but I find it’s a great interactive toy as well — I tap my fingers along the roof of the unicorn and she goes absolutely berserk, pawing and meowing at the ceiling.

As you can likely tell from the picture, this toy is massive — about four feet long, when fully stretched out. But it’s saving grace is that it quickly and easily folds up into an extremely thin, easy-to-store ring. And yes, this strange thing is a little pricier than most cat toys I own (I usually budget $15–20, tops), but truthfully, I have not regretted this purchase for a second. It keeps her busy and entertained when I’m out of the house or working from home, and honestly, there are few things more entertaining than watching one’s cat thrash about in a giant purple unicorn.

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All 6 Cats in My Family Go Nuts Over This Unicorn Tunnel