Meow, meow meow! 喵 喵 喵！
I made these and all sorts of other cat noises while clawing empty air with my hands. The very old Chinese lady shop keeper looked at me as if I were insane — or, to borrow a term from the British, “a bit mental.” I didn’t blame her. I did look a bit silly. Only, this is what you resort to when you Chinese is terrible, and Baidu Translate can’t render “scratching post” in Chinese. When all else fails when you’re a foreigner, you resort to hand signals and bad pantomime.
At the time, I was in a tiny pet shop on Chaohu Road 巢湖路 — which runs between Hohai University and Wanda Plaza in Xinbei. My cat had been missing for a week, and he had just been rescued and I wanted to buy him a “welcome home” gift. There was a practical desire too, before Spock went missing, he was waging war on all the furniture in my apartment. I wanted give him something acceptable to destroy. Eventually, I spotted a scratching post in the corner and simply pointed. She grabbed it, I paid, and I left. As soon as I got home, I presented my gift to my kitty, and he promptly ignored it and started scratching an armchair.
This is just one example of the challenge of having a cat in Changzhou. My assumption is that the locals love birds and dogs more. I base this assumption solely on my shopping experience. Toys and products for dogs are easy to find in supermarkets and pet stores, and merchandise for cats are harder to locate. So, my search is ongoing.