Anyway, yesterday I came home to discover that one of my cacti had been decapitated - that is, it's lovely purple flower had been unceremoniously plucked off. Our cats have a similar approach to orchids.
There is, however, some good that has come from this. Since the separated flower was still intact, I thought, "Maybe I can just glue it back on and no one will ever know the difference." As I closely inspected the base of the flower that was still attached to the cactus, I began to suspect that this is, in fact, how the flower came to be part of the cactus in the first place. Both flowers look like they were glued on - albeit deftly - to the tops of my cactus.
Thus began some research into cactus varieties and cactus flowers. Not only did I discover that my suspicions were correct, but I learned a little about my cacti in the process (this is the good part I referred to above). Turns out, this is a common deception. The flowers are called 'straw flowers' and are often attached to cacti with a hot glue gun to attract the attention of the uninformed buyer. Worked on this lady.
The good news is, I can just glue the flower back on. The bad news is, these flowers don't last forever and removing them when they no longer look good is difficult.
During my research I learned that this particular variety of cactus is called a 'Fairy Castle' because it grows all those little offshoots that make it look like a turret-filled castle. The name alone makes this cactus worth owning.
I also learned that the cactus growing next to it is actually a grafted cactus. The top, orange portion is a cactus mutation called a 'Moon Cactus,' and it cannot survive on its own because it lacks chlorophyll (which is why it is orange, red, or pink rather than green). Experienced cactus farmers graft it onto the top of another cactus that does produce chlorophyll; eventually they merge, and the chlorophyll-containing cactus sustains the Moon Cactus.
So, even though my 'cactus flower' was plucked from its perch, turns out not much harm was really done, and I became a little more knowledgeable about cacti as a result.