Sunday, April 20, 2008

The Carnivorous Criminals

They broke into the bag of chicken strips!

Yes, as mentioned previously, we found an alternative to Trader Joe's chicken strips (marketed for dogs) when our Trader Joe's stopped carrying them. In PetSmart, we found "Smokehouse" brand chicken breast strips (again for dogs). The boys love these as much as the Trader Joe's brand. They are $9.99 for a pound bag (above). The Trader Joe's brand is, surprisingly, more expensive (when we can get it).

We store the bag o' chicken on the top of the refrigerator. Well, our boys are smarter than we thought. They realized that the thing we are putting on top of the fridge contains the stuff of dreams! They somehow managed to get on top of the fridge and they knocked the bag down, and together they ate the top of the bag open. See the photo below which shows the damage they did. We caught them probably seconds before they actually got anything out of the bag. Little carnivorous criminals!

We have to say that we are not entirely sure that these are perfectly good for cats to eat, and we plan to call our vet to check. Both of the boys seemed to have an evening this week when they did not feel well, but we honestly cannot attribute it to the chicken. After all, what's wrong with chicken? We did reduce their daily chicken strip ration to half a breast each, though (the Smokehouse brand strips can be broken in half by hand).

The boys beg almost all day for these treats. So if they're not good for cats, it's a shame! I'll let you know what the vet says once we find out. See the evidence of the boys' breaking and entering above. The package comes with a zip-loc top, which they destroyed.

Here's Boo looking awfully satisfied with himself after the crime.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Cats vs. Dogs

Two hilarious cats vs. dogs pieces:


Excerpts from a Dog's Diary:

  • 8:00am - Dog food! My favorite thing!
  • 9:30am - A car ride! My favorite thing!
  • 9:40am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing! - 10:30am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!
  • 12:00pm - Lunch! My favorite thing!
  • 1:00pm - Play in the yard! My favorite thing!
  • 3:00pm - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!
  • 5:00pm - Dog Biscuits! My favorite thing!
  • 7:00pm - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!
  • 8:00pm - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!
  • 11:00pm - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!
Excerpts from a Cat's Diary:

Day 983 of my captivity. My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat, while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape. In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet. Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped it would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a "good little hunter" I am.

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard my confinement was due to the power of "allergies." I must learn what this means, and how to use it to my advantage. Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches. The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released and seems more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded. The bird has got to be an informant. I observe him communicate with the guards regularly. I am certain that he reports my every move. My captors have arranged protective custody for him in an elevated cell, so he is safe. For Now.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Live (sort of) Prey

We found a new cat toy that the boys go crazy for. It's made by OurPets, and it is a "Play-n- Squeak Mouse". The mouse contains a microchip that causes it to squeak with a VERY realistic sound when the mouse is batted around. Brilliant! It fascinated our cats for a long time and while they are no longer playing with it 24-7, they still play with it a great deal. The gray mouse with pink ears and tail and plush fur comes alone or in two "interactive" versions that we've seen: on a string attached to a hand-held wand, and on a string that hangs from a door-hanger. We have all three but have not yet opened the wand - the boys are busy enough with the door and "stringless" versions! The prices are amazingly reasonable for such cleverly-designed toys (yes, the microchip alone makes these toys very innovative). The mouse itself is $5.99, while the interactive versions are each $7.99. The photo above shows Boo with the mouse. Ah, we forgot to mention that these toys all contain catnip. Luckily, our boys respond strongly to cat nip (not all cats do). They love it!

After a visit to the OurPets web site, we see that they also offer the Play-n-Squeak Mouse with a rod and reel. That's a great idea. We have a "CatFisher Rod and Reel" made by Bamboo and Ivan and Boo just love it. That's the toy that they beg us to get out every evening. We can sit (or stand! We're not always lazy!) and cast the mouse lure for great distances and reel it in quickly, slowly, in spurts, or not at all, depending on the boys' moods. We have not tested the OurPets rod and reel, but we can tell you that the Bamboo version is well-constructed and relatively easy to repair when the fishing line inevitably gets bunched up in the reel (fishermen know that this happens with "real" reels, too, so it's not necessarily a defect in the product). We've had the Bamboo rod and reel for a couple of years and use it a lot, and it's still hanging in there. We have had to replace the lures, which can be purchased separately. The Bamboo CatFisher Rod and Reel currently sells at PetSmart for $19.99. It comes with two lures. The OurPets rod and reel (above) is $17.99 and comes with the Play-n-Squeak Mouse as the lure.

By the way, Ivan and Boo also love the "string" that attaches the Play-n-Squeak Mouse to the hand wand or door hanger. They've always been fascinated by snake-like objects, and the string on these toys has a weight to it that makes it move "snakily". They can't resist it.

Sunday, April 6, 2008

Chewy Cat Goodness!

The boys got another round in the Klaw Kontrol bag for some klaw klipping last night (we previously reviewed this product). Once again Ivan bopped Boo, this time TWICE, while Boo was confined. We had to remove Ivan from the room while Boo was being clipped! But yet again we had a successful klaw klipping session, which we hope will protect our leather couch and chair from claw scratches.

It's been cooler lately so the boys have been all over us. Last night Ivan decided he needed to sleep on my shoulder while I watched a bit of TV. Boo was feeling cuddly and slept in my lap. He's not always a cuddlemuffin, so we take it when we can get it.

They've started begging for between-meal-snacks. We give them two kinds. First are Greenies, which they absolutely love. Boo will stand on his hind legs for these. [OK, as I write this, I am seated in an office chair at my computer desk, and Ivan's hind legs are on the back of the chair, and his front legs are on my shoulders as he checks out my jacket and tries to groom my hair. He loves my hair, and I think it might be the hairspray! Don't worry, I don't let him groom my hair. I'm pretty sure hairspray isn't good for him.] Greenies come in several flavors, but the boys prefer the fishy ones (tuna, salmon, ocean fish). The second snack they get is Trader Joe's Chicken Breast Strips. These are marketed for dogs, but the cats go nuts over them.

When I found the chicken breast strips, I was actually looking for things that cats might like to chew on. These boys both have a nice case of pica ("eating non-food items"). If you've heard of pica, it's probably in the context of dogs who eat their own feces. Thank heavens these cats don't have that problem. No, they like to eat fabrics. Usually natural fibers (cotton, silk) but they have been known to go for a soft synthetic. Luckily I have a sewing machine so I can fix the damage they did before we caught them chewing our clothes. Since then we've learned to keep the closet well-closed and not let clothes lay around. Or dish towels - the picture shows a normal dish towel next to one that Ivan got his teeth into.

We did quite a bit of research on this fabric-chewing and found that about 5% of cats suffer from this. Some experts feel it is a displaced nursing reflex, others think the cats are missing something in their diets (the latter is unlikely as we feed them Science Diet "Nature's Best"). I simply feel these guys learned to chew while teething and just haven't gotten over it. They also love to chew cardboard (especially the cardboard cat scratchers) and Papermate Sharpwriter pencils. The only non-food items they swallow, though, are fabric. Since the pieces are small, the vet thinks it's not dangerous ( while eating dental floss or holiday tinsel is dangerous as those can get lodged in the cat's gut). Anyhow, since I thought it was a chewing compulsion, I started looking for things they might like to chew that were intended for that purpose, like dog rawhide toys.

I found some basted rawhide "sticks" made for very small dogs. They are about the diameter of a pencil, and about half as long. The cats were sort of interested in them, and they'd chew on them if I held the sticks, but somehow the cats seemed to have trouble "holding" the sticks by themselves so they could chew them. (Though how they manage to chew the Sharpwriter pencils is an interesting question.)

I also found a company called Petstages which makes toys and products for cats' various needs, including chewing. The cats would play with these chew toys (made of fabric and scented with catnip). But they didn't chew on them much. These toys are rather stiff, and the boys seem to prefer softer fabrics for chewing. So they mostly bat the Petstages chew toys around.

While looking at Trader Joe's pet section, I saw some desiccated chicken breasts for dogs. They are about 3-4 inches long and from 1/2 to 1 1/2 inches wide. They are pretty hard and rigid. I bought a bag of those just to see if the cats would like them. Voilá! They LOVE them. When I first gave the boys one each, Ivan took about five minutes to eat his, and Boo took about ten. They chewed and chewed until the things were gone. However, I was worried about calories as the vet said Boo could stand to lose a few pounds, so I started cutting the breasts in half (using garden pruning shears!!!) and giving each cat a half, and when the breasts are cut in half the cats chew them up pretty quickly. The sole ingredient in these strips is "dried chicken breast fillets" per the packaging. They are made in China, but I can't imagine the manufacturer would feel the need to add melamine to these.

So, for any of you looking for chewy items for your cats, try the Petstages products, but if all else fails try the Trader Joe's Chicken Breast Strips for dogs! (Unfortunately my local TJ's was out of them today, but they are pretty good about getting them back in stock.) The below video is of Ivan chewing his [whole] chicken breast strip.