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.