Saturday, December 12, 2009
One of the items we've had for a while but only just opened is the SnazzyKat NosyMouse. This is a smallish mouse made of shiny fabric with feathers on its back. We assumed it contained catnip, but when the cats were not terribly interested in it, we checked the packaging, and here's what it says on the back: "To lure your cat to play, store or roll NosyMouse in SnazzyKat organic catnip (sold separately)." Well, at least they tell us you have to supply your own catnip, even if it is in fine print! We are storing the toy in catnip at this moment, and we will report back later on how interested the cats are in it once it reeks of nepetalactone (the feline-attracting chemical in catnip).
Another item we had in the cats' toy storage box but had not yet opened is the Lazy Pet Products 8 in 1 Kookamunga Catter Up (I swear I did not make that name up). This is one of those toys that hangs from the top of the door, supposedly enticing cats to bat it about. The cats are mildly interested in it. We hang it next to their Kittywalk Cozy Climber, and they bat at it from inside the Cozy Climber. The toy consists of a hanger, a long string, and a ball and feathers attached at the end of the string. We're not sure where the "8 in 1" comes in, and there's no explanation with the packaging.
The last toy is the biggest hit. We pulled out an old "cat fishing pole" (a stick with string and a lure tied at the end of the string) with the remains of a feather on the end of the string, and Ivan went nuts over the old feather, so we decided to look at PetSmart for a new feather to attach. Not finding that, we instead found a whole new cat fishing pole with feathers on the end for only $3.99. So we bought it. Ivan went nuts over it immediately. Even Boo was interested in it! Ivan gets so involved with the feathers that he growls as though he is guarding prey! We can get Ivan running back and forth and jumping after it, twisting and turning gymnastically in mid-air. Boo, on the other hand, will run in circles after it, tearing up the carpet with his claws. This toy is made by ToyShoppe Playables and is called the Feather Wand Teaser.
Mind you, Ivan and Boo went nuts over the Cat Dancer and the Cat-Aerobics Action Toy (both similar to the "cat fishing pole" type toy), but then grew tired of them. That may happen with this Feather Wand Teaser, also. But we'll keep bringing it out for the boys as long as they show interest.
That reminds us - the Fling-a-Ma-String has been out of circulation in our house for a few months. It's probably just about time to bring it out again and see Ivan and Boo react to it as though it were brand new!
Saturday, November 21, 2009
We wanted to try to redirect his passion for chewing so that it would not be so destructive. We tried cat chew toys (yes, PetStages makes cat chew toys that are intended for teething kittens), we tried rawhide chews made for dogs, etc. We eventually found dried chicken breast strips, marketed for dogs and sold by Trader Joe's. The cats went nuts over these, and the strips seemed to satisfy some of Ivan's chewing urges. However, Trader Joe's stopped carrying those, so we had to find an alternative source. We did, at PetSmart. However (again), we read, after feeding those to the cats for months, that those made in China seemed to cause some health problems in dogs. Knowing about the Chinese melamine pet food scandal, we decided to stop buying dried chicken made in China. Unfortunately, EVERY brand of the chicken strips we could find was made in China! So for the past year or so, Ivan hasn't had much to chew on except what little he could find in the house that we had not already removed from his reach. We substituted freeze dried salmon and shrimp cat treats for the chicken strips, and while the cats love the salmon and shrimp, neither is terribly chewy.
Well, Trader Joe's started carrying a product for dogs that looked interesting. It is a piece of rolled rawhide wrapped in dried chicken breast. Hmm. And it's made in the U.S.A.! Of course, it didn't have to be made here. We would have bought it if it were made just about anywhere but China. But it is made here. We gave each cat one of these, and they went wild! They threw these chicken breast wraps in the air, knocked them around, and pounced on them and chewed the heck out of them. FINALLY! Not only do they like to chew these things, but they like to play with them, too! We hope to have less cardboard and fabric chewing in our future! See Ivan in the photo below looking rather guilty about his bad habit.
Trader Joe's also carries the chicken breast strips again, but we find the chicken breast wraps (with rawhide) to elicit more chewing from the boys. They gobble the breast strips down pretty quickly, and while the chicken is low carb and high protein, the boys are on diets (being indoor cats, they tend to be less active than outdoor cats and so gain weight, despite being on a no-grain, low carb diet already), and the chicken breast wraps have a bit less chicken and require more work (and burning of calories) to get it.
Be very careful in giving these kinds of treats to your cats. You may even wish to speak to your vet about giving your cat the dehydrated chicken breast. We are lucky that our cats are chewers, so they very thoroughly chew the dried chicken and have no problems swallowing or digesting it. But all cats may not be quite so adept at handling the dried chicken. If you want to try it with your cats, break off a very small piece of the chicken and let them eat it. Then slowly increase the size of the piece. The good thing about the chicken breast wraps is that the chicken is wrapped around the rawhide roll, and the cats have to chew bites of the chicken off the rawhide. The chicken is a bit crumbly and so they aren't getting big pieces. But the dehydrated chicken strips are definitely a bit more chewy.
Thursday, November 12, 2009
We love the Feliway diffuser. Feliway is a synthetic version of feline facial pheromones. When your cat rubs his or her face on you, or a corner of table, or a wall corner, or anything else, s/he is rubbing a pheromone of well-being onto those objects. It is a form of marking, but not necessarily a territorial type of marking, like urine marking or vertical scratching. So veterinarians decided that this pheromone was a good thing, and that diffusing it into the local atmosphere would keep cats calm. They also found that it reduced territorial behavior like urine marking and vertical scratching.
I'm here to tell you that it works! We first used it when our 20-year old male cat Ian was diagnosed with cancer. He was given prednisone tablets, which helped him somewhat, but the Feliway diffuser, after a few weeks, really seemed to help Ian calm down and feel more relaxed. He had fairly advanced lymphoma, but with the use of the Feliway and prednisone, he lived a comfortable two months, during which he was eating well and interacting a lot with us.
After we lost Ian, having lost our dear Aggie 10 days earlier, we adopted two kittens, littermates, from our feral cat colony in the country. The Feliway helped Ivan and Boo transition into their new home. Now it helps them remain calm when their tendency is to fight over who is top cat. We can tell when it's time to replace the Feliway diffuser refill - Ivan starts terrorizing Boo! Boo, though the bigger, heavier cat, is so polite that he will not fight back much. So the Feliway diffuser is a true aid in keeping these silly brothers from fighting in the first place.
The diffuser is very simple to use. It is a small unit that plugs unobtrusively into a wall outlet. You screw in a diffuser refill, which lasts about 30 days. The refills are admittedly pricey (typically around $25.00 US), but it's a small price to pay for maintaining peace in the household, not to mention preserving furniture and carpets! We occasionally find the refills on sale and stock up. There is also a Feliway spray, which is useful for spraying in a cat carrier, when you need to take an uncooperative kitty to the vet, or for spraying in a room, when a new kitty has arrived but is in seclusion before being slowly introduced to the indigenous cat population.
Our friends at ModernCat have opened a new shop in Phoenix. They plan to make their wares available via Etsy. Check them out at their Facebook page to keep track of when you can buy their products on line. And if you're in Phoenix, drop by and pay them a visit.
Monday, October 26, 2009
This is why we are on a quest for toys that really engage our cats and get them moving. We've reviewed several here already. Another that we recently found is the Cat-Aerobics "Action Toy" and step-by-step aerobics program. Yep, that's what it says on the package! The package contains a toy that is somewhat similar to the Cat Dancer (see our previous blog entry), but improved upon. That is saying a lot.
We were astounded by how our cats reacted to the Cat Dancer. It is such a simple thing: a piece of baling wire with cardboard rolls attached at the ends. Ivan and Boo went nuts over it and even asked us (in their inimitable feline way) to get it out each day. Now they do that with the Cat-Aerobics toy, but even more! Why? Because the makers of the Cat-Aerobics toy have, as mentioned, improved upon the Cat Dancer theme by enhancing it. They've added a wooden handle for the human on one end, and a colorful lure on the other end for the finicky feline.
Also included in the Cat-Aerobics package is a booklet entitled CAT-Aerobics EXERCISE PROGRAM Instructions. This little booklet contains some good ideas for exercising your cat, some as simple as scratching him under the chin to more complex movements of the toy that cause him to jump into the air.
Ivan and Boo went nuts over this toy the moment it came out of the package. They turn into panting maniacs when we drag this toy around the room. The rubber, critter-like lure on the end seems to be the big attraction. Congratulations, SunRae Products, for improving on what we thought was the ultimate cat toy!
We bought this product ourselves and did not receive a review sample from the manufacturer.
FROLICAT BOLT UPDATE
After three months of fun, the Bolt laser toy decided to stop working in automatic mode last week. We searched the web for a FAQ that might tell us how to fix it, but instead we found the manufacturer's site and checked the on-line product user guide, which indicated that they would repair or replace a defective Bolt within one year of purchase. Here's the text from the user guide:
If you have questions about BOLT™ or any of our products, please call us toll free at (888) 726-MEOW (6369) to speak with one of our knowledgeable cat-loving staff. If there is ever a problem, FroliCat will replace or repair your BOLT interactive laser toy for one year. Just call our toll-free number.
We called the number, and as we are on the West Coast, and they are in Chicago, and it was late in our business day, we got voice mail for "Sarah". We left Sarah a message, explaining that we'd purchased the Bolt about three months ago, and it suddenly stopped working in auto-mode. We told her we had the receipt for purchase, and we wondered what we needed to do to get the item repaired or replaced, and we left our call-back number. Sarah's greeting indicated that we would be called back on the next business day. The next business day was Friday. We did not receive a call back. Today, the third business day after we left our message, we still have not had a response.
If the Bolt web site had not indicated they would repair or replace, and if Sarah's voice mail had not indicated that we would be contacted on the next business day, perhaps we would not be so disappointed in this crummy customer service. Maye we should have told them that we have a cat product review blog and had already given the Bolt a glowing review. But we didn't. Since then, because the cats have really missed their Bolt in auto mode, we bought a new one. They are $19.99 at PetSmart. That's a bit pricey to last only three months! FroliCat, if you read this review and are interested in repairing or replacing the defective Bolt (or simply refunding us the cost of the replacement we bought ourselves), drop us a line.
Sunday, October 11, 2009
After a few months, we got word that the Kritter Kondo was finally available for purchase! We contacted Lisa, the owner and mastermind behind the Kondo, and asked if she would be interested in covering the shipping cost to send us a Kondo for review. She immediately agreed, so we saved around $18. We paid only for the Kondo itself, which currently sells for $124.99.
It took a week and a half or so, but the Kondo finally arrived via UPS. It comes with its own padded carrying case that has lots of pockets inside for holding the bag of pins that give the Kondo its structural integrity, plus it can hold lots of your own supplies - pet food and treats, people snacks/water, pretty much anything you like! The case is large, so the shoulder strap on it is a must. It is relatively easy to tote around - from the car to the patio, or from the car to the park or beach - you get the idea. The carrying case measures 30 inches tall by 36 inches wide and about five inches thick.
We first set up the Kondo indoors, to let the kitties get accustomed to it. It's easy to set up. Lay it flat on the ground, with the base frame on the bottom, and lift up the two ends. Then you insert the eight pins and voilá, you're done, and the Kondo is ready for its residents to enter!
Ivan and Boo checked it out for the couple of days that we had it open in the house. Then we made some space on our patio (which is currently pretty well occupied by potted plants, a small table and chairs, and a barbecue grill!) and set the Kondo up outside. It is a perfect fit on our patio! And it is quite spacious, even for two adult cats. They had room to walk around and check things out. They had quite the afternoon in the sun! The fully opened enclosure is 2 feet tall, 2.5 feet wide, and a whopping 5.5 feet long!
Almost every evening we open the sliding glass door that leads to the patio and we leave the screen door shut, and the boys love to lounge in front of the screen. We tried to escape-proof the patio with the plastic equivalent of chicken wire, but we are not convinced that the cats won't find some miniscule escape route, so we rarely let them out, and when we do, it's only for a few moments. However, the Kritter Kondo puts all our fears of escape to rest! We can leave the boys on the patio and go answer the phone or the door, or take a bathroom break, and we know they'll be fine. This is a great load off our minds!
The boys love the opportunity to be outside and smell the smells, hear the sounds, and see the sights. The sun was warm on them today, and they lounged in it. The birds were flitting about, and the boys clucked at them (you've probably had cats who do that!). There were leaves dancing about on the cement of the patio, and the cats batted at them. It was a wonderful afternoon!
The KritterKondo appears to be very well-designed and well-made. It is ridiculously easy to set up and take down. The door opens and closes easily and has a latch to make sure it stays shut when your cats are inside. You'll want to get a zip-loc type bag to store the pins in - the bag of pins will slip right into one of the pockets inside the Kondo storage bag.
There are other companies that make cat "playpens" and outdoor pens, but this is the biggest one at the best price. We haven't seen any other outdoor cat pens of this size, certainly not at this price. And you don't have to live in an apartment to use the Kritter Kondo. We recommend it for anyone who wants their cats to enjoy the outdoors without the risk of them escaping or running away. The Kritter Kondo is available from Kritter Kommunity at www.kritterkommunity.com. Tell them Ivan and Boo sent you.
Please be sure to provide your cats with a shaded area while they are in the Kritter Kondo. Lay a towel over one end of the enclosure, or set it up so that it is partially shaded by a tree. Cats can get sunburned and can even get skin cancer from sun exposure, especially cats who have white fur on part or all of the body.
Monday, August 10, 2009
Of course not! At least, not unless you were somehow convinced that it magically attracts cats, like the pied piper attracted rats. So how does it work?
Monday, August 3, 2009
Thursday, July 9, 2009
One of the many attractive features of the Cozy Climber is the ease with which you can hang it and take it down. We take it down each night because it is on our bedroom door, and if we leave it hanging, the boys jump in and out of it during the night and rattle our bedroom door. So we take it down, and then hang it up again each morning. Of course, this amounts to one less distraction for them during the night, meaning they often get into mischief while we are sleeping!
One last item: we received a sample of bonita flake cat treats from Pur'fect Cat Treats. The boys love these as much as the dehydrated salmon! The only difference is that the bonita flakes are soft and very thin and small. However, if your cats are on a diet, these would be just the right treats for them!
Sunday, June 21, 2009
Friday, May 29, 2009
Sunday, May 17, 2009
Don't let the above photo fool you -- there are four different colors available, at least per the web site.
This box should reduce litter tracking, as the cat will shed litter he's collected in his pads while climbing out of the box. And the holes in the "roof" not only provide ventilation, but they also allow litter that falls from the cat's paws to drop back into the box.
Shortly after first hearing about this gem, we learned it won the ICFF (International Contemporary Furniture Fair) Editor's award for accessories. Not bad!
You can sign up at the ModKat web site to be notified when this litter box is available. There are also many more photos at the web site. And kudos to the ModernCat blog/newsletter for alerting us to this cool find!
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
The corn litter makes the laundry room (where the litter boxes are) smell like Corn Chex. And for some reason, Corn Chex Scent does not mix well with cat urine or feces - the smell is not easily described. Suffice it to say that it's not exactly pleasant.
These are bad things.
Saturday, May 2, 2009
Petite Cuisine: They offer four cans of their cat food for a $5 shipping charge. We did consider that we are paying for the food AND the shipping for that price, but that's OK - it's a very convenient way to try a new cat food. The Petite Cuisine web site tells us the following: human-grade meat and fish are used in this food, and each piece is "steam cooked" to retain flavor. Further, they are not shy in telling us that they do NOT use wheat gluten in their canned food. And as far as we can tell, they don't use any grains at all. Yea! And another important point about their food is that they do not use any ingredients from China. Double yea! The boys SUCKED this food up. They love it!
Petite Cuisine can be ordered online directly from the manufacturer, or you can buy it at many grocery stores, as well as Petco.
We should also mention that there is another promotion going on for Petite Cuisine. It's "Get Jake a Date." Jake is a 19-year old male cat who has his own My Space page (!) and is looking for photographs of girl AND boy cats posing with a can of Petite Cuisine. If you send a photo to Jake's agent, Austin, you will receive a gift package of "date goodies" or "night out with the boys" goodies. You will also receive two cans of Petite Cuisine cat food, and your cat photo might be chosen for the Petite Cuisine calendar! Information and instructions are available at the Get Jake a Date link above.
Jake looks a lot like our Ian, who lived to the ripe old age of 20. You go, Jake!
Saturday, April 18, 2009
Each package contains two cubes, as well as velcro strips that allow you to attach the cubes to one another and provide a sort of tunnel for the cats. There is also a pyramid ("Kitty Tumbler") available, with a "crackle" pad that goes inside, and it comes with a nylon cylinder that will attach between the pyramid and one of the cubes for yet more tunneling. Ivan and Boo don't use the cylinder tunnel much, but when Belle and Dev visited they loved it.
These cubes are made by Pet Essentials, which appears to be a Target brand. They are made in China, but since the cats aren't eating them, we're not concerned about that.
And speaking of pet food from China, in our efforts to find U.S.-made meat or fish snacks for the boys, we found Beefeaters Salmon Natural Cat Treats. These are 100% freeze dried chunks of real salmon, nothing else. And, most importantly, these treats are made in the U.S.A. We hope this means we don't have to worry about any kind of toxic content, like melamine. The boys go absolutely insane over these snacks. We give them one piece a day. Since the salmon is freeze dried, a layer of tiny pieces of salmon is often left in the botton of the ccontainer. We sprinkle that on the boys' food at feeding time.
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Thursday, April 16, 2009
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Saturday, February 14, 2009
Wednesday, February 11, 2009
Wednesday, January 21, 2009
Thursday, January 15, 2009
After we stopped filming, Ivan wandered off and Boo went bonkers with the toy. We found it at PetSmart for about $20.00
The Hepper Pod Bed is a very modern, elevated cat bed. The design is simple but elegant. However, it's taking a while for Ivan and Boo to get interested in it. We figured they'd be all over it. They'll get in it, and if we remove the top they'll lie in it for a bit, but so far not for long. Well, we think they'll warm up to it. The model we purchased (candy pink) was on sale and we also got a $20 discount from Moderncat, so the price ended up being $105 (not including tax and shipping). And the Hepper folks are very nice. For some reason their web site would not allow us to complete the transaction, so they had us call in and they handled it all for us.
We expected to have our Litter Robot by now, but apparently they are built to order, so it took a wee bit longer than we expected. However, we think it will be worth the wait. We'll review the Litter Robot in a future blog entry. However, suffice it to say that it is a big hit among Catster members, several of whom sang the Robot's praises to us. There's lots of positive press on the Robot, too.
Now for the mysterious valerian toys. Is valerian some strange company that makes bizarre toys? No, it's actually an herb! Here's the story: we participated in an auction through Catster to raise money for one Catster member in England to meet her Catster member friend, who was very ill with cancer, in Florida. I won the auction for a cat-themed quilted wall-hanging. The person who entered the quilt in the auction sent the quilt along with some valerian-filled cat toys. They're made of a fleecy material and contain the herb. I was quite curious upon receiving these. The postal documents declared the items as valerian cat toys. We'd never heard of cats liking valerian. Well, Ivan and Boo went absolutely hyperactive over these things. It was like catnip on steroids! Mind you, the valerian has a pretty strong scent that's not exactly pleasant. But if you have just a couple of cat toys filled with it, the odor is really not detectable. And it's worth it to see how insane cats go over it.
Interestingly, valerian contains actinidine, which apparently has effects that are similar to nepetalactone, the active ingredient in catnip. Holy Bast, no kidding! And while on the topic of kitty drugs, I read an excellent suggestion recently: if you have to do something to your cat that's for his own good but that he does not necessarily like, give him a handful of catnip to snort and eat and roll in, and then, when he's blissed out, do to him what you will. It may be a lot easier to perform the not-so-pleasant task on him than it normally is! We're going to try that with claw-clipping, because the boys have outgrown their KlawKontrol "kitty straight jacket". (However, they're both on a weight-loss diet and have actually lost some, so perhaps there is hope that they'll fit into the KlawKontrol again some day!)
We can't forget those web sites we promised to tell you about. First is Catster, which we mentioned above. It's a social networking site for cat owners. You can upload dozens of photos of your cat, as well as video; write a diary for your cat; e-mail other Catsters; and find oodles of information on cats, cat health, cat behavior, cat products, and lots more. A basic membership is free, and a "Plus" membership is $19.95 a year.
The other web site is Kittytest.com. Here you can discover the prevalence of several common cat diseases in your U.S. county. This site raises awareness about those diseases, which can help cat owners reduce the chances that their cats will succumb to the diseases. I've written about heartworms here before. They do infect cats, and you can see how many cases of heartworm have been recorded in your county, and how your county compares to the rest of the country.