Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Undercover Mouse Revisited

We started having trouble with the Undercover Mouse.  First, it didn't seem to want to turn off.  Then it seemed to have a motor problem, as the arm was moving only very slowly.

We're using rechargeable batteries in the UM.  The charger has a "refresh" setting.  Rechargeable batteries can lose their ability to hold a full charge, and this "refresh" setting is supposed to "reset" the batteries and restore their ability to hold the charge.  We refreshed the batteries and then put them back in the UM, and, voila, the UM worked normally again!

That's a good thing, because Ivan and Boo LOVE that toy!

Thursday, January 15, 2009

We've Got A Lot to Tell You About!

Good gosh, we've been away much too long. So many cat products, so little time to test and talk about them!

Here's the short list:
Undercover Mouse
Hepper Pod Bed
Litter Robot
Valerian toys

Also, we've got to tell you about a few cool web sites.

But first, Fling-Ama-String.
This thing is amazing. Ivan and Boo went nuts over it the moment it was installed. Yes, I say installed, but installation consists of hanging it on a doorknob and securing it with the included elastic band. Then you flip the switch and voila! Cat entertainment for quite some time!
This video will demonstrate the toy MUCH better than I ever could.

Ivan and Boo especially love to it when the Fling-Ama-String is on the OTHER side of the door from them, and they try to grab the string from under the door. Hilarious! They actually ask for us to get this out for them (we can't leave it up all the time or they'd chew the string off!). We ordered it from our pet insurance's web site for $19.99 (only open to pet insurance customers), but the gadget retails for $24.99 in PetSmart
Undercover Mouse is another battery-powered cat toy that they love. They've both always loved to hide their toys under throw rugs and blankets. The go crazy if we put a hand under a blanket and move it around. They start trying to dig through the blanket like dogs. So when someone came up with a motorized toy that moves under a piece of fabric, we figured they'd love it. And they do.

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 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.