Saturday, April 18, 2009

Cat Cubes

Ivan loves cat cubes. These nylon, collapsible cubes are quite inexpensive (we've seen them for $9 to $11 at Target) yet they provide hours of fun for the cats. Ivan loves to hide in them and leap out to pounce on toys - or Boo. He will also occasionally sleep in them. And they are super easy to fold flat and store, so the boys don't get bored with them.

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

Undercover Mouse Update and More

Our one complaint about the Undercover Mouse, other than the short life span of the attachment wands, is that it won't always turn off. We turn the switch off (it is a dial-type switch) but we hear the mechanism continue to move. If we left it like that, it would run the batteries down overnight. So we have to remove the battery cover and take a battery out to stop it. That's a bit annoying. It doesn't happen every time we use it, however, suggesting there is some type of "intermittent open" as Mrs. A's electrical engineer dad would call it (aka a "short").

Ivan and Boo are still using the Litter Robot with no trouble. However, they also use their standard litterbox (we need a minimum of two litter boxes for two cats, and we can't really afford two Litter Robots...). In fact, we notice that they do not poo in the Litter Robot. They only urinate there. Hmmm.

By the way, the photo of Boo above shows him playing with the opossum toy that was received as a gift. It has a rattle inside. It's a bit big, but he and Ivan do show some interest in it. They prefer small, leather mice toys. And Boo's favorite is a milk jug cap. Ivan loves twisty ties (we just have to make sure he doesn't try to eat any of them!).

Belle and Dev also use their Litter Robot, but every time it starts rotating, Belle bats at it! We wonder if she'll ever get over that urge. Speaking of Belle and Dev, they have both been altered, now. Dev was neutered last month (and Belle last December). And what an improvement! He was starting to get a bit aggressive with other cats, and he would also sit in the window and absolutely howl at the top of his lungs. Since his surgery, he is no longer aggressive, and the howling has completely stopped. Further, neither Belle nor Dev tries to run out the front door every time it is opened.

We also discovered that Ivan has a bit of separation anxiety: if we are out of town for more than a day or two, he feels he must urinate in places other than his litter boxes. Mostly it appears he chooses a cat bed, which makes clean-up relatively easy, at least (throw the cat bed in the washer; treat any spots on the carpet beneath the cat bed with an enzymatic cat urine treatment). We will have to research how to handle this in the future, as we do have a week-long trip planned in May. Normally we have one of our vet assistants cat sit (many veterinarian assistants will cat sit on the side - ours will come out every other day and refill the automated cat feeder and freshen their water and scoop their litter box, and generally make sure they are not getting into any mischief. If they were a little more social with "strangers" she would also play with them, but they are usually hiding under the bed. All for $25 every other day, which is less than what we'd pay per day to board both boys). We figured that leaving them in their own home and having someone check on them would be less stressful than boarding them, but we are questioning that now. Perhaps they prefer some human company to sitting at home alone for more than 12 hours. We'll keep you updated on this.

As for Ivan and Boo's diet, they have definitely lost weight. We can easily feel Ivan's ribs, and we can semi-easily feel Boo's. So we are going to promote them to a "maintenance" diet, now. They really love their EVO kibble and canned (minimally cooked) food. We were alternating between EVO canned and Primal frozen raw food, but they are not as gung ho about eating the raw nuggets as they are about the EVO, so we are just going to stick with the EVO. It's easier to deal with (cans instead of bags in the freezer) and easier to find (we have to go fairly far afield to purchase the Primal raw frozen food, while EVO is sold at a pet/feed store just a few miles away). In addition to being minimally cooked, all EVO foods are grain-free (the carbohydrates in grain promote weight-gain in cats that remain indoors). However, the Primal product that we DO want to find is the "Raw Meaty Bones" for cats. Petfood Express carries some of the Primal products, but not this one. Pretty much all domestic cats get gum disease, unless their human caretakers brush their teeth (this per our veterinarian). We have tried brushing, and it's not easy. Cats don't like having their teeth brushed. We think chewing on bones would be the next best thing. In the wild, cats chew on bones regularly. And wild cats don't usually have gum disease.

Boo is standing on the back of my chair with his paws on my shoulders. I am pretty sure this means something, but I still have to figure out exactly what. Be sure to catch us on Twitter at