REVIEW: Winged Chase Cat Toy

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Motorized toys are often hit-or-miss with cats. With our older feline friends, they're usually more miss. Winged Chase is no exception.

The toy is well made, with a plastic base that houses the batteries (3 X AA) and the motor that runs the toy. The butterflies are on the end of stiff pieces of wire than can be bent to create different types of movement. We have no problem whatsoever with the design of the toy and its components. In fact, we thought this might be the one motorized toy that would be a hit due to the unique way the butterflies flutter and move.

When we initially set it up, there was a great deal of curiosity about it. Upon initial power up, the curious examination of the toy continued for a few minutes, and then...

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Curiosity was sated and the toy got no more attention. Even days later, when we'd turn it on, no one expressed interest. This isn't any indication as to whether or not your cat will enjoy Winged Chase. It could be an instant hit with some cats, particularly kittens. Older cats like ours are more likely to take a been there, done that attitude.

The fact is that most cats can identify mechanical patterns quite quickly. They're usually much happier with a human-controlled toy that skips and skitters with random movements. Using a toy you control also means that you get more bonding time with your feline friend. You also get to monitor the condition of the toys so your cat doesn't end up swallowing bits of it when they play.

Winged Chase was purchased at Petco on sale for $13.99.

REVIEW: Love My Cat Corrugated Scratcher

Whether it's a post, a tree, or your favorite sofa, every cat is going to scratch something. They have a physical need to scratch. It helps them to shed the outer sheaths of their nails while also acting as a territorial marker. There are lots of choices for good scratchers out there and some cats respond more to some than to others. Your best bet is to try several types until you find the one your felines like best.

Today, we're looking at a horizontal scratcher made from corrugated cardboard. This one, made by Love My Cat, has a few design features that distinguish it from the crowd. First off, it's inexpensive. As of this writing, the scratcher is selling for $12.95 on Amazon. That's much less than some comparable scratchers.

The best plus, and one we haven't seen on other scratchers of this type, is the convoluted surface. This actually helps cats gain purchase with their claws when using this scratcher, making it very appealing to most of our test kitties.

In addition, the scratcher can be flipped over, offering a flat surface if your cat prefers that, or if the convoluted surface wears out. Yes, this type of scratcher will eventually wear out. The cardboard rips a little with each use and some cats can produce a pile of debris in very little time. This isn't due to any problem with the scratcher. Instead, it just shows how appealing it can be to felines who like to get a good horizontal stretch when sharpening their claws.

In the odd responses department, we must add that one of our cats is intrigued by the feline silhouette on the side panel of the scratcher. But that hasn't stopped her from using the surface for its intended purpose.

We highly recommend the Love My Cat scratcher. Happy scratching!

The Economics of Pet Products

I go to the local Petco store from time to time just to check out what's on the shelves. And do you know what I find on almost every aisle? Misdirection, misrepresentation, and sometimes outright deception. Most of the products in the cat care aisles are simply not appropriate for cats. When a well-intentioned person buys one of these products, they may be disappointed that their cat doesn't take to it at all. Or the product may help to create behavior issues that the cat will be blamed for.

Is this Petco's fault? No. Petco is a retailer. Their job is to stock the pet supplies that people want and to sell them in an attractive and convenient way. The marketing spin and poor product designs come from the companies who produce many of the products stocked there, and at Petsmart, Amazon, Chewy, Pet Food Direct, etc. The responsibility for what's stocked is ultimately in your hands and mine.

As I walk down the aisles of cat products I see many (MANY) products that simply are more appropriate for humans than they are for cats. For example, cats don't like hooded litter boxes but there are a dozen different versions of them here at Petco. Why? Because cats have no wallets. We've basically trained our pet supply vendors and retailers to appeal to us instead of to our cats and it's time we retrained them.

If you know anything about working with animals, even human animals, you know that it's much easier to train than to re-train, but that's exactly what we have to do. Every dollar we spend on pet supplies should be a conscious choice. Think, "Is this what my feline friend would choose?" or "Will this appeal to my cat's instincts?" instead of "Oooo, isn't that cute?" or "That package sure is pretty." Marketing experts have many people in the palm of their hands. We have to step back and think about our choices and how they'll affect the well-being of our cats. We need to see the products, not the packaging. Imagine them in our homes and imagine how our cats will truly respond.

Yes, that means retraining ourselves first and foremost to view pet supplies from the perspective of our furry friends. Then we need to convince other, less cat-savvy individuals to do the same. If we can do so, slowly, but surely, we'll see pet supply stores carry better and more species-appropriate products. Better for us and better for our cats. We just have to lead the way.

Review: Curious Cat Cube

Cats may be the toughest friends to buy for. Nine times out of ten, they prefer the boxes their gifts come in to the gifts themselves. But every now and then a product comes along that captivates them from the word go. The Curious Cat Cube (C3) is one of those special hit products and it comes at a very reasonable price too.

The C3 arrives broken down into the outer shell, the bottom floor and the bed on top. There are also a couple of dangly puff balls that are optional and can be hung outside the holes on the cube. The sides are fairly solid with a faux suede covering that's easy to clean. The inner floor is covered in the same white material that covers the bed up top, but without the extra padding found there. The lid just sits on top like a shoe box lid so it's easy to separate the bed from the box if your cats prefer that. All assembled, it's 15.5"x15.5"x16.5".

Our cats were immediately attracted to it and love to sit inside and reach for toys through the holes on the sides. Our older girl prefers to snooze on the top, especially during the winter months when we positioned the C3 next to our wall furnace.

All in all, it's a solid piece that's easily broken down for moving or storage, it's fun for the cats, and it's currently selling for less than $25. What's not to love? The Curious Cat Cube is highly recommended!

 

Review: The Royal Treatment: A Natural Approach to Wildly Healthy Pets

I have no doubt that Dr. Barbara Royal is a fantastic veterinarian. She clearly embraces the best of both traditional and alternative treatment methods in order to help an animal's own body heal itself. I wish I lived near her and could bring my feline friends to her for treatment. Unfortunately, her book, The Royal Treatment, lacks the clear focus present in Dr. Royal's veterinary practice. It's a mashup of treatment philosophies, autobiographical storytelling and a few bits of very useful info. Some chapters are a single page while others are a little long-winded. All in all, the book could certainly benefit from a clearer objective.

From the subtitle, you might infer that this book was going to present a clear method that can help you to aid your pet in becoming the healthiest animal that she can be. I know I thought as much. But there isn't very much in the way of advice here, and what is here is mainly focused on dogs. Yes, there are a few sections devoted exclusively to cats, but they are few and far between. I'd estimate that less then 1/6 of the book is feline-centric.

The bulk of the 400 pages is a veterinary memoir. The stories are well-told and entertaining and I enjoyed Dr. Royal's writing style, but I wasn't particularly interested in reading her biography. I was more interested in learning about her care model. Her basic philosophy nis clearly communicated but much of her advice is presented anecdotally here in the form of stories. I'd personally prefer clear, species-specific advice even if it wasn't as entertaining to read.

The biggest problem I have with the book is the fact that much of the care advice given is written without a clear indication of exactly what species the advice applies to. This is a frequent occurrence in the book and an awful oversight for someone who is looking for help with caring for a particular kind of animal. It's clear that Dr. Royal likes all animals, but she loves dogs. In many cases where no species is mentioned, it's safe to assume she intends the advice for dog caregivers alone.

As a reader who is primarily interested in cats, I found this and a few of her offhanded cat criticisms a tiny bit off-putting. Not enough to hamper my enjoyment of the book, but disappointing because I hoped to actually learn something new that I could apply to my work here at KHD.

If you're looking for a good, non-fiction book to read for pleasure, I can certainly recommend this one. If you're looking for specific cat care content with a focus on holistic care, I'm afraid you'll need to look elsewhere.