Cat Product Reviews

Book Review: Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats

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Dr. Richard H. Pitcairn is a leader in the rising movement of veterinarians who wish to provide homeopathic alternatives to their patients. Like any profession, there are those who follow what they've been taught in programs funded by big business and there are those who think for themselves. Fortunately for our pets, the latter category is growing rapidly.

Veterinary medicine began as a way to keep farmed animals alive long enough to make a profit off of them. There was little or no concern for the core health and well being of those animals. These days, we frequently see cats who live more than 20 years - a case unheard of in the wild. These companions need more than "feed" and antibiotics in order to thrive. Just like us humans, they need a more natural approach to health care. Yes, there are times when manufactured medicines will be needed, but more often than not, maladies can be treated naturally using natural herbs and supplements from reliable sources.

Which brings us to this wonderful book. Dr. Pitcairn's Complete Guide to Natural Health for Dogs & Cats is one of the go-to resources that we use here at Kitty Help Desk on a daily basis. Its 466 pages are overflowing with great information. Most animals in the western world are over-vaccinated, over-medicated and under-nourished. Dr. Pitcairn seeks to change all that with the simplest of tools - information.

The book is divided into two sections. Part one covers all of Dr. Pitcairn's recommendations for how to care for your pets on a daily basis. From food to exercise to dealing with neighbors, he's covered all of the bases for both dogs and cats.

Part two is the quick reference section that covers a full array of maladies from identification to treatment, including treatments for chronic conditions. Of course, Dr. Pitcairn is quick to indicate when professional veterinary advice is needed.  He also gives the caregiver ammunition to use when encountering less progressive vets. For example, when diagnosing bladder crystals, many vets will refuse to examine a urine sample brought in by a caregiver because it isn't sterile. They think they're looking for bacteria when, in fact, bacteria may not be the real culprit. Crystals can still be identified under the microscope and a caregiver facing this situation would do well to know that.

The entire book is very well done, written with the tone of a knowledgeable friend. Information about relevant topics is easily found, and Dr. Pitcairn usually gives multiple alternatives for treatment along with indications for their preference. It's important that the reader understand how to use the quick reference section prior to digging in to treatment suggestions, so the first chapter of the quick reference section should not be overlooked. In addition, most treatments refer to either the Schedule For Herbal Treatment chapter or the Schedule for Homeopathic Treatment chapter. These should be referenced any time these schedules are noted. 

We highly recommend this book. If you only have one book on treating the ailments of your feline friends, this is the one. We also recommend that you follow Dr. Pitcairn's blog at https://drpitcairn.blog/.  It's no exaggeration to say that the information in this book may be a lifesaver.

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!

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: KitNipBox Subscription

While cats don't always like change, they often need the stimulation that it creates.  Indoor cats are especially susceptible to boredom.  A new toy or a shipping box with holes cut in the ends can be the curious new adventure that they need to shake things up from time to time.  That's why we were so excited to try KitNipBox.  It promises a new box of toys and/or treats every month!

There are two subscription levels - $19.99/month and $29.99/month.  The lower priced box includes four or more toys and/or treats each month and the higher, six or more.  You can even specify not to include food treats and they'll replace those with extra toys.  Great, right?  Well, it depends on the goodies.

We placed an order for the lower-priced box and specified no treats because our spokescat, Mina, has food allergies.  The KNB web site at kitnipbox.com is well-designed and the order process went smoothly.  About a week later, we received our first box. 

When we opened it, we found a nice tissue wrapping with some postcards about KNB and the contents of the box.  But then we dug in and saw the actual items.

We got a mini container of pet wet wipes in place of the food treats, a couple of very low quality stuffed toys, a tiny loofah flip flop, and a cheap collapsible bowl.  All of these items seemed like they were leftovers from the discount bin.  At best, they would cost $4-$5 total at the dollar store.

Since the stuffed toys were listed on the postcard as "stuffed with catnip" we took a whiff but didn't smell any catnip.  In the name of research, we performed surgery on the elephant toy.  What we found was most infuriating.  The toy was stuffed with fiberfill.  There wasn't a single flake of catnip inside.  We cut open the ladybug to reveal the same.  Not only were these two toys of very low quality, they were misrepresented by KNB.

In the end, our cats only liked the box, so we can't recommend KNB.  You should definitely spend your cat entertainment budget elsewhere.  In fact, you can make better toys at home from things you already have.  Plastic bottle tops are a favorite in our house, as are paper bags and boxes.  Get creative and you won't have to spend a dime.