New Cat Condos


We’ve tried lots of cat “trees” here at KHD. Everything from the ultra-cheap to the ultra-plush. While all of these cat jungle gyms were certainly adored and used every day, none presented the value and durability of the products from New Cat Condos.

We tried two different models. The Large Cat Gym and the Large Cat Tree Playground.


The Large Cat Gym is a very well-made cat tree. It arrived almost completely assembled. All we had to do was connect three pre-assembled pieces to the base and vacuum up all the loose carpet fibers to make sure the cats didn’t accidentally ingest them. This isn’t a knock against New Cat Condos. It’s simply a fact that new carpet sheds a bit.

The build quality is impressive with solid wood, unoiled sisal scratching post, and thick, durable carpet. All the hardware is top notch and the whole thing is very sturdy, even with two cats battling for the top position.

All our cats loved this one right off the bat. In fact, they could hardly wait for us to get it assembled. They were climbing all over the pieces on the floor the second we unboxed them. The top tier is the most coveted position, standing a full 5’ off the floor. It’s important to note that while the top tier is the only level with sides, the scooped levels are just as attractive to the cats while not impeding their ability to run up and down the tree at will (more on this later).

We give the NCC Large Cat Gym five out of five stars. In fact, we’re considering purchasing a second one because the price is so reasonable. At the time of this writing, Amazon sells this unit for $112 and NCC’s site lists it at the same price with flat rate $4.99 shipping. We cannot stress enough what a bargain this is! Many cat trees of this size and quality sell for two or three times as much.


The NCC Large Cat Playground is just as well made as the Gym. At 61”, it’s one inch taller than the Gym. The design is sturdy, if a little top heavy when a cat is in the bowl on top. Yes, it teeters a bit, but we’ve never felt that it might tip over, not even when our daredevil cat, Lucy, leaps from the top over to the bed.

The cats didn’t take to this cat tree right away. We believe it’s because all of the other cat trees they’d experienced before had flat lower levels without sides, making it easy for the cats to run right up the trees without any issues. This particular design with bowls at every level made that difficult for them. Yes, they could climb it, but it was a lot harder for them to do so. They use a nearby cat tree to use as a ladder to get to the top of this one. We intended to replace that tree, but it remains to this day.

Overall, we would grade the NCC Large Cat Playground three out of five stars. We like it more than the cats do. If the lower levels were simply flat circles, this would easily be a five star tree for us as well. It doesn’t help that this tree is also more expensive than the Gym on Amazon (around $130), though NCC’s site currently lists it on sale at $106.99. With their flat rate shipping charge of $4.99, that puts both trees in the same price range.


We highly recommend the products from New Cat Condos. They’re very well made and conscientiously produced at attractive prices. The company makes an extensive line of products so we suggest you peruse their web site at before making your choice. Cats differ in their tastes, so bear their preferences in mind. While our feline friends had some difficulty with the Playground, your cats may find it to be the best cat tree ever!

Catit Cat Pan With Rim


There are hundreds of litter boxes on the market, most of which are too small, too covered, too thin, too shallow…you name it. In many cases, we’ve been happiest with Rubbermaid or Sterilite storage containers, but those solutions present problems as well. We’re happy to say that we’ve just found our new number one litter box recommendation - the Catit cat pan.

We’ve been impressed with the Catit line of products for some time now. They’re all intelligently designed to put the needs of the cat first. This cat pan is no different. It’s a good size, even with the 2” wide rim, with tall, sloping sides and a generous footprint of 22.4” x 15.3”. It’s well made of sturdy plastic and adds some great features that us humans will appreciate.

First off is that rim. We have one young cat who is a litter kicker. She just adores kicking litter as far as she can get it to go. With short-sided pans, she can actually kick half of the litter out of the box in a day of use. Not with this pan. Yes, she can still get some litter on the floor but it’s a fraction of what we saw in the past. The rim does its job admirably well everywhere except the side with the “bag holder” (more on that in a moment). The rim is easily removable for cleaning and it stays in place without the use of any fancy (read:breakable) latches.

As to that “bag holder”, there are gaps in the front edge of the rim. These are meant to use to snag the edge of an open trash bag when scooping the pan. We’re not sure if that’s actually useful for some people, but for us it’s the Achilles’ heel of this otherwise fine product. These gaps mean there is a way for kicked litter to get out of the box. Our little litter kicker still manages to get some litter outside of this box and it’s almost always through these openings. It isn’t a deal breaker, but we could live without these gaps.

We should also mention that this may not be a good pan for those older cats who have a hard time getting in and out of the litter box. The front edge is a little over 6” off the floor. That may make it difficult for cats with joint issues to enter and exit the pan.

As to price, these were around $15 at the time of this writing. We purchased ours from Chewy since the Amazon seller who carried these was overcharging for them. Caveat emptor.

All in all, we’re very happy with these litter boxes and intend to replace all of our existing boxes with these. We just need to cover up those front notches. Recommended.

Litter Genie


How do you go about disposing of your feline friend’s litter box deposits? Since most cat litters are not approved for septic and sewer systems, you can’t just flush them. I used to use doggie poop bags. I’d collect the deposits in the bag twice a day and tie the top, then I’d deposit them in a trash can near the litter box, but these eventually started smelling. I moved to ziplock bags and those too started smelling in short order. Not only that, but both options wasted a lot of plastic. Then, one day, I happened upon the Litter Genie in a local store.

I’m not sure why I’d never considered one of these before, but I hadn’t. At around $15 to start with, the price was right for a trial run. I bought it and I haven’t looked back since. In fact, we now have two of them - one by each litter box.

How does it work? It’s amazingly simple. Almost too simple. There is a spring-loaded “door” that you pull out to allow the deposit to fall into the bottom of the LG. Then you let go and the smelly deposits are down below where the smell cannot escape.

Believe me when I tell you that I have a very good sense of smell. It’s one of those senses that really doesn’t have much of an upside. if you have great hearing or eyesight, you might find your skills useful in many ways, but with smell, not so much. However, there is a big downside. I can smell every nasty, obnoxious odor within 100 feet. Especially fresh litter box deposits. I can tell you which cat went to the box when and what they left behind. So you can imagine my joy at finding out that the LG actually works. That’s mainly due to the type of plastic bag used in the system.


Each Litter Genie comes with one relatively short bag refill. The refills hold a long tube of 7-layer plastic. You tie a knot in the end to start it then use the LG’s built in bag cutter tool to snip it off and tie it up when you’re done. It’s that 7-layer plastic that holds in the odors where the doggie bags and Ziplock baggies failed. Plastic bags are porous. The microscopic holes aren’t large enough to allow liquid molecules through but they do allow many gasses to pass over time.

As great as it is, the Litter Genie isn’t perfect. Here’s the rundown of pros and cons as I see them:


  • easy to use

  • locks in odors

  • comes with a good litter scoop

  • scoop holder can be attached to left or right side of LG

  • Built in cutter works well

  • inexpensive initial buy

  • not an eyesore in your home


  • housing made of very thin, bendy plastic

  • top and bottom of housing don’t latch together well

  • stray litter granules can keep lid from opening all the way

  • plastic waste (inevitable but an ecological problem nonetheless)

  • no real difference between models despite “Plus” branding


The pricing issue deserves a more in-depth explanation. The LG and LG Plus both come with one “refill”. In the case of the Plus model, the refill is longer. That’s it. That’s the “Plus”. The Litter Genie Plus currently sells for around $15-16 on Amazon.


The standard LG refill has 14’ of plastic inside and sells for approximately .53 per foot. This becomes important when comparing the non-LG branded refills.

Our current favorite off brand is the one offered by Firik in a pack of four. These each contain 21’ of plastic tubing and they sell for approximately .25 per foot. That’s less than half what the LG folks are charging! We’re using the Firik refills now and are very happy with them, so that’s our recommendation.

If your house smells of cat waste, the Litter Genie will seem like a godsend. Highly recommended.

AmazonBasics Pet Bed


We've gone through many a cat bed in our house. We've tried them all, from the flimsy doughnuts with no padding on the bottom to the expensive raised beds with cubbies underneath. None have been outright rejected, though several came in boxes that were ultimately more interesting than the beds they contained. This time, we bought four beds - one for each cat - and all four have been inhabited ever since. Pretty good for a reasonably-priced AmazonBasics product.

The bed is a generous 20" in diameter. It has polyester canvas outer sides and bottom and fleece-like upper sides and top. The padding is soft and pillowy, and there's plenty of padding on the bottom of the bed. These are plush! There are even seams on the bottom to keep the padding from moving around inside the bed.


The only negative is the fabric bottom. Many pet beds have rubberized or textured bottoms to keep them from slipping around on smooth surfaces. Not so on this bed. If you put it on a smooth surface like a hardwood floor, it can slide around pretty easily. That said, we've had no issues with ours so far. At least the cats aren't playing air hockey with them yet. Part of that is due to the size of the bed. Weighing in at a little over one pound means that it mostly stays put unless a cat launches out of it suddenly.

We appreciate that these beds can be machine washed. One of ours has already weathered a small bout of regurgitation and it came through with flying colors.


All in all, these are a great bargain and come highly recommended. Oh, and the boxes they came in were big hits too!


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


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  It's no exaggeration to say that the information in this book may be a lifesaver.