REVIEW - New Cat Condos

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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.


LARGE CAT GYM

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.


LARGE CAT PLAYGROUND

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.


CONCLUSION

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 https://www.newcatcondos.com/ 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!

REVIEW: Catit Cat Pan With Rim

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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.

Cat Rescues Vs. Breeders

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There are those who think that cat breed A, B or C is just the best because that’s the kind of cat they identify with. Maybe those Siamese cats in Lady & the Tramp just made a big impression or maybe or it’s how they’d like others to think of them. Well, I’m here to tell you that they’d be better off adopting. Breeders are the bane of rescue groups everywhere.

The biggest issue is simply that the world has enough cats without breeders making more. Statistics from the ASPCA state that 1.4 million cats are euthanized in the US shelter system each and every year. Approximately 70% of the cats who enter shelters are euthanized. This number is changing with no-kill facilities, but it is still alarming.

For every cat purchased from a breeder, a perfectly suitable cat could have been adopted from a rescue or a shelter. And don’t tell me you couldn’t find a suitable cat! I’ve worked at one of the finest Humane Societies in the country and I can tell you we saw every size shape, color, and disposition you could ever imagine, including some cats who were very likely purebreds.

It’s important that we not support the work of breeders. Even though some are well-intentioned, they are still making their living off the exploitation of cats. It’s a business that the breeder relies upon for their income, and that income is much more important to them than the well being of the animals in their care. Many will claim to be in love with the breed that they sell, but their queens (the mothers they use like kitten factories) aren’t given the benefit of happy lives in loving homes.

In addition, animals who are bred for a particular appearance also become victim of a litany of maladies as they’re inbred again and again. Genetic defects are the rule, not the exception in purebred animals of any sort. It’s a fact that most mixed breeds live happier, healthier lives than their purebred cousins.

It’s also important to note that most breeders don’t require the kittens they sell to be spayed or neutered. Most rescues and shelters do require their cats to be “fixed” prior to adoption because their goal is to reduce the overall population of cats. In fact, most rescue and shelter workers would be quite happy to be out of a job tomorrow if that were possible.

Please don’t add to the cat overpopulation problem by buying a pet from a breeder. There are many wonderful rescues and shelters throughout the world who would be very happy to help you find your feline soulmate. In the end, you’ll have helped not only the cat you adopt but also the species as a whole.

-Tom

REVIEW: Litter Genie

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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.

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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:

PROS

  • 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

CONS

  • 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.

Cat Food Vs. Cat Feed - What's the Difference?

Most pet "foods" on the market are really pet "feeds". What's the difference? I'm glad you asked!

A quick Google search reveals that food is defined as:

any nutritious substance that people or animals eat or drink, or that plants absorb, in order to maintain life and growth.

The same site defines feed as:

food for domestic animals.

The truth is that feed and food are two very different things. Both provide basic sustenance, but at very different degrees of effectiveness. To get to the heart of the matter, we have to look at the usage and connotations of each word.

Food is generally thought of as something that people eat. Our concept of food is that it is delicious and nutritious. It brings to mind family meals around a table at Thanksgiving, or at a favorite restaurant. When we think of food, we usually think of the meals that sustain us.

Feed is something that we throw down for animals to keep them alive just long enough for us to get something from them. That something is usually their very bodies. Feed is cheap. It's neither delicious nor nutritious beyond the very base needs of the species that's being fed. It's basically recycled garbage left over from human food production or other industries. I recently saw a plea for citizens to bring in palm fronds downed during a storm so that they could be used as cattle feed. Feed is roadkill. Feed is diseased waste. Feed is whatever can be forced on a starving animal to keep them alive for one more day. And feed is where the pet food industry began.

Let's look at the history of that most famous of pet food brands, Purina. According to Wikipedia:

Ralston Purina traces its roots to 1894, when founder William H. Danforth established the animal feed company Purina Mills. William H. Danforth, partnered with George Robinson and William Andrews, entered the business of feeding farm animals by founding the Robinson-Danforth Commission Company. The name was changed to Ralston Purina in 1902. Its predominant brand for each animal was generally referred to as “Chow”; hence “Purina Horse Chow”, “Purina Dog Chow”, “Purina Cat Chow”, “Purina Rabbit Chow”, “Purina Pig Chow”, and even “Purina Monkey Chow”.

The fundamental difference between human food and animal feed is reinforced throughout the article, and in my opinion, throughout the culture of Purina. Of course, Purina is just one of several big companies that own many, many different brands. Most of these big companies buy up smaller brands to own marketshare, but keep the brands on the shelf in order to create the illusion of choice in the marketplace.

The marketing of all of these substandard feeds has been so successful that many cat caregivers actually believe that they're feeding their cats great food by buying these brands. All it takes is a picture of a happy cat on the package alongside images of human food and most consumers are convinced that their choice is a good one. Unfortunately, despite the pictures of real food on the outside, what's inside those packages is still animal feed because it's more profitable.

Regardless of what you think of the meat and dairy industries, you must acknowledge that meat producers are only interested in getting cattle to live long enough to be slaughtered for processing. That's a very different agenda from us cat lovers who want our feline friends to live happily for as long as they can.

I have no doubt that the pet food industry will continue their profitable practices as long as consumers keep buying. Every time you spend a dollar, you're casting a vote, and when you spend on these substandard feeds, you're voting for this garbage and harming your pet at the same time.

If you'd like to learn how to choose better nutrition for your pet, check out the excellent resources at the following links:

http://kittyhelpdesk.com/help-desk/best-cat-food-and-treats

http://www.naturalcatcareblog.com/2010/12/the-7-best-natural-commercial-cat-foods-so-far/

https://catinfo.org/

http://truthaboutpetfood.com/

Wishing you and your feline friends all the best!