Archive for the ‘cat toys’ Category

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Credit Crunch Catnip 1

28 June, 2009

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Here’s my practical nod to the credit crunch:  grow-your-own catnip.

I spend a fortune every year on searching out the finest and most potent catnip in the market.  So I decided to see if growing catnip would save a few pennies.

This kit comes from Canada, and can be bought from purrsinourheart, a pet charity.  It consists of a packet of seeds, and more importantly, a little compressed peat pot, so you don’t have to muck about with bags of compost.  All you have to do is rehydrate the peat pot by soaking it in water, then removing a little peat, sowing the seeds, and covering them up with the peat.  Then place in a sunny spot and wait, for about 10 days.

For those cats who can’t wait, the kit comes with a little packet of catnip, for instant gratification.

This is not my first attempt at growing my own catnip.  Many years back I bought a catnip plant which I transplanted into a flower bed.  It was quite bushy and perky.  A few days later, all that was left was a few battered stalks and some mushy leaves.  I suspected slugs, but later caught Teddy sitting on the same spot the plant was on, an expression of bliss on his face.  Yes, the plant had suffered death by squashing.

The following year I tried to grow catnip from seed.  It worked until the slugs found the baby seedlings in the pot and all that was left was a few spindly stalks.

This year I’m growing from seed, but starting from indoors.  Once the seedlings have reached a reasonable size I shall transplant into pots and grow them on until they are young plants.  I’m still working on how to protect the growing plant from premature death by cats.  As for the slugs, I’ve spent a fortune on nematodes to annihilate them.

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Fantastic Catnip Sampler from Kittybags

9 March, 2008

As you may have read from previous postings, I’m always on the lookout for new and better catnip products.  I thought I’d found nirvana in the form of the Gato Catnip Cigar, but thanks to Denise Laurent my cats have been introduced to a new brand of premium, extra strong catnip.  As usual with all the best cat products, it comes from the US, made by a company called Kittybags, but (fortunately) available in the UK from Purrs in Our Hearts, an online shop with profits going to UK cat rescue or Mypetgoods.

I bought 3 different variants:  The Six Pack Sampler, the Gourmet Flower Buds and the Select Gourmet Blend (which is organic).

What got me excited is the Six Pack Sampler which contains six individually-wrapped packets of different types of catnip and other herbs like valerian and honeysuckle that apparently drive cats crazy.  The sampler pack allows your cats to test drive the herbs, so you can buy a full-sized pack later on.

Here is a photo of the contents of the Six Pack Sampler:  Gourmet Catnip, Premium Blend Catnip, Catnip Flower Buds, Catnip Pellets, Valerian Root and Honeysuckle.

 

(photo taken while cats were out of the room and door was locked.  Shortly after door was opened cats came charging in sniffing the air suspiciously.)

I haven’t tried the Honeysuckle yet – I never knew that Honeysuckle had any effect on cats, so I’m going to be interested what happens to my cats when they get hold of it.  It looks like a dried slice of either the root or stem of the plant, and I think it has to be soaked in water for the active ingredient to be activated.

So far the catnip variety that has had an astounding response from my cats are the Catnip Flower Buds.  These come in the form of long stalks holding dried catnip buds.  According to Kittybags:  “Aromatic Premium Catnip Buds are the most potent form of Catnip available. Dripping with oil at the time they are picked and cured naturally.” [cue folksy music and vast golden fields of catnip swaying and weaving in the sunshine, oozing catnip essence, lovingly hand-gathered by cat lovers]

My cats can’t read but their reaction said it all.  All the catnip products come in nifty tins, sealed with insulating tape.  I peeled off the tape from the Catnip Flower Buds tin, and started levering the lid off.  Suddenly the heads of all 3 dozing cats lifted in unison.  I dropped one bud each in different locations of the room.  My queen Ananda who was on the bed, started writhing as though in some sort of x-rated feline movie, and my other two couldn’t get enough of it, squabbling over the last micro-shreds of it.  In the end I had to dispense some more of it because they wouldn’t stop nosing around.

Kittybags claim that they choose the world’s best growers of catnip for their products and harvest only when catnip oils are at their peak.  My cats give it a definite paws-up.

(The only other thing I wanted to add was the excellent service I got from Mypetgoods.  I’d originally ordered the Six Pack Sampler and three tins of the Gourmet Flower Buds.  They e-mailed me to say that unfortunately they only had one tin of the Gourmet Flower Buds in stock, and could they offer me either a refund or two tins of their Select Gourmet Blend (which was more expensive than the Flower Buds).  Of course I couldn’t resist and accepted the Select Gourmet Blend.  I’ll definitely be coming back for more!)

Update 28 July 2008 – I’m pleased to announce another source of Kittybags:  it’s Purrs in Our Hearts, an online shop with profits (after costs) going to UK cat rescue.  They also sell the fantastic Da Bird cat toy, the quickest way to your cat’s heart, and many other toys.  Tanya who runs Purrs is always open to suggestions on toys to stock that drive your kitty crazy so do drop her a line.

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(And if you’re wondering if the look-and-feel of the blog has changed slightly, you’re right.  I’m now using Windows Live Writer to write the blog and it has a wonderful facility for uploading the photos – it resizes them so they don’t take forever to open,  and even adds professional-looking drop shadows to them.  Plus I don’t have the usual problems I have in aligning the photos that is one of my bugbears with WordPress.  WLW is so user-friendly, I didn’t even need a manual to figure out how it works.  As highly recommended as Kittybags Catnip.)

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The Supreme, Shopping and a Sphynx

24 November, 2007

The Supreme (which was held on Saturday 17th November this year), is the largest cat show in the UK and is run by the Governing Council of the Cat Fancy (GCCF).  To qualify for entry to the Supreme Show a cat must first win at a GCCF Championship Show.   So as you can expect the standard is very high.It’s also one of the best shows if you want to see any breed of cat, meet cat breeders or go shopping for cat products.

It’s held at the NEC in Birmingham, and last year I went by train, which meant I couldn’t get as much cat goodies as I wanted to because I couldn’t see myself lugging bags of cat litter back on the train.  It was a shame because cat shows are the best places to see what was new on the market, buy in bulk, receive discounts, or to get free samples of cat products.

This year I was lucky.  My new kitten owners were curious to see what a cat show was like, plus they wanted to do some cat shopping.  They were going to drive there, so I cheekily asked if I could have a lift there – no problem, they said!  So this year, I did the journey there and back in an extremely comfortable car.  As an added bonus, the said car had a lot of boot space so we could really stock up.

And my, these new kitten owners were smart shoppers.  They came prepared with trolleys on wheels so we wouldn’t have to carry everything by hand.  Definitely a good idea, those trolleys – in fact, we probably could have set up a stand selling them as we saw loads of people struggling with bags while we sauntered by.

So what did we buy?

Cat food:  Applaws Cat food by the box because there was a case discount.  applaws.jpgApplaws is the UK-equivalent of Almo Nature Cat food – very very high quality, human-quality, in fact food.  Real bits of chicken, or fish.  No preservatives, soya, filler, carbs, apart from a little rice or pumpkin.  You could make a sandwich with the tinned chicken – it’s that good.   Bozita cat food by the case as well.  Bozita is a Swedish brand, it comes in nifty tetra-packs which fold over at the top so you can store them easily.  Bozita CrayfishThey were giving away kitten packs with every case – the box containing the kitten pack had a house printed on it, and the windows and door of the house were perforated so you could take them out and the kittens could play in the house!  Interesting flavours – crayfish, for one.  Bozita has an 88-95% meat content.  Unlike Applaws, it’s meat that’s reconstituted into chunks, not real pieces of meat, but without any soya or grains which is good because you want to avoid feeding carbs to cats.  Some of the ingredients seemed expensive to me, like crayfish, but maybe crayfish in Sweden is not an expensive food?  We got some free samples of a new brand of canned cat food from the US – Evangers – premium ingredients again, like organic chicken, or pheasant, and high in protein.  I went home and opened the can, and it was pate-type cat food which unfortunately aren’t to my cats’ tastes – pity.   Royal Canin had a large stand there – they make dried cat food and are priced at the higher end of the market.  I was curious about their breeder scheme, and was told that breeders received 30% discount (or thereabouts) or RC cat food.  However, you couldn’t just fill in a form to join, but you had to buy a 20kg bag from the stand, and then one of their sales reps would sit you down and talk to you.  What about I asked, but they wouldn’t tell me.  I didn’t have the time nor the inclination, so I declined.

CatsBestNaturesGoldCat Litter:  There were a few new-ish brands of cat litter on the market.  It seems the trend is moving towards biodegradable cat litter in a bid to capture the eco-conscious cat lover.  Which is all very well, but how good is the odour control and is it easy to clean?  I bought some Cat’s Best Nature’s Gold – it’s pellets made from fir and spruce wood.  I was interested in it because I’d used Cat’s Best OKO Plus previously which is more granular.  Nature’s Gold is supposed to track less, and not stick to the furry bottoms of long-haired cats.  There was a special offer on:  a 20kg bag for £12, 2 bags for £11 each etc.  World’s Best Cat Litter had a stand and I mentioned that my kitten packs never arrived, and they promised to send them to my kitten owners, so fingers crossed.

ElGatoCatnipCigarCat toys:  we were hoping that Da Bird cat toys would be available, but the person who has the sole distributorship in the UK wasn’t there.  We got some catnip toys – an El Gato catnip Cigar and a Yeoww!  Catnip Banana.  So far I haven’t found a more potent catnip toy, and one which lasts and lasts.  Some of the catnip toys on the market look large, but the catnip doesn’t fill the whole toy.  With an El Gato the whole of the catnip toy is packed with catnip.  And it seems to stay potent for a long time.  I still have a catnip cigar that’s a year old and still gets revisted by my cats.  These catnip toys are more pricey (RRP is £5.50), but we bought ours from a cat club table for £4.  I also bought two spiders made from pipe cleaners from another club table.  My Bengal loves these pipe cleaner spiders – it seems to trigger something in her predator brain and she will pounce and kill them over and over.

Which brings me to the cats, just in case you thought we were only there for the shopping.  Did we look at the Maine Coons?  Of course we did.  We saw some really huge fellas – the largest weighed in at 25 lbs!!!  My new kitten owner was a walking endorsement for me – she showed off her kitten photos, and I was really chuffed.  I’ve been hoping for a red stud boy for Ananda next year, and someone who saw the kitten photos was a breeder with just such a stud, so watch this space!

Which brings me to the final topic in this post: the Sphynx cat.  I wrote briefly about the Sphynx in my post last year on the Supreme.  They are an extreme-looking type of cat, and not to everyone’s taste, but there’s something so alien,  yet noble about their looks that I love them.  Despite their strangeness, they are cats through and through, and love a cuddle and are very friendly.  My new kitten owner hadn’t seen a Sphynx, so I dragged her to the exotic cat section.  She wasn’t disappointed.  In most cat shows, the owners don’t allow their cats to be handled by the public in case of germs.  The Sphynx owners were more obliging than most others – we got to touch and hold two Sphynx cats.

SupremeSphynx1 This is Infurno Kismet owned by Sara Allwright.  When I held him, he just lay in my arms, purring.  I put my cheek to his flank and it was warm and felt just like a peach.  Sphynx cats aren’t totally bald – they have little bits of fur at the base of their ears, and a few hairs on their tails.

See you next year at the Supreme!

(with many thanks to the Zealands for a fantastic day out, and without whom this post wouldn’t have been written)

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New Cat Scratching Post from Cat-Palace

22 September, 2007

Kittens on Cat Scratching PostKittens on Cat Scratching PostAbout this time last year, I wrote about a company in the Netherlands, Cat-Palace, that makes the ultimate in cat scratching posts.

I drooled about owning one of their cat scratching posts, imagining the happy looks on my cats’ faces as they saw their new toy – a cat scratching post that was made from natural logs.

Finally, after a year, I succumbed.

The deciding factor was when Teddy threw himself onto the old scratching post (bought off e-bay) and it collapsed under 14 pounds of Maine Coon.  Teddy squealed with fright and ran away.  He never went near that old scratching post again.

cat-post So it was as good an excuse as any:  I needed/the cats needed a scratching post that was sturdy enough for an atheletic Maine Coon.

After many months pouring over the web-site, countless e-mails to Cat-Palace, trying to make my money stretch as far as possible, I made my choice.

So on the right is a photo of the cat scratching post.

It’s a model F2.XAS.  It’s got three tiers.  And what makes it special is the top tier is a pagoda with a curved roof so that cats can sleep on each side of the roof.  Having a pagoda means that more than one cat can play at top cat by getting the highest perch – it’s good cat psychology.

There were so many options and considerations:  should I get the extra-strong Berber carpet (geared towards Maine Coon heavy usage)?  Should I get the model with the round basket at the top?  Was it too large?  Was it too small?  Was there enough room for it?  What colour carpet? Should I get the optional sisal post?

And finally:  was it worth the small fortune I was paying for it?

The answer is:  yes.   You’ve got to think of it as a handmade, customised piece of furniture – that’s what you’re paying for.  The workmanship is fantastic.  The carpet covering is proper thick carpet, not the thin sort normally used on cat scratchers.  It’s made with natural wood and artificial ficus leaves so that it is aesthetically pleasing.  It’s more sturdy that any other type of cat scratching post I’ve seen.  So sturdy that in fact according to Cat-Palace, customers in California who’ve got one of their cat scratching posts have reported that during earth tremors their cats all rushed onto the posts and sat out the quakes on them.kittens-on-post

The day it arrived I felt like those women who go shopping and have to stash their bags away from their husbands.  But of course, the post was too large to hide, and hubby knew it was coming anyway.

The kittens and cats took to it straight away.  They shimmied up the post without having to be told what it was.  Teddy scrambled to the top and dangled precariously, but the scratching post barely moved (it weighs about 50kg and is beautifully balanced.

My only regret is that I didn’t get the model with a round cat bed on it because my cats like curling up in balls.

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Several months on, and the kittens have left for their new homes.  Strangely enough, the cats have stopped using the cat scratching post.  I’ve moved it to a new location in the hope of tempting them to use it.  Maybe it just means that it doesn’t matter how much you spend on a cat scratching post – you can lead a cat to the cat scratcher, but you can’t make it use it!

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2007 Kitten Packs

6 September, 2007

 Kitten packs are what most cat breeders give to new kitten owners when they collect their kittens.

Yep … my little kittens are leaving home tomorrow … more in a later post.

Kitten packs usually contain:

- a Kitten Guide written by the breeder and covering items such as the food the kitten is used to eating, the type of litter they are used to using, how to help the kitten settle in etc.

- the kitten’s pedigree

- the pink slip (as the registration slip is known by breeders who register with GCCF.  I register my kittens with TICA, and as is commonly the practice amongst breeders nowadays, the registration slip is sent to new owners on proof of neutering)

- the kitten’s vaccination certificate

- Six week’s free insurance from Pet Plan (the market leaders in pet insurance)

- a toy

I give a small bag of World’s Best Cat Litter as well.  As I’m a member of the Breeder Scheme with MPM Pet Products (and I buy an awful lot of WBCL from MPM) I’m entitled to free 3kg starter packs of World’s Best, plus some tins of Applaws cat food, all packaged in a nifty box.  This year the delivery is late, and I’m hoping it will arrive tomorrow.  If it doesn’t I’ll just have to give the kittens some WBCL from my own stash.

This year, I’m also including two weeks’ worth of raw food.  I’m thrilled – the kittens’ new owners have agreed to try raw-feeding.  I told them that it was worth a trial, apart from the obvious health-benefits, to see how relatively “odourless” raw-fed kitten poo is.  Once you start feeding commercial, the poo smells like fermented canned food.  So I’ve been up-to-my-arms in chicken and rabbit mince.

As for cat toys, last year’s litter went away with a Da Bird. A Da Bird consists of a 36″ fiberglass rod, 50 lb. test braided nylon string and aerodynamically configured feathers on a swivel that mimics the action of a REAL bird in flight. All cats find it irresistible. (Buy Da Birds from Purrs in Our Hearts, an online shop with profits going to UK cat rescue).

This year, the kittens are going to have fun with a Cat Catcher.  Made by Go Cat, the same company that makes the Da Bird, the Cat Catcher has a small furry mouse attached to a wire on a wand. The mouse is small and bristly, and has just the right size and feel for a cat to pick up and hold in its mouth. The wire has the perfect tension to agitate the mouse as though it’s scurrying away. It has been a real winner with my Maine Coons. (Buy Cat Catchers from Solomio Pet Products)

And of course, the kittens go away with a hug and a kiss and a promise that they will always have a special place in our hearts.

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You know you’re a Cat Breeder (1) when …

29 August, 2006

CatPalace1 You know you’re a Cat Breeder when you place getting a new cat scratching post above getting a new pair of glasses.

This weekend – quel disastre! I broke my spectacle frames at a point that could not be mended (across the bridge) and couldn’t find any of my back-up pairs. I was blind as a mole – the kittens were plump streaks on the floor, I couldn’t even read the blog.

This morning, I found a new set of frames at the optician’s, to the tune of £90, and was discussing the possibility of getting a new set of glasses + lenses because my prescription had changed and I needed varifocals.

So, how much?

£360 the reply was. Just for the lenses (a little apologetically)

But … but … (apart from the unaffordable expense of £360) that was the same amount as what I would pay for a superior cat scratching post from www.catpalace.nl.

The cat post I was lusting after was the RB.4X – 4 tiers crafted from real tree trunks, and finished with artificial ficus leaves. It was as close to natural for indoor cats as could be. I could already see my cats lolling around like little emperors and peeking from between the leaves.

So … glasses or cat scratching post?Glasses1

Please check out www.catpalace.nl, and send me your votes asap – it could mean the difference between the ability to see the no. 125 bus, or happy cats.

Which would you choose?

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