Will Work for Food

Our pampered, indoor cats two linked problems: obesity and boredom. The little tigers that are our housecats are biologically adapted to hunt for their small meals. Yet they’re living lives of luxury where they can nap on the sofa all day and then wander over to their bowl of all-you-can-eat kibble without making any more effort than walking across the room.

orange tabby cat sleeps on back

Is there any wonder over half of housecats today are overweight or obese?

A great way to stimulate your cat’s need to hunt and to also give your cat a little exercise while hunting their treats or kibble is using a puzzle feeder. It provides your cat both mental stimulation and exercise while doing something they have to do everyday: eat.

We don’t feed kibble at our house, but there are no kitties around here who will pass up treats. So when our I talked to our friends at Kruuse at Global Pet Expo about cat enrichment, I realized they got how enrichment and treat time could be put together. They offered to let us try some of their treat enrichment toys.

Catrine Catmosphere Ball

One things that really impressed me at Global Pet Expo was the Kruuse Catrine Catmosphere treat dispensing ball.

orange tabby cat eats treat from Buster Catmosphere

One thing you can’t tell from photos is how sturdy the ball is. My cats have actually split treat toys open in the past, so having one that is durable is a must. It’s also easy to adjust, with a little chrome collar that turns around the pink core insert that dispenses the treats. You can turn it so that it is wide open, allowing treats to fall out easily, or you can turn it to make the hole smaller so that your cat has to work harder to get the tasty stuff out. More work means more exercise, so it’s great that you can gradually build up to your cat playing for longer and longer lengths of time with it.

kruuse catmosphere

The unique design of the Catmosphere means that the pink core is actually open all the way down to the opening. Ashton could tell that the treats came out that way, and she tried digging them out with her paw at first. She’s the kind of cat who will try to get at the treats with the least effort necessary.

one-eyed brown tabby cat puts paw in hold of Buster Catmosphere

When the paw thing didn’t work out as well as she had hoped, she started to really bat it around. It’s hard to say whether being able to see the treats flying around inside the Catmosphere treat ball was an added attraction for her since she isn’t a very visual cat. She relies a lot on her other senses since her single eye tends to make her less interested in watching prey. But regular cats who are visual hunters can see the treats in there and that is an added incentive to bat it around.

one-eyed brown tabby cat plays with Buster Catmosphere

One of the other great things about the Catmosphere is that Ashton will continue to play with it for a while after it is empty. This may be tied into her not actually looking through the clear side of the ball to see if it still has any goodies inside, but that’s five minutes of play and exercise she got that she wouldn’t have any other way. She seemed to really like the wobbling, uneven way it rolled around on the floor, so maybe that was what kept her attention so long once it wasn’t dispensing anything to eat. Either way, seeing a toy stimulate her to exercise when she is so difficult to get to play with so many other toys was great.

one-eyed brown tabby cat and Buster Catmosphere

Buster Mini Dog Maze

When I was talking to the folks from Kruuse at Global Pet Expo, they showed me the Catmosphere treat ball, then they said, “That’s really all we have for cats.” But I spotted something else in their booth that I thought would make a good enrichment toy for cats: a dog food puzzle.

I know there aren’t as many products out there for cats as there are for dogs, especially not as many engaging enrichment toys for food. So thinking outside the box helps a little bit. The mini dog maze is meant for small dogs who are roughly the size of cats to have to work to get their dog food or treats out of the maze. It doesn’t have any moving parts, and it’s made of a sturdy plastic that’s even dishwasher safe.

What happens when you toss some cat treats into a maze intended for dogs to chase their treats? Pierre thought it was fascinating. He spent a long time pushing the treats around in the grooves of the maze.  gray tabby cat fishes treats out of Buster mini dog maze

The maze loops back on itself several times, making it fairly long, in cat maze length. Eventually, he got impatient and figured out he could fish the treats out mid-maze and flip them onto the floor for consumption. This process, of course, made his paws dirty.

Newton watched the whole process with interest.

gray tabby cat eats treats from Buster mini dog maze

When it was his turn, he dug around inside the maze with enthusiasm, dragging it around the floor while he fished out treats one by one. The maze has rubber feet, but they weren’t enough to keep it in place on the smooth tile of our floor when he started digging with both feet. It would probably stay in place better on carpet, but there wasn’t any harm in his moving it around as he played.

orange tabby cat fishes for treats in Buster mini dog maze

Both Newton and Pierre spent a long time with the maze, and I felt better about letting them have treats, knowing they were working some of the extra calories back off again and having fun at it.

When it comes down to it, exercise and activity are the best way to keep the extra weight off your cat, so having active cats who work for their treats (or kibble, if you feed it) is a great way to keep your cat healthy and happy.

FTC Disclosure: We received the Catrine Catmosphere and the Buster Mini Dog Maze from Kruuse in exchange for our honest review. The opinions in this review are my own and not influenced by any outsider. I receive no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.


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Newton’s Bird Buddy

Bird: * peek *

bird outside window

Newton: Oh, hi, buddy! What are you doing out there?

Bird: Lookin’ for worms. Seen any?

Newton: No, we don’t have any worms in here. There’s an old catnip snake in the toy basket. Is that close enough? I can bring it to you.

Bird: Nope. I don’t need catnip. Just worms.

orange tabby cat watches bird outside window

Newton: Hey, where are you going? Don’t you want to play?

Bird: Nope. I’ve gotta find worms.

Newton: If you wait a minute, I can ask Pierre if we have any worms I don’t know about.

orange tabby cat wtches bird buddy outside window

Bird: Nah, I gotta go.

Newton: * sigh * We were going to have so much fun together! Bye, buddy!

Cat watches bird outside window

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5 Tips for Keeping Cats Cool

Summer and its long, hot days are on their way. You may not think of your cats as being at risk of hyperthermia (heatstroke), but they are wearing a fur coat year round. Helping keep your cat cool on the hottest days of the year is important, especially in kittens and elderly cats.

Make Cool Spots Available

Give your cat access to rooms with cool things they can lay on. Tile floors, ceramic bathtubs, or even the back of your toilet are places that your cat can stretch out and enjoy the cool surface beneath them.

gray tabby cat sprawled on tile floor

In our house, we have a sunroom connected to the house by a sliding glass door, and the metal track of the door was a favorite spot for one of our previous cats, Rhett, many years ago. His white paws were often smudgy from the grease in the sliding door track where he would sprawl for comfort on hot days.

You can make an extra cool spot in your house by freezing water in a three-quarters full water bottle (leave room for expansion as the water freezes) and wrapping a towel around it. Use this kind of like you would a heating pad in the winter. Instead, think of it as a cool buddy that your cat can cuddle up to in order to cool off. Don’t forget that this is going to be damp due to condensation, so you will need to either put it somewhere that won’t be damaged by moisture or protect the surface beneath it from moisture.

Provide Plenty of Fresh Water

Make sure your cats have plenty of water, and check the water level often. Warm weather means it evaporates more quickly, and your cats will drink it faster, too, meaning it will need to be refreshed more often than in cooler months. You can add ice cubes to the water to cool it down temporarily. Just be aware that some cats will fish out ice cubes to play with them, so monitor the bowls the first time you do that, especially if your bowl is in an area that the floor could become slippery when wet from melting ice.

orange cat looks at ice cubes

Keep Out the Sun

Close curtains or blinds to prevent sun from further heating rooms in your house where your cat prefers to sleep during the day. This will also help with your air conditioning bill. This may mean less time for your cat to watch the birds and squirrels outside your window, but the birds and squirrels are probably resting in the heat of the day, too.

cats and window blind - creative commons image courtesy flickr/nauright

Southern and western exposure windows are the ones likely to heat up your house the most. Our sunroom has both south and west-facing windows, and we keep the blinds closed for most of the day in the summer to try to keep cool. In the late afternoon, opening the room’s west-facing blinds can make the temperature jump ten degrees in a few minutes, so keeping that sun out makes a big difference.

Use Fans to Maximize Circulation

Point a fan where your cat can enjoy the breeze it creates. A fan helps humans cool off by evaporating sweat from your skin, and cats don’t sweat all over the way that humans do, only on their paw pads. That means that a fan isn’t quite as efficient for helping cool your cat as it is to cool you, but moving air around your cat that is cooler than her body temperature still helps to draw heat away. If your cat is willing to let you wet her down with a damp washcloth, this effect works even better.

cat enjoying fan

Don’t forget that some fans are easier to tip over than others. If your cat is rambunctious or has climbing tendencies, a fan that sits on the floor is a safer choice than one on a tall pedestal that has a higher center of gravity and could be prone to toppling. Of course, always make sure the fan has a grill over it so that a cat can’t get close to turning blades.

Save Strenuous Exercise for the Cooler Hours

You probably go out for your daily jog in the early morning to avoid the sizzling summer heat, and it’s no different for your cat. Don’t encourage strenuous play in the heat of the day. Playtime is important, and it’s great bonding between cat and human, but it can wait until after the house cools down. Or set your alarm a little early in the morning and have extra play time then.

You may regularly play with your cat until he is panting, but panting is also a sign of heat stress.

panting cat - creative commons image courtesy flickr/barbourians

Don’t push your cat’s exercise when it’s hot so that you can’t tell one from the other. And if your cat begins to act unusual after summer exercise, with rapid pulse and breathing, redness in his tongue and mouth, lethargy, or if kitty is stumbling after a case of the midday zoomies, don’t assume he’ll be fine. Heat exhaustion signs like those need prompt veterinary followup.

References and further reading:

Heat Stroke in Cats, Pet MD.
How to Keep Your Pets Safe in the Summer Heat, American Humane Association

Creative commons images courtesy flickr/nauright and flickr/barbourians

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Playtime with the PetSafe Flitter Toy

Our favorite toys are the ones that move by themselves. That’s what is so great about wand toys, right? The problem is that humans won’t always wave the wand toy as long as you want them to. We heard that there was a toy that would wave a wand for you. SCORE! We had to check it out.

Our friends at PetSafe offered to let us try out the PetSafe Flitter teaser toy and to share one with one of our readers. Score for one of you, too!

Pierre watches Petsafe Flitter teaser toy

The Flitter arrives unassembled.

Pierre: Uh-oh. I don’t have any thumbs.

gray tabby cat looks at pieces of unassembled Petsafe Flitter toy

It’s actually very easy to assemble if you have thumbs. Three pieces make a base that looks a little like a car’s steering wheel, then the base of the Flitter snaps down into the center. Push the two arms with the dragonflies into the slots at the top of the Flitter, add your batteries, and you’re ready to play.

gray tabby cat swats at Petsafe Flitter toy

With one button push, the dragonflies on their little strings start to whirl and move erratically, pausing periodically to tempt cats to grab at them before flying again. That pause and resume action is nearly irresistible, even to cats who are hesitant to approach the whirling arms of the toy at first. Pierre, always cautious, sat and watched until the dragonflies stopped whirling and then went after them. Then he was willing to keep swatting them after they started flying again.

At one point, he gave a dragonfly such a yank that it moved the Flitter about six inches across the tile floor, but it stayed securely upright. If you put the Flitter toy on a carpeted surface, it would probably be less likely to be moved around by an enthusiastic cat.

gray tabby cat plays with Petsafe Flitter toy

The Flitter makes funny little chirping sounds to get the attention of cats who might be asleep in another room and haven’t gotten the memo that it’s playtime. Since real dragonflies don’t make noises, who knows what those chips are actually supposed to be, but they are real attention-getters. Even Ashton, who is normally timid of moving toys that aren’t on the ground, wanted to join in the fun after hearing the call of the Flitter.

one-eyed brown tabby cat plays with Petsafe Flitter toy

With her lack of depth perception, Ashton sat really far back from the toy at first and waved her paw at it at first, unable to reach the dragonflies that spun around the Flitter. But each time the Flitter paused, she inched closer and closer until she was within swatting distance.

Ashton: I have my eye on you now, dragonfly!

one-eyed brown tabby cat swats Petsafe Flitter toy

The Flitter has an option to turn back on periodically several times throughout the day to entertain your cat while you aren’t in the house during the day. With the long, flailing, moving parts and string attached to the dragonflies, you should watch how your cat plays with it it and think about how your cat handles things like string before you leave it unattended. We aren’t allowed to have the toy when no one is home because we chew string.

orange tabby cat bites Petsafe Flitter toy

PetSafe Flitter Giveaway

Do you want to play with a PetSafe Flitter, too? It’s your big chance, because we’re giving one away.

No purchase necessary to enter the giveaway.  The giveaway is open to residents of the United States, except where prohibited by law. Giveaway will run until May 30, 2016 at 11:59pm ET.  A single winner will be randomly selected by Rafflecopter (powered by Random.org) and notified via email. Winner will have 48 hours to claim their prize; failure to do so will result in forfeiture of the prize and a new winner will be randomly chosen.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

FTC Disclosure: We received the PetSafe Flitter toy for free as part of our agreement to run this review and giveaway. The opinions in this review are our own and not influenced by any outsider. We receive no additional benefits for talking about the product or company.

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