Not Sure About the “Quality” Foods

As per this post, I’m keen to make sure Pete eats reasonably quality, high protein food. Lots of people swear by the Royal Canin/Hill’s Science Plan type foods, so I thought I’d give them a go. They are eye-wateringly expensive compared to Tesco/Whiskas/Kitekat/Felix, and the nutritional information on the packs and on the websites is astonishingly poor.

I got him Royal Canin Feline Health Nutrition wet food, the Hairball Care and the Ultra Light in jelly (which states it has a 19% calorie reduction). The nutritional information for the Ultra Light says

COMPOSITION: meat and animal derivatives, vegetable protein extracts, derivatives of vegetable origin, minerals, cereals,various sugars.

ADDITIVES (per kg): Nutritional additives: Vitamin D3: 55 IU, E1 (Iron): 0.4 mg, E2 (Iodine): 0.1 mg, E4 (Copper): 0.9 mg, E5 (Manganese): 0.11 mg, E6 (Zinc): 1.1 mg, L-carnitine: 35 mg.

ANALYTICAL CONSTITUENTS: Protein: 11% – Fat content: 2% – Crude ash: 1.4% – Crude fibres: 1.2% – Moisture: 82.5%.

It doesn’t specify what the meat is, or what the vegetables and cereals are, and the protein content is very low, so I assume the carb content is high. They tag it as having a high protein content, but it’s only 11%. They say it has a 19% calorie reduction, but compared to what?

The Hairball Care variety gives the nutritional info as

COMPOSITION: meat and animal derivatives, cereals, vegetable protein extracts, derivatives of vegetable origin, minerals, oils and fats, various sugars, yeasts.

ADDITIVES (per kg): Nutritional additives: Vitamin D3: 82 IU, E1 (Iron): 3 mg, E2 (Iodine): 0.12 mg, E4 (Copper): 1 mg, E5 (Manganese): 1 mg, E6 (Zinc): 10 mg – Technological additives: Clinoptilolite of sedimentary origin: 0.4 g.

ANALYTICAL CONSTITUENTS: Protein: 7% – Fat content: 2.7% – Crude ash: 1.3% – Crude fiber: 1% – Moisture: 82%.

so it’s even lower in protein (cats are obligate carnivores, remember) and presumably even higher in carbs. Again, no calorie content.

I have emailed Royal Canin to ask for more info, so we will see what they say.

The Hill’s Science Plan I got is the urinary health & hairball control type, and again, there is very little nutritional info on the packaging. I can’t even find it on the website to look for more details, but looking at some of the other foods, they do have good nutritional information on the site.

It seems very strange to me that brands which a) cost a lot of money and b) promote themselves as being very high quality, aren’t prepared to back that up by being open about what goes into them. I’m looking at you, Royal Canin.

The Trixie Cosy Place Resting Pad

Decided to get Pete one of these so he can more easily spend his time looking out of the window indignantly at pigeons. The idea is pretty straightforward – a padded, covered board that you fix to the windowsill with G-clamps. The trouble is, the pre-drilled holes in the board are so far from the edge that the G-clamps don’t reach them, so there’s no way to fit the board.


When I complained, Amazon sent me another one, which has exactly the same problem. So, 5/5 for the idea, but 0/5 for the execution, and as a product you can’t use is no use, 0/5 overall.

A Very Naughty Cat

Pete had his annual check-up and boosters at the Cat Clinic a couple of weeks ago. He was a good boy, and they were pleased with him – he’s in good health, his teeth are in good nick, and he only need to lose about another 1lb. He was doing well with his weight loss, but my neighbours got a kitten, and now he likes to sit on their doormat until they open the door and then he runs past them and eats the (very calorific) kitten food. Luckily, he hasn’t tried to eat the kitten. Rico is very cute, very similar markings to Pete but grey rather than black. He’s fascinated by Pete and obviously wants to play, but Pete isn’t interested and just wants to eat. But they have a little sniff at each other and yesterday Pete licked him on the nose, and there has been no aggression.

Pete and I went out for a walk the other day, through the nice quiet garden bit at the back. We were having a good time, lots of scampering, sniffing, tree-climbing etc, when Pete suddenly went all CONSTANT VIGILANCE and started running towards the flats. I followed him and realised that there was a cat lying on the external windowsill of a first floor flat, and it was shouting loudly at Pete. Pete, of course, wanted to fight it. I couldn’t persuade him to come away so tried to pick him up to carry him away, but he growled and tried to bite me, then hid under a bush where he thought I couldn’t reach him. I did manage to get him out, despite his growls, and carried him off, but as soon as I put him down he ran straight back and under another bush, from where he growled, bit swiped at me and completely refused to be reasonable. Nothing I could do or say would persuade him to leave his lookout point, even though the other cat had disappeared by then, so in the end I resorted to the parents-of-recalcitrant-toddlers trick and said “well, you stay there if you want, I’m going home.”

He was scampering behind me before I’d done 30 yards.

Staywell PetPod

I recently subscribed to a cat magazine, solely for the purpose of the subscriber offer: a Staywell PetPod. According to Amazon, the RRP is £62.99 and it’s currently on offer at £36.24, so I’ve saved quite a bit, and I get cat magazines.

The Staywell PetPod is an automatic timed pet feeder. It has two lidded compartments, which are removable for washing. There’s no space for an ice-pack, so probably not good for wet food. It needs 2 AA batteries, which are not included. The digital clock and timer were easy to set. You can set each compartment to open at a different time, and they remain locked until then. I’ve set one to open at 0500, and one to open at 1530, and I’ve put small amounts of Thrive dry food into each one. I made a slight error when setting it up and didn’t switch the timer on for both compartments, but reading the instructions more carefully resolved that. Now the first compartment opens at 0500 and Pete eats the contents and (for the last two mornings anyway) hasn’t pestered me for breakfast until nearly 0700. And the second compartment opens at 1530, so if I’m later home from work than expected, I know he has access to something to keep him going and stop him hunting the neighbours.

I don’t know if it’s secure enough to stand up to a serious attack from my determined food-monster, but he hasn’t broken into it yet. I don’t think I’d pay £60 for it, but it’s certainly worth £25, and as a subscriber gift, it’s great. The opportunity to sleep until after sunrise without being pestered for breakfast – priceless.

Your Silence Is Deafening: An Open Letter To the Target Boycotters

Excellent piece.

Drifting Through My Open Mind


I hear you.

You’re angry.

I get it, I’m angry too.

I’m not talking to the people who are angry at Target because their Pro Transgender bathroom policy flies in the face of their cherry picked moral compass. I’m not under any obligation  to respect their beliefs. 

I’m talking to you… the people who have no issue with sharing a bathroom with LGBT people. I’m talking to those of you who are speaking out about this bathroom policy, expressing concern over the women and children who you fear will be in danger because of this policy.

You’re reasonable people. You aren’t expressing hate or bigotry. You just worry. You worry about your kids, your wives, your sisters. I worry too.

I probably worry too much. I have always accompanied my younger kids to the bathroom in public places. When my son was too old to go into the women’s room, I…

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No Manners

I bought Pete some diced beef from the supermarket reduced shelf today. When I got it home I portioned it into freezer bags and stuck it in the freezer, and put the container in the bin. The bin was full so I removed the bag sat it on the kitchen floor until I could be bothered taking it out. I didn’t tie the binbag shut, and next thing I know, Pete was sitting in the bag, licking the beef container. Not standing on the floor sticking his head into the bag; he climbed right in.

LeopetCat Scratching Post Ceiling High Cat Tree Climbing Activity Scratcher Centre Toy Play Cat Furniture

Got the Leopet Cat Tower for Pete in December, for £45, from Amazon. It was a bit of a pain to put together, but I eventually managed. I might have done it more quickly, but Pete tried to help.

It’s not great.

One of the cylinder bits won’t attach because the hole has been drilled badly and the screw won’t screw through. I emailed the retailer and they asked me to send photos so they could sort it out, and I never got round to it. Pete doesn’t really use the one that is on it though (he’s too big and too long) so no matter. The posts don’t fit together very firmly, and to get them to fit properly you have to leave them slightly unscrewed, which makes the whole thing quite wobbly. If you tighten them up, it shortens the length of the posts so they don’t fit properly. The fabric covering isn’t very good quality and it’s coming loose already, after only 4 months of daily use. The sisal for scratching on is pretty tough though, as are the play ropes.

The hammocky baskets seem very flimsy, but they are standing up well to my big heavy boy, and he loves lying in them, especially when they’re bathed in sunlight.


The top platforms make great look-out perches, and the house bit is a good hiding spot.


Unfortunately the top of the pole doesn’t reach to my ceilings (which aren’t very high) so it’s not very stable, and it wobbles a lot when Pete climbs up and down. He found this very disconcerting at first, and although he’s got used to it, sometimes he still meows and meows because he’s worried about getting down. It’s easy to rotate the platforms on their posts, but they don’t seem to be in the right places for cats to easily get down after getting up; some of the drops are nearly vertical. Pete deals with this by jumping into the hammocks, but I don’t know how long they’ll take that.

My flat is tiny and this tower doesn’t take up too much floor space but gives him a good range of heights to climb and stretch on. He likes it much more than I do – I think the quality is a bit ropey in places, the flat platforms are slightly too small, and the whole thing is too wobbly for a large cat. If you have small, light cats and very low ceilings, this is probably a good buy for as long as the fabric lasts. For owners of bigger, heavier cats, the cats will think it’s better than you do.


When Pete first came to live with me, I did hope that he would have fun romping around in the grassed areas and wooded areas at the back of where I live. However, he’s proved to be much more interested in snoozing than in going out to play. Since the vet trip last week, I’ve been trying to encourage him to go out and get more exercise, but he’s quite wary about going too far. So, I’ve been picking him up and carrying him to the Engine Shed car park, which has grass and trees, and to the area at St Leonards Bank which is ideal for cats to play in.

He’s loved it! He scampers and runs and tries to climb trees, and pounces, and sniffs, and jumps onto fences and slinks along them, and generally behaves like a proper cat. It can be an effort getting him to come back home sometimes! We haven’t been out every day, because weather, but most days.

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Fat Cat with a Stinky Bum

Pete and I went to the vet yesterday for his annual checkup and booster jags. I’m pretty skint this month and didn’t want to pay £15-20 for taxis there and back, so we got the bus. Getting him to the bus stop was the most difficult bit because he’s heavy and what is usually a 5 minute walk took nearly 15. He was really good on the bus though, a bit anxious to start with but once he’d realised there was nothing scary happening, he settled down and lay down in his carrier and just looked around quite calmly.

The vet (Edinburgh Cat Clinic) gave him a good checkup and said his heart and lungs are fine and his teeth are in good condition. The main issue is his weight. Although I haven’t increased his food, he’s put on about a pound in the last five months and he’s now 2lb overweight, which is a lot for a cat. He is a big cat, and we think about 6kg would be right for him, but he’s currently just over 7kg. I don’t know what else to do to reduce it – he gets on pouch of wet food in the morning, usually the 100g pouches but I mix in some of the 85g a couple of times a week, and he gets 30g of Thrive dry food which is 90% meat and about 190kCal per 100g. So he’s on a maximum of about 170kCal per day, and all the research I can find says to get him to 6kg he needs to be on about 200 per day! The vet says I’m doing all the right things, putting his dry food around the flat on the windowsills, on his platforms and in his activity feeders, so he has to go and look for it if he wants it, so the only thing I can try now is reducing his intake even further. I’m really worried he’ll eat my face in the night. We are wondering if he’s getting food elsewhere, but he doesn’t go out very often, and although the neighbours have been known to sneak him bits of steak bake (!) and the odd dish of milk, I don’t think they do it regularly. Because he’s so fat, the vet couldn’t examine his abdomen, but he seems healthy and happy so we’re assuming he’s ok.

The other issue is that after he’s used his litter tray, he often has a stinky mess down “the back of his trousers.” (Is it just me who loves cats’ fluffy britches?) So I asked Simon to check his anal glands. Pete did not enjoy having his glands checked and was quite happy to say so, but it didn’t take long. The right one was fine, but the left one has some infection in it, so Simon got it all out, and we’re going back in 4 weeks for another check, and I will keep an eye on it meantime. Simon does think though that some of the mess is because of Pete’s size, making it difficult for him to poo cleanly or wash himself properly afterwards. I think it’s all about his glands, his poo is firm and seems to come out cleanly, and the mess on the back of his legs is greeny and stinky, so I’m sure it’s exudate/secretions. While he was giving the injection, Simon found a lump on Pete’s back, which he thinks is just a lipoma, but we’ll keep an eye on it.

The other thing we did was a nail trim, to blunt his scimitar-like claws and protect my legs a bit. I try to do it at home but I only ever manage one claw, then he wakes up and attacks the clippers.

On the way home, partly because he’s heavy to carry, and partly to give him a bit more exercise, I let him out of his carrier as we got to the police station instead of waiting till we got in the stair, and he trotted along behind me quite happily. He had a bit of a run around in the evening as well, scampering up and down the stairs, and I took him over the road to see if he would romp in the grass, but a seagull swooped on us, and it got very windy, and he really wasn’t keen so we came back in.

He was very sleepy last night and still this morning, and not pestering for food quite as much, which I think is a reaction to the vaccination. He was the same after his first ones last year.

7th of July was the first anniversary of Pete coming to live with me. I’m so glad he picked me.