Hexbug Nano

Pete’s latest treat is a Hexbug Nano, about a fiver from Amazon. It’s a small, insect-looking thing with little rubber “legs” on the bottom. The Nano is battery-operated via a small switch, and when you turn it on, the legs move and it sets off scuttling across the floor.

I don’t know how well it would work on carpet, but on hard floors, it’s great. And Pete loves it – chases it, stalks it, pounces on it, tosses it around as if it was real prey. And when he wants to play with it, he goes to it and meows at me until I switch it on. It’s also very effective as a distraction – he was getting under my feet the other day when I was cooking, so I switched the bug on and he played with it until he got bored and fell asleep.

Excellent product!



Cat Dancer

I recently treated Pete to a Cat Dancer from Amazon, £4.10. It arrived yesterday, which was a nice coincidence, as 5th January is the day I have designated as his birthday. It’s a piece of thin steel wire. At one end is a short piece of rolled-up cardboard which is the handle. At the other end are multiple pieces of rolled-up cardboard. The cat servant holds the handle bit, waves the wire around, and the cat goes daft chasing the other end.

Well, it works. Pete has been going crazy chasing the thing, leaping on and off furniture, turning circles and leaping after it. I doubt it will last long, but for £4, I’m not too concerned. Great buy.

Hartz Just for Cats Mouse Toy With Bell

The Hartz Just for Cats Mouse Toy With Bell is sold by Asda at £2 for a pack of 2. I picked a pack up last time I was there, just out of interest. They seem to be slightly unreliably made – the yellow one is fine, the red one unravelled and the bell fell off first go, but Pete loves them.

He likes them so much that he doesn’t even need me to roll them for him – if he’s in the mood for mischief, he’ll start hunting them spontaneously. He goes full on crouchy wiggle-butt pounce for them, and gets so engrossed he runs behind doors so he can hide and pounce on them from a position of stealth. He’s had them about a month and not got bored of them yet – well worth the money.

What a Good Boy

Pete seems to have learned some manners! My upstairs neighbours have a gorgeous ginger boy called Momo, and they told me today that the other day, Pete was out in the stair when they got home. When they opened their door, Momo ran out and came face to face with Pete. Fighty Pete who hated all the other cats when he was with Lothian Cat Rescue and tried to fight them through the pen. Fighty Pete who I have seen punch two dogs in the nose. They said that Momo was a bit wary, but Pete was very sweet and polite and just wanted to say hello.

Maybe I can get a kitten!

Pete was Poorly

Pete was quite unwell last month. He had a few days of throwing up intermittently, so we trotted off to The Veterinary Cat Clinic, where we saw Simon. Simon thought Pete might have a bowel inflammation, and treated him with a steroid injection, which seemed to do the trick and the vomiting stopped.He was a pretty good boy at the vet – Simon has the knack of giving him a good going over without Pete realising he’s being examined, he just thinks he’s getting a lot of fuss. He didn’t like getting his temperature taken though. However, a couple of days later the poor boy started to sneeze, and do a weird huffing like he was trying to blow something out of his nose. So we went back to the vet and saw Simon again. Because Pete was a stray, there’s a reasonable chance he’s a carrier of feline herpes, and Simon reckoned that the steroid injection for the bowel inflammation had suppressed his immune system, allowed the herpes to flourish, and caused a respiratory infection. A few days of antibiotics sorted it out and Pete was in great form for a couple of weeks.

Unfortunately, he then got very sick again, and vomited eight or nine times in one morning.So we went back, and saw Claire, who is new to the Cat Clinic having replaced Martha. Claire thought Pete he had either inflammatory bowel disease or pancreatitis. She gave him an injection of painkiller, which he did not like at all, and she gave me some antacids to give him with his food, plus some pouches of sensitive stomach food to try him with. He was fairly well behaved and she said she wishes all cats were as well behaved as him, which made me laugh.

I took him home but he really wasn’t himself. Didn’t want to eat, only wanted to sleep and had a very unsettled night.He woke me by sitting in his litter tray and howling loudly, so back to the vet we went, and saw Claire again. They kept him in  – leaving cats at the vet is what I imagine leaving your child for their first day at school must feel like – and phoned later to say they’d sedated him and X-rayed him and done bloods. Jenny said his colon was very gassy and bloated, and his urine was very alkaline, which is abnormal for cats, so they tested that for infection, and did more bloods. They’d put him on a drip for fluids to stop him getting dehydrated. I’d told them he likes cheek rubs and head tickles, so he was getting plenty of those but he didn’t get better through the day and they kept him overnight, which was awful. I missed him so much, the flat felt so empty.

Next morning he still wasn’t eating, but he’d done a big wee and was getting lots of cheek rubs from the staff who seemed to have fallen in love with him. They kept trying him with food and he would smack his lips and drool but wouldn’t eat. They gave him an anti-emetic with an appetite stimulant in it, and 20 minutes later he was at the front of his cage waiting for food and gobbled everything they gave him. He kept it down and continued to eat through the day, so they let me take him home that night. He was so pleased to see me, nearly as pleased as I was to see him! Claire and the nurse both said he’d been getting lots of cheek rubs and giving out lots of headbumps.

When I got him home, he went straight to his dish, which wasn’t there, then he went to his litter tray and did a huge pee. I put some of the sensitive tummy food down for him that they’d given me, and he sniffed and licked his lips but didn’t eat it, so I put a teaspoon of tuna in with it. He nibbled it a bit, but he lost interest pretty quickly. Then he went to lie on my bed for a bit and then spent several hours sulking somewhere – every time I tried to stroke his head, he walked off so I just left him to it.

He cuddled up next to me on the bed for most of the night, but a couple of times he got quite lively and was trotting round the flat. I got up at 6ish to make sure he was ok, and he’d cleared his dish, so I put some more out for him and he gobbled it. I went back to bed, and was awakened by what sounded like Pete having some sort of seizure under the bed.

As he’d been so uninterested in food I’d let my guard down and left some pouches on the worktop. The naughty cat had snaffled one and was ripping into it under  the bed. I took it off him.Later on I realised he’d stashed one in his favourite cardboard box, so I took that one off him too – and then later on he trotted past me with yet another one in his mouth! He has been absolutely great since then, totally back to his old self – charming, cheeky, affectionate, greedy and ridiculous.

And, he’s been picked as the model on the Cat Clinic’s November booster reminder cards!



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


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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