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.

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.

IMAG0761IMAG0760

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.

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.

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.

The Feather Frenzy With Mouse Attachment

As blogged here, I got Pete a Feather Frenzy toy the other week. We’ve used it on average once a day – sometimes not at all, sometimes two or three or four times a day. He hasn’t got tired of it yet. I tend to go out of the flat into the common stair to play with it with him, because my flat is small and he likes to run around with it. It does a great job at exciting his predator instincts: he stalks, hides, pounces, runs, jumps, and when he catches it, he runs off to his dish to chew it. And thus the feather part has fallen apart – being dragged through the catflap did it no good at all. 😀

So today I replaced the feather attachment with a mouse attachment, and I’m pleased to say he reacts to it in just the same way. He shows no signs of getting bored with it at all, and sometimes he goes out into the stair and waits for me to bring it to him. This is a second floor flat, and when we’re playing it’s easy to get him to run all the way down to the ground floor, back up, up to the top floor, and down again to the first or ground floor stalking and pouncing all the way, and rolling and stretching on the ground when he catches it. I’m delighted to see him getting so much exercise with it, and even better, delighted to see him exercising in a way that encourages him to use his natural instincts and display natural behaviour. It’s a great toy and I’d recommend it to any cat owner.

Pete’s First Manicure, and a New Toy

Because Pete is very relaxed about the concept of going out and doing exercise, his claws have got very long, and they’re very sharp. And when he digs them into my leg, they’re very sore. I’ve tried to contact some of the mobile groomers in Edinburgh, but they’re as relaxed about answering queries as Pete is about going out. So today a friend gave us a lift and we went to the Groom Room at Pets at Home (Fort Kinnaird).

There’s no need to make an appointment for nail trimming for cats, so we just turned up. Poor Pete; he really doesn’t like travelling in cars and he was quite vocal in his protests. He perked up once we got into Pets at Home – all those live tasty snacks in cages for him to look at. The groomers had a couple of dogs being groomed when we arrived, but they moved them into another room for minimum stress and disruption while Pete was there. The groomer asked if I wanted to hold Pete, but I didn’t think he’d let me – he won’t let me touch his feet or hold him upside down and I didn’t think he’d cooperate for me. So she got another groomer to help and asked me to leave the room to reduce Pete’s anxiety. I stood outside, feeling like a parent on their child’s first day at nursery. I had a little look round but then moved so I could see what was going on. One of the staff was holding Pete up so that his feet were reachable, and the other one was clipping his nails. It was done very quickly, and when the staff saw me watching they mouthed that he was fine. Once it was done I went back in and we got him back into his carrier. They said he’d been good as gold, and the thick leather gauntlets on the bench hadn’t been needed at all. One of his back nails looks like it’s been pulled out (probably when he slid down the shelves) but it’s growing in at the right angle and she said it probably doesn’t need the attentions of a vet. £8 for all his nails to be clipped, with no drama and no bloodshed. He didn’t like the journey back much either, and he’s ignored me all day, but it was a good service and I’d happily take him back there next time.

Just after we got back, the post arrived, which included his new toy. The Feather Frenzy Cat Toy is from the same people who made Da Bird. It’s a long flexible plastic wand (come tightly coiled in the envelope so be careful as you open it or it’ll whack you in the face) with a string attached. The string has a carabiner clip on the other end, so you can attach different toys. When I ordered the toy, I also ordered the mouse attachment, but today Pete and I have just used the standard feather toy.

The feather toy has a couple of ethically-sourced pheasant and turkey marabou feathers attached so that when you wiggle the wand, the toy flutters and whirs. Pete was moping on the floor when I unpackaged it but within a second of me setting it up he was hunting it. He was in a frenzy of predatory lust, eyes dilated, tail thrashing, stalking and running and leaping and pouncing, and not getting bored of it at all. He’s had two 20 minute sessions and a 10 minute session with it today and I’ve never seen him so intent on a toy. I had intended to let him catch it a few times to prevent frustration and mimic natural behaviour, but he’s so quick he caught it even when I didn’t want him to. And then he kept the feather end in his mouth and ran into the house to eat his catch by his dish, with me running along behind him still holding onto the wand. I think I’ve done as much running after the toy as he has! It took him a few catches to work out it’s not actually edible and once he’d worked that out, he was better at letting me take it off him to start the game again. I’m delighted with how much interest he’s showing in it (crazed, murderous interest) and I hope I can ration it to maintain his interest while giving him more exercise. Really good toy, highly recommended.

Trixie Cat Activity Toys

Pete needs to lose weight so I’m trying to encourage him to eat more slowly and be more active. I tried him with a couple of the treat balls – you put the treats/dry food inside and as the cat plays with the ball, treats fall out of the hole, which is supposed to encourage the cat to be active to get its food reward. I’ve tried Pete with two different ones and he could not give a toss. So, I decided to try some other options.

The first thing I tried was the Trixie Cat Activity Fun Board, £24.99 from Amazon. It’s got good reviews and seemed to have several levels of difficulty, so it seemed like a good place to start. The board is well made, solid plastic, and the plastic bowls screw on and off easily. It’s difficult to wash in a kitchen sink, so probably better for people who have dishwashers. And definitely better for people with brighter cats than Pete. I started off with dry food, putting some in the bowls and some in all the parts. He looked at it, walked off and sat by his dish. After much encouragement he came and had a proper look but he wasn’t interested at all – and Pete’s a cat who is always interested in food. So I decided to pique his interest and encourage him to use it and put some tinned tuna on to all the parts. He was willing to work to get the tuna and scooped nearly all of it up on his paw, but it doesn’t work very well with wet food – it gets into all the nooks and crannies so the cat can’t get it all, and it’s a pain to hand-wash. I don’t think this is a toy for Pete. I’ve left it sitting on the floor with dry food in it for a few days, and he’s just not interested. So I’ll see if I can pass it on to someone else, or put it back on Amazon.

We’ve had a bit more luck with the Trixie Cat Activity Slow Feeder, £7.99 from Amazon. It’s shaped like a giant mouse, made of plastic and made in two halves. The top half lifts off so that you can put dry food and treats into it, then you fit the top back on and the cat works to get the food out of two large holes in the mouse’s sides. Pete was much more interested in this. He spent a good few minutes poking food out with his paw and munchitycrunching it. He had a good go at tipping it over too, to shake the food out, but either couldn’t, or couldn’t be bothered to try hard enough. He did once manage to knock my Ikea CD tower over in pursuit of live prey, so I’m sure if he really tried, he could flip the Slow Feeder over. At the moment he’s on one meal of dry (diet) food and one meal of wet food. I might put half his dry food into his dish and the other half into the Slow Feeder and see how he gets on with that. If he really struggles with it, I’ll alter the proportions so he’s working for extras rather than a big chunk of his meal.

Ha. Just as I was typing that he woke up and asked for food. I put some dry food into the Slow Feeder and he ignored me and sat by his dish. I took the lid off the Feeder, and let him eat some of the food from the tray, then put the lid back on. He looked at me for a few minutes, and walked off. I think he’s going to have to be very hungry to overcome his laziness and work for his food!

I think both products are well made, seem to be quite robust, and work well. Pete’s lack of interest isn’t because the products are poor; it’s because he’s lazy and dry food will always be his second choice.