Super Quick Review – Sift Ease

I’ve been searching local pet stores and of course Amazon lately in my quest for the perfect litter box. During one of my Amazon searches, I came across the SiftEase.

Seems like a really interesting product. You don’t need to use any special litter box, but in theory, it should help save time scooping.

Here’s the idea, a big scooping tray, with a bin underneath so that you just pick up your litter box and pour the litter through the sifter. The sifter catches the clumps (clumping litter obviously required) and you throw them away. The bin underneath catches the clean litter and you can just pour that back in the box.

Here’s the giant sifter. It sits on top of the grey bin shown in the first photo. I have to say that I really like the idea of this product. I’ve tried litter boxes with built in sifting devices and I’ve never had much luck with them.

Unfortunately, this product just didn’t work for me. First of all, dumping a litter box into the strainer/sifter is much harder than it seems. I tried to be careful, but litter spilled onto the floor. While I tried to scrape clumps loose in the pan before I dumped it, there were still clumps in the box after I dumped it into the sifter.

Puck had to check it out

Next problem, the holes in the sifter didn’t let all the litter through. Maybe that’s my fault, and I’m sure there are other types of litter that might work better than the OxoCat litter that I prefer, but I have enough issues with litter boxes right now, and I’m not changing my litter.

So I have a sifter full of dirty cat litter. I tried shaking it, but it only helped a little. I had to get my litter scoop and push the litter around in the sifter until I could get most of the clean litter through the slats and dump the clumps. I ended up wasting a lot of litter between the spills on the floor, and the litter that was thrown out because it didn’t sift well.

Finally removed the sifter from the base and dumped the litter back into the box. Time to sweep up the giant mess  before I was done. All this hassle, and I only cleaned one box. Four more to go? I don’t think so.

Once I finished sweeping, I cleaned out the SiftEase and folded it back up. I put it back in the box, and told Amazon to come pick it up. This is not a product for me. As much as I hate scooping. This product didn’t save me any time or hassle at all.

I’m going to continue my dreams of having a LitterRobot. There have been many times I’ve been tempted to just spend the money and try one out, but I know I would need at least two of them, and I’m not convinced it would work out for my big Maine Coon, or whichever cat likes to use two boxes to take care of business. I have heard they have a 90 day money back guarantee, so maybe I’ll give it a try one of these days. The joys of cat ownership do not include litter boxes!

Love Cats – HATE Litter Boxes

I’m still battling. I love my cats, but the litter box thing is just, UGH!

Fingers crossed, I think things may be settling in again. They seem to go in circles from OK, to we have a problem. It’s never great. We still have four cats here, our three, plus my son’s cat. As usual, lots of experimenting. I’m trying hard not to overdue the experiments and make things worse.

Litter first – I’ve made a lot of litter changes over the years, and I’m currently using OxoCat regular. It’s a wood based litter, and I’m mostly happy with it. It isn’t at all dusty which I really like. It absorbs smells well, and most importantly, the cats like it. The only downside is that it does spread around on the floors, but for now, I’ll deal with that.

I’ve currently got 5 separate boxes going for the four cats. Two upstairs, three downstairs.

Upstairs I have a standard covered box, and then this new Igloo-looking box I just set up last week called the Petmate Booda Dome.

Upstairs set up:

and the two boxes:

It took the cats a couple of days to give the dome a try. I kept seeing them poking their heads in then quickly backing out. It was day three before any of the cats actually used it, but now it is being used regularly.

My biggest problem lately has been cat poop on the floor. I’ve been switching mats, boxes, cleaning products, etc. Since I set up these two boxes upstairs, the problem hasn’t completely stopped, but it is much better. I was driving myself crazy, cleaning boxes every time I went upstairs, now I’m doing boxes once a day and that’s it. The cats need to figure this out. I won’t say I haven’t found any poop on the floor lately, but it’s down to about once every three or four days. I’m hoping as they continue to adjust to the new dome that we can finally eliminate this problem. I think I have a cat that pees in one box then poops in another. If the second box isn’t available, they poop on the floor rather than doing all their business in one box, you know, like a normal cat!

Downstairs, I’ve gone to three boxes. It honestly seems like too much, and I’m hoping to go back to two soon. Just trying out options.

The two open boxes are cement mixing trays from the hardware store. They have become my favorite litter boxes because they are cheap, usually about $8 each, and the inside edges are rounded so they are super easy to clean. With these trays being so inexpensive, I replace them every 4-5 months when they get stinky and I don’t have to worry about scrubbing them. They are also nice and big for my Maine Coon.

The covered box is a fairly new addition. I’m not sure it is necessary, but the cats are using all the boxes, so it works for now. The covered box is definitely the one being used the least. In the next week or so, I may get rid of the covered box and just go back to the two trays for downstairs. We’ll see how it goes!

Did you notice the plastic sheeting around the back? That’s my latest creation for trying to deal with cat urine. No matter what I do, no matter what type of box I use, there is always cat urine somewhere around the boxes. I think my boy cats don’t always hit the box. The plastic sheeting makes it super easy to wipe things up, and keeps the walls and floor from being damaged.

As always, I’m looking for feedback on the LitterRobot. Should I make the plunge? Is it worth the money?

 

Kitty Stuff

Martin is still visiting

I love my kitties, but I definitely hate litter boxes. With four cats in the house, the little box seems like a constant struggle. I’ve been using cement mixing trays from the hardware store for two of my boxes. I like that they are big, cheap, and relatively easy to scoop because there are no hard edges in the box, the sides slope in.

Currently, I have two, double-sized (cement mixing trays) litter boxes downstairs, and one covered box upstairs. It had been working out pretty well for a while, but lately things have been messy. I have litter mats in front of all the boxes to help with tracking, but lately the cats have been using the mats as boxes. First there were random poops on the mats, now it has been getting more regular and I can’t stand it. I also found urine on the mats recently which is definitely NOT OK.

It seems I have to keep two litter boxes upstairs. I’m not happy about it, but I’ve just ordered another box to go there. I have a standard, front open box up there now, and I’m going to add a Petmate Booda box which is supposed to help with tracking. I’ll review it in a couple of weeks when I’ve had a chance to check it out.

For the downstairs boxes, I ordered another regular, front open, covered box. I’m hoping I can fit it in the space I have with the two cement mixing tray litter boxes.

I’m still happy with the OXO Cat regular litter I’ve been using. I go through a lot of scoopable litter, and I find this one does well controlling odors, scoops pretty easily, and while I don’t think I’ll ever find a little that doesn’t track at all, this one doesn’t spread around quite as badly as others I’ve used.

 

Puck trying to tell me the water fountain is low

I made a trip to PetCo today to look at litter boxes to see if I was missing anything, but came home to shop on Amazon. I just can’t beat the selection and pricing on Amazon. While I was searching for boxes, I came across a system to sift litter. It’s separate from the litter box, so it works with any scoopable litter and any box. It’s a container with a sifting top, so litter is poured from the box into the sifter, chunks caught in the sifter get dumped in the trash, and the clean litter that ends up in the bottom just gets poured back in the box. I hadn’t seen a system quite like it before, so I bought one to try and I’ll post a review. It’s called the SiftEase Litter Cleaner. I’ll post a review in the next couple of weeks. Has anyone tried this sifter or anything like it? Let me know! I’ve tried sifting litter boxes and had some luck with them, so I’m thinking that I might like this.  I’ll let you know!

CatLoaf

Someday I dream of a house full of self cleaning litter boxes, but I always see mixed reviews of them, even the fancy LitterRobots. I just saw a company called CatLink that has some interesting looking boxes and water fountains. I’d love to get one of their boxes to review. Has anyone here tried this brand?

Labor Day weekend is coming here in the US, a sign of the end of summer for a lot of us. The weather here is already cooling off, but it did mean we got to take Cali for a nice hike the other day. She even went for a little swim!

Cali coming out of the river
Someone left a little surprise in this tree!

Review – PetSafe Healthy Pet Food Station & Acne Wipes

 

Yawning – Photo by Skylar Hamilton

Little Puck is s a super sweet and affectionate cat. Unfortunately, he also seems to be pretty delicate. He’s had urinary issues in the past, he’s allergic to seafood, and now he has acne on his chin. The poor guy is super itchy! I did some research and discovered that using a metal food bowl instead of plastic is recommended for cleanliness. Apparently plastic can harbor bacteria no matter how much you wash it. I already use a ceramic fountain, so his water shouldn’t be an issue.

After some research, I ended up buying a new feeder from PetSafe, the Healthy Pet Food Station. It’s working out great!

I bought the Medium which holds about 4lbs of dry food. With two very different sizes of dry food, the feeder has proven to work well with both. The cats get a mix of Science Diet Oral Care formula (big chunks) and Iams Urinary Health Formula. The food flows freely into the bowl and doesn’t get jammed up at all.

Our old feeder would often get stuck and the bowl wouldn’t refill. Puck is a bit challenged when it comes to sticking his paw in the bowl to knock down more food. The other cats could do it without any problem, but Puck just sits next to the feeder and stares at us until we do it for him. My daughter thinks it’s because he doesn’t like to get his paws dirty, and she may be right. Thankfully, with this new feeder, the food flows easily and Puck doesn’t have to wait for us to knock it into the bowl for him.

The stainless steel insert is great. Super easy to remove and clean. The whole container comes about easily and can be run through the dishwasher for a quick and thorough cleaning.

The small or 2lb size would probably be fine for most people, but with three and sometimes four cats in this house, I like the 4lb size so I’m not refilling quite as often. The top screws on to the container keeping the cats from knocking it off, and also helping to keep the kibble fresher.

The top is easy to grab and twist, so refilling is easy. I like that the whole container is BPA free.

After three weeks of use, I’m still very happy with this product. The price was very reasonable, it’s easy to use, quick to clean.

The other part of Puck’s acne treatment has been wipes. I purchased the Pet MD Chlorhexidine Wipes and they aren’t Puck’s favorite thing, but they are helping.

Puck’s little chin looked dirty and scabby. He was itching it on everything. After changing his food bowl, and using these wipes for just a few days, he is itch-free! I started using the wipes twice a day, then moved to just once a day. They are just thin, medicated cotton rounds, super easy to use. I just grab one and wipe it all around on Puck’s chin. He gets pats and cuddles for a couple of minutes while his fur dries, then of course he eats some treats! I used them daily for about 8 days, now I’ll just use them about once a week, or as needed if he gets itchy again.

My son’s cat, Marty, was also having similar issues. He tried the same things I did, the new PetSafe feeder, and these wipes, and Marty is also itch free now, happy boy!

Marty – Photo by Lucas Hamilton

While I bought these wipes for Puck, they will be a handy thing to have on hand for all the cats and the dog as well. They can be used for many different types of pet skin issues including hot spots, cuts, insect bites, etc. They can also be used for cleaning and will help dry out any skin areas that need it.

Kitties and Cali

#With the colder weather, Logan and Puck have been snuggling more. Usually, Puck finds himself a cozy spot, and Logan works her way in. Bean is a solo guy, I don’t really find him snuggling with the other cats or Cali.

Puck was happily enjoying his cozy spot until Logan moved in.

Eventually, he figured out that she wasn’t leaving, and he went back to napping.

My new Sundays food for Cali shipped, so I’m still waiting on that. Looking forward to seeing how she likes it and sharing my thoughts on it. They have been sending me emails, and I’m intrigued about it being a dehydrated food, and having a “jerky-like” texture. I think Cali might really enjoy that.  We’ll see!

 

Pets and wildlife

Cali isn’t much of a hunter!

Saw a Facebook post this weekend about a woman who was concerned her dog kept chasing and killing wildlife, chipmunks, bunnies, etc. Some people suggested muzzles. leashing, fencing, etc. I suggested a simple bell.  It gives the wildlife a bit of a warning so they have a fair chance to get away. I always encourage people with outdoor cats to make sure they have bells on their collars as well. Why not give the chipmunks a chance? 

If you are going to put a collar on your cat, indoor or outdoor, I highly recommend a break-a-way collar. I had a cat get stuck once, and it was scary. Thankfully, I was there to fix the problem right away.  My indoor cats don’t wear collars anymore. They are microchipped, so on the off chance they were to escape, they have that for ID, but my cats are all pretty afraid of the great outdoors, and we are careful to keep an eye on our doors.

Cali got a haircut this weekend, well I cut her hair. I love how she looks when her hair is longer, but with her itchy skin, it just isn’t good for her. Clipping her short allows me to keep a close eye on her skin, and also makes it easier for her weekly baths. I find oatmeal shampoo baths really help with her itchiness. I’ll see how the winter goes. I like letting her hair get a bit longer when it gets cold.

A Few Updates

A couple of quick updates here:


The dragon is doing great. She seems to love her new terrarium set up and is making it her job to try and eat all the insects that are supposed to be keeping her tank clean. I’m guessing I’m going to be needing to add more bugs before they have a chance to reproduce! I did add some mealworms to the tank. We’ll see how they survive. It’s awesome to see how active she is nibbling plants, checking things out, digging, climbing, etc.  I’m really happy for her.

Cali is not happy about her increased walk schedule and decreased treats, but she’s doing well.  The lump is definitely just fat, so not a problem, just something to keep an eye on. She is slowly getting weaned off of Apoquel and doing well so far. I plan to take her in for another shot of Cytopoint at the end of the month, and we’ll see how it goes from there.  Cali also had a bath and haircut last week, I miss her fuzz, but she seems happier to have some of that thick mess gone.

Hector is Hector. She is doing great. I was worried about her getting cold a couple of weeks ago when the house felt a little colder than normal. She usually hates having a cover on her cage, but with the cold, I wanted to insulate her a bit. She’s getting used to having her blankie on each night, and actually seems to like it.  I just put a small fleece over the top 1/4 of her cage. It gives her some insulation, but doesn’t block her view.  So far so good!

The kitties are all doing well.  Logan’s blood work all came back within normal ranges, so she is scheduled to have her teeth cleaned and the broken tooth removed on Thursday. Bean is very excited about all the outside animal activity as the weather is warming up a little.  He’s found a new spot to hang out and hunt.

The gliders are also doing well.  I was getting a little bit worried about my little guy, Miney. He has been smaller than the others since I got them, but I started to worry that he might be losing a bit of weight. I reached out to a glider expert through a FaceBook group to get some advice. She recommended “Glider Crack” which is a high protein temporary diet to help add weight to a sick or needy glider. The problem is that my other three boys definitely don’t need extra food! 

It has been a bit tricky getting him out alone, but I’ve been able to do it for the last few nights. I wait until it is close to the time I think they will wake up, about 9pm usually, and I disturb the pouch where they all sleep. I offer treats to the three other boys to encourage them to leave the pouch, and I make sure their food is all set up for them. Once I get the three big boys out of the way, I remove the pouch with Miney in it from the cage. I’ve been hand feeding him the special Glider Crack, and he loves it!

In case you were wondering what kind of deliciousness is in Glider Crack, it is canned chicken, avocado, scrambled egg, calcium supplement, and water, all blended together into a lovely green slime.

Miney seems to be doing well. Other than being a little thin, he seems totally fine and healthy. I’ve added more food bowls and separated things out more in the cage, so hopefully if he is getting chased from food, he will have a better chance to get at it now. I’ve hand fed him for the last 4 or 5 nights, so I plan to take a night off. I don’t want him to become totally dependent on hand feeding. I’ll offer him more Glider Crack tomorrow night, and obviously I’m keeping an eye on him.

I’m ready for Spring! How about everyone else?

 

 

Cats, Dragon, And Glider Diet

Last night Puck was sleeping happily on the couch next to us. Logan decided to leave my lap and take over Puck’s spot. This is Puck wondering what the heck she’s thinking!

I’ve been wondering what the Dragon is thinking. Wena is still awake, and she’s a bit crazy. I’m not sure what is going on, but she is super active. She’s scratching at the glass of her tank, climbing everything. Basically knocking everything in her tank around every day lately. She’s never laid eggs since I’ve had her, but she could. I’ve added a dig box to her tank to see if that calms her down, but so far she doesn’t seem very interested in it.

This is the dig box. Just a small area with some safe soil for her her to dig in and lay eggs if she wants to. So far she has been climbing in and out of it, but that’s about it.

Friday, I took her out while I was working. Sometimes letting her sit on my shoulder settles her down, not this time! She was sitting on my shoulder and all of a sudden she leaped about 8 feet across the room! I was horrified! She’s never done anything like that before and I was really worried she was hurt. She got right up and looked at me like “What?” I watched her walk and she seemed fine, so I put her back in her tank to warm up.

She’s eating and pooping fine, just very active. She doesn’t seem to be shedding, which has made her crazy in the past.

As you can see in the background, she’s taken down all the foliage that usually hangs near the top of her tank. I’ve gotten tired of constantly fixing it, so now I fix it in the morning, she messes it up all day, and I fix it again the next morning.

The free fridge I got is working out great! So nice to have all the animal food separate so I can just grab them and feed. The little built in freezer isn’t the greatest, but it works. Unfortunately, there is one control for the temp of the fridge and freezer, so I’ve had to play with it to keep the freezer as cold as possible without freezing everything in the fridge part. I’m using the freezer for things like glider fruits and veggies I’m currently using, and using our other freezer for anything I need to store long term.

Glider food is still an experiment around here. I’ve been doing a lot of research, and it seems that there are many theories on how to properly feed them, but three basic diets that most glider people recommend. The first is the BML diet. It’s a modified version of a zoo diet. My boys were on this diet when I got them, but it is kind of a pain. It uses many ingredients, and they are all very specific and you aren’t supposed to substitute any of them. I have yet to be able to find Gerber Mixed Fruit Baby juice anywhere. Every place within a 20 minute drive has been sold out, and Amazon wants about $40 for 4 bottles of it. I’ve been making it and substituting a mix of Gerber Apple and Pear juices, not perfect, but not sure what else to do.

The next diet is a brand called Critter Love. They make a powdered formula that can just be mixed with water and fed. MUCH easier than the BML, but it also has very specific salads that you are supposed to serve with the liquid blend, and my boys don’t seem to really like the liquid all that much.

The next diet is pellet based, Pet-Pro brand  Happy Glider pellets. I think this is going to be my choice of diets. The pellets come in about 6 different flavors, and the boys have been eating it pretty well for the last couple of days. The pellets get fed with one fruit or veggie per night. Once a week you substitute yogurt instead of a fresh food, and twice a month they get protein such as chicken or egg with the pellets. I like the simplicity of this diet, and not feeding a messy liquid is also a bonus.

This is a picture of my pellet experiment. I made a bowl with the same amount of pellets in each of the six different flavors to see which they ate the best. The first night, they ate most of the Honey Peach pellets (green bowl), and barely touched the fruity pellets in the red bowl. Blue bowl was the Chicken flavor and they ate that one pretty well too. My plan was to refill bowls and change locations of the bowls for a couple of nights to see if it was bowl location or flavors that they were actually preferring.

Last night was night #2 of my experiment. I forgot to get a picture, but basically the boys spilled all the bowls everywhere. There was no way to tell what they ate. So much for my experiment!

It might not be the most recommended thing, but since I have so many BML ingredients and a big pouch of Critter Love powder, I’m rotating between all three diets right now. It gives me a feel for what they eat and what is working for me. As I run out of ingredients, I’ll transition to the pellet diet fully.

The other experiment with the gliders is figuring out best cleaning practices. I started out using giant pieces of paper on the bottom of the cage like I do for Hector D. Byrd, but it was a bit smelly. I bought some custom made fleece cage liners from Tootles Original Suggie Shack on Facebook, and they are really nice! They definitely seem to help with the smell, and I have been easily going 3-4 days before I switch it out. They are also easy to wash, I shake them off outside and then wash them with my other fleece Suggie things, like their pouches. I’m still going back and forth on advantages of fleece over paper. It is nice to be able to change the paper and just throw it away, and I buy the big craft paper rolls for Hector any way. Unless… I wonder how a fleece cage liner would work for Hector? Then I would be creating a lot less waste without using a paper liner.  I might have to experiment!

The gliders still don’t seem to like me much. I keep reading amazing stories about people who keep their gliders in the hoodie all day, or in a pocket. Mine definitely haven’t bonded to me yet, but I’m working on it. Many people recommend getting a bed tent to put on the floor and sit in it with the gliders. I haven’t wanted to spend the money yet, so I’ve been bringing them in the shower stall to let them climb around with me. They seem to be spending a bit more time with me when I do that. Patience is key here I’m sure.

A few of the pets had a nice nap together the other day. Today the house is chilly, so everyone has found their own spots to cuddle up. The gliders are all snuggled on top of each other as usual, Wena is under her basking light, and Hector is currently remodeling some cardboard boxes. Bean looks pretty cozy.

The Holidays are Inching Closer

Who buys holiday gifts for their pets? Do you buy gifts for all your pets? I have to be honest, I haven’t found a whole lot that excites Wena, my bearded dragon, so unless she needs something for her tank, she usually just gets some extra Horn Worms, her favorite treat, for the holidays.

The cats and the dog always get something, and Hector the bird, LOVES presents! She gets so excited. She even unwraps her own presents. It’s definitely part of the fun for her.

I found a new-to-me website called A Bird Toy, that had some unique toys. I like that they sell parts, and you can create your own toys, and reuse/refill them. Don’t tell Hector, but she is about to get their “hulk bolt” for Christmas. It is a stainless steel bolt that attaches to the side of her cage, and I can refill it with wood blocks, beads, leather pieces, cardboard squares, etc. Hector is often afraid of new things, so I like the idea of the solid base that I can refill with different parts. I’m hoping she might be less nervous about the refills once she gets used to it. I’ll post a review after I’ve had a chance to use it with Hector.

The cats got a giant (taller than me!) cat tree for Christmas last year that they love. This year, they don’t really need anything big, so I’ll probably pick up some plastic springs, furry mice, and maybe a new cardboard scratcher. What are you getting your cats?

 

I haven’t really decided what Cali will get for Christmas yet. She has so many toys already! She isn’t a destructive chewer, so her toys last forever. Maybe it’s time for a new sweater. Cali loves her clothes! She was so excited to dress up for Halloween! We actually had trouble getting her dress off of her at the end of the night.

I’m hoping to find time to put together a Pet Wish List before the holidays. What kinds of things would like to see on it? What kind of pets are your shopping for?

Laser Cat Toy by PetSafe

My cats have been playing with the Laser Tail Toy from PetSafe for a few months now, and they love it! I’ve used many PetSafe products over the years; toys, leashes, water fountains, and I find them generally to be good quality and fair prices. This laser toy certainly fits in that category.

The toy is roughly 7″ long and 5.5″ wide. It’s small enough to easily carry around in one hand. The device is very sturdy and can handle the cats pushing it, leaping on it, and even knocking it down the stairs. It has also been fine when I’ve forgotten about it and accidentally stepped on it, whoops!

The unit takes three double A batteries, and honestly they seem to last forever. As you can see above, it has three wheels that move the unit around on the floor. I have used it on linoleum, floor tiles, short carpet, and wood floors, and it seems to work well on all of them. It is able to move more quickly and freely on non-carpeted surfaces, of course, but it does work just fine on short carpet.

So what exactly does this toy do? It projects a laser on the floor. It’s simple and pretty awesome. For whatever reason, cats seem to love chasing laser beams. While it can be very enjoyable for humans to tease a cat with a handheld laser, this toy entertains your cat when you can’t, or when you just want to watch.

See that white circle above? That’s the power switch. Push it on, or push it off. It’s that simple. When it’s powered on, the toy turns on the laser, which projects onto the floor in front of it, and it moves. The toy moves backwards, forwards, left, right, and circles. It moves, stops, and moves again. It knows when it has bumped into something, and it changes direction. It will also turn itself off after a short period of time, so you could turn it on when you need to go out, and leave it to entertain your cats while you escape.

I keep this toy in the kitchen, for those times when the cats get pesty and need my attention, but I need to get something done. I hit the button on the bottom, and the cats are immediately off the counters, out of my way, and interested in what the toy is doing. Sometimes they just sit and watch it, other times they aggressively chase it, bat at it, and sometimes even knock it around.

Bean enjoys watching the laser. I’m not sure he really knows what to make of it. Sometimes he acts as if he is scared of it, but other times he enjoys chasing it. Most of the time, it’s a combination of watching and chasing.

Even though Bean is just a baby at barely a year old, he is still super lazy. A few minutes of play time, and he is ready for another nap!

Summary: I would definitely recommend this product for anyone looking to entertain their younger, more playful cats. My older cat, Logan, isn’t very playful anymore, and she doesn’t have any interest in this toy, but both of my younger boys enjoy playing with it. I do enjoy toys such as feathers on a stick and things like that which allow me to interact with the cats more, but this is a really handy thing to have when the cats need to play and I need to get something done. It’s sturdy, well designed, and long-lasting. I think it would be really fun to add a “tail” or other attachment to dangle off the back, but that might just get tangled up in the wheels. Check it out and let me know what you think.