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!

Always Be Prepared

The Boys Looking for Trouble

Bean and Puck have been super busy lately. Not sure if they are sensing a change in the weather or what, but there is lots of running, climbing, pouncing, and wrestling. Bean has become obsessed with watching hockey. We worry he is going to take down the TV one of these days!

Go Bruins!

The other pets are doing well. Cali had her spring Cytopoint injection last week, and is feeling so much better! The Dragon is eating everything in sight!

“Pretty Birdie”

Hector is doing great. She’s been very vocal lately and often whistles back and forth with me in the afternoon. Sometimes it is distracting trying to get work done, but I wouldn’t change a thing!

Clipping Hector’s nails shouldn’t be that big of a deal. She’s really good about being held in a towel. I don’t have to trim her nails all that often as she does wear them down on her different perch surfaces, but it has been time to cut them for a couple of weeks. I’ve been putting it off because I need help. I can towel her, but I need a second person to actually clip her nails. We had some time this weekend, so I convinced the husband to help me.

Everything was going well. We got the first foot done in no time. Hector was calm, even making her cute little psss, psss, psss sound, like she is whispering a secret. We got to the second foot and Hector was curling it up tight, so we had to separate out her toes. Second to last nail accidentally got cut too short, ugh. It wasn’t too bad, so we clipped the last nail, and I got some cornstarch.

It seemed like the bleeding was stopping, so I kept holding her and talking to her, I started rubbing her head. Well, silly me, she had a bunch of new pin feathers coming in, and I guess I rubbed one the wrong way, now her head was bleeding!

Thankfully, I’ve read that the best way to stop a pin feather from bleeding is simply to pull it out, and this was a super tiny feather on her head. I was able to grab it with tweezers and pull it out and the bleeding stopped immediately. One problem solved!

Of course during all that, her short nail started bleeding again. Every time I thought I had it stopped, Hector would decide she was done being held, she’d try to get away, and the nail would start bleeding again.

My husband went to look for a Styptic pencil, but we couldn’t find it anywhere so he headed to the drugstore. I’m busy trying to keep poor Hector calm. I brought her outside because she loves to hear the outdoor birds, and that worked for a few minutes. As long as she was still, the nail was fine, but as soon as she struggled it started bleeding again.

Drugstore number one didn’t seem to know what a Styptic pencil was! Off to store number two!

I had the idea of making a cornstarch paste with some water and kind of encasing her nail in the paste. It seemed to be working. By the time Dave headed towards the second store, the bleeding had been stopped for awhile and I was feeling better about not having to rush to the emergency vet. I didn’t want to take a chance on putting her back in her cage and messing with her toe until the Styptic pencil was in sight. I continued to hold her, offered her some water, took her outside again as a distraction. 

She seemed to be doing well, so I finally put a towel in the kitchen sink and let her stand on her foot. Success! No more bleeding. I offered some of her favorite snacks while she was hanging out in the sink, but she wasn’t interested in any of them.

Hector was NOT happy about being in the sink. After a few minutes, I didn’t want to stress her out anymore, so I put her back on her cage. She was pissed at me, and made some of her nasty loud coach-whistle sounds, but she seemed OK. I checked on her constantly over the course of the afternoon, and by dinner time she seemed totally over it. She was holding up that one foot at first, I’m sure that nail was a little sore, so she got lots of extra nuts and even two banana chunks to distract her. Today she is acting totally normally, other than not wanting me to pick her up, I can’t say I blame her.

Although I can trim Hector’s nails at home, next time I’ll leave it to her vet. Birds are so delicate, and we were very lucky yesterday.  I’m thankful that I’m not a panicky kind of person so I was able to stay calm and take care of her, but next time I’m going to trust in the professionals so if anything does happen, she is already in the right place to get help. It’s also a good idea to take her to the vet for regular check ups, so I can just do both at once.

We also have a brand new Styptic pencil in the medicine cabinet that will hopefully be handy and easy to find nice time we need it!

Hector bowing her head to show me she doesn’t want to be picked up!

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.

Litter Boxes – the Continuing Saga

Does anyone with cats not hate their little box? If so, let me know your secret!

Don’t get me wrong, I love my cats, but I HATE litter boxes. They smell, litter scatters everywhere, it’s dusty, the cats don’t want to use the box, etc. Depending on the day, I have all these complaints and more.

With three indoor cats in the house, litter boxes are always an issue. Most recently, I’ve kept two large boxes downstairs, and a third up in my laundry room. It has worked out pretty well, except that for some reason, the cats were peeing in the upstairs litter box, but pooping just in front of it, and not in it. It drives me absolutely crazy. I’ve tried different boxes, various kinds of litter, even different trays under the litter box. No matter what combination I chose, pee goes in the box, poop goes in front of it.

Yesterday, the clouds parted, the sun shone through, and I realized something! With the two boxes downstairs that are side by side, the cats usually poop in one and pee in the other, not always, but most of the time. Upstairs, they only have one box. Maybe that is why they pee in the box and poop in front of it? Could the fix possibly be that simple? Two litter boxes in my laundry room is definitely not ideal, but it’s better than cleaning up poop from the tray in front of the box all the time.

My garage stash had an extra litter box, so I put it upstairs next to the other box. Imagine my surprise when I checked it this morning and there was poop IN THE LITTER BOX!  Woot! Small victory for me. Also, win for the cats, because now they have two boxes upstairs which is apparently what they wanted. Does anyone else have cats that poop in one box and pee in the other?

I’ve given up on fancy boxes. Downstairs where I have plenty of room, the litter boxes are actually $7 cement mixing trays from the hardware store. They work great! Cheap enough to easily replace them when they get gross. Deep enough to help contain the litter, and the insides are rounded, so they are super easy to scoop. Upstairs I’m just using two plain plastic litter boxes.

My new favorite litter is OKO Cat brand. It’s made from wood, there’s no noticeable dust. With my old clay litter, I realized I would cough when cleaning the box, not good. No coughing with the new litter. The switch was very gradual, I mixed a little of the new litter in with the old and just kept adding more of the new litter until there wasn’t any more clay litter. The cats don’t seem to have any problems with it. I found this litter by accident. Although I’m usually well stocked on pet supplies, I ran out of cat litter a couple of months ago. The local hardware store only had the OKO Cat brand, so that’s what I bought. It’s been great! I did try their long haired cat version, but it was more like a pellet, and while it did track a little less, the pellets were harder to suck up with the vacuum, the cats didn’t like it, and I seemed to go through a lot of litter.

For the moment, there’s peace in my litter box world. I do want to try one of the fancy robotic litter boxes one of these days, but I’m not sure one of them would be all that helpful, and I’m not buying 3-4, $400+ litter boxes. My $7 boxes work just fine!

Anyone have any good tips for litter boxes? Types of boxes or litter that you really like? How about the LitterRobot any thoughts? Like it? Worth the money?

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?

 

 

Vet Update

 

Two updates in one day! Last month the three cats went in for their annual check ups and I found out Logan had a bad tooth. I should have just scheduled removal at the time, but the vet said to keep an eye on it.

Last week, I found Logan drooling. I called another vet figuring I’d get a second opinion on what was going on. I didn’t want to put her under anesthesia until I was certain that the removal was the right thing.

She had the tooth checked today, and it definitely needs to come out. The vet thinks the drooling was from something getting caught in her gum and irritating it near the bad tooth. We did a blood test today to make sure there isn’t anything going on that we should know about before we do the cleaning next week.

 

Cali needs a diet and a haircut!

We also found a lump on Cali’s side last week, so she also went in for a check up today. Thankfully, they are 90% sure that it is just a fatty deposit. They took a quick sample of it to be sure, but it doesn’t seem like anything to worry about.

Time to try something new for Cali’s allergies. She’s been taking Apoquel for years, and sometimes it seems to help more than others. We are going to slowly wean her off the Apoquel and see how she does with just Cytopoint injections. She had one today, she’ll have another in 30 days, and then we will see how she does. I’m excited to have her off Apoquel. I hope the new plan works.

Seems that Cali has also put on a few pounds. She weighed over 15 lbs today! She’s usually about 11. Time for more exercise and a doggie diet! That’s fine. Just thankful that the lump doesn’t seem to be a problem.