playing

5 Home Objects That Make Great Cat Toys

cat-play-toy

Play is essential for your cat’s well-being. It mimics their natural hunting instinct, and it keeps kitty occupied. And while pet stores (and our product guide!) are brimming with cute and innovative toys, cat toys don’t have to expensive, and you don’t even have to leave the house to find new ones. If you cat hasn’t already shown you that there are plenty of household items that make great, and perfectly safe toys, here are some suggestions for you:Continue Reading

Allegra, Ruby and the iPad

I had been considering getting an iPad for quite some time, and a couple of weeks ago, I finally took the plunge. The iPad is my first Apple device, and I like almost everything about it. I use it for various aspects of my business, and it has made my life easier – and isn’t that what technology is ultimately all about? And yes, I admit it: it’s also just plain fun.

What I didn’t expect is that Allegra and Ruby would also enjoy it. But why don’t I let them tell you about it.

Ruby: What is that flat thing that Mom keeps staring at, Allegra?

Allegra: I don’t know, Ruby. Looks likeContinue Reading

Allegra and Ruby: the more scratchers, the better

Ruby on X-Tetra Scratcher

I don’t know whether Allegra and Ruby hold the record for most scratchers owned by two cats, but we must be close. It’s getting pretty crowded in our kitty playroom! Our latest addition is the X-Tetra Scratch Lounge and the Karma Scratch Log from Karma Products.

The X-Tetra Scratch Lounge is a unique design. The girls seem to like it more as a kitty jungle gym than a scratcher. They love chasing each other around it and jumping up and down on it. Allegra demonstrates how to stalk:

Allegra with X-Tetra Scratcher

However, the Karma Scratch Log is getting a lot of use as a scratcher. This by-product of the X-Tetra Lounge is a nice, sturdy floor scratcher. Allegra shows off her famous scratching technique (with a little help from Ruby – well, sort of) in the video below:Continue Reading

Ruby’s Reflections: Ruby and the Computer Cables

tortoiseshell cat in the sun

Mom says I have a propensity to get myself in trouble. I don’t know what propensity means. It sounds like one of these big words humans like to use to make themselves sound important. I like to have fun. I can’t help it if that sometimes ends up causing trouble, can I?

After my stink bug adventure from two weeks ago, things had been pretty quiet. I was just going about my usual business of playing with Allegra, being cute, keeping Mom’s lap warm while she works, and just generally having a good old time.Continue Reading

Allegra’s World: Helping Mom Win a Pettie

Allegra Ruby The Conscious Cat 2011 Petties

Things have been really exciting around here! Ruby and I are hard at work on Mom’s Pettie campaign. We really want her to win! Mom is the best, and she works really hard on this blog. Well, we work hard on it, too – so if she wins, we win, too!

And it’s not just the three of us who win, either: if Mom wins, she gets a ton of money. I don’t really know money, but Mom said she gets $1000 for each Pettie. That sounds like a lot of money to me! Anyway, if Mom wins, that money will go to two groups who help homeless cats find their forever homes, Casey’s House and Kitten Associates. Ruby and I both know what it’s like to be homeless. We don’t like to think about it anymore, and we know how lucky we are that Mom adopted us, so we really like it that she wants to help other cats be as lucky as we are, too.

Of course, I’m in charge of the campaign. Ruby just does what I tell her to do. We both love having such important jobs. Not that we don’t have enough to do just playing and napping and eating, but having a job makes us feel really important! So please help all of us win and vote for Mom’s blog twice a day through July 29.

When I’m not busy running Mom’s Pettie campaign, I make time to play with Ruby. She just loves to sneak up on me and then chase me through the house. Well, she thinks she’s sneaking up on me, but I always know she’s coming. I just let her think I’m surprised.

But I admit, the other day, she did startle me. I was sitting at the top of the stairs, just surveying things, when she came flying up the stairs out of nowhere. It was like a black and brown blur! I don’t know what she was after, but she sure as heck wasn’t paying attention to where she was going, because all of a sudden she realized that I was sitting right in her path! It happened so fast that I couldn’t even react and get out of the way. I thought for sure she was going to crash into me. But no, the little monkey simply leaped right over top of me! She jumped straight up in the air and landed behind me. She’s quite the jumper, I’ll give her that. Mom says she leaps like a dolphin.

I’m way too dignified for that kind of nonsense. After all, I’m almost two! I’m a big girl now.

And now I have to go. Mom says it’s time to pose for some more campaign photos. A campaign staffer’s work is never done!

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Conscious Cat Sunday: make time for play

Make Time for Play

Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable.
Without it, life just doesn’t taste good. –  Lucia Capocchione

Cats need to play to thrive. This is especially important for indoor cats. Playing allows them to indulge their natural instinct to hunt. Feline play mimics stalking and chasing prey in the wild, and toys that will encourage this are the best kinds of toys.

Play is important for humans, too. The National Institute of Play (who knew there was such a thing!) believes that play can dramatically transform our personal health, our relationships, the education we provide our children and the capacity of our corporations to innovate.  Play is a vital ingredient for a happy life.

What better way to get play into your life than playing with your cat? Even just one 15 minute play session a day will keep your cat happy and healthy. Interactive toys are a great way for both of you to get in on the fun. Toys such as the Da Bird feather teaser or any number of fishing pole type toys can provide hours of fun for you and for kitty. Playing with your cat is not only fun, it also increases the bond between the two of you.

Odin doesn’t have to be told that he should be playing more – the only decision he has to make is which toy to pick out of the basket.

Do you make time for play – for yourself, and your cat? What is your cat’s favorite game?

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Allegra and Ruby’s Great Adventure

Alelgra and Ruby, The Conscious Cat

We had some excitement at our house the other day. I was working in my office when all of a sudden, I heard a strange noise coming from the kitty playroom downstairs. Now mind you, strange noises haven’t been all that unusual since Ruby joined our family and the girls started chasing each other through the house. They get so carried away that they occasionally bump into something or take something off a low shelf as they race by. In the beginning, I would go and check on them as soon as I heard anything unusual, but lately, I’ve come to realize that it’s just the new normal at our house. But that noise was different.

When I got to the top of the stairs, I couldn’t believe my eyes. Our crinkle tunnel had made its way halfway up the stairs, and it was still moving. All of a sudden, two cats came flying out of it in rapid succession, fur and tails puffed up as they scattered in opposite directions. But why don’t I let the girls tell you what happened.

Allegra: Ruby and I were playing in the kitty playroom. We were stalking each other – we love doing that! There are lots of places we can hide behind. We can lay in wait behind the bathroom door, or around the corner in Mom’s Reiki room. There’s also a big crinkle tunnel. It’s really great fun! I usually surprise Ruby when we play stalk each other. She’s not that good at paying attention, she gets distracted by all the toys that are everywhere in the kitty playroom.

Ruby: Not true! I always know exactly where she’s at! I just let her THINK that I don’t pay attention….

Allegra: Anyway, so the other day, we’re down there playing. I was crouched  behind the play house, watching Ruby. She crawled into the crinkle tunnel. Ha! Now I knew I had her. She’d never pay attention to me coming up from behind her, and she was too busy making the tunnel crinkle to even hear me approach!

Ruby: I was checking out the tunnel. I love the sound it makes when you walk in it. Crinkle scrinch crick crinkle – very cool! I admit, I wasn’t paying attention to much of anything except those fun sounds, so it really took  me by surprise when Allegra pounced on me from behind! Yikes!!! I tried to run out of the tunnel, but I couldn’t find the opening. Usually I just shoot out on the opposite side from where I went in, but the exit wasn’t there! Now what?

Allegra: I knew I’d get her! What I didn’t understand was why she didn’t run from me. Doesn’t she know yet that that’s how the game works?

Ruby: The front of the tunnel had collapsed, and I couldn’t get out! Allegra was behind me, so the only thing I could do was run forward. Now I didn’t just have Allegra chasing me, but the tunnel joined in the chase. All the cool noises weren’t so fun anymore all of a sudden. The tunnel had turned into a monster!

Allegra: I wanted to get away from Ruby and the tunnel, but I couldn’t! I got dragged along with the tunnel. It was awful! I yelled at Ruby that we needed to call for Mom to help us, but Ruby told me to shut up, we’d get in trouble.

Ruby: I just kept running – there was  no time to get Mom. The tunnel monster was out to get us!

Allegra: I was getting more and more scared, when finally, I heard Mom’s footsteps at the top of the stairs. But she was too late to help us. Ruby managed to break free and raced up the stairs. I wasn’t far behind her and I tore off in the opposite direction. I was really really scared!

Ruby: I was pretty freaked out, too. Mom tried to grab me, but I wasn’t having any of it. What if the tunnel monster was going to come after all of us? I ran underneath the dining room table. Allegra hid under the sofa.

Allegra: I could tell Mom was worried and just wanted to check us over to make sure we were okay, but I was way too afraid to let even Mom near me right then and there.

Ruby: My heart was pounding really fast and I was still pretty scared, but then I heard Mom shake the treat bag, and I came out from under the dining room table.

Allegra: I heard the treat bag, too, but I was still too scared to even think about treats, and I decided to hide under the sofa for a while. Ruby, of course, was over the whole thing already and was busy gobbling up treats. Mom tried to coax me out from under the sofa. I wanted to, but I didn’t trust that everything was safe quite yet. When I finally came out, Mom praised me for being so brave and gave me treats, and I did eat them. I started to feel a little better. I very cautiously approached the stairs and looked down. It looked like the evil tunnel had disappeared, so I slowly made my way down the stairs, one step at a time. I peeked around the corner. Oh no – the evil thing was still down there! Mom saw me, and gave me another treat. Huh. Okay. So maybe it was going to be okay to go downstairs after all?

Ruby: I wasn’t so sure about going downstairs, either, but there were other things to keep me busy upstairs, so I didn’t even bother. I chased a bunch of toy mice instead. Wee!

Allegra: I finally got up the nerve to go all the way downstairs, and then I sniffed every inch of that tunnel, and spit on it for good measure. There! That surely dispelled the negative energy that thing had taken on all of a sudden!

And there you have it – Allegra and Ruby’s great tunnel adventure. From my perspective, my biggest fear was that they would associate the experience with each other, rather than the tunnel, and turn on each other. This is why I immediately brought out the treats, so they could associate coming off of this scary experience with something positive. I wasn’t surprised at Ruby’s quick recovery, but I was worried about Allegra, who, even though she’s improved considerably, is still my little scaredy cat. I was very proud of how quickly she came out from under the sofa and proceeded to explore downstairs. Perhaps Ruby’s fearless nature will eventually help Allegra get past her fears just by example.

Ruby: It was actually kind of fun. Maybe we can do it again…

Ingrid: Don’t even think about it, missy!

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SmartyKat products: a bonanza of kitty fun

SmartyKat sisal post

When the big box of products from SmartyKat® arrived, it was like kitty Christmas in April at our house. My little product tester was ready and eager to get started!

The SmartyKat® CompleteNeeds® system is designed to meet cats’ unique needs when it comes to playing, hunting, scratching, interaction, privacy, independence, and more.  From scratching posts to kitty hammocks to litter box accessories, SmartyKat® offers a dizzying array of products.

We got to test the ScratchScroll™ and the SisalColumn™ scratchers, the HammockHouse™ cat condo, the CrackelChute™ and the LoofaLeap™ wand toy.

SmartyKat ScratchScrollThe ScratchScroll™ is a well-designed, sturdy wave scratcher, covered in a mix of different scratching surfaces including a couple of different texture carpets and sisal. Allegra was more enamored with the space underneath the scratcher and the little feather snap in toy than the actual scratcher. The feather toy snaps out easily, but not to easily that she could rip it out herself, and can be exchanged with several other toys in the SmartyKat® line.

The SisalColumn™ is a well-made scratcher. The base is pretty sturdy, and Allegra loves vertical scratchers, so she took to it almost the minute I had it assembled. It is probably better for smaller cats, even at a mere 8 pounds, Allegra managed to make the base move just a bit when she used it, so it might topple over with bigger cats.

SmartyKat CrackleChuteThe HammockHouse™ was the biggest hit. I was a little worried when I realized that there was “some assembly required” – words that usually instill fear in my heart. However, the HammockHouse™ came with instructions and diagrams that actually made sense, and I had it assembled in less than a minute. The frame is sturdy even though the actual house is lightweight. Allegra loved leaping in and out of the two entrances. She hasn’t used the hammock part. I was curious whether it would hold even a big cat without collapsing the house, so I used an 18-pound bag of cat litter to test it, and the house passed this test easily.  This product is listed in the privacy section, and Allegra gives it her wholehearted approval for just that. She’s afaid of thunderstorms and usually hides out in our downstairs bathroom behind the shower curtain during storms. The first time we had a storm after the HammockHouse™ arrived, she was curled up inside it.

Allegra is a big fan of kitty tunnels, so the CrackleChute™ was an instant hit. The chute is designed to be connected to the HammockHouse™, which made it even more fun.

Here’s a video of Allegra with the HammockHouse™ and CrackleChute™:

I could barely get the LoofaLeap™ wand toy off of its cardboard backing before Allegra went wild. The combination of different textures and the  movement created by wiggling the wand proved to be irresistible. As the human on the other end of the wand, I would have preferred it to be a bit longer, but I’m a quick learner and after the first few tries, my hand was no longer part of the game. A truly interactive game!

All of the products are well-made and should stand up to even multiple cats for quite some time. They’re also pretty to look at. I’ve always felt that there’s no reason that cat toys have to be ugly, and the SmartyKat® folks seem to share this view.

Ruby Scroll and Scratch SmartyKat

Ruby wasn’t part of our family when I wrote this review, but she has since given four paws up to the LoofaLeap™ wand toy and the CrackleChute™. She also thinks that the The ScratchScroll™showcases her cuteness perfectly. She’s less thrilled with the The HammockHouse™ – mostly, because Allegra likes to hide in it and then pounce on an unsuspecting Ruby when she walks by, just minding her own business.

For more information on the entire SmartyKat® line and where to purchase, please visit their website.

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