Tag Archives: New Cat Products

‘Smart’ Cat Bowl — Your New ‘Purrsonal’ Assistant?

The Obe ProBowl monitors your cat's food intake and more

New in the How Much Cat Care Help Do We Really Need category: A “smart” bowl for cats. It lets you know whether you’ve already fed your cat and  how much she ate. And when the cat food’s running low, the smart bowl will use Amazon’s Dash Replenishment service to order more.

All you need to make this purrsonal assistant work is an Obe ProBowl or two, WiFi and, of course, your phone. You’ll need the ProBowl app, too.

Food For Thought From A Cat Bowl

The Obe ProBowl phone app provides information on your cat's food intake and more,

While your cats will probably let you know if you’ve forgotten to feed them, the ProBowl provides some other information that the cats might not share.

A smart scale weighs your cat’s food when you put it in the bowl so you know you’re feeding the correct amount. Then the scale tracks and reports on how much your cat’s eaten during the day. ProBowl can also track your cat’s water intake. Since it remembers everything your cat eats and drinks over time, it can alert you to changes you might not notice on your own.

The whisker-friendly bowl is dishwasher safe and has a smart base that connects to your WiFi and phone. A ring on the base lights up when you’ve put the correct amount of food in the bowl and changes from green to red to indicate the cat has been fed.

Last year, ProBowl won Nestle Purina’s first Pet Care Innovation Prize. It also won a 2016 Red Dot Product Design Award. The first bowls are expected to ship this spring.

Today’s Recommendation

More important than being smart is a bowl like this one, which is whisker friendly.

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Cats Sink Their Claws Into The Donald

Donald Trump cat scratching post
Donald Trump scratching post

One of the really nice things about cats is that they’re completely apolitical. Your cats will never call you a sore loser or tell you to “just get over it.” But despite their total indifference to human politics, most would love nothing more than taking a few well-placed jabs at our new president, especially if he was covered in sisal rope rubbed with catnip.

Not that Politikats has it in for Donald Trump. Just about any politician is fair game when the online company is designing scratching posts. The Bernie Sanders, Barack Obama and Vladimir Putin posts are sold out. But Hillary Clinton posts may still be available if seeing your cat tear her to shreds would do your heart good.

The scratching posts are 26 inches tall on a stable 26-inch wide base and are made of recyclable ABS plastic wrapped in sisal. The politicians’ heads are resin-based and hand painted with lead-free paint.

Sounds like fun for the cats. And if you can’t stand the thought of seeing your least-favorite politician in your living room, you could always turn the post so s/he is facing the wall.

Cat Litter That’s Really For The Birds

Cats Ask Litter Box

What’s the latest scoop on cat litter? No, it’s not another kind of
ground corn, wheat, walnuts, pine, reclaimed wood or recycled paper.
Just look out your window at the bird feeder and think safflower seeds.

They’re the filler for the new Cat’s Ask (say that quickly, and ask
sounds like an entirely different word) litter box developed by Mark
Fenwick of Halifax Nova Scotia.

With four cats, Fenwick admits he developed the new cat box out of
desperation. He and his wife, Bernice, felt like they were literally
sinking in clumps of yucky, smelly litter. After three years of research
and testing, he launched a Kickstarter campaign earlier this month. So far, the project has raised $11,030 of its $48,971 goal.

The Cat’s Ask is a two-tiered box with a couple of wide steps leading to
the pan that contains the safflower seeds. Urine is funneled through a
grate under the seeds to a container below. To clean the box, you just
have to scoop the solids and lift out and empty the container holding
the urine. The box comes with a container, but you can replace it with
any recyclable juice or milk carton. Spritz the seeds with a combination
of water and vinegar to sanitize them and get rid of the cat smell, and
you’re done.

Fenwick used safflower because it’s an oilseed and repels moisture.
Also, the seeds are the right size and shape to be easily composted. The
box is made of waxed cardboard, and the pan that holds the safflower
seeds is plastic. Fenwick says the safflower seeds need to  be replaced
just once a month, even if several cats are using the box.

The Cat’s Ask litter box should be available for sale in the spring. But
I doubt that I’ll be buying one. What my cats ask is to keep it simple:
big boxes, unscented litter, easy in and easy out. This box sounds like
it would be too much work for all of us.

New Hope For Cats Who Won’t Eat

Kitten With Empty Dish
© Tombaky | Dreamstime.com

The first appetite stimulant developed especially for cats is slowly
making its way to the marketplace. If everything goes according to plan,
Aratana Therapeutics expects the FDA to approve capromorelin (AT-0002)
in 2018.

Currently, such human drugs as benzodiazepines,
cyproheptadine and mirtazapene are used to treat inappetence in cats.
But they can sometimes have undesirable side effects. And, Aratana says
on its website, they can have limited effectiveness and may be
contraindicated for cats with some health issues. None are approved by
the FDA for veterinary use.

Capromorelin is a small molecule that mimics ghrelin, a hormone produced by the stomach that causes a feeling of hunger.

Aratana
tested capromorelin on 40 cats with kidney disease and found that those
treated with a daily oral dose had increased food consumption and
“significant increases in body weight” after 90 days.

Capromorelin
could be especially helpful to cats with kidney and other chronic
diseases and cats undergoing chemotherapy, recovering from surgery or
approaching end of life.

A larger study of capromorelin will begin sometime in 2016.

Music To Yours (Cat’s) Ears

cat in headphones© Andrey Kuzmin – Fotolia.com If
you leave a radio on for your cats when you’re not at home, they
probably appreciate the “white noise.” But a study by University of
Wisconsin-Madison psychologist Charles Snowdon shows that whatever
they’re listening to isn’t exactly music to their ears.

Turns
out that species other than than humans can enjoy music, but it has to
be in the frequency range that species uses to communicate and with
tempos they would normally use.

Snowdon first tested this theory, suggested by musician David Teie, on cotton-topped tamarin monkeys. While they showed little interest in music written for humans, Teie says they “displayed a marked increase of activity” when they heard music he composed just for them.

As he explains it on his website, “all
mammals are born with templates of sound in the brain that govern
emotional response. Many of these templates come as ‘standard equipment’
and are not always learned… If someone were to scream in your
presence your heart rate would increase; there is no way for you to
prevent it. You would not, however, respond similarly to the alarm call
of a squirrel.

“Studying the characteristics of a given species gives us a basis for music for that species,” he says.

So what about cats? Since cat calls are about an octave or more above human voices, Teie wrote pieces that use sliding notes and high pitches. He based the tempo of the music on suckling and purring sounds.

The test came when researchers played his compositions for 47 cats in their
homes. On the playlist: “Cozmo’s Air” and “Rusty’s Ballad.” The cats
also heard Gabriel Fauré’s “Elegie” and Johann Sebastian Bach’s “Air on a
G String.” The music written for humans was pretty much ignored. But
when the cats heard the pieces Teie composed just for them, they were
likely to wake up from their naps, turn their heads towards the music,
walk towards it or even rub their heads against the speakers.

When we tried a kitty concert here, Soda woke up from a deep sleep and
sat up in his favorite chair to concentrate on the music. Boccelli
wandered around my office trying to figure out where it was coming from,
but he seemed to like it. Honey just continued sleeping on the top
perch of the cat tree.

To see how your cats react to Teie’s “mewsic,” try playing a sample. If they like it, you can download a collection of Cat Ballads, Kitty Ditties or Feline Airs.

Have A Chat With Your Cat

PetChatz Video Phone

As
if you didn’t have enough distractions, now you can chat with your cat
while you’re at work. PetChatz, a videophone that lets you talk with
your cat from wherever you are and even send him treats, is now
available online.

The PetChatz unit mounts on the wall over any electrical outlet and
connects to a home WiFi network. To see and chat with your cat, just log
into PetChatz.com or download the app to your smart phone. You can
signal your cat to come to the unit when you want to visit and send
another signal when you need to get back to work. The unit also lets you
dispense a chicken- or salmon-flavored treat.

Sounds like fun
for “mom” or “dad,” but I wonder if it would be confusing for the cat to
see your face and hear your voice when you’re not there. He’d probably
love the treats, though, especially if he could have several at a time.

New GPS Tracking Collar For Cats

Cat Wearing GPS Tracking Collar

Where does your cat go when he’s outside? Although he might feel like
he’s being spied on, a new GPS tracking collar can let you know where he
is at any given moment.

Jeremy Price began working
on the collar after his own cat disappeared for 10 days. “It was the
worst 10 days of my life,” he says in
a video on his website. Monty did come home, but Price vowed he’d never go through the worry and anguish of a lost cat again.

Altho
ugh
there are other GPS tracking collars for animals, Price says his
Pawtrack is different from the others in several ways, the main one
being that it’s designed specifically for cats. A
GPS/GLONASS
antenna is attached to the collar at the back of the cat’s neck rather
than under his chin for a more accurate reading. When the cat is
outside, the collar uses the mobile phone network to stay in touch with
Pawtrack’s server.  A built-in WiFi antenna connects with your home WiFi
network to let you know your cat’s inside and power off the battery
until the cat goes out again.

Outside, information on the cat’s whereabouts is uploaded to the server every 10 minutes or on demand if you’re really curious.

When
the collar goes on sale in November, it will cost $124.99 in the US.
The monthly fee will be $9.99. Sounds pricey. But if you have a
wandering cat, it might be worth the cost to have some peace of mind.


Exercise Wheel For Cats

Exercise Wheel For Cats If you have a fat cat, a stationary exercise wheel might be just the thing. Or it might not. But if the One Fast Cat
wheel has cats scratching their heads and wondering what the heck it
is, the new product has many human believers. Creator Sean Farley’s
Kickstarter campaign has raised over $250,000, more than $200,000 over
his goal.


On his website, Farley notes
that cats are sprinters and use short bursts of energy to hunt. The
wheel might appeal to that short burst of energy instinct. But with
nothing to hunt, many cats might wonder what’s the point. Attaching a
dangling toy to the top of the wheel might make it more interesting.

The
wheel is four feet wide and is made of recycled plastic. The run
surface is closed cell EVA foam that lets cats run naturally, using
their claws for safe footing. It’s available online from Farley’s
Kickstarter website for $199, including shipping.