Friday, October 7, 2016

Sorry, Tidy Cat: I'm going back to Scoop Away

Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance Clumping Cat Litter

Tidy Cats 24/7 gives me stankface
You might think that all clumping kitty litters are alike. I used to think that, but no more. The last time we ran out of litter for Miss Kitty, I picked up whatever was on sale. For the past couple of years, we’ve used Scoop Away Complete because you can buy a ginormous box at Costco, cheap.  Since I was already buying food for the fur babies at the pet store, I picked up a tub of Tidy Cats 24/7 Performance Clumping litter at the same time. I was amazed at the difference.

Miss Kitty is tiny; about seven pounds, and decidedly “senior” at more than twelve years old. Nevertheless, she can produce a lot of waste in a short time. Unlike some people, we only scoop the box every other day – it’s in the basement, not in the bedroom, and we use a big covered box, so it’s not like anyone gets “stankface.” Or at least it wasn’t until we started using this Tidy Cat!

Two big problems: first, the clumping litter doesn’t clump. Oh, you get the occasional wad of granules stuck together, but most of the supposed clumps disintegrate as soon as you try to scoop out the clump.

Second, it may be heavily perfumed but it still doesn’t “absorb” odors. We could smell the sharp tang of ammonia from the bottom of the stairs, twenty feet away! That may well be because when those clumps disintegrate, dark, urine-soaked grains remain scattered throughout the litter box. Instead of being hauled out to the trash can in the garage, they’re still sitting there, generating stink, in the basement.

On the plus side, I like the big plastic bucket – but I already have a couple of them around, and I don’t think I need any more of them. In fact, I just need the one – as a place to store my next purchase of Scoop Away.


Plus: The big plastic tubs are useful for projects
Minus: Poor clumping and poor odor absorption
What They're Saying: I'm keeping the cool plastic bucket, but I'm filling it with Scoop Away!

Friday, September 25, 2015

A Kosher Food for the Observant Pooch, but Be Prepared for Flatulence

Evanger Classic Recipe Cooked Chicken Canned Dog Food

There’s no way our blonde Lab is Jewish – she’s a native of Galveston, Texas, which suggests she’s most likely Baptist. As for our little boy, he’s a our rescue pooch who came without a history. So as to not offend his religious sensibilities, when Rosh Hashanah arrives we changed his once-a-day canned food treat to a nice Kosher chicken recipe. Just kidding: it was pure accident that there was a can of Evanger’s Classic Recipes Cooked Chicken in the pet food cabinet, but this recipe is Kosher for Passover, so I thought, “What the heck?”

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Thanksgiving for Dogs - Merrick Makes Dogs Drool

Merrick’s Classic Grain Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner 

It Spoils the Dog – Again

Years ago we spoiled a previous dog by giving him canned dog food once a week and he knew it as “groceries” and oh how he loved the treat.  Until this past Thanksgiving Day our current pampered and spoiled dogs had never had any type of canned food. Their kibbles are high quality and they enjoy quite a few other treats but now I think they’d trade some of their treats for more canned food, especially if it was as good as Merrick’s Classic Grain-Free Thanksgiving Day Dinner.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Dog Owners Everywhere Secretly Wish for a Training Guru

Listening to Dogs: How to be Your Own Training Guru by  Jon Katz

Years ago trainers recommended establishing pack order when working with our dogs. A few went so far as to have the alpha family member mark boundaries with his/her urine. Later a friendlier form of training, positive behavior reinforcement seemed effective yet gentler. So many variations exist today that first-time dog owners become confused and clueless. Author Jon Katz offers a different perspective in his book, Listening to Dogs: How to be Your Own Training Guru. This isn’t exactly a dog training book, it’s not something I would recommend for a first-time dog owner, but he does provide something for reflection.

Katz and I have a love/hate relationship -- he doesn't know this.

My relationship with Katz’s books has been a love/hate bond. I read everything he writes including a few books I treasure and a couple I’d prefer to fling across the room in protest. In Listening to Dogs Katz doesn’t pretend to be a trainer or a guru, he claims he avoids questions on how he trains his dogs, he suggests that what works for his dogs on his farm probably won’t work for you and your dog in your house/yard/apartment. He suggests that trainers such as Cesar Millan know how to work with their dogs in given situations but when dog owners attempt his methods they frequently fail -- and then assume they’re incapable of training their dogs. Most of the books seem to have “little to do with the lives of most dog lovers and owners” – another reason they search for mystical dog-training gurus.

Generation one was a great dog, but...

Katz states that “dog training has been one of the most profound spiritual experiences of my life. It is not, for me, an exercise in authority, a matter of technique, a rigid theory that smothers thinking, individuality, and the very personal nature of our relationships with these animals.” It is my interpretation based upon reading this book and all of his previous books

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

They'll See You Coming for Sure with a Nite Ize SpotLit

Night-Ize Spotlit Clip-On Multi-color LED Light

The pretty little blonde who lives at my house isn’t really into accessorizing. Except for a subtle pastel collar, she’s nearly always naked. That usually makes it difficult to find presents for her. Face facts: shoes and purses are out of the question, though she does have her own personal backpack. Her favorite stocking-stuffer from Christmases past, though, is a Nite Ize SpotLit. Ignore the txt-gnrtion spelling, though, ‘cause this turned out to be one nifty gift. 

The SpotLit Described

At first glance, the SpotLit looks pretty nondescript: it’s a whitish plastic disk 1¼” in diameter and about ½” thick and weighing a bit over a half ounce (17 grams). A pair of flat plastic hemispheres forms a sandwich around a stainless steel plate, which extends in one direction to form a little hook. The hook closes carabiner-style with a springy wire loop. On one side of the disk, you’ll notice a raised button and can see the innards through the translucent plastic.

The SpotLit in Use

The magic starts once you press that button. Press it one time and an LED light begins glowing. The light cycles continually through red, green, white, yellow and blue. Press the button two times in quick succession, and the light starts flashing red at about two times per second. When clipped onto her majesty’s collar, the LED can be seen for hundreds of feet, and the flashing light or the changing colors easily catch the attention of local drivers. Other neighborhood dog-walkers were so impressed that one bought a dozen to give to friends… 

The SpotLit comes with a pair of CR2016 batteries, which will probably have to be replaced within a few weeks. A name-brand pair of lithium batteries will last considerably longer. The biggest downside I’ve noticed is that the ON-OFF switch is pretty stiff, but considering the spelling (and the home offices of Nite Ize, Inc., in Boulder, Colo.), I suspect the designers are members of the generation with overdeveloped thumbs. The carabiner clip can be a tight fit on the collar D-ring, but it’s doable if the dog will stand still.

A Night-Ize SpotLit is great gift for your dog-loving friends, especially if they walk their fur-people after dark. It comes highly recommended. 


Plus: highly visible, lightweight, batteries are replaceable
Minus: stiff ON-OFF switch, clip is a tight fit on D-rings
What they’re saying: The neighborhood drivers will see your pet coming with a Nite Ize Spotlit on her collar...

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Kitty Gives Science Diet Chunks and Gravy Two Paws Up

Science Diet Mature Adult Cat Chunks and Gravy Canned Food, Tuna Recipe

During our quest for canned food at which kitty won’t turn up that lovable nose, some years back a new format for canned food appeared, the “slices in gravy” genre. Kitty was immediately in love was with Science Diet Culinary Creations Slices in Gravy, but that label long ago disappeared from the shelves in our local stored. Hill’s, however, followed it on with “chunks & gravy,” and kitty was delighted to make that brand’s acquaintance.

She’s happy with the flavor selection, especially Tender Tuna Dinner – one that's formulated for “Mature Adults” (7-plus years: yes, baby is now more than ten: time sure flies). They also market tuna, chicken, and fish formulas for adults; and a chicken flavor for kittens.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Pettiquette: Tips for Responsible Dog-Walkers

Anyone Can Be a Good Neighbor and a Responsible Pet Owner

A front-yard surprise gets even worse after the sprinkler
system comes on!  Photo credit - author

Millions of family pets get some exercise and a bit of "duty time" on a daily walk and – unfortunately – millions of homeowners find a nasty surprise on the lawn the next time they go outdoors. That’s definitely not being a good neighbor. Robert Frost may have said, “good fences make good neighbors,” but he probably never had to clean up after Rover or Muffy from down the block. Being a responsible pet owner includes being a good neighbor. Here's how to give Fido his daily exercise without pissing off someone down the street.