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February 27, 2017

It’s a Toy! It’s a Scratcher!

Cats are not designed to be bored. They are intelligent predators who need activities and toys to stimulate them mentally and physically. There are a variety of toys on the market that are designed to enrich their lives—some are more affective at fighting boredom then others.

Treasure hunt in the Turbo Scratcher

Kingsley and Sudan searching for treats in the Turbo Scratcher(r)

Turbo Scratcher® Review

I am always on the search for cat toys that mentally stimulate and physically motivate cats. There are two types I am on the alert for—interactive toys that people use to play with their cats and toys that cats can interact with when their people are not around to entertain them. One toy that stands out for me is the Turbo Scratcher®. Most cats enjoy interacting with this toy with or without the benefit of people intervention. Turbo Scratchers® are always marked as must-have toys on product lists I send my cat behavior clients.

The Turbo Scratcher® is multi-functional. In addition to mentally stimulating cats, it is a behavior tool. The TS is a flat, circular combo toy/scratcher with a replaceable cardboard scratcher in the center. Circling the scratcher is a tract with a ball inside.  This toy takes the frustration factor out of playing. The tract is open from the top—perfect for directly interacting with the ball. Because play is an extension of the hunt, cats need to catch their prey and feel it under their paws. The open tract design is perfect for satisfying this need—allowing them to chase and finally catch the ball.

Additionally, Turbo Scratchers® are perfect for hiding treats in when conducting treasure hunts. Encouraging cats to hunt and work for treats helps burn calories and mentally stimulates them. Treats are placed throughout a room, on vertical territory (cat trees), shelves, in puzzle boxes and of course in the TS. The added benefit of hiding a few treats in the TS is that cats typically will bat the ball around a bit while fishing for their treats.

It goes without saying—the Turbo Scratcher® is also a scratcher. Cats need to scratch for a variety of reasons. In addition to nail maintenance, marking territory, scratching when frustrated, they scratch when playing and when they excessive energy. The TS, being multi-functional, encourages cats to both scratch and play.

I like this combo scratcher/toy. It addresses cat behavior. I have not found many other cat toys that are as versatile and multi-functional as the Turbo Scratcher®.

Cat Toys and Environmental Enrichment!

I am sure that it won’t come as a surprise to anyone that I am a big proponent of environmental enrichment for cats.

Cats get bored, especially cats left alone for hours every day with nothing to do and no one to interact with. Sometimes these cats can become depressed and/or start exhibiting troublesome behaviors. Interactive toys, lots of high places to climb and horizontal and vertical scratchers can help keep them stimulated. Depending on the situation, a new cat buddy might chase away those boredom blues.

I am always on the lookout for toys that I can recommend to my clients. Although I like puzzle toys and toys that don’t need human involvement, I really like toys that need people on one end and cats on the other—the interaction helps strengthen the bonds between cats and their people.

I usually don’t review products. I don’t like writing negative reviews… so to be fair, I usually don’t write reviews. Occasionally I’ll give in and write a review—especially when I’ve found something that really rocks my socks. In order to rock my socks, the products have to earn top grades from my rambunctious cats. In regards to toys, this means, they have to not only excite and delight, but they have to withstand extreme play from a 22 pound Savannah and a gaggle of Bengals and one cantankerous Norwegian Forest Cat.

Two toys pass with flying colors.

The first are the Nekoflies toys, by Nekochan. These are toys with interchangeable kritters that attach to a wand. My cats paid attention even before I assembled them… I think they have special Cat ToyDar—sensing toys are theirs before they meet them. Neko sent me two wands and a Katarantula, Kragonfly and a Kittenator. The  Katarantula, Kragonfly and Kittenator are the toys that attach to the rods… Anyway, that’s the theory.

My intentions were to start with the Kittenator. As I was removing it from the box, Sudan, my Savannah, grabbed it while it was still in the box and ran through the house with it clenched firmly in his mouth. It was his until something better was unpacked—the  Kragonfly. All of my cats, including my 19 year old Maulee (19 on Valentines Day) went ballistic over these toys. So far the Neko toys have successfully survived sliming, chewing, being buried, chased, pulled and rolled on.

Neko toys should not be left within reach of cats unless there is someone to supervise. These are wand/pole toys and have pieces that can be potentially dangerous.

The second toys that impressed me are the durable Hyendry toys. My Bengals and Savannah enjoy carrying the alpaca and sheep hide toys throughout the house, sometimes throwing them up in the air, sometimes rolling on them. I never know where the toys will end up. Yesterday, during a meeting, I reached for my glasses, but found an alpaca toy filled with cat nip living in my purse. The day before I found a furry toy lump stuffed in my shoe.

They are Bengal and Savannah proof. And, they even withstand being mauled by a cranky Norwegian Forest Cat. These toys come with or without catnip.

Hyendry recently started producing Flutterhyde cat teasers. Since my cats haven’t been exposed to them yet, I can’t comment on them. Based on the other Hyendry products, I am sure they are durable and have extreme cat-appeal.

 

Sunny Seat Assembly

I forgot to mention one more product tester… me. I need to factor my experience into the review, since I will be assembling and attaching the seat to a window in my sun room. I thought it best to keep Product Testers 2 & 3 in another area of the house while I was assembling the Sunny Seat since those two little product testers are convinced that anything with pieces needs to be taken and stashed in secret places.

My first introduction to the Sunny Seat was the box. Not much to talk about, a standard unmarked, cardboard box.  The box contained the perch, 4 suction cups and a small piece of paper with the instructions. The perch itself isn’t very visually appealing, but that’s easy to fix by covering it in an eye-catching fabric. The instructions didn’t actually tell me how to put it together, but it does have useful information, including stuff about cleaning the suction cups and washing the windows before installing it. Who washes windows? This was a first for me, but I did as instructed. Putting the seat together, although straight forward and not difficult, could have been a little more intuitive. That again is easily fixed by adding one picture of the assembled product. Sudan and I, between us figured it out. I timed it. It took us approximately 6 minutes and 33 seconds to put the pieces together and that included Sudan checking out all of the components, the box and the instructions.

Sudan: Product Tester #1 helping

Sudan, Product Tester #1 is checking out the instructions

Sunny Seat Review

It’s been one year… since I’ve blogged. It’s about time I wrote an entry or two…

I was asked to review a product and then blog about it. I haven’t reviewed many cat products, but thought this could be fun to do. After all, I am living with the perfect product testers.

The product is the Sunny Seat. It’s a cat shelf that attaches to a window with suction cups. The product is advertised through a TV Infomercial.

Since I am always looking for vertical territory solutions for my cat behavior consultation clients, I thought that this could be an interesting product to review. If it is a product that withstands the maulings and use from my product testers, then it is a product that would be listed on the product pages I give my clients. I was very honest with the Sunny Seat people. What I find, I will post. Also, since years ago I worked as a Human Factors Engineer for a large networking company, I am no stranger to product testing and testing for usability.

First, meet the product testers:

Product Tester 1: Sudan. Sudan is a 23 pound Savannah male cat. He’s very active and enjoys jumping and exploring, was once observed jumping up to a shelf 7 feet above the floor.

Product Tester 2: Jinniyha. Jinniyha is an acrobatic 13 pound melanistic Bengal. She is flexible and agile, loves performing acrobatic feats. The higher up the better. I swear I once saw her hang upside down by her tail from the top of an 8’ high shelf.

Product Tester 3: Maulee. Maulee is an 18 year young Bengal who loves actively climbing and then napping.

My 3 Product Testers are ready for the challenge…
Product Testers 1 & 2

Product Tester#1: Sudan Krieger Product Tester #2: Jinniyha Krieger

Product Tester #3

Product Tester #3: Maulee Krieger