Yesterday morning Frankie was sleeping on the sofa and I saw Chris flop the full weight of his upper body on top of him. I knew Chris was too heavy for Frankie and this wouldn’t last long so I quickly grabbed my camera and snapped this photo.
Three seconds later, Frankie wiggled himself free and got down. Chris then went to take a nap in his cat bed and Frankie returned to the same spot on the sofa.
I was contacted by a company called Topeakmart to do a review of one of their cat trees. I missed it at the time but noticed it as I was cleaning my inbox. Normally I ignore unsolicited review requests but after checking out their website I thought their products looked appealing. In addition, we brought a couple of cat perches to our West Virginia home so I thought the cats would appreciate another one.
I was allowed to choose which product I wanted to review so I decided on the 51″ Cat Tree Condo. I could have gone with the 79″ Cat Tree Condo but I didn’t want to be greedy. Plus, I liked the 51″ tree because it had a ladder that I thought would be perfect for Chris. He is getting up there in age (and weight) and that ladder will probably be a big help in allowing him to get on it, especially in the future when he is even older and hopefully not heavier.
I should mention that I did get this cat tree for free in exchange for an honest review. They did not try to influence my review in any way but they did offer my readers a 15% discount (use code: chris15). If you choose to take advantage of the discount, I will not be compensated.
The cat tree arrived on Monday and I was surprised by how efficiently the box was packed. It was like stuffing 25 people in a phone booth.
I pulled out the instructions first to see what kind of project lay ahead of me. You may remember me writing a couple of months ago about putting a bed frame together as well as a desk for my wife. Both items were unbelievably complicated and I didn’t want another one of those. This one didn’t look too bad. I was disappointed at first that it was only illustrations and no written description but it seemed pretty straightforward.
I set up my GoPro camera and I put a clock in view to record how long the assembly process was, although it was difficult to see the clock in the final video. I set the video for two frames per second and got to work. As you can see, it went pretty well but I was delayed a bit by Frankie who had to get inside one of the pieces I was assembling. I also separated the screws at the beginning but still managed to get them mixed up and used the wrong screw on two separate occasions. I also screwed one of the posts into the wrong hole but that was because I jumped ahead without reading the directions.
It took me about 40 minutes to assemble the cat tree. I probably wasted about ten minutes with my careless mistakes and with stopping to deal with Frankie or take pictures. I estimate that a normal person without distractions could put it together in 30 minutes or less. If you have already seen it done, like in the video, perhaps twenty minutes is reasonable.
Frankie was the first to investigate the cat tree. As soon as I started putting it together he had to check it out.
Floki was next.
Frankie was also first to get on it when it was finished.
He seemed to like the cubby and ended up taking a nap there.
Later, Frankie checked out the upper part of the cat tree.
I’m not sure why but the cats seemed to think that this is a one at a time cat tree. As soon as Frankie got down Floki got up on it.
He had to check out every nook and cranny to make sure it met with his approval.
Chris was sleeping in his cat bed when I finished but as soon as he woke up he had to check it out too. I was in the kitchen making dinner so I did not see Chris take over the tree from Floki but I hope it was a peaceful transfer.
I left and came back a little later and Chris had moved to the bottom.
It seems a waste of a good cat tree to hang out at the very bottom but perhaps he was just enjoying the velvety softness of the carpet. It is amazingly soft compared to the carpet on our other cat tree.
So far they have not yet discovered the hammock that hangs near the bottom or the toy that hangs from the top perch but that just means more surprises for them in the future.
Overall I think this is a great cat tree that is well made and a practical design. It has one downside that I can see. The upper two posts are adequate for an average-sized cat but maybe not for a heavy cat like Chris. Of course, Chris would probably not attempt to jump up there, so I don’t see it as an issue. They have a blog post on their website called “4 Best Cat Trees for Large Cats in 2021 from Topeakmart” which I probably should have read before choosing a cat tree, but I think the one I picked is still a good choice for our cats.
Tell me you think? Would your cat’s enjoy a cat tree like this?
We have had a Turbo Scratcher for years and it has gone through many cats. It is one of the best cat toys we have ever had and most recently it was one of Floki’s two favorite toys, the other being the three-way cat tunnel. We brought both toys with us to West Virginia but came back with only the tunnel. There wasn’t much room in the car but I probably could have squeezed the Turbo Scratcher in with us but I just didn’t think about it.
The other day my wife reminded me that I needed to order another one so I looked on Amazon and found this one (affiliate link). It arived Saturday and as soon as I took it out of the package Chris was interested in it. Of course, it may be because I added a little of the included catnip.
Floki finally did get to play with his toy after Chris was done hogging it. By then Chris was more interested in the box that it came in.
That of course got Floki interested too.
Victory at last. Now things can get back to normal.
Before we came back to Florida I took a 360-degree video of our home in West Virginia so you could get an idea of what it was like for Rose and I and the cats. I took it using my GoPro Fusion camera that has two 180 degree lenses. It is essentially two cameras in one with a software program called Fusion Studio that stitches the two images together.
Unfortunately, Fusion Studio is the worst software program since Windows Vista and possibly even worse than that. Both the camera and the program were discontinued shortly after I bought the camera so there is no hope for an update that will improve it.
In any case, it would not work on my computer in West Virginia so I had to wait until I got back to Florida to process it. When it did process the video, it tried to keep the video pointing in the same direction even though I turned the camera. So watching it will require you to use your mouse or finger to turn the image so you can see everything. Better yet, if you have VR goggles you can use that.
A couple of things I didn’t mention in the video are that the home is on the National Registry of Historic Places, and two people told us there is a ghost in the house. One said the ghost is a woman wearing clothing that would have been worn at the turn of the Twentieth Century. He claims to have personally see her, multiple times, in or near the gossip room. Another says the ghost is male and can sometimes be seen in the upstairs window smoking a pipe. I have not seen or heard any ghost but I think it would be fun to partake in a city-wide ghost tour which I heard they have done in the past.
As you can see the cats had plenty of space to run around or just hide if they wanted personal space. Even so, I think they are happy here in our Florida home too. Our next task is to find a larger vehicle so we can transport them more comfortably. But that is something I won’t have to worry about until the summer.
What do you think? Were you able to see the video okay?
The second leg of our trip back from West Virginia went pretty well except Floki cried almost the entire drive home. He would stop for brief respites and then start again. I half expected Chris to smack him and meow at him to be quiet.
We got home at about 1:00 in the afternoon. When we reached Tampa and were about a half hour from home we started joking about how surprised the cats were going to be when we put them in their old home.
I never researched how good a cat’s memory is. I always imagined it to be similar to a human’s memory. I’d like to think that if I brought Chris back to the home we lived in when we adopted him more than eleven years ago he would remember it, or at least find it familiar.
I brought both crates inside and then opened the door. They were all so happy to be free and I could only imagine what they were thinking. What they did not do was go exploring. A new place requires exploring but this one was already known to them.
When we left for West Virginia I cleaned our three litter boxes and brought two of them with me. Before coming back I ordered from Amazon a replacement for each of the two boxes I took from there along with a couple of bags of litter. Our neighbor was kind enough to bring everything in the house for us so I was able to quickly get all the litter boxes filled with litter because I knew that would be needed right away. I wasn’t wrong about that.
One bad thing that happened in West Virginia was that Floki mostly stopped paying attention to Rose. Every morning Rose would sit on a stool at the side of the bed and check her email, Facebook, and I don’t know what else. During that time Floki would come to Rose and let her hold him for a while. While in West Virginia, he never did that. And to throw salt in the wound he would get on my lap right in front of her. The day we got home Floki let Rose pick him up and hold him again. I was very pleased to see that.
Another bad thing that happened up there was my toes almost fell off. Well, not literally, but it felt like they would. Even in Florida my hands and feet always seemed colder than they should be, but in West Virginia, there were times when I felt like I had frostbite on my toes. One evening, on Christmas Day or the day after, I spent quite a while standing in the kitchen. When we finally sat down to eat my toes on my right foot felt frozen and were throbbing with pain. When I took my socks off later I saw they were red and slightly swollen.
I looked up what might be the cause and the closest thing I could come up with was a condition called Chilblains which is defined by the Mayo Clinic as “painful inflammation of small blood vessels in your skin that occur in response to repeated exposure to cold but not freezing air.” One symptom I didn’t have was itching so I wasn’t sure. I also read it was common in very young and very old people. If I did have it, I reasoned, I must be too young.
A couple of days later it happened again so I went to the doctor and she wasn’t certain but agreed that Chilblains was probably what I had and I should go out of my way to keep my feet warm. I think we decided then that we would not be spending Christmas there anymore, even though all of our Christmas decorations are there now.
We have been home for almost two days now and the cats have gone back to their old routines like nothing ever happened. I, for one, am happy to be wearing shorts with no socks.
It is now 6:30 on Saturday morning as I start this post. Ten minutes ago we left our home in West Virginia and ate heading back to our home in Florida. Getting to this point wasn’t easy.
I think what caused me the most stress was worrying about getting Floki in the crate before he ran under the bed. My idea was to feed them in the empty bedroom and then put them all in the crates when we finished everything we had to do.
I woke up at 3:00 this morning and couldn’t get back to sleep because I was worrying about carrying the crates down the stairs, especially the big one with Chris and Floki. I am sure the handle was not designed for that weight and I didn’t want to drop them down the stairs.
I also knew I had litter boxes to clean since we didn’t want to leave with old litter in the box. Actually, Rose didn’t want to do that. I cleaned two of the four boxes last night. I figured I would clean one this morning, which I did, but the last one would have to wait until the cats were in their crates.
Rose couldn’t sleep either so we got up at four and decided not to lock the cats in the bedroom. I fed them and spent the time preparing to close up the house and get stuff ready to go out to the car, including cleaning our giant litter pan.
I then started loading the car. There was way too much stuff for Rose’s little car and didn’t know how I was going to fit everything. I had the car more than half filled when Rose stuck her head out the door and said “We have a big problem.”
Since we had to put the top down to fit the crates in the back set she reminded me the trunk had to be empty to put the top down. Since it is a hard top it takes up room in the trunk when it’s down.
So I had to empty everything that was in the trunk. As I was doing that Rose informed me she caught Floki and put him in the crate. I went inside and helped get Chris, who we put with Floki, and the Frankie, when is flying solo. I then put the last litter box in a big garbage bag.
Rose put the top down and I put the cats in the car. I then loaded the trunk, which is as full as it can be, took out the trash, double checked the house and left.
Forty five minutes has gone by since I started writing and Floki is still crying. Wish us luck.
A couple of years ago I reviewed the Art of Paws Heated Pet Mat. The cats seemed to like the mat but living in Florida we really didn’t have enough cold days for it to be useful. I think shortly after I got it I removed the heating part of it and just used it as a cat pad. We had it on our coffee table and Floki used it quite often there.
We brought it with us to West Virginia along with the heating element. I used it as a pad to one of the cat crates during the trip here and it fit perfectly.
When we got here and realized how cold it was I reinserted the heating element and plugged it in. It was a big success.
All three cats took turns lying on it and often there were two cats at a time on it. I have no photos of Floki lying on the mat for some reason but I assure you he was just as interested at Chris and Frankie.
We will be heading back to Florida on Saturday and I plan on bringing the pad with us but I will leave the heating element here.
When we moved into our new home in West Virginia we met several people who were happy to talk about the house, the neighbors, and the town. I will write about the house soon but for now, I want to talk about stray cats. They are everywhere around us. Even so, I have yet to get a photograph of one because I usually see them from a distance or when I am not ready with a camera.
One guy talked about our next door neighbor feeding strays like it was a bad thing. One day, while I was bringing the trash to the alley, I counted four cats and a kitten in the back yard of the house behind us. As far as the neighbors next door, I have only occasionally seen a stray or two there but I was able to get a video of a confrontation between two cats. I first heard the howling sounds that cats make when meeting another cat that they don’t know. I then saw them out the bathroom window at the house next door. I expected a fight but it never happened.
My office is upstairs in the back of the house and I often will see a cat walk by, sometimes through our yard and sometimes next door or across the alley. Once, after it snowed, I saw cat tracks that came right up to our back door.
A couple of weeks after we moved in my wife somehow became Facebook friends with the woman who lives behind us. She said that a woman died at a nearby home who had 14 cats. When the son came to clean out her home he just dumped the cats outside. So, being a caring person, she felt compelled to take care of them. Strangely, we have yet to meet her in person. We bought two cases of wet food for her but when I brought them to her house, nobody was home. I also brought cookies over there for Christmas but only her son was home then.
There are other kind people too on the block. One neighbor said there are at least three people who care for cats but I don’t know if they all care for the same 14 cats or if there is more than one colony here. One man, we were told, leaves a heater on in his garage for the cats. If we were permanent residents I would not be opposed to leaving food out on the back porch and perhaps a shelter too but I wouldn’t want to get cats dependent on me and then leave.
I am glad to know there are many caring people in this neighborhood. I have always felt like most people are good but the bad ones seem to get the most recognition.
On another note. We are planning to head back to Florida this Saturday. This time we will have to cram the two cat crates in the back seat of my wife’s car, where they just barely fit. While it will be an easier trip than coming up here in the moving truck, I am concerned that the only way in or out for the crates is by putting the convertible top down. This could be a problem in an emergency. Let us pray there is no emergency.