Tag Archives: review

Rawz Dry Cat Food


As you may know, I tend to switch our cats’ dry food quite frequently. Part of the reason is that I don’t believe the conventional wisdom that changing their diet is a bad thing. I think variety is good. I also would like to get them off dry food completely but since Chris is stubborn and eats very little of the wet food I give him I need to have some dry food available. Since I don’t believe any dry food is good for cats, I have a hard time settling on a particular brand. That being said, I did find one that seems to be at the top of the list for quality dry foods.

A few weeks ago I was at our local natural pet food store and asked the clerk what she thought was the best quality dry cat food. She had two suggestions. The first I have forgotten but the second, and the one I decided to get, was a brand called Rawz. I decided to get it because it is less processed than most brands, it contains no rendered proteins, such as chicken meal, and because 100% of profits are donated to charity. I think the last one was a deciding factor.

I bought the chicken and turkey recipe for cats and all three of our boys seem to love it.

Rawz cat food

I still plan to buy other brands or other flavors of this brand so our cats won’t get bored with the same food but I think I have found something that I can keep coming back to.

I was not compensated in any way for this post.

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Camera Review – Canon EOS Rebel SL2


I originally thought that doing a camera review on a cat blog is a bad idea but then I realized that my blog is just as much of a photo blog as it is cat blog and I am sure there are many other pet bloggers that are interested in photography.

My birthday is coming up in a couple of days and I am a hard person to buy for so my wife put it in my hands to find I gift that I would be happy with. So I decided it was time for a new DSLR camera. The camera that I had been using is a Canon EOS Rebel T1i. I got it for Christmas in 2009 and the way that technology advances it should be a dinosaur but, surprisingly, at 15.1 megapixels, it still takes better photos than any smart phone being sold today. Nevertheless, I think I could benefit from an upgrade.

I did somewhat upgrade my camera a couple of years ago. I bought a Canon EOS M1. It is a small, mirrorless, 18-megapixel camera that is not a DSLR but it does have interchangeable lenses. I like it because it takes excellent photos and because it is small, lightweight and much easier to carry around. I don’t like it because it takes way too long to focus. That is fine most of the time but try to get a cat to hold still for more than a second while the camera is focusing. There are several upgrades to the M series that probably corrected that problem and thought about upgrading that camera instead but chose the DSLR instead because it is more obsolete.

I looked around for a long time. I wanted a camera that was at least 24 megapixels but was also reasonably priced. I also wanted a Canon because I have lenses for it and because I have liked Canons since my dad gave me his Canon F1 in 1987.

It came down to the Canon EOS Rebel SL2 or the Canon EOS Rebel T7i. Both cameras had similar features and the T7i had some slight advantages but the SL2 was a bit smaller and lighter, which is helpful when you have to carry it around for a long time. It was also almost $200 less expensive which was a big plus for me.

I ordered the camera on Amazon and paid about $600 for it. The Rebel line is made for amateurs and is significantly less expensive than the pro version without much, if any, loss of picture quality. I think the main difference is in how rugged the camera is built but this will be my third Rebel since 2005 and I never once had a problem with any of the cameras.

It arrived Monday, too soon for my birthday but my wife didn’t care if I opened it, so I did.Canon EOS Rebel SL2

Naturally, I wanted to test it out so I spied Frankie lying on the floor.

cat Frankie

I always set the camera to shoot RAW + Jpeg. This takes up more room but allows me to view all my photos easily and the RAW format gives me more options when editing the photos. I want to say that I then erase any RAW file that I know Is not top quality to save room but I usually forget that step or I am rushed and don’t bother doing it. I didn’t look at the settings until after I took the above photo but it came set up for just Jpeg so I had to change it later.

The camera comes with several options for scene selections and other things but I won’t review those because I don’t use them. I use one of four settings:

  • Program Auto Exposure – This sets the aperture and shutter speed automatically.
  • Shutter Priority – Lets the Photographer select the shutter speed and the camera does the rest.
  • Aperture Priority – This is like shutter priority except it is the aperture that is set by the Photographer.
  • Manual – All settings are set by the Photographer.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 camera

My first Canon Rebel, the XT, was a fine camera but changing a setting was a laborious task. You had to fumble through various menus until you found what you were looking for. This camera has the main settings laid out on an easy to use touchscreen. In addition, the screen can be pulled out for viewing from different angles and then turned for protection when not in use.

Canon EOS Rebel SL2 camera

I have had no opportunity to take this outside for a real-world test but I did take several photos of the cats. I was very impressed with how quickly it focused. There was no noticeable lag time between pushing the shutter release and hearing the sound of the mirror flipping up to take the photo. I’m sure it wasn’t instantaneous but it was fast. I also took several photos very quickly and had to wait for the camera to write them to the SD card. I was using a cheap, slow, memory card and was glad the camera had a large enough cache to accommodate it.

The photo below was taken in the morning before the sun came up so it was relatively low light. I had it set to fully programmable and it used a shutter speed of 1/13th of a second. Typically, I don’t like going below 1/30th of a second when hand holding a camera but, thanks to image stabilization, this photo is pretty sharp.

And thanks to the 24-megapixel sensor, I can zoom in on the eyes with much clarity.
cat Frankie close up

The fast focus also allows me to capture Chris while he is rolling around. It would have been pure luck to get this photo with my M1.

Another great feature is the Canon app that allows you to control the camera with your phone. The app lets you see what the camera sees and you can change settings or take the shot remotely. This is useful for group photos or maybe even for catching your pets being naughty.

Canon connect screenshot - Siamese cat Floki

Here is the photo of Floki that I took remotely.

cat Floki

The app has a couple of other features that I find even more useful. Since the camera does not have GPS, it can take GPS information from your phone and include it in your photos. It also allows you to download photos to your phone so you don’t have to wait until you get home to share your photos on social media.

I plan on taking this camera with me when we go away for my birthday. We are going to the east coast of Florida to visit my wife’s father. We booked a hotel on the beach and we hope to see nesting sea turtles. If we do, I can’t use a flash or other form of light to photograph them and since they only lay their eggs at night it could be a challenge.

What do you think? Do any pet bloggers use a DSLR for your photos? Would anyone be interested in a blog post on basic photography?

 

NomNomNow Cat Food Review


A couple of weeks ago I was contacted by Caren from Cat Chat with Caren and Cody. The folks at NomNomNow were looking for recommendations for a couple of bloggers that could review their premium cat food in exchange for some food. She thought I would be good for some reason. I don’t know why but I appreciate the confidence.

I told her I didn’t want to do it. I tend to be too honest and I didn’t want to be disappointed and have to give a bad review after getting free food. I did reconsider after reviewing their website and the ingredient list and committed only to talk to their rep.

So a few days later I spoke with Kevin. He was very nice and talked about the veterinary nutritionist that formulated the recipes and about how the food is made fresh and shipped overnight to your door. In addition, the quantity of food is based on the current weight of your pet and the ideal weight that you want your pet to be. I got the impression that it was a small operation staffed by people who really care about the health of my pets so I decided to give them a try.

I told Kevin about my cats and gave him the information about their weights. There is a pretty cool tool on their website that does the math and figures out portion size. If you have more than one pet the packages are numbered so you can tell which one is for which pet. They also sell food for dogs so you could probably order both at the same time but I am not sure about that.

As of now, they have five recipes for dogs and two for cats. I chose the
“Chicken Chow-Meow” because all my cats love chicken and I didn’t want to take a chance with the uncertainty of the “Flavorful Fish Feast.”

It should be noted that the way I feed my cats doesn’t fall into their carefully calculated meal plan. I usually give our cats one 5.5 ounces can of cat food and follow that 10 to 30 minutes later with about the same amount of homemade raw food. They seem to like the variety and I like them to have a variety. My feeling is that I can replace the canned food portion with the NomNomNow food.

I think the cost is similar to that of a high quality canned food but the ingredients are better. I compared their ingredients with that from a can of Earthborn Holistic Chicken Catcciatori, the canned food that is most common in our house.

Earthborn Holistic Chicken Catcciatori:

Chicken Broth, Chicken, Potatoes, Sunflower Oil, Natural Flavors, Tricalcium Phosphate, Guar Gum, Salt, Potassium Chloride, Choline Chloride, Taurine, Magnesium Sulfate, Vitamin E Supplement, Zinc Oxide, Thiamine Mononitrate, Iron Proteinate, Niacin, Vitamin A Supplement, Sodium Selenite, Manganese Sulfate, Copper Proteinate, Pyridoxine Hydrochloride, Calcium Pantothenate, Riboflavin Supplement, Folic Acid, Vitamin B12 Supplement, Vitamin D3 Supplement, Potassium Iodide, Biotin.

NomNomNow Chicken Chow-Meow:

Chicken thigh, chicken breast, chicken liver, carrot, asparagus, spinach, cantaloupe, dicalcium phosphate, calcium carbonate, salt, citric acid (natural preservative), taurine, choline bitartrate, zinc gluconate, ferrous sulfate, vitamin E supplement, copper gluconate, manganese gluconate, thiamine mononitrate (vitamin B1), selenium yeast, riboflavin (vitamin B2), vitamin B12 supplement, cholecalciferol (source of vitamin D3), sodium iodide.

Since ingredients always start with the largest ingredient and end with the smallest, it is the first few that are most important. That being said, some chemicals can be unhealthy in small amounts so they should all be considered.

In the Earthborn food, the first five ingredients are Chicken Broth, Chicken, Potatoes, Sunflower Oil and Natural Flavors. Chicken broth is okay but I never saw a broth as the first ingredient before. I don’t consider potatoes to be a very healthy food for humans and less so for cats but it is number three on the list. Sunflower oil is not considered a healthy oil. Number five is “natural flavors.” When you see this on the list, be wary.  A natural flavor starts out natural before being sent to Dr. Frankenstein’s lab. Considering that Earthborn is a premium cat food, I don’t even want to know what is in Cat Chow.

The NomNomNow Chicken Chow-Meow has Chicken thigh, chicken breast, chicken liver, carrots and asparagus for the first five ingredients. It isn’t until the eighth ingredient that I found something I didn’t recognize, dicalcium phosphate. I looked that up and it is a calcium supplement, which is necessary because there are no bones in this formula.

20180613_172836a

The food arrived the other day while I was at work and my wife opened the box and put the food in the refrigerator.  I saw the empty box so I knew it was here but I didn’t have time to do anything with it because our cats are trained to expect food as soon as I get home and any delay results in a meow-fest. So I gave them a can of food and then took a shower.

When I got out of the shower I grabbed three bags of the food and placed them in warm water for a few minutes before scooping it onto their plates. I didn’t see any directions so I just winged it. I took a video of this so that the cats could do the review for me.

They all seemed to like it. Even Chris who I struggle with to get to eat wet food. Floki especially liked it but Chris and Frankie stopped before they finished. That was probably because I gave them too much. It didn’t look like there was much food in the bags but once I scooped it onto their plates I could see it was way too much considering they already ate some canned food.

Also included with the order was a flavor packet and a container of beef broth.

I saw the beef broth in the fridge but didn’t know what it was for until later when I found the instructions and the card with the flavor attached. Both are to help finicky eaters. I moved them to my desk to take the above photo and returned the broth to the fridge but left the flavor pack on the desk. You can guess what happened. The next morning I saw Frankie licking the desk. It was still too dark to see what he was licking but I felt something gritty so I turned a light on and saw this the torn up flavor packet on the floor.

Nom Nom Now flavor packet

Also included in the order was a sample of chicken jerky.

cat treat

It was well received by our boys but our carnivores can be like little babies sometimes. I needed to break them up into smaller pieces to make it easier to eat.

cat treats

We also received a sample of the Flavorful Fish Feast which our boys gobbled up.

As of now, it looks like I found a great replacement for our canned food but I still plan on also feeding them the homemade raw food as well. I think if I were to give any advice to the company I would recommend grinding the vegetables into smaller pieces so it is more difficult for the cats to avoid.

What do you think? Is this something you would be willing to try? If you are interested, click here for their website and more information. They have a special offer that gives you 50% off your first order. I am not compensated in any way for this post except for the food I already received.

Art of Paws Heated Pet Mat Review


I recently got an email from Art of Paws asking if I would give an honest review of their Heated Pet Mat in exchange for the product. I was reluctant at first because our weather was warm but I figured it was the first half of February so there were probably a few cold days ahead. I was wrong. I received the product a few days ago and opened it yesterday after checking the 10-day forecast. It showed mostly highs in the 80s and lows in the 60s.

Since I had no option to wait for a cold day I opened it yesterday afternoon and plugged it into the outlet inside the sofa armrest and waited. I might have encouraged the boys a bit by calling them and holding it up. Floki was the first to check it out.

Art of Paws Heated Pet MatArt of Paws Heated Pet MatThen he was distracted by Chris and Frankie who discovered the box it came in.

cats and box

I put it on the floor and soon after they all realized they couldn’t fit in the box, Chris discovered the mat.

Art of Paws Heated Pet Mat
He liked it immediately and soon plopped himself down on top of it.Art of Paws Heated Pet MatArt of Paws Heated Pet Mat

I became involved in other things and stopped paying attention but when I looked again, Chris was gone and Floki was lying on it.

cat on Art of Paws Heated Pet Mat

Later, my wife sat down because we were about to watch a tv show together. She noticed the plug had become a bit hot so she unplugged it. Since the outlet is located inside of the sofa armrest where no air is allowed to circulate, I made a mental note not to plug it in there again.


When I was ready to sit down, Chris was back on the mat again. This time it wasn’t plugged in but he didn’t care. He remained on that mat until we got up to go to bed.

I plugged the mat in again this morning and felt the plug after some time. It was warm, but not hot so I don’t think that is an issue.

I also tried to interest Frankie in the mat this morning but he was a bit wound up at the time and couldn’t be bothered with it.

cat on Art of Paws Heated Pet Mat

I was impressed with the quality. It seems to be put together quite nicely and the zipper opens very smoothly so the cover can be removed for washing.

Art of Paws Heated Pet Mat

Art of Paws Heated Pet Mat

It also has a long, six and a half foot cord, of which more than four and a half feet are covered in a bite-proof wrapping.

Art of Paws Heated Pet Mat

It has a fairly thick pad and it measures 23 inches by 17 inches, which I think is large enough for a medium size dog or two cats if they like to snuggle. It also uses only 10 watts of electricity and has a three-year guarantee.

It is not as warm as I expected. I don’t have a thermometer but I would guess it is somewhere between room temperature and a heating pad on low. Perhaps 90 degrees Fahrenheit. At first, I thought that was bad but then realized that a heating pad is for temporary use and shouldn’t be used for more than 20 minutes. At this lower temperature, I would guess that it could be used much longer or indefinitely. I picture a bunch of scientists in lab coats over at Art of Paws trying to figure out the perfect temperature. For more information about this product, you can visit https://artofpaws.com/products/heated-pet-mat

One last note. As I was writing this post I plugged the mat in and left it on the floor. After I uploaded the photos I got up to get a drink of water and saw this:

I think when the hot weather is here to stay I will remove the heating element and let them use it as a regular mat until next winter. I think it is nice that I have that option. What do you think?

 

Our Prize Arrived


A few weeks ago The Island Cats’ blog had a review and giveaway of some Petmate products designed by Jackson Galaxy, the star of the Animal Planet show, “My Cat From Hell.”

To my surprise, we were lucky enough to win. I got to choose between the “Comfy Clamshell Bed” and The Vault Marinator,” which is used to freshen up catnip toys. I thought the clamshell bed would be a great addition to our house so I chose that.

It was waiting at the door when I got home from work the other day The box was way bigger than expected, which was fine because . . . well, we have cats.

cats and box

 

cats and box

cats and box

Once I opened the box and took out the clamshell bed, the cats were torn between investigating the bed and the empty box.

The bed seems to be of a high quality and the fabric is very soft. Chris especially likes it, as you can see from the video.

open clamshell bedA pull of the strings easily turns it into a clamshell.closed clamshell bed

The bad thing about that is there is only room for one.
cat and clamshell bed

That means someone has to wait, whether they want to not.cats and clamshell bed

Floki and Chris were the most interested but Chris was the first to use it for what it was meant for, to lie in. Of course, he had to make some biscuits before doing that.

Floki was more interested in the strings.

I didn’t know this at the time but there is a pocket to put the strings to keep them from becoming toys, possibly dangerous toys.

I ended up putting the bed in its open position on our coffee table. Frankie, Floki and Puck mostly ignore it but Chris loves it. I see him on it often. He is on it as I write this.

cat on clamshell bed

Meanwhile, in the cats’ room . . .

cat and box

Frankie: The First Three Years – Part One


Our cat Frankie has now been with us three years already. Time sure does fly. (To see my first post about him, read here). I thought we adopted him late in February but it was actually February 8, and I missed it. So even though I’m a little late, I thought I would show a few highlights from Frankie’s first three years.

20140208_144817_cat_frankie

After visiting at least two other shelters, we fond Frankie at a PetSmart in Clearwater, Florida. He only had a number, no name.

Our new cat Frankie

Chris was unexpectedly hostile toward Frankie, so after hiding under the bed for his first day, Frankie decided to come out of his self-imposed exile on day two. It helped that we had shut out Chris and Puck from the bedroom.

Our cat Frankie playing with Turbo Scratcher

Frankie was a playful cat but…

Chris interupts Our cat Frankie playing with Turbo Scratcher

When Chris was around, there was no playing.

Our cats Chris and Frankie Outside.

Frankie’s first foray outside was successful… until he discovered he could walk through the fence.

Our cat Frankie under a car

Then he discovered Chris’s old trick of hiding under cars.

Our cat Frankie on trike

Frankie quickly got comfortable in our home.

Our cat Frankie is relaxing on the chair.

… and more comfortable.

20140510_Frankie in bowl_0981

Soon he was expecting the royal treatment.

 

20140727_cats_212

We soon discovered Frankie had a shoe fetish.

 

Our cat Frankie under the dressor

We also discovered early that he was very photogenic.

Our cats Puck, Chris and Frankie.

By August, everyone was getting along – part-time.

Cat Frankie on caair

Frankie wanted out so bad but it was too risky so in November I bought a harness for him. I had trouble with it so I used a breakaway collar that broke away. (This is not our junk)

Frankie and Christmas tree.

Frankie first Christmas fascinated him.

Our cats Frankie and Chris

He was even getting along with Chris by then (mostly).

cats Frankie and Puck

He also made a friend in Puck.

Since there is so much more to review, I decided to split this up into two or three parts. I hope you liked it and will come back to see Frankie’s further adventures.

Review of Cat’s Pride Cat Litter


Cats's Pride cat literIn a recent post I mentioned that I had finally settled on using a litter called Dr. Elsey’s Precious Cat litter. It took awhile to get Chris to stop pooping on the floor so I decided that I would stick to what works. Well… I didn’t. Last week Rose and I came across a very good deal on Cat’s Pride cat litter and we decided since Chris seemed like he was cured of his floor pooping habit it was worth a try.

 

The litter is lighter than standard clumping litter which doesn’t matter much to me except when I change it and Cat's Pride cat litterhave to put it in a trash bag and hope the bag doesn’t break when I am caring it to the outside trash container (it’s happened). It is also a somewhat finer grain and is much easier to scoop. The litter scoop travels through the litter like a knife through warm butter.

The bad news is that the litter is somewhat dusty. It’s not as bad as some of the cheap brands but it is worse than what I am used to. It also tends to track more through the house. Those two problems alone would not be enough to regret my decision to buy it but there is a third problem that is much worse. It does not clump anywhere good enough to be useful, and the container says “Improved Clumping.” I try to be very careful when scooping but still the clumps break apart and some of the pieces fall back into the box, too small to be picked up with the scoop. That means that there is a build up of urine that just stays in the box. We even found a poop on the floor next to the box after just two days.

It has been six days since I put the litter in and I already bought more Precious cat litter so I can change back as soon as I have time to do so. Lesson learned. if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

Scratch-N-Maze


Scratch-n-maze A couple of weeks ago we picked up a cat scratcher called Scratch-N-Maze. It is basically a scratcher and toy in one. It has a ball inside with one hole on top and several along the sides.

When we brought it home we should have just put it down and left it alone but instead we put a little catnip on it. This, of course, got the cats artificially interested in it. They were mostly interested in the catnip and not the scratcher or the toy. Since we had to go out again, we decided to wait and see how they liked it after the catnip effect wore off.

When we got home we found the Scratch-N-Maze pulled apart, catnip everywhere, and the ball on the floor. Not what we expected after two hours.

Scratch-n-maze pulled apart by cats

Since then I saw Chris playing with the ball through the holes once and I have yet to see either cat use it as a scratcher. This may be a great item for some cats but for ours, I would give it two paws down.

The Wild Side of Cats


Over a year ago I received an email stating that one of Chris’s YouTube videos (http://youtu.be/iFnHCcrlrnI) was being considered for inclusion in a National Geographic documentary titled Wild Side of Cats. I filled out the necessary paperwork but never heard back from them so I assumed (correctly) he didn’t make the cut and made a mental note to watch for the show but then forgot about it.

I don’t watch much television but by chance I noticed that it was showing the other night so I watched it. I found it to be quite interesting. The show parallels our domestic cat’s behavior to that of wild cats.  One interesting example is that purring is a method of quiet communication between mother and kittens so as not to be heard by potential predators.

Another example is that wild cats will bury their unfinished kill so that other animals can’t smell it. I often see Chris do this after I feed the cats wet food. He will eat a small amount and then scratch at the floor like he is trying to bury it. I often wondered if he was saving it for later or burying it because it tasted like poop. Now I know.

Towards the end of the show they indicated that some of the affectionate things that cats do are done for non-affectionate reasons. While some of what they say may be true some of the time, I think it is wrong to try to explain away loving gestures in a cold, scientific way.

For example, they say a cat that lies on someone’s lap does it for warmth. I say that whoever produced this show probably does not have cats. Chris can be very needy at times for affection and lies on my lap quite often. I can guarantee he is not doing it for warmth. As a matter of fact, it is hot here in Florida in the summer and the cats lie on the tile floor because it is cooler. The extra warmth Chris gets from my lap is a sacrifice that he makes for attention. In addition, when Rose and I do sit down and watch television, Rose likes to sit with a pillow on her lap and Chris will often come and lie on her pillow. No warmth there but plenty of affection.

I think all warm-blooded creatures have emotions and cats have very strong emotions. They can love you just like you love them. So the next time your cat wants to lie on your lap, be assured that he or she loves you for you and not for your body temperature.

Despite my rantings, I believe the other 99 percent of the show is very interesting and worth watching. You can find more information about it at http://channel.nationalgeographic.com/wild/episodes/wild-side-of-cats/

If you have seen the show, or even if you haven’t, let me know what you think.