Indulged Feline Product Recommendations

Cat Fence In

The Cat Fence-In "Combination Barrier" worked very well for us. We called it our "kitty containment" system. This particular style has the added benefit of keeping neighborhood cats out of our yard. The brackets mounted easily to the wooden fence, and the mesh barrier was pretty easy to install.  It took about 2 weekends to do the whole back yard (35 x 65 feet with two gates) and the mesh lasted for 3 summers.  We have intense summer sunshine / heat here in California, so I considered this to be quite good. When I ordered replacement netting they said it had been improved and should last longer. This system worked well for us because there were no tree branches overhanging the fences that would allow someone to climb over the fence & netting. With persistence, Smokey learned that she could keep attacking the netting and eventually break through it, so I periodically did a "fence check" to be sure everything was intact.  Once we had a kitty break into the yard, but it was being chased by a dog on the other side of the fence and I don't think much was going to stop this poor guy. Luckily my cats happened to be indoors at the time, so I was able to open one of the gates and let him out of the yard (he couldn't get out because of the Cat Fence-In).  Another thing we discovered is that birds could not see the black netting and would occasionally get trapped beneath it, get tired, and land.  They made easy prey for the cats, so I took some pieces of making tape and put them on the mesh every few feet so the birds had a better chance of seeing something was there.  Overall, the netting system is very unobtrusive and worked well at containing the Indulged Furries.  I would recommend it to anyone who wants to let their cats enjoy the safety of their own yard, without the risk of them roaming the neighborhood or coming into contact with other cats.

Collars, Tags and Microchip identification

Safety collarAll my cats wear a safety collar that unsnaps if they get caught on something. If the collar came with a bell, I remove it, as I find them annoying and cruel. Would you want a bell jingling around your neck every time you moved? I know the bells reduce bird predation, but my cats are indoors or in my yard, and bird kills are an extremely rare occurrence. 

I use a 3/4-inch round plastic tag for my cats. The 1-inch tags are too big and they annoy the cats (they can get the tag in their mouth and bite it).  http://www.petidtags.us/PlasticTags.html is one of the few places that has these small 3/4-inch tags. Most other places carry only the 1 inch tag

I had tags made that read:

I'M LOST
PLEASE CALL
(and my phone number)

I thought a tag that just has their name won't be very useful, because there would be no way for someone to know that this kitty should not be outside.  

All the cats also have implanted microchips for identification. This was done at the vet's or the SPCA and hopefully will aid in their identification should they ever become lost and turned in to a vet or animal control.

We have "Community Property" rules when it come to our perches, beds, and toys.  The cat perches and bed collection is extensive, so it has it's own page.  

Cat Toys

We have every toy imaginable, and since toy preference is really a personal matter, we recommend your caretaker buy you any toy from the pet store that is intended for cats. We like all types of balls - squishy, jingly, hard plastic, cat-sized tennis balls; catnip toys, and wand-type toys. One rule in our house is that we are not allowed to play with string or toys that could entangle us without our caretaker's supervision. These toys are kept safe in a cabinet so we can't get at them when we're home alone. We are also not allowed to play with plastic grocery bags unless supervised (Felix likes to play with them). All small objects (coins, rubber bands, paper clips, etc) are kept in drawers so we can't get at them. 

Some of our favorite "wand-type" toys are the Cat Charmer and the Purrfect Satin toy. The Cat charmer has a long stretchy tail of fabric that we can chase around the room.  The Purrfect Satin toy has lots of satin string tails that are fun to trap under your claws! 

cat charmer
Cat Charmer
satin toy
Purrfect Satin toy

One of our favorite catnip indulgences is El Gato Muy Loco Catnip Cigars.  These bad boys are the most potent catnip we've ever found and they pack a catnip punch! Dad buys them for us when he makes his annual trip to San Diego.  But you can find them online.  Just search for El Gato Muy Loco Catnip Cigars.

El Gato Muy Loco Catnip Cigar

Cat Scratchers

Cardboard scratcherKeeping your paws exercised is important, especially if you're an indoor kitty. We have lots of perches and scratching posts but we also really enjoy the flat cardboard style scratching pads.  Make sure you get the "double wide" version (it's about 8 inches wide). You can stand on this baby and scratch away. The cardboard insert can be flipped over when one side wears out, and your caretaker can purchase a replacement pad when you've scratched the heck out of it.  This can also be an interactive toy.  Have your caretaker stand one end up against a wall (have them hold on to it so you don't fall) then you can scratch at an angle.  For added variety, while they're holding it angled up against the wall, have them turn it upside down and you can lay on your back and scratch it! For the really adventurous, this can be your "magic scratching carpet".  If you aren't too heavy and your caretaker is confident they can keep you balanced, sit on this scratcher and have them lift you for a ride! For the less adventurous, climb aboard and have your caretaker pull you around on the floor.

Speaking of being pulled around on the floor, you can always be playful with common household items. Jump inside a laundry basket and have your caretaker slide you around on the floor. Or have your caretaker get out an old bed sheet and play "magic carpet" ride. You can start out on the sheet and be pulled around, or you can jump on as your caretaker slides the sheet past you. Be careful and don't get too wild or you could fall off and get hurt. Bed sheets are also great for playing "cave kitty". Have your caretaker make a tent so you can crawl under. Then they can lift the sheet and let it slowly fall on you.  Or, they can play hide and seek with their fingers beneath the sheet, and you can pounce from on top.  Watch your claws...you wouldn't want to hurt your playmate! 

Some other household items make good playthings. If you're bored of all your other toys, try attacking a roll of paper towels. It's great fun! Toilet paper is fun too, but it's too easy to shred. Paper grocery bags (with the handles removed) are fun. Have your caretaker rip a small hole in a bottom corner for added paw-through pleasure.

Felix in laundry basket

Felix attacking paper towels

Claw Maintenance

Claw trimming is best done when you are in a quiet, mellow mood. When we're in the mood to cooperate, we get our claws trimmed using a human nail trimmer. Mom prefers Revlon nail trimmers because they tend to be very sharp and the clipping edges line up well.  She's tried the cat-style trimming scissors (also shown here) but she wasn't as comfortable using them.  Whichever your owner prefers, just try to cooperate as best you can and make sure they don't trim your nail too short (ouch!).  Sometimes one or two claws is all you get trimmed at a time - just be patient with your human - they don't understand the sacredness of sharp claws!

nail trimmers
nail scissors

Bath time

Supposedly every cat hates bath time, but we don't mind it too much. Mom has a special technique that makes the process go quickly and painlessly (for everyone).

Get the supplies ready - several towels for drying off and a couple of inexpensive plastic pitchers. The pitchers are used to prepare the soapy water and rinse water. If you have a hand-held shower you can use the shower head for rinsing and only need need 1 plastic pitcher for soapy water. If you don't have a hand-held shower, you'll need 3 pitchers - 1 for soapy water and 2 for clean rinse water. 

Put a small amount of cat shampoo in a pitcher filled with warm water. Just mix the soap into the water, don't make it sudsy. We use Veterinarian's Best Hypoallergenic aloe shampoo. The soapy water will make it easier to get kitty wet down to the skin and not have the water just roll off the fur.

If you need pitchers of rinse water, prepare them now (warm water, not too hot or cold).

Get kitty and put him or her in the shower or bath tub, making sure there's something non-slip to stand on like a rubber mat or towel.

Gently and calmly pour the pitcher of soapy water over kitty, massaging it in. I generally avoid the head and just go from the neck down because you can always wash their head with a wash cloth. Add more soap to the fur as needed to give a good bath.

After the soaping portion is done, either rinse with the hand-held shower (be sure the water is warm, not hot), or use the pre-filled rinse-water pitchers. If your'e using a hand-held shower, make the spray a comfortable strength and hold it close to kitty's skin. This help prevent noise and splashing and feels more like a warm water massage than a bath. If you're using pitchers to rinse, you may need more than the 2 pre-filled rinse pitchers, but at least you'll have a good start.

After all the soap is rinsed out, wrap kitty up in a bath towel and soak up as much water as you can. They tend to run after the towel is removed, so you may not be able to get the second towel around them for a more thorough drying. Of course you can always pull them out from behind the toilet if you've closed the bathroom door! Give them a minute or two to calm down if needed, then towel dry some more. My cats tend to get annoyed with too much towel drying so just do as much as they will tolerate.

Brush or comb kitty as needed. 
Give treats.
Let them be mad at you for a few hours... you deserve it!

Brushing and Controlling Shedding

I've always used natural-bristled brushes or metal combs (wide-tooth or flea combs) to groom the cats.

I recently purchased a Kong Zoom Groom. It's a cat-shaped rubber brushing tool that massages and removes loose fur. It's 4 inches tall and between 2-3 inches wide with a flat back and 1-inch tall soft rubber "fingers" on the front. You gently massage your cat in a circular motion with the rubber fingers to grab up loose fur. It seems to work by friction and by creating a little bit of static between the hair and rubber nubbies. Both Sammi and Raven have medium length fur and it works very well to pick up fur, but your cat may or may not enjoy it. The package recommends using circular strokes to gather up loose hair. Sammi loves it and will be ZoomGroomed for 5-10 minutes. Raven isn't fond of it, but will tolerate some slow, straight brushing strokes. She won't tolerate the circular massaging motion at all. I've found that straight strokes work really well, but that tends to leave more hair behind than circular strokes. In any case, the Zoom Groom can leave a fair amount of loose fur in or on the cat, so it's also helpful to use a few regular straignt brushing strokes at the end of your grooming session, then finish up with a few strokes of a natural bristle brush to help remove a few more hairs that were left behind.

Raven has a bit of dandruff on her lower back, and I noticed that some dandruff was lifted off onto the Zoom Groom.

The flat back has two uses: first, to stroke along your cat and pick up any loose surface fur, and also to remove fur from your clothing.

The captured fur is easy to remove from the rubber fingers and the ZoomGroom can be rinsed off with water. It cost $7-8 at the local pet supply store.

Zoom Groom fingers
Front
Zoom Groom fingers
Rubber fingers
Zoom Groom back
Back
Raven zoom groom
Raven and her ZoomGroom shadow.
Sammi zoom groom
Sammi and her ZoomGroom cat & fluff of fur.

 

I've heard a lot about the Furminator. My neighbor has one and I used it a bit on her cat. I did remove a lot of fur, but I don't plan on using it on my cats. I just can't believe that it isn't damaging the coat. Everything I've read claims it only removes the loose undercoat, but I've also read and talked to people who say to use it only once a week or so. My logic tells me that if it's only removing loose fur, it shouldn't be a problem to use it all the time. But I suspect you'd end up with a pet with a very thin or damaged coat if you used is more than occasionally. If you read reviews on Amazon.com you'll see a lot of owners have found it results in bald or very thin spots in coat.

I'll stick with good old-fashioned natural-bristle brushes, combs, and the Zoom Groom.

Flea Control

Since the indulged furries are indoors or confined to my back yard using the Cat Fence-In "Combination Barrier" system (which also kept other cats out of the yard), fleas were not too much of a problem for us.  But fleas are everywhere and 2 or 3 times in the past 10 years I've had to deal with them.  I used Advantage for Cats on all the healthy kitties. When Barney lived with us, he was diabetic and I did not put Advantage on him, just on the other cats.  I found that the dose sold for cats "10 pounds and under" worked even for my 15-18 pound cats (Ed and Smokey).  I treated Ed, Smokey, and Felix as soon as I saw that they had fleas and only 1 month's application was necessary. I did not treat them every month as the product label recommends.  Years ago we had a serious infestation, so I also sprayed all the carpets with a home use product that contained pyrethroids and an insect growth regulator.The pyrethroids are insecticides that kill adult fleas; the insect growth regulator prevents the flea eggs from maturing into adults.  It's been 5-8 years since I had to use a product inside the home, and it was an Enforcer product.  The closest product I can find to what I used then is called ENFORCER Flea Spray for Homes. If you need to use any products on your pets or in your home, read the labels carefully and follow the instructions.  Treating the cats with Advantage, washing all their bedding, spraying the carpets with Enforcer, and vacuuming daily eliminated the fleas very quickly. Flea collars and house foggers are never used in our house because they are ineffective means of controlling fleas and are not the safest choices for you or your pets. Flea collars simply don't work and they constantly expose you and your pet to pesticides. Foggers fill the air with pesticides and coat all the surfaces in the room, but they don't get under furniture where the fleas are living!

Litter Boxes

litter box

Not one of our favorite household items, but a necessity for every kitty.  Felix has a litter box "issue" where he likes to pee up on the sides of the box.  He started doing it when he turned about 1 year old, and it's probably his way of claiming the box!  The little bugger is so intent on marking his box that I've seen him with his front paws outside the box and his rear end inside the box so he could angle his little butt up higher and pee on the roof of the litter box! For this reason I must use covered boxes.  Hey, it's his toilet, and if that's what he wants to do, I can't fault him for it!  But, it does leave a messy box, and cleaning the cover and sides of the box with Simple Solution keeps it better smelling until I do a complete litter change and box scrubbing.  
We have two jumbo litter boxes available at all times. When a litter change and full cleaning is needed, I clean them with hot soapy water and a scrub brush.  For daily clean-ups, I use Simple Solution (see below).

Litter

new review
Another necessity of life is cat litter. In a multi-cat home, litter can get messy quickly, even with two jumbo boxes.

For years I used clumping clay. It's easy to maintain, low odor, and affordable.  Some serious draw-backs are the dust, litter sticking to the cats' feet, and health concerns about breathing or ingesting the clay dust.  It can also become smelly if not cleaned often.

I've tried the absorbent silica crystals on two different occasions, and I don't like them at all.  Again, there are health concerns about breathing silica dust. But this stuff just doesn't make good cat litter - it's not absorbent enough, and it stinks!.  You're supposed to mix the crystals around to make them last longer (distributing the urine-soaked crystals), but I found that after just a day, the bottom of the box is filled with a wet mess of crystals and urine, and mixing it results in an overpowering urine odor in the room. My cats urinate a normal amount, so urine volume is not the problem.  The crystals aren't good at absorbing urine quickly enough and wicking up urine from the surrounding area.  Too unpleasant for any furry (or human)! 

cat litterMarch 2006 -  we switched to "The Worlds Best Cat Litter", a whole-kernel corn product. There are NO chemicals, perfumes, clays, silicas, or bentonite.  First impression.... the litter itself smells ok. I don't like the scented litters, and this one reminds me of a sweet tobacco smell - like a nice cigar.  It clumps well, and the clumps hold together well, even during scooping. It tracks a bit, but no worse than any other litter. It has a small, smooth texture, and the cats accepted it without hesitation. We've used both "Original" and "Extra Strength" and like them both.  August 2006 - We all  really like this litter and continue to use it.  We give it 8 paws up (two cats....8 paws!).

Simple SolutionSimple Solution is great at cleaning up cat urine. Thankfully, my cats have never misbehaved and urinated outside their litter box.  Smokey had a few accidents when she was ill, but that was not an ongoing problem.  Simple Solution and similar products like Nature's Miracle contain enzymes that break down odor causing material in cat urine.  I keep a gallon of Simple Solution on hand and refill a spray bottle and use it to wipe down the inside of the litter boxes between complete scrubbings.

Carpet Cleaning equipment and solutions

Since this is really a human indulgence and not a cat-only issue, please see our general Caretakers product page for carpet cleaners and detergents.