Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Dexter's Present (Squiggy vs. the Spinny Ball Toy)

Dexter, our fluffy orange kitten, should be about one year old now. He still loves toys and particularly enjoyed one type of toy when he Dexter being cutevisited with my parents at Christmas - the spinny ball toy. So, since he's just so sweet and cute (see picture of Dexter lying on his back on the cat ottoman), I decided to get Dexter a present for his birthday.

He had a smaller one that tends to flip over, but this one is nice because it is large and secure on the carpet - and large enough for a cat to climb on top of when he plays with it. It even has a catnip filled cardboard scratcher on top in the middle. The channel for the ball is wide - allowing cats with larger paws to bat at the ball freely. (Dexter is polydactyl and has a few extra toes, hence his full name - Dexterious)

Everyone has enjoyed the toy, Peepin enjoyed batting at is as does Trillium Whorl. Everyone likes the speedy 'bat at the ball and run' drive by. Best $12 I ever spent on a cat toy. It's nice to be appreciated.

The exception to the appreciation and enjoyment would be Dan's cat, Squiggy. When Dan brought Squiggy downstairs to play with the new toy, Squiggy promptly determined a way to stop the spinning of the ball and ruin the fun. And here is the video that proves it: Watch the kitties play with the spinny ball thing until Squiggy plops herself on top of it. She won't even play. In Squiggy's defense, it's the catnip. She loves the nip. She'd rather roll in it than play. Sigh.

Watch the video and judge for yourself. If nothing else, it's just kind of funny. Something else nice is that although Dexter and Trilly are a year old or less, Peepin (who I am told is at least 15) really enjoys the toy and plays with it like a much younger cat.

Watch Squiggy in action:

An Ikea Adventure

IKEA!!Dan needed a desk for his office. And sadly, despite the fact that the Ikea Adventure has already occurred, Dan still needs a desk. They were out of stock on that one key part. I seem to recall a similar situation in Orlando. I should have called. They won't actually hold stuff for you, but it never hurts to ask.

Ikea mapWe left Raleigh after lunch. No need to pull out too early as we were meeting some friends of mine in Charlotte after the shopping trip was completed. I mean, how long can one really spend at Ikea?

As I grew up in Orlando, it's hard for me to look at Ikea and not think 'theme park for furniture'. There's a huge parking lot where they often direct traffic, they pass out maps at the door, and half way through they have a restaurant. The parallels seem so obvious. On the back of map there is a place where you can write down the aisle and bin number for the furniture you wish to puchase in the self serve area. Overall, I would say the whole process is daunting. Dan and I had a wish list from my sister - and even with names and prices a lot of things were hard to find. Turns out a few of them were out of stock, but some were just hidden away in the bowels of Ikea. And we found a few things we needed that we didn't know Ikea even had - poster frames and a few stuffed mice.
Ikea exit sign
In Charlotte it seems that Ikea has it's own exit off I-85. This might be a step up from Orlando where some genius put the Ikea off of International Drive basically. For those who haven't been there, International Drive is somewhat like a strip - and at 3am the traffic is still gridlocked.

When you get off the highway and pull in to the ginormous parking lot it's hard to miss the immense blue and yellow building stretching across the horizon. (see picture above)

The plan was simple, drive to Ikea, look around, pick things out, pay for things, leave. For the most part that happened. We will need to go back in a few weeks when the desks are in stock again - but for now, we've survived. Cart full of Ikea loot

Dan took a picture of our cart as he waited for me to back up the car for loading. Frames, magazine files, furniture..the works. We were hot, dirty, sweaty and in need of beer at the end of our adventure. Next time we will be better prepared as we have 'tried out' a few things that we know we want more of - picture frames for one. And we know we need the desk - so we can go retreive that first.

We went to spend some time with friends - (Claire, Jim, Tony and offspring) and ended up leaving for Raleigh sometime after 10pm. Again, we will plan better next time so we can spend more time with them. Anyway, we left Jim and Claire's house and headed for the highway. black cats in boxes

Then we got on I-85 N and parked for an hour and a half as crews cleaned up what appeared to be some sort of spill but I can't find the details online. Dan was nice enough to drive us the rest of the way home as my headache was becoming unbearable. It lingered through Sunday.

Saturday night / ultra early Sunday we got home and unloaded nothing except a few poster / picture frames. But Sunday we got up and unloaded the car and began assembly. Squiggy, Lli and Tucker all tried to help. They were shooed away. You can see Squiggy investigating the packages. Squiggy is a big fan of paper and all the furniture was wrapped in paper. Look also for Lli's small black head popping out of one of the CD/DVD stand boxes. They were long and thin and shaped just right for a tailess black kitty.

assembly with SquiggyWithin a few hours we had most everything assembled and carried upstairs. Dan also got two CD/DVD towers that matched and filled in the leftover space in the slot between the two windows. Dan hauled all the trash out and cleaned up the living room.

Dan's OfficeDan has been working hard setting up his office. Pictures have been hung, CD's and books indexed and alphabetized, cables tied and lighting addressed. The card table in the picture is in the approximate location that Dan's table will attach once it's back in stock. It will be a little wider (which is good I think as he could use some extra space). Squiggy and the other cats like the office very much and don't recognize it much from its days as my sister's bedroom.

So it seems we are cleaned up and assembled, just waiting for the next trip to Ikea. !

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Cat Genie Revisited

I've received quite a few emails and a few comments about my Cat Genie post from January - so here, almost 6 months later, it's time to check on the Cat Genie status.

So a few things I've changed:
Cat Genie in the Laundry Room1. The Cat Genie is elevated. This is entirely due to Tucker, our dog. The best way to keep her out of the litter pan was to get it out of reach. I was concerned about the hose position changes, but there have been no back-ups and the pan has been elevated for about two months now. Note that it is still below the level of the washer drain / water.

2. There is now a second litter pan in the laundry room as a backup to the Cat Genie. Some of our cats are older, one is diabetic. The 30 minute cleaning cycle proved to be a bit much for them - as in, when you need to go - you NEED to go. The older cats are also a bit wary of the noise the cat genie and washing machine - so it's good to have a backup if you only have one genie.

The 'backup' pan is my second favorite litter pan (it comes in second because I still have to clean it) - the Tidy Cat Breeze. The "Breeze" is nice because it has pellets that we change out only once a month over a grid that lets the urine run straight through. Now, here's the best part. The pad. In the bottom, under aforementioned 'grid' is the urine absorbing pad that really neutralizes the urine smell. Tidy Cat BreezeThis is the best part. The urine turns in to some sort of gel, I change the pad when it's full. Since they really can't bury it, solids can smell more than you might like, but it's an easy scoop to remedy that. Certainly over the many years I have been a cat owner, the urine smell has been the biggest contributor to the overall 'cat smell' that can build up over time. This is on the ground under the Genie, there is a baby gate with a 'cat door' cut into it to keep dogs out and allow cats in.

3. The Cat Genie has a 'hood' now (see first picture). I think it helps keep the initial smell in when it's being used. It also keeps the kittens from kicking out all the pellets.

I've only had a few issues with the Genie in the last 6 months, but overall I would say they are workable.

1. A few times I've had to go and clean out some poop that didn't scoop well. Granted, my fault as I gave the cat in question too much wet food. You get the idea. This has happened 3 times. 2 of those times are related to the same incident.

2. The water sensor was obstructed and I had to pull out the hopper one night and wipe it off. Yes, that was pretty gross. But that's the worst thing I've had to do in all this time. I figure it's a pretty even trade for the smell/maintenance reduction.

3. I don't like how the Genie beeps when the cartridge is 'about to' run out and then after it has run out. I know it's just trying to let me know - but it seems like the type of noise that would alarm a shy cat.

Some of the complaints I've heard that I have to agree with:

the mat and the baby gate cat doorThose rotten pellets get everywhere. Keeping the pan away from the dog has helped. Also, we got some track mats that I put at the laundry room door that really help a lot. I suspect that most of the pellets fall into this mat in the laundry room and they are tracked out by us, not the cats. My sister purchased the special round Cat Genie mats. They do fit around it, but only if it's sitting out in a room. And honestly, they don't catch the pellets so well. Don't waste your money.

If it dries a piece of poop, it's pretty rank. Just get it out of there and the smell fades pretty quickly.

A complaint I've heard that I don't agree with:

Smell of the cleaner. It really just doesn't bother me. Granted, it's not great - but it's just not that bad. It certainly doesn't smell like a dirty litter pan. Just like cleaner.

Overall, I'm glad to have it. This is the longest I've ever had a robotic litter pan of any sort - I suspect I should give it a good cleaning soon as maintenance. But honestly, I'm putting that off. Wouldn't you? I have taken basic spray cleaner and wiped down all the outside bits a few times, but that's no different from anything else in the house you would have to clean.

Lli at the Cat GenieThe two youngest cats, both under a year when they were first introduced to the Genie, love it and use it almost exclusively (this is Trillium Whorl our Japanese Bobtail coming to see what I was taking pictures of). I don't have accurate numbers on the older cats but I suspect they don't use it much, if at all (since they are given a choice). In fact, the older diabetic cat has trouble jumping and climbing so I know she only uses the Breeze.

So there it is, update on the Cat Genie at 6 months. The pellets aren't cheap and neither are the cartridges, but it has still been less expensive and less labor than a regular old pan.

My recommendation stands.