Thursday, July 29, 2010

Cat Genie - 18 Months Post Installation

Overall I've received more comments on my Cat Genie posts than any others. Most seem to be fairly negative, but even after a year and a half, I STILL like my Cat Genie.

Here are the two most common comments I've received:

Sometimes the Cat Genie cooks poop and leaves an awful stench in the house.
Yes, this has happened. But overall, if your cats have firm
poop this won't be an issue. This only occurs at our house when one of the cats has a loose stool that
doesn't get completely removed from the Genie.

Our Genie is installed in the laundry room and flushes into the laundry waste tube. I keep latex gloves in the laundry room and if I start to smell the cooking poo smell, I run in there, unplug the Genie and pop on a glove and remove the offending poo before it can bake anymore.

Ultimately though, if the cat has firm stool this is not a problem. If you've tried switching foods, stopped treats, stopped feeding canned food and still have a cat with loose stool - the cat Genie is probably not for you.

I hate the way the Cat Genie smells when it cleans.
I've had a few people comment that they hate the smell. Personally, I hate the smell of cat pee
and poop more. I'll take the cleaning solution of the Cat Genie any day of the week. I tried using the unscented cartridges for a while, but I found I preferred the scented cartridge. Honestly, it doesn't really bother me. Ours is in the laundry room, no one has ever walked into our house and complained about the smell. If you hate the smell of the cartridge and you've tried the unscented and hate that too...I can't help you. You're just going to be unhappy. Enjoy scooping your litter pan and the urine odor that emits from it. Good luck.

Someone else commented on the smell and the poop sludge that remains in the Genie after it has cleaned. Yes, there is some there. If there's a lot there, you need to check your drainage lines and clean your Genie. I haven't found the odor to be an issue. Ultimately having a pet in the house, there will be some odor. I have found the Cat Genie to be a useful tool in managing that odor and it makes my life easier.

A woman approached me at a rescue event the other week and asked if we had any cats that didn't shed, like they have dogs that didn't shed. I wanted to stare at her blankly. I shed. Anything with hair sheds. I'm not saying that pet people are dirty, but we have more to keep up with. We spend more time cleaning our homes, sweeping and vacuuming up hair, scooping poop, vomit. All kinds of exciting things. Just for us it's worth it for the companionship. Set your expectations realistically and you'll be a lot happier. Something is using the bathroom in your house, there will be a smell. Something has hair, there will be shedding - and so on.

Not that I don't have any complaints. For example: The water sensor. Most of my error messages come from the water sensor. (it uses a laser and requires this
clear plastic part to reflect that beam to indicate the water level) As the unit has gotten older, this error is more common. I can tell you that a thorough cleaning of the unit at least every 6 months (depending on usage) will help this. I understand that with the Cat Genie 120 this issue may be helped or resolved. Unfortunately I cannot afford to get a Cat Genie 120 right now and the one we have continues to be usable. I just clean the sensor with white vinegar between more thorough cleanings of the book like apparatus where the hopper is.

One of the things that irritates me the most is the inability to 'reset' the Cat Genie. This has been an issue where there have been water sensor errors and the unit hasn't filled but continues to run and attempt to dry litter that has not been washed.

If you unplug it, even for a long period of time, it wants to start where it left off. Sometimes I need it to start at the beginning again. I'm not sure if this issue is resolved with the new unit, but if it's not it should be considered.

Finally, to people that only have negative things to say about the Genie - if you have one or two cats maybe the litter pan and litter pan odor aren't an issue for you.

My husband and I have 7 cats of our own and we also foster cats for a local rescue. I don't want our house to smell. The Cat Genie is not our only litter pan, we also use several 'Tidy Cat Breeze' pans and we have traditional litter in our quarantine bathroom upstairs (but that door remains closed so the odor is only an issue within that room). The Tidy Cat Breeze also requires firm stool to be effective and separates the urine and neutralizes the odor.

I had found over the years that urine odor was the most offensive part of the cat box for me. From the comments I get from people that come to our house and can't believe how many cats we have there, I believe that is true for most people.

Not all of our cats use the Genie, we have two that use the Genie primarily, but also uses the breeze and one that will rush into the quarantine bathroom to use the traditional pan any time he gets a chance. Cat's love the chance to be the first one to use a potty. :)

For us the Genie is not a solution in itself, but it is part of the way we manage the odor and maintenance. I still scoop the other litter pans a minimum of two times a day.

Over the years I've used all sorts of automatic pans and fancy litters. This is the plan I have stuck with the longest and I'm happy with it. The Cat Genie might not be for everyone, but I really can't imagine that it doesn't cut down on the maintenance and urine odor for everyone that uses it. And with a 3 month money back guarantee - why not give it a shot?

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Foster Kitty City

About a year ago my husband and I started fostering for Alley Cats and Angels. We had adopted two cats from them (Trilli and Dexter) and had been extremely happy with the experience.

I've worked at a no-kill shelter in Winston Salem, the Forsyth Humane Society (as a paid employee, not a volunteer) and had adopted from other rescues in the past.

Alley Cats was different in that they don't have a shelter, all of their animals are in foster homes. This means that even though they work with feral cats and kittens that need socialization prior to being placed in homes, their cats and kittens end up being better socialized than most shelter animals (in our opinion).

They also provide excellent medical care and just seem to be better organized than a lot of other volunteer run rescues. I've adopted before and had trouble getting my new pets medical or information or all of the 'advertised' medical care and such hadn't actually been done. Alley Cats and Angels even calls to check up after the adoption and gives you two weeks to make sure your new pet works with your household or you can have a full refund of your adoption fee.

When we started to foster we had the same concerns that I believe a lot of foster homes do. Will I fall in love with these pets? How will I ever be able to part with them when the time comes? What will our other pets think?

We prepared ourselves for this, but also thought long and hard about it and knew that what we were doing was making 'nice kitties' for other people's homes. We don't have room in our home for any more cats as 'full time' residents, but having a foster cat and kitten can be fun, fun for our pets and we feel like we're really doing something good.

Our pets have ended up enjoying it too. They get 'socialized' to other pets, and with kittens the older ones get new inspiration to play and have fun. It's the kind of interaction that really makes me happy to see.

There are a few I've loved more than others, but all have moved on to new homes without any tears. Part of this is because I feel very confident that Alley Cats and Angels is placing our fosters in great homes where they will truly be loving and be loved.

I like to think that what we are doing is a good thing. People that may have never had a pet before might fall in love with cats because we raised up a kitten to be a super well socialized companion. I believe that people that have animals are kinder, gentler people. They are generally more caring of others and more caring of their environment. I know it seems like just a kitten, but I truly believe by giving people nice pets we are making a world full of better people.

I am writing this because I want to encourage more people to foster. The emotional rewards are great, and you get the joy of giving a safe and happy, albeit temporary, home to an animal who needs one.

I've heard of people having bad foster experiences with a rescue that wouldn't return calls or didn't pay for medical care or whatnot. Even if you've had a bad foster experience elsewhere, if you're in our area, give Alley Cats and Angels a chance - if you're not local, please try another rescue.

All rescues are NOT created equal! There are great ones out there run by great people that would really appreciate a little extra help. Fostering can really change lives, not just for your fostered pet - but for the people who will be forever changed by adopting the pet you helped raise!