Monday, April 30, 2012

Pet Furniture and Your Home: Product Preview

Now, some time back my human was watching Animal Planet when Pit Boss came to a close and a curious program overtook the screen. I was captivated by a human who called himself the Cat Whisperer. Six foot something, shaved head, pierced ears and a Black Guitar Case full of kitty baubles and wonder; I was sure this man had truly gone off the reservation. As it turns out, it wasn't so much the specialist that was crazy, it was the human 'owners' on the show. Individuals and couples who consistently cried 'wits end', dropping words such as 'pound' and 'adoption' over family members that had (in many cases) been with them for years! Unthinkable to me, to simply kick my human out for snoring, or claiming a piece of her territory, many humans can easily become frustrated with the language barrier. It's quite simple though, really; us felines are individuals just as much as you. We all have our own personalities and our own basic needs to feel safe, loved, and as though we are independent enough to have a place that is our own.

One of the biggest, most common, failures (on the human's part) is a lack of designated feline property. Cats, by nature, love to stalk, climb, and observe. Offering your feline friends a world that is 'climb' friendly through empty bookcase tops, shelves, or even designated cat steps can offer them a retreat that is more natural in habitat. Unfortunately, one of the biggest gripes, against this need, is decor. There are some pet owners (or the spouses of pet owners) who feel that pet furniture is tacky (let's hope they never have kids!) I have to agree, to an extent there is a wide selection of poorly designed cat furniture that can quickly clutter and transform a room into a 'Crazy Cat Lady's Den'. Proper cat furniture should be functional, space saving, dual purposed, and design friendly. Thanks to the folks at Pet Fusion, shopping for such items is about the get a whole lot easier! The newly launched pet collection will introduce several key elements to make you and your pet's life easier on the eye, and much more streamlined. We were recently sent their launch product, the Pet Fusion Cat Lounge, and I simply can't wait to try it out!

Friday, April 27, 2012

On Crate Training

In our recent, and popular, Bergan Comfort Carrier Review and Giveaway, we had a chance to touch on traveling with pets. Many pet owners, especially those with felines, feel the need to hire pet sitters, or even board their furry friends when they travel. Travel with a cat?! I've received some pretty strange looks when divulging our dirty little secret. After all felines are supposed to be stubborn, independent, creatures, right? Well, much like the very bad and unfair stereotypes on certain canine breeds, the myths about cat stubbornness and temperaments are based on the actions of ignorant owners. Just like a child, most any cat or dog, can be conditioned towards friendly dispositions and an easy going demeanor.

We already went through the proper 'travel carrier' adjustment procedures, but there is an additional series of training that can truly add a sense of structure and versatility to your pet's relationship; Crate Training.

Now, it's a simple fact that the term alone may not initially sit well with the hardcore pet lovers. Believe me, I am so anti 'caging' that I refuse to frequent zoos and aquariums. I am not advocating the practice of locking your pet up for the purpose of neglect, nor should an animal ever be caged and left alone for any serious period of time. However, a properly crate trained animal (crate can be a simple travel carrier, hooded bed, or pet crate) is often more confident, and easier to read than those who are not. While easiest to accomplish at a young age, I've seen animals of all backgrounds and ages adjust to the concept. Many pet owners will avoid negative terminology (such as crate or cage) and often refer to the designated area as 'home' or 'bed'.

While it is true, the animal will need to be confined in the space for brief period of supervised time during the training process, the area should eventually become a welcome place for the pet to come and go. An animal that is accustomed to the crate/bed/carrier will often learn to retreat there on command, when it has done something wrong, or when it feels stressed. In our household the designated area is a safe spot where the pets know they will not be messed with. This also makes travel, discipline, and unusual circumstances (guests and house cleaning) much less stressful. If the animal has to be confined for transport, discipline, or general safety confinement, it will respond much better to the territory it is already accustomed to.

You should have 2 ultimate goals when 'crate training'; to get your pet accustomed to being confined for short periods. And to ultimately train the pet to return to the cage/carrier/bed on command. This is especially useful in multi-pet households when introducing new pets, or with the introduction of children and new family members. Animals with excitement issues, and uncertainty around strangers, will also find the 'crate' space calming and naturally 'put themselves away' when they feel threatened or too excited. The training period will vary in length depending on the age and temperament of your pet but is a process I feel is ultimately invaluable for pet and human. Always ensure your pet has access to a proper water supply, and is allowed out (or crated with proper accommodations) for restroom breaks. Most importantly, reward your pet for progress during training, and (when using the crate space for discipline) never associate the designated area with negative reinforcement. You wan the crate/pad/carrier to be a home, not a prison!

Have questions, or thoughts to share about your crate training uses and experiences? Feel free to let us know what has worked for you- and be sure to consult your veterinarian about suggested methods and tips for your particular animal!

Please Note: I am not a certified pet specialist or doctor. All advice provided on this website, unless otherwise cited, is mine and mine alone. Advice is given from educational research and experience with real animals.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Wild Wednesdays: Send Your Pet Pics!

This week we have not so Sweet Pea, mad about bath time. I don't blame her, us cat's can bathe ourselves! Okay, my humans bathe me too, from time to time- it's a wonder we all have 2 eyes!

And here we have Jezebel, who loves to use her human's electronic device as a heating pad. Does your pet like to curl up next to the laptop vent? What other unusual places do your animal friends like to seek warmth?

Don't forget to send in those pet pics ( We'll feature two more stars next Wednesday!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Looking Down?

There's a lot going on in our household this week, and my humans are all over the place! I overheard Jenna say I was going to get spay-hed on May 7th, and am SUPER excited to find out that that is. She always plans the best surprises! Also, this week I acquired a couple new toys, including this amazing Pink tube. Even Frankie likes to stalk his 'prey', but that burly cat simply looks ridiculous in Hot Pink!

Sadly, in the midst of all the hustle and bustle, there was a passing in one of my human's families, and things have been a little rough here. I've tried my best to make everyone feel better with soft nuzzles and kitty kisses. It's hard for a cat to hold philosophical viewpoints, but I said the typical 'She's in a better place' and gave my Puss N Boots eyes for condolences. I may only be 6.5lbs, but sometimes big comfort comes in little packages. Send warm wishes and thoughts for my human, and we'll try to get things back to normal around here.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

A Flea Free Season Brought To You by ADAMS with Giveaway~ 5/4

Not many people know our dirty little secret. Fleas.

When we brought Truffles home, for the first time, she was covered in them. Less than a pound, weened too early, and the runt of her litter, this trembling little kitty was infested. Of course, predominantly black, I had no way of knowing this when I chose her (nor would it have affected my decision). However, like a responsible pet owner, I was sure we made a stop at our local pet supplier for the appropriate shampoos and treatments. I knew, whether she had them or not, there were animals in our home that came and went as they pleased, and I had no way of knowing what would 'bounce' in from the surrounding fields, in the middle of Spring.

As it turns out, Truffles was the second kitten to enter our household that week. My tenant, nursing a 4 month old, had decided to take in a feral kitten to keep her chihuahua company during the days. For the most part, the kitten stayed in her room, but the dog was in and out, and all over the house. Of course, while Truffles never left our bedroom, and had been promptly bathed (multiple days the first week), and put on a flea regimen, I received a less than hospitable knock from my tenant one day. It was her belief that I had 'intentionally endangered' her child, as her dog and cat both were scratching from flea bites. She noted that she had 'seen me bring flea medication and shampoo into the house' when Truffles came home, and that the only reason I would have purchased such materials was if I had known she'd had fleas. Well, that, in itself, clearly proved that she did not treat either of her animals for flea, preventatively or otherwise, as she did not feel it was necessary unless a presence of fleas was visible!

Now, of course I cannot say exactly where the fleas on her pets came from- but I can say, had she been treating them, there would not have been an infestation! The moral of the story is not to wait for fleas first bite. When you adopt a new pet you ensure it has the proper immunizations, right? Why wouldn't you ensure it is protected from bothersome parasites and pests? Even indoor cats, who never travel outside, are susceptible to fleas traveling through screens, on other pets, and even hopping rides in on humans. A single female flea can produce 600 offspring in one month! Just because Spring is the official 'kick off' of flea and tick season doesn't mean keeping your home flea free won't take year round diligence! As a pet owner who has suffered through her share of scares and attacks, preventing fleas is much more financially feasible than having to get rid of them, once they're in.

If you've ever given your pet preventative flea treatments before, and most of us have, you likely know the trials and tribulations of administering such medication. For me, the biggest downfall is the mess (all over my hands and kitty). The second biggest fight is one handed application, which can be a pain for some squeeze and sharp tip applicators. Ms. Truffles hates the feel of 'wet' on the nape of her neck, as she associates it with unpleasant things (we treat her with Apple Cider Vinegar when she is ill). It's never hard to wrangle the cat, but getting the entire dosage applied, neatly, can take every able bodied person in the house!

We're extremely grateful that ADAMS Smarter Pet Care reached out to our family to experience their new treatment delivery system, ADAMS Flea & Tick Spot On, for Cats. This preventative and treatment system is only available for use with ADAMS topicals, and features the Smart Shield Applicator. This unique device is wonderfully easy to use, and resembles an ergonomic pod, that is silent to operate. Simply remove your desired application cartridge and place the tip in the guided cubby (device wide open) Next, flip the red 'door' down to snap the tip off, and open the topical canal. The very tip of the device features a unique, flat, shield, you may use to part the animal's fur, guide the flow of medication, and gently massage the product into the skin. ADAMS suggests doing this with the pet sitting up, though Truffles requires a bit of resistance on our part, and we administered the treatment with her laying down.

Available in 2 formulations for cats (2.5-5lbs, and 5lbs+), the Spot On Treatment with Smart Shield Applicator is also sold in canine formulas. Never use cat products on dogs, or vice versa! Spot On has been proven to start killing fleas and ticks in as few as 15 minutes, and works through a non hazardous distribution that effectively coats your cat's fur. A single touch from your cat's coat will sufficiently kill fleas! This formula also contains the brand's patented InfestStop IGR system, which effectively kills eggs and larvae, to stop the spread of fleas instantly. As a bonus, Spot On is known to repel and kill mosquitoes, especially great for outdoor pets.

I was quite pleased with the overall application process, and just how mess free it was. Thanks to the Smart Shield, I could easily target the base of her skull, and prevent the residue from rolling down the nape of Truffles' neck. I know it can often be concerning to see a big mat of shiny, or oily, fur after a flea treatment, and I was glad to find ADAMS kept the product to a controlled area. I'll definitely be purchasing refills soon, and plan on treating Frankie with ADAMS Spot On as well!

One Time Out For Truffles reader will win (2) 3 Month Supply Spot On Kits in Canine or Feline, from ADAMS!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Bergan: Comfort Carrier Giveaway and Review~ 5/2

Pets are family. Kids to some, cohorts to others, friends to all, and even equals to a few. I've lived with, and loved many species and breeds of animals. (I don't care much for 'ownership' in animals, they're my children, and individuals in their own right.) Ever since making the switch to 'cat household', I've noticed a different type of prejudice towards domesticated felines. They tend to have a bad wrap for being antisocial, lazy, and generally self sufficient. Everyone knows, if you want a pet you can really interact with, you get a dog. After all, you can take your dogs for walks, on vacation, to the beach, and even shopping. Even the pet stores seem prejudice- how many cats have you seen chilling with their owners in the aisles of your local PetSmart? Yes, it's believed felines are bad travelers, and primarily selfish creatures. Naturally, Truffles (and Frankie too) are proof that this is not so. Much like many breeds of canine are often mistreated with generalized presumptions, felines can be just as productive and social, when raised that way!

Of course it is simplest to adjust a cat to such social situations, traveling, and people, if they are raised to be comfortable with this from an early age. You may recall Truffles spent the greater part of her first year alive leaving my side only for grocery trips. When the occasion finally arose, to choose between traveling with her, or arranging for a sitter, I chose the latter. I assumed Ms Truffles would be more comfortable, and less stressed, at home for 4 days, while our family went out of town. Instead, she likely felt abandoned, and alone; Truffles wasn't used to being away from 'Momma', and boy was she busy enough to prove it. We came home, in the middle of the holidays to a tree on it's side and lights from room to room! Naturally, ever animal is different, but in our case, Truffles thought she was a part of the family, and she had been left behind- never again.

It's forward thinking, and a thirst for comprehension, like this, which drives today's featured company. Bergan is well known for their versatile pet feeder systems, and travel accessories, but their biggest accomplishment is far from one of profitable merchandise. In a company, where hierarchy is more of a state of mind, the focus is on common goals rather than competitive advancement, and what is 'right' outweighs what is simplest, Bergan has excelled far beyond their core values. Not only did this company develop and submit the world's first Pet Safety Durability Test for motor vehicles, but they encouraged an entire industry to adopt these standards of safety and quality. For anyone who has ever allowed Sparky to ride shotgun, this is crucial. Their drive for these standards directly influenced the founding of Paws To Click, Pet Safety Travel foundation.

Just like traveling with children, traveling with pets can be just as stressful for both parties. While you want to secure your pet, for safety purposes, you also want them to be comfortable on long commutes. Did you know unrestrained pets cause more than 30,000 accidents per year? When you drive with an unrestrained pet you are endangering the lives of everyone on the road, and in your car. Even the most seasoned of travelers can sometimes experience motion sickness, anxiety, and unexpected excitement, so buckle up! Additionally, when traveling, it is important to remember that, no matter how calm the animal is, you will need a form of containment. Whether to transport the animal to and from your place of stay, through animal un-friendly commercial locations, or just as an emergency point of safety.

I have found that, in providing a designated travel container for our pets, many animals tend to exhibit less stress when they have an item that smells like their home, and even them. Animals will naturally release their own 'comfort' pheremones (from their whiskers and paw pads), and will often 'mark' their property as 'safe'. For this reason it is often crucial to offer some sort of soft, padded, feature the animal can emote on, and associate with, prior to travel. For those attempting pet travel for the firs time, purchase your Bergan pet carrier weeks in advance, and place in a high traffic area within your pet's reach. Allow your pet to naturally interact with the carrier, potentially experimenting with 5-20 minute 'journies' inside. Reward your pet every time you release it from the carrier, and ensure that it is always able to access and enter the carrier at will. With Truffles, we would often take her to 'grandpas' for the afternoon, simply to get her used to the feel of a car drive, and the scent of new places.

I've had great success 'travel training' Ms. Truffles, who actually seems to prefer carriers as 'safe spots'. It's worked in our favor, that she has almost crate trained herself to retreat to the carrier when she feels she is in danger or trouble. As a multi-cat household, and with various types of excursions, I have learned there are different features and uses for various types of pet carriers. Some animals will want complete privacy, and minimal interior space, while others prefer to get up and move within their carrier, and even interact with the world outside them. Bergan's Comfort Carrier, featuring Pet Connect, series features two sizing choices (Small- pets up to 10lbs, and Large- pets up to 22lbs), in four modern color choices. Bergan was kind enough to send Frankie and Truffles a Large Comfort Carrier, in Black, for feature here on Time Out Truffles.

Of course the Comfort Carrier meets all V9DT Travel safety standards, and is airline compliant for both pooches and felines. One of the first features I noted was the simple illustrative tag for safe car installation and travel. This carrier safely secures into most standard motor vehicle restrain systems for travel. Inside the carrier was a neatly folded, optional, padded shoulder strap. Also featured are multiple storage pockets for treats, toys, and waste baggies, as well as an easy yo remove (sturdy) Fleece Travel Bed. For those trying to easy their pets into travel or confinement, I suggest removing the bed, and introducing this part of the carrier to the pet's environment. Then you can simply transfer the bed into the carrier, and it will instantly be familiar upon introduction!

The physical design of the bag is exceptional in frame (providing lots of structured space) and aeration. Thanks to a mesh top, front panel, and side wings, the Comfort carrier allows for a 360 view of your pet, with some privacy. This, however, can be a downfall for some pet owners with exotic, or 'pure bred', desirable pets. Sadly, pet theft is a reality when traveling with rare animals, so keep that in mind when choosing the best Bergan carrier for you. Personally, this suits Truffles perfectly. A seasoned traveling cat, she is used to the privacy and confinement it does offer, but is also appreciative of the awareness the mesh panels allow. Thanks to the extra space this Large Comfort Carrier offered our 6lb (2 year old) cat, Truffles was so comfortable, she allowed me to shoot photos for 20 minutes, front flap wide open, without a single escape attempt! In fact, I didn't bother to coax her out, I just set it in the living room, and let her exit on her own.

A nice, unique, safety feature the Comfort Carrier is the easy snap zipper locks. To ensure fidgeting paws, and tiny hands, don't release Fluffy or Fido, Bergan has designed a second zipper security system involving easy to use snaps. These interlocking snaps keep the zipper ends from drifting. It would be nice to see this concept improves upon by offering a few notches (on the zipper pulls) to secure with an optional lightweight lock. The side strap also features a built in ID card, essential for any piece of travel luggage, and great for pet sitting, or Vet visits. Some additional bragworthy points include the decision to line the carrier with an easy to wipe down, cool (light) colored material. Also, Bergan uses a feature they call 'Pet Connect', which consists of a side zipper entry for owners to physically pet, and soothe, their pets, without fear of escape. I cannot tell you how many times I have been 'fooled' by sad face Truffles, only to be conned into a kitty pushing their way out of the entry slot! It's nice to have a way to pet her without having to stuff a kitty back into the front!

While I could continue to ramble about the Comfort Carrier's rigid frame, and easy of transport (over the shoulder or by velcro handles), my favorite aspect of this carrier is the front entry flap. This zips all the way down for an ingenious second home, once you have reached your arrival destination, or even at home! Thanks to the breathable mesh top, and side panels, I feel safe leaving the front panel down, and allowing Truffles to wander in and out as she sees fit. The more comfortable your pet is with it's traveling equipment, the more comfortable, both pet and owner are traveling! Bravo Bergan!

The Bergan Comfort Carrier can be purchased online at, or in store at a variety of retailers such as WalMart and PetSmart.

One Time Out Truffles or Momma Told Me follower will win a Bergan Comfort Carrier!