Friday, September 21, 2012

PetPals: Blogger/Reader Program- August PetPal!

You may recall how I rolled out our newest pet project: PetPals Blogger/Reader penpal program last month. For those new to our site, here's a brief re-cap of what the program is:


You don't have to be a social butterfly (though those who are welcome too), or even own a blog, to connect with unique and exciting pets (and owners) just like you! The process is easy, here's a simple breakdown for you- if it all sounds good, fill out the simple form below, and wait to be matched up on the 18th!

-On the 18th of the month, you will receive your PetPal pairing via email. It will be your responsibility to contact your PetPal and get their mailing information, as well as their pet's information (breed, preferences, size, etc). When your PetPal match contacts you, be sure to send a picture of your pet, with your mailing information, so they can see who they'll be shopping for! Please NOTE: The match you will be sending to will NOT be the same match mailing you a package. This helps keep the program moving, and engage more people (you get to meet 2 pets/people each month!)

-You will have until the 28th of the month to put your box of goodies in the mail. On the 15th of the following month, you will post about the goodies you received from your PetPal!

-The boxes are to be filled with fun pet toys, accessories, or snacks! Please be mindful (you may be matched with a cat OR a dog) of pet size/dietary restrictions, etc. The spending limit is $15. The box must also include something written. This can be anything from a note explaining what’s in the box, to a short story about your own pet.

-You are responsible for figuring out the best way to ship your items depending on their size and how fragile they are. (Don’t forget about flat rate boxes!)

-PetPals is open to blog readers as well as bloggers. If you’re a reader and you get paired with a blogger, you can choose to write a short guest post for your PetPal to post on their blog about what you received, or possibly share your box on Facebook (or other social media platforms).

- PetPals is currently only open to US residents. Please note, I am collecting a list of international and non cat/dog owners to gauge interest. If I receive enough matches I will open an international/rodent/reptile division.

As you can imagine, there were many questions, and many interested people had a few concerns about things regarding reliability of PetPal matches, and month-to-month obligation. I'll try and address a few of the common questions here. The first of which, and the most popular, was if a participant had to compete every month. I realize some have financial restraints, or perhaps would like to do this quarterly, or in specific seasons; you are never obligated to participate the following month. I verify interest with all signed up prior to commitment, and you have the option to opt out for the month, or longer. When you wish to return, simply fill the form out once more and you'll get a match with the following month's group. There is no charge for PetPals participation, all I ask is that you let me know should you need to sit out a month, so someone doesn't end up with a bum match on mistake!

The next most common question leads directly off of that- What happens if my match doesn't respond? Keep in mind that everyone has 2 matches, the person they will be sending to, and the person you receive from. Our rules dictate that everyone must contact their assigned partner to arrange shipment within 72 hours (that's 3 days). If you have not received a response from your partner, or have not been contacted by your match, shoot me a quick email and I can reasonably match you up with another person. There are likely reserves waiting on next month (or in this month's case, and odd number of matches and I can fill in). Keep in mind you may receive a Dog OR Cat PetPal, this varies each month and is entirely random. We ask that you provide a little information about your pet (dietary/size restrictions) to help your match in picking out the best treats for your pet. Any food treats must contain a complete ingredient label on the package, no loose treats or homemade goods, please. Another concern is often shipping- Shipping can be quite reasonable with pet products that are often stuffed, and flat rate parcels are available but not necessarily the cheapest option. Parcel post is quite affordable and can get your package there in time if you shop and ship shortly after receiving your matches info.

Some may ask why on Earth would you want to buy stuff for a stranger's pet? Well, for 1.) Everyone loves getting mail, especially a surprise box, 2.) You'd be surprised the fun and adorable pet toys that may be found at a local pet shop in a different demographic or part of the country, 3.) Personally, I spend bundles on my pets each month because I love them, and spending time with them; this is the perfect way to engage with my pet with new things I may never have thought to buy! This month we received a wonderful box of goodies from Frankie's match; Kendy and her loveable ball of fur, Mar. As it turns out, we actually had one of the things we received in hand at the pet store; a Kong brand catnip stuffed beaver. I had wanted to buy it for Truffles, but she is spoiled, and our trip was about Frankie- so it was a complete surprise to see it turn up in our PetPals box! I daresay I've enjoyed it as much as the cats.

Jeremy told our PetPal Frankie liked things that dangled, he goes crazy for long pieces of string and whatnot. Kendy and Mare nailed our lazy cat with a box full off goodies for him to swat (all without moving an inch, oh Frankie!). Considering the box spending limit is $15, you can actually get quite a bit of stuff for your PetPal, and in your box- we got 5 different types of toys, and some Organic Catnip that will go a long way. We've been slowly breaking out a new toy every week, we have a blast seeing which of our cats will react best, as they have radically different personalities. There was a package of long tailed, super soft, neon mice from Kendy that Truffles has taken to dragging around (by the tail) in her mouth. Kendy was sure to include 2 fishing pole style danglers for Frankie- and I love sitting there 'reeling' him in. Silly 15lb cat on a glitter coil string! We had a great month and cannot thank our PetPal Kendy enough for making the kickoff of PetPals a blast!

Sign Up for PetPals Today!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Modern Cat Studio: Designer Pet Toys To Delight, Review and Giveaway~ 9/24

First, I must apologize for taking several days off from Time Out For Truffles. It turns out that the condo we recently moved into had termites somewhere in the adjacent building, and HOA had us vacate for a 3 day tenting ordeal that the 'kids' found fun, but Momma did not. All I can say is that I'm grateful for some amazing pet companies, and their ingenious creations, which helped us transition to and from our temporary home, and keep the kids occupied and out of trouble. Traveling with cats can always be dubious, let alone 2 cats and a hyperactive pup. I've also been surviving the 20+ posts that I had deadlined for my human blog, Momma Told Me, and Blog POP! Fall Ball. In any case I have acquired some new tales to share through the next month, and am glad to be back sharing my wonderful furbabies with you all.

Whether you're a regular reader, or just joining us, you can likely relate to my constant battle between Pet V. Human home. I love my pets, they are my kids at this time in my life, but sharing a 2 bedroom condo with another human and 12 paws can get a little dubious. There's a fine line between eco-chic and just plain trash. While Truffles would prefer to have her way playing with all the bubble wrap and packing materials that parade through every day- I'm less than thrilled to have a home filled with wayward scraps (doubling as cat toys). I spent a lot of money (more than I should admit) on pet loungers and toys, to keep them engaged and out of trouble during the day. Unfortunately, I've come to notice that a hefty price tag, or cutesy design, does not mean an item will be a hit. For a while I stocked up on 'Lobster' themed toys for Truffles, simply because I have a thing for cartoon lobsters; I quickly learned Truffles did not. It's a tough crowd here.

I've learned that often the most simplistic cat toys are the biggest hits. Bright colors or patterns, and varied textures help keep cats engaged. And, while it's an awful game, if you take a new toy and pretend it is 'forbidden' to play with, it's a sure success. My felines are crafty, inquisitive, and a touch random. Where as Truffles is the carefree 'kitty', Frankie will often erupt in a riot of swatting and attacking, up and down the hallway. I'll be sitting on the couch one minute than *smack* a cat will go sliding around the (wood) floor into a wall, furiously pawing for the toy it had been chasing. Unfortunately, a lot of their favorite toys are rattle or crinkle based and wear out much too fast. And I feel a bit silly seeing mylar balls strewn about the house like it's January 1st (post New Years Eve bash). Of course, as a pet lover, and blogger myself, I'm constantly seeking wonderful pet blogs to help me grow as an owner. When I came across Kate Bejamin's, I was awestruck.

I instantly recognized some of our own favorite brands, such as Sleepypod and Bergan; it was clear Kate had the same thirst for stylish, yet functional, cat gear (just as the name would indicate). But there were some designs I had never seen before, whimsical toys made from a riot of color an prints. I was immediately drawn to them; simplistic concepts made from friendly scraps of plastic, with intriguing shapes and sounds. These feline products were championed by a collective of designers out of Arizona, with the mission to bring modern elegance to traditional cat toys. We received a sample box of fun designs an concepts from the Modern Cat Studio (Etsy) shop. These trinkets were packaged beautifully alongside a tempting vial of organic catnip with the Modern Cat Studio logo.

I'll admit, I was most attracted to the Merino Wool Felt Cat Stacks with their vibrant primary colors and puzzle piece shaped layers. This particular toy has a distinct retro vibe, each layer bound with a black bungee center, and designed to bounce unpredictable with all it's varied edges. Truffles found this piece most interesting as a pillow, or scratcher- I cannot explain her behavior other than intense happiness for the material. She still walks up to it and rolls on the floor, nudging it with her nose and rubbing her face on the ridges. The simplistic Felt Rollers had a more immediate impact, thanks to their lightweight composition. With one swat these sailed across the floor, the felt even clinging gently to kitty's paws. This seemed to have the 'alive' affect Truffles and Frankie like so much. The only downside; they end up under everything!

For the cat who loves to kick (especially good for the hyper youngsters) Modern Cat Studio offers varied sizes of ModKicker Catnip toys. These oblong toys come in a variety of bold prints and fabrics, stuffed with organic catnip and polyfill. When Truffles is on 'the nip' (as we call it in our household) she'll often bunnykick with her back feet. She can get quite into it, and even predatory, making kickers great to relieve that natural aggression and instinct. Similar to the small ModKicker is the ModShaker, also filled with catnip, but including an enticing rattle. As you know, Truffles is a Beanie Baby fiend (she loves the sound), and this ModShaker was perfect for playing fetch. While some pet parents prefer toys that are silent, I rather like the gentle rattle sound of my cats playing; and Truffles does too.

There are so many more wonderful pet toys and accessories to discover inside the Modern Cat studio Etsy shop, including elegant wall mount (green) scratchers and chic beds. The pricing is considerably reasonable for handmade, and the quality is above and beyond most of out manufactured pet toys. Non of our Modern Cat Studio toys have bit the big one yet; save the few Rollers that have gone missing. I now religiously log into the Modern Cat Blog and Etsy store to catch what's new for feline style trends! Best of all, many of the Modern Cat Studio designs benefit monthly cat causes, where 5% of SALES (not profits) go directly to help out cats in need! P.S. Check out the brand new Taffy Cat Rolls made from recycled materials!

I have an assortment of Modern Cat Studio cat toys to give to one lucky reader!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Betty White Talks About The Importance of Microchipping

Did you know that every year over 10 millions pets lose track of their humans, or home, and become lost? Pet micro-chipping helped recover over 1 million of those animals in 2011, though an overwhelming 6 million, estimated, were no micro-chipped.

While Jenna was always afraid of just what exactly the process might be like, and how I'd take to the event, it turns out most offices will microchip while your pet is out for routine spay/neuter, teeth cleaning, etc- and often at a cheaper cost than an individual office visit. Worried you can't afford it, and think a standard ID tag will prevent us pets from getting lost? Think again, I've wriggled out of my collar more times than dollars in my humans bank account (okay, slight exaggeration). Many cats, especially, wear safety collars when they are outdoors, to ensure they do not end up stuck in a tree or tangled while on the prowl. These detach with the slightest tug, and leave your furry friends unidentifiable. Canines, that get to go on car rides and vacations, are no exception; they have the biggest chance to break away from their owner and get lost, far from home. Even worse, some of the fancier breeds are a target for theft!

Nora will be micro-chipped when she is Spayed next month, and at our local Low-Cost Clinic, the rates are as low as $25 for qualified income ($45 for us, when done with the spay). Whether your furry friend is out for surgery, or a visit walk in, the process takes seconds and is no more irritating than a standard injection. The 'chip' itself is the size of a grain of rice, and injected between the shoulder blades. Once inserted you can register your pet, and instantly track it's whereabouts, should you become seperated. Micro-chipping also makes your pet eligible for awesome tech pet products like the Sure Flap, which opens only on a chip-by chip, identified, basis!

Don't let your family member wind up on a Milk carton, get them micro-chipped today. Still not convinced, see what dear Betty White has to say:

Monday, September 3, 2012

A Simple Kind of Cat: Frankie's Version of Hide N' Seek

For as long as we have had Frankie he has been a relatively simple cat.

He enjoys routine, is friendly (to the point of letting the dog chew on him for several minutes, before politely turning away), and respects the will of his humans. Yes, Frankie is the kind of cat who will sit where you place him, for hours on end, until he feels he has been given 'permission' to move. We took Frankie in when he was just over a year, so there is no way to say what, or who, exactly molded this behavior- we simply consider him wonderfully peculiar.

Well, Mr. Frankie (Frankfurt as we lovingly call him) does the same thing day and out; he self soothes (grooms) frequently, and sleeps in the same exact spot. Rather, on a specific item, wherever we place that item; a zebra striped patio pillow he quickly took to upon moving in. If Frankie is not on that pillow, then he must be eating or using the commode. We've had him since February, and either of us would have waged money in Vegas on this information as fact. So, you can imagine my surprise, and earnest alarm, when I was passing through the living room the other day and Frankie was not in his 'usual' spot. His cushion was within range of the litter box, and his water source was in view; no Frankie!

I must have tore the house up searching for this less than dainty feline, even going into rooms that were seldom opened, for fear I had mistakenly locked him in. Beginning to panic, I headed towards our front door, and then I saw him- laying on the floor in front of the giant cat tree, legs pressed out against the sliding glass door, bowing our blinds outward; just soaking up the sun. I could rack my brain over why he's chosen this spot as his new fave, but will have to chalk it up to simple comfort. Frankie is finally starting to relax a little. Of course, I am glad he still has a healthy respect for 'Truffles' belongings (cat tree), and knows to stay safely away. I feel a little guilty he can't sit on a perch in the window, but then again, Frankie doesn't need the frills. He's a simple kind of cat.

Does your pet have a favorite spot that's unique?

Saturday, September 1, 2012

iOVO Designs: Litterfish Concept- Pin It Up

As a (feline) pet owner, one of my greatest struggles is keeping the balance between fur-mother and zookeeper. This is especially true when it comes to animal waste, and the infamous 'litter box'. Some may already know that Ms. Truffles was trained to use the (human) toilet when she was just a kitten. This is a practice she kept for several months, until she one day decided that she didn't like the way the toilet water splashed back up, upon making a deposit, and began leaving gifts for me in the (waterless) sink. At least she got the bowl part right....

Re-toilet training Truffles was once an option, but has now left the picture with the addition of (adult) Frankie, who is terrified of our Drinkwell (pet water fountain), let alone the toilet. Our humble condo has an impressive 3 litter boxes, for 2 cats. My favorite, of which, is an ingenious piece of furniture that actually hides the litter-box in a cabinet like setting. It's stylish and functional, but it doesn't compare to iOVO Designs' newest pet concept; Litterfish.

This 21st Century litterbox is sure to be what all the 'cool' cats are talking about in a few months. With bold White an (classic) Orange fish color options, this almost comical over-sized fish gives the impression your cat is being eaten, in fun juxtaposition. Not only does it double as trendy modern decor (great for dorms, pet lovers, or the just plain kitschy- like myself), Litterfish has an entirely removable top that makes cleaning and changing litter a breeze. Having a private 'toilet' space for your cat/s is an integral part of fostering independence and good restroom habits. I also love that this enclosed litter box structure will 'catch' all of the sand our larger cat, Frankie, tends to dig over the sides of shallow (lone) boxes. My only worry is that one, or both, might think it so cool and private, they'll want to hang out in there all day- Thankfully Litterfish can always be converted to a posh Pet Bed.

Want to see a Litterfish in your home, or a home near you? iOVO is trying to raise 1000 pledges, before they can go into production. Mass production means molds and expensive materials costs, so the Litterfish can, unfortunately, not be made without backing from pet lovers like you and I. How do you help? If you can't quite commit to the discounted $159 pre-order pledge (which will guarantee you a unit upon production), help spread the word. The best way is to simply Pinterest the promo images! The more who see this ingenious design, the more interest it will generate!

As Required By The FTC: I received no compensation for sharing this product concept. I am merely a supporter trying to raise awareness for a start-up I believe in.