Saturday, June 30, 2012

Best Friend Boxes: Monthly Pet Subscription Boxes Giveaway and Review~ 7/20

I don't have kids, yet; but if the way I treat my pets is any indication, I'm a spoiler.

Yes, I'm one of those annoying fur mommies who has to pull out her phone to show off the latest pictures of her 'princess'. The one who draws concerned looks at family gatherings when an account of a niece's first tooth is followed by a tale of her cat fetching a bean-filled moose. It's not that I'm cat, or animal crazy. I don't walk around in 'Hang In There' sweaters, or eat with my cats at the table. No, I treat them just like I would children; caring for them when they are sick, bathing them when they get a little too 'wild', playing with them every afternoon, and bringing home gifts when I decide to go shopping and treat myself.

Ahh.....the 'gifts'.

Yes, we enjoy shopping for our pets, almost a little too much. Sometimes I worry that I enjoy the toys more than them! Sure, it's impossible for me to walk past a pet store and not pop my head in to buy a trinket or to, but with such a wide variety of pet products, how can you not begin to theme your four-legged friend's belongings? I mean, pet products have come a long way- even Martha Stewart has her own line of modern, design friendly baubles for pet lovers! Yup, the other half and I stroll hand-in-hand down the mega-pet-store's aisles, and share 'awwws' at handmade toys on Etsy. We rush home excitedly to rip the toys out of the bag and proudly present them to our unsuspecting felines. (Sometimes I think they get even more amusement out of watching us figure out how to operate these darn contraptions)

Of the two cats, Truffles is always the most hesitant.

Unless food is involved, of course.

Then all bets are off, and Frankie's shoved to the side so the 'Princess' can enjoy her new treat. It's impressive her waistline isn't yet competing with Garfield, the way this cat loves to eat!

Of course, much like human kids, I'm concerned about what I let near Truffles and Frankie. As far as I can see, Organic is the way to go- and we jump at the chance to support and frequent any organic pet brands of high integrity. This is how I came to find a service that combines fine natural sourced pet treats and products with the joy of spoiling one's pet; Best friend Boxes. Created by a pet loving duo from Texas, Best Friend Boxes is a monthly subscription service dedicated to hand picking the finest treats for your feline (or canine) friends, and delivering them directly to your door, once a month.

We received a Feline and Canine Best Friends Box, in May, for review here on Time Out Truffles. Things have been so hectic with our move, I'm finally getting around to posting the Feline box today!

Our Best Friends Box was delivered in a clearly marked parcel (to arrive during the last week of each month), with 5-7 hand-picked natural treats and toys. I was pleased to find some well trusted Natural brands I was already familiar with, and some new-to-me brands we've quickly grown to love. We received Natural Grooming Wipes, Sojos 100% Organic Catnip, Zuke's Natural Purrz Treats, and a Tap And Squeak Mouse.

Of course, when I first opened the box, Truffles had already sniffed out the residue of Chicken Cat Treats from Zukes. Her little nose was going a mile a minute, and I dared nto delay in tearing open that easy re-seal pouch. These wheat, corn, and soy free USA made soft chews resembled little pellets. For (6lb) Truffles, I found she could chew them best when broken in half, through Frankie had n issue devouring them whole. I love that they offer no offensive odor, but a taste that Truffles literally begs for! I was shocked, because she is usually picky about soft cat treats, but these passed the test with flying colors!

We could hear the toy, in this Best Friend's Box, making noise before we'd even opened the package! This 4" little mouse has a touch/bump sensitive squeaker hidden deep inside it. It was perfect for playing 'fetch', as it squeaked when it hit the floors, or slid into the walls. I also loved how it would make noise whenever a cat got frisky enough to accidentally knock it off a shelf or play with it. This unexpected touch was a new-to-me electronic feature that, unfortunately, died about a week after use. I was sad to discover that the battery could not be replaced, but this made it safe for pets (and little mouths). The toy, however, still functions as a classic mouse, and is played with often around here!

Finding Natural Cat wipes in the box was a nice surprise, and not something I would think a company would traditionally think to include; but a wise choice! Most cats hate being bathed by their humans, and (especially) house bound cats can track all sorts of dust and grime from their litter boxes. I like to wipe Truffles and Frankie down several times a week. These fragrance free, natural, wipes were a safe alternative to other bathing methods and the perfect size to wipe down kitty with no fuss!

Last in our Feline Best Friends Box was Sojo's 100% Organic Catnip tin. Admittedly, Truffles has NEVER responded to catnip I've purchased- but I've heard organic can make a big difference in strength and impact. Before I could even crack the tin, to reveal the bagged bundle of 'nip' inside, Truffles was rubbing up on this! I opened the bag and set it on her PetFusion Cat Scratcher, and watched as she inhaled with a few humorous expressions. Within seconds it was 1-2-Floor! Truffles hit the ground and began rolling and twisting as though she were a kitten again. The overall effects lasted about 15 minutes, and (per the instructions) we've since duplicated the effect weekly since. Because Sojos is a highly concentrated, organic, catnip, the makers suggest not to overexposure your cat, or they can become desensitized. The generous sized tin will last as quite a while, and the small flaksed are perfect to sprinkle on cat furniture or even 'soak' small toys in. I've found many of the smaller, mouse size, toys will effectively soak up the catnip fragrance overnight.

In all, we've loved our Best friends Box experience, though I find myself questioning the $45/box monthly subscription for felines. Having already 'peeked' at the canine version, I can wholeheartedly support the cost for dogs, but feel this collection would have been better priced at $35. Mind you, delivery IS included in your subscription price, and you can stop or start a subscription at any time. I simply cannot see many cat owners investing $45 a month- though the commitment to Natural based products (from many small, hidden gem companies) does make a solid argument for the cost. My suggestion? I'd like to see a larger box offered for a quarterly subscription- perhaps at $49 a month, and breed (size) specific option for the canines. Best Friend Boxes also donates 10% of proceeds towards animals in need, so you can really feel good about paying a little extra for the hand-picked, to your door, luxury service.

In all, I'm very excited about eh prospects for this new Pet Subscription Service and look forward to seeing the company grow, and featuring the canine box, here, next month!

One Time Out For Truffles follower will win a 3 Month Subscription to Best Friend Boxes, for their Canine or Feline friend!
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Tuesday, June 26, 2012

I Thought I'd Never Own A Cat Tree

I've lived with pets for most of my life, and I've cared for many of my own four legged friends; but, if you'd asked me a few years back if I'd ever own a 'cat tree' the answer would have been a certain 'No'.

Pet furniture, much like Shag Carpeting and Corn Cob Curtains, holds certain stigmas many design forward individuals tend to turn their upper lip at. Placing a giant pole of carpet in one's main living area, specifically to be torn up, is a hard concept for many. However, much like children, it is hard for any true pet owner to conceal just how much of their lives those pets dominate. Walk into their home and you will see Nylabones and Cat Grass, half chewed old sneakers, and couch cushions lovingly coated in cat fur.

Of course, owning and loving a pet doesn't have to mean surrendering your sense of style or a clean and tidy home- but (just like the hubby's once-used Bowflex) their property belongs just as much, because you love them.

Last month I reviewed the eco-friendly, modern chic, PetFusion Cat Lounger to rave reviews. I loved that it was lightweight and how it's elliptical design made it passable for stylish decor. When we recently moved into our own new home the amount of pet accessible space tripled. And, with thoughts of our upcoming canine adoption (stay tuned!), I wanted to provide a space the cats could retreat too without fear of personal invasion. Truffles, in particular, is territorial and loves to climb or hide in small cubbies. Already in a new, strange to her, environment, I felt as though it was time to compromise. And so I set out, online, for a little less traditional piece of cat furniture.

As it turns out, I've found, you can actually choose from a much wider selection, and read really helpful reviews, ordering cat furniture online! I was shocked by how reasonable shipping was through Amazon (and there were many options for FREE 2 Day shipping with my Prime Membership). I would have never thought to buy a piece of pet furniture online like this, but it has truly turned out great. Not only did we get a fashionable Leopard Print tree that fits our space perfectly, but the reviews were spot on about durability and assembly.

Of course Truffles, being as shy as she is, was a little hesitant of the new lounge at first. She'd already decided the plush dining chairs were her new hangout, but we broke her of that habit in a few days. Now she knows she has a safe place, all to her own, where she will not be bothered by anyone- and that makes us both happy!

As Required By the FTC: This post is of my own volition and not in any way endorsed by PetFusion, Amazon, or any other mentioned brands or services. If you'd like to know more about the Cat Tree we chose, just leave a comment!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

We're Back! Training Your Pet For A Feeder Bottle

Well, we're just about moved into our new home, and there's more room for EVERYONE!

We'll be adding a new addition to the family very soon (hopefully next month), and we're quite excited about our new four legged adoption.

In the mean time, I've been crating the kitties at night to keep them out of all the boxes and mischief. Frankie's a 'digger', when it comes to his sandbox. A company was kind enough to send us a solution, in the form of a high walled litter box (NVR Miss, more on that soon)- but it takes up so much space in the crate!

I decided to undertake the task of bottle training Frankie to save some floor space and give him more room at night. The other half was certainly skeptical, but i did some reading and found they even make feeder bottles for larger felines and canines. The whole transition process only took us about 5 days!

It's important to remember to Never leave your animal unattended for any length of time without water, until you are certain they understand the concept of the bottle. I've found that a cage bottle can be purchased for about 1/2 the price when designated for large rodents/rabbits. Purchasing a bottle marketed for cats or large breed dogs can be quite costly and offer no added benefits. For those unfamiliar with feeder bottles, these easily attach to any wire based crate/cage, with a simple hooking loop. the bottle sits in the loop and rests on the cage's bars, itself. The animal then licks a little ball to release a few drops of water; effectively lapping water to drink.

To train Frankie I began by literally bottle feeding him water every time he emerged from the cage. Timing is everything- if your pet is thirsty, they will drink! Simply remove the bottle from the cage hook and gently squeeze above/into the animal's mouth. Be careful not to hold the animal down with any force- you don't want them thinking they are punished. The first few attempts will make a mess, and result in some dribbling- it's water, no big deal. The point here is to begin the association of the water bottle and water. While the animal is caged, approach the cage and gently squeeze the bottle, so drips emerge. You may place a bowl or small dish under the bottle to catch any stray drips. I chose to do this about every hour, or when I passed the cage.

When Frankie finally noticed the association of me and the water coming from the bottle he would rush to the bottle. Unfortunately, at this stage he thought I was making the water come out, and had no interest in attempting on his own. Now I moved on to squeezing for steady stream, which he would drink from. once this behavior emerges you are well on your way! The cat will naturally lick the nozzle/ball, soliciting more water. Simply ease off the squeezing, and enable the cat to continue to drink. you may need to repeat this for a day or two until the cat is visibly seen (or heard) drinking from the bottle without your presence.

Remember to Never leave your cat without a water source unsupervised until you are certain they understand the bottle process. I have also read that food motivated cats can be taught this process with the aid of some tuna water or peanut butter on the nozzle itself. Good luck!