Product Review

PRODUCT REVIEW: GLITTER CAT LITTER

I don’t know about you, but I’m hooked on all those gold hunting shows on TV, like “Ice Cold Gold,” “Bearing Sea Gold,” “Gold Rush,” even non-gold, treasure hunting shows like “Prospectors” and “Gem Hunt.” If I didn’t have preternaturally pale skin that keeps me indoors or an aversion to getting dirty, I’d be out there with the rest of the hunters trying to strike it rich.

One of the benefits of writing a cat-blog is that I get notified of new cat-centric products before they hit the marketplace. It’s a lot of fun, but not very lucrative—that is, until now.

There’s a new cat litter about to hit store shelves and I could just KICK MYSELF for not coming up with the idea first. It’s the only litter I’ve EVER used that makes me look forward to scooping the litter pan every day-heck many TIMES a day!

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It’s called Glitter®

Glitter is the brain child of Ima and Walter Jester, a cat-loving mom of 6 cats and her husband, who retired from a major corporation where he was Director of Development of brand of cat litter (I’m not allowed to say which one, other than it rhymes with Hidey Hat). Walter, happy to be away from the clumping game, planned on spending his “golden years” (pardon the pun) as a gold prospector in the famous Klondike region of Alaska, which is famous are for producing gold.

Shortly after the Jesters moved to Alaska, Ima suffered a near fatal wolverine attack (She tells me this never would have happened if she’d only had a lanyard for her eyeglasses! She then would have had her glasses and been able to distinguish the beast from her beloved cat, Orlando, but she'd left her glasses by a cup of tea on the kitchen table when she heard a ruckus outside.). Her buttocks and back legs were so badly injured it made it painful for her to squat down and scoop her cat’s 6 litter pans. The job fell into the capable hands of her husband, but after 36 years of testing, smelling and re-engineering cat litter he was loathe to touch the stuff ever again.

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But the couple loved their cats and in that devotion was also the solution. Ima played a prank on Walter. She snatched a small gold nugget from her husband’s stash and dropped it into the cat litter bag and shook up the contents. The market value on it was almost $500.00 so she knew it was a big risk if it would be lost.

The following day, Walter refreshed the litter pans with new litter after he begrudgingly scooped each soiled pan. The cats immediately used the pans, as they so often do and of course big boy Orlando, as he so often does, dropped a big “Stink Bomb” into the pan Walter had just cleaned. Vexxed, Walter knelt down to scoop the pan again. As he lifted the feces, something caught his eye. Could it be? No. There was NO WAY it could be a gold nugget..in the dirty litter next to the feces? Walter jumped up to call his wife, breathless with excitement about his discovery.

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Ima, who had been quietly observing pretended to be shocked. Her prank was a success, but how could she afford to keep the prank going?

Unable to keep a straight face, Ima finally admitted what she did. Walter was angry at first, but then she noticed a particular gleam in his eye—a twinkle of mischief laced with discovery. She asked him what was going on and he replied, “You know honey, that was the best prank ever, because now I think you’ve just figured out a way to make us millionaires!”

What Walter had realized in that moment was that everyone needed a reason to scoop the litter pan, so why not make it EXCITING? What if you knew that one day you’d scoop the pan and you’d actually find a treasure instead of a turd? Something priceless instead of piss? An idea was born.

Of course it would be easy to place a nugget or two into boxess of litter, BUT the costs would be outrageous. Being a prospector, Walter knew that to keep costs down he could add gold dust to the litter, which would not only make it tougher to rip open a box and steal directly, but it would also make it more FUN to get the gold out of the box. Being familiar with marketing also meant that Walter could create what are called “line extensions”…meaning more products that could be purchased in addition to the litter so the company would make even MORE PROFITS!

Walter contacted his old employer and asked for a meeting. Let’s just say it must have gone well because Glitter was born.

Here’s how Glitter™ works

Glitter is infused with minute particles of gold. Each box can contain between one (troy) ounce to only a trace of gold, depending on the box and your own luck, so there’s a bit of gambling involved in this purchase, too. The boxes are only sold at fine jewelers and are only in a 7 lb size so if you have a multiple cat household as I do, you'll have to get a lot of boxes. The cost, I hope you’re sitting down, is $174.99 a box, BUT you COULD make up to the market rate of gold, which last checked was $1285.00 per oz.

But how do you get the gold out of the litter?

If you watched any of those gold hunting TV shows then you know the answer-you have to get a Litter-Sluice™. Just like prospecting gold in Alaska, you have to run the litter through a sluice, which by definition is an artificial channel for conducting water, often fitted with a gate (sluice gate) at the upper end for regulating the flow. The water flows over the litter and the heavier particles settle into a mesh which is later panned to uncover any gold particles or nuggets.

What’s cool is that the litter doesn’t clump very well so it doesn’t choke up the sluice AND once it’s already wet with cat urine, it falls completely apart, so really you’re only washing wet litter and feces and hoping the gold dust separates out from the granules.

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Unfortunately, I was not able to get a Litter-Sluice™ due to low supply so I can only show what a gold mining sluice looks like. For my review that meant I had to pan each litter pan full of waste, which I have to say was a bit messier than I would have liked, especially if there was a lot of feces in the pan, but the excitement about finding gold kept me motivated.

Glitter has an earthy scent and is chunkier than the cats might like. Some of the cats wouldn’t use it, but it was so much fun to hunt for the gold, I didn’t care. I even ended up panning a few boxes that I didn’t let the cats use! I never thought I’d get gold fever from litter, but by God I did.

Glitter is truly amazing. I love to hunt for “color” in the pan each morning, though most of the time the only color I see is brown.

It makes scooping litter a financial risk, but it’s not without reward. Supposedly every 1 millionth box will have at least 1 or 2 pea-sized or bigger nuggets, along with the gold dust, so I have been investing in boxes of Glitter and have a nice stockpile going. I can’t pay my bills but the hope is that I will luck out and find gold in them thar boxes and be able to retire to the life of leisure I am so accustomed to.

Due to the cost of this litter I am unable to do a giveaway! Sorry! If you’d like to know more about where you can get Glitter™ and enjoy 24K fun scooping your litter pan or how you get a coupon to save $2.00 on a box of Glitter simply visit: www.areyoukiddingme_aprilfools.com

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The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee: Book Review, Interview & Giveaway

Author Laurie Cinotto’s book, “The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee,” based on her award-winning blog of the same name, is not only a colorful pictorial history sharing oodles of adorable images of the many kittens she’s fostered, but it’s also a guide to help young readers (ages Grade 3 to Grade 6) learn how to care for their own cats.

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IBKC is beautifully laid out. As a Graphic Designer, I especially appreciate the lovely typography and design of the book. It’s an easy read for an adult, as would be expected, but I still found myself getting carried away as each story reminded me of many of the cats I've fostered over the years. It's impossible to read this book without having a smile on your face.

There are also special sections highlighting different aspects of kitten care, without going into too much detail for a child to absorb. The photos are real show-stoppers, making it difficult to choose a favorite—probably like picking a favorite kitten from a litter, you just can’t do it.

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I shared an advance copy of the book with Hanna, an 8-yr old whose family had just adopted their first cats from my rescue, Kitten Associates. Although she was a bit too young to understand the information completely, she was delighted and giggled at some of the photos. Her father helped her go through the book and was thrilled to have something on hand that he could refer to to help Hanna understand the basics of kitten care. He mentioned he planned on reading the book to Hanna as part of their bedtime ritual and that she would be taking it to “sharing day” at school.

Based on Hanna’s reaction to IBKC it was clear that shelters and rescues could also benefit from selling copies of this book to new adopters with young kids.

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I had the good fortune to be able to ask Ms. Cinotto a few questions about her book and about life as a foster mom:

CiCH: What was your inspiration to begin fostering kittens and did you foster for more than one place before you found a good fit?

LC: We moved into a new neighborhood and met our neighbors, Kim and Sarah, who were fostering our now permanent resident cat, Charlene Butterbean. Prior to that, I didn’t even know that foster programs for animals existed. We got see a few litters come and go at their house, and eventually we decided to try our hand at it too.

CICH: What do you tell people who ask you: "how you can let those foster kittens go? Doesn't it break your heart? Do you want to keep them all?"

LC: It is hard to say goodbye, but that’s just part of the process. It has gotten a little bit easier over the years, but still, it’s never easy and sometimes there are tears.

We’ve been lucky to find some really amazing families to adopt our kittens, and knowing the kittens are going to be loved and well cared for by these fine folks, makes it all bearable.

There are been a few extra-special ones that we could have easily kept, but we just can’t do that. We need to keep our cat population at a reasonable number if we want to continue to foster.

CICH: I see it says your book is for middle grade readers. Would you also suggest it for younger kids or adults? If so, why? Why did you choose this level of reader? Was that on purpose?

LC: I think it’s appropriate for kitten lovers of all ages! I’ve shared it with adults and young children too, and they all seem to enjoy it. It’s packed with lots of photos of adorable kittens, which works for any age group!

I had many conversations with my editor about what this book could be. We knew it would be for kids – Roaring Brook Press publishes children’s books – but it took some time before the full idea took shape. Once it did, we decided on what the age of the audience should be and tailored the content for that.

CICH: Do you mostly take on whatever fosters your shelter gives you or do you find kittens who need help?

LC: Once our kittens leave our nest, I’ll let the shelter know that we’re ready to receive more, and they let us know who is available. Sometimes we get kittens that need a little more help than others – they have medical issues, or need help transitioning from bottle to solid food. Sometimes they need help with socialization.. Sometimes they just need a little bit of time to get bigger.

We’re happy to take on whatever or whomever they send our way. Each batch is different when they arrive, but all leave happy, healthy, social and trusting.

CICH: Do you often face having to medicate sick or injured cats? Were any of them remarkable in how much care they needed? Perhaps more so than you could include in a book for kids? Can you give an example of one or two of those kitties?

LC: With each litter, there’s usually a medical issue or two to deal with. We’ve seen a lot of diarrhea, vomiting, fleas, ear mites and upper-respiratory infections. We’ve had to give many rounds of antibiotics and lots of sub q fluids over the years.

The transition from wherever they were before, to the shelter, and then to our home can be stressful on their little bodies. We are fortunate to have great vet staff at our shelter to guide us through any issues we have.

The biggest challenge we have ever faced was with the last litter we fostered. One of the kittens, Filbert, came to us with the Panleukopenia virus, which sadly took his life. It’s a highly contagious, so after his passing, we were quite worried it would take his sisters down too. They survived, thank goodness, but later we discovered that his sister Wylla had a condition called Megaesophagus. With this condition, she didn’t have the muscle tone in her esophagus to push food into her stomach, and she regurgitated nearly everything she ate. It took many trips to the vet to diagnose her condition, and a lot of work to learn to manage it.

Eventually, we decided we would keep her. After all we went through with Wylla, we just couldn’t say goodbye.

CICH: How did you get your book idea sold? Did the publishers come to you or did you have an agent?

LC: My editor had been following the blog, and when I mentioned on Twitter that I had dreams of publishing a book, she contacted me.

CICH: What is the one thing you hope results from kids reading your book?

LC: I hope it makes them happy. This parade of kittens that has passed through our home has brought a tremendous amount of joy into our lives. I want others to experience that same joy.

I also hope they’ll take a way some good practical information and become responsible and respectful pet owners.

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If you’d like to win a copy of The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee simply leave a comment in this post to enter and make sure you LIKE our Facebook Page

ONE entry will be CHOSEN AT RANDOM to WIN. You may only leave ONE comment for ONE CHANCE to win per person. This Giveaway ends Wednesday, MARCH 26, 2014 at 11:11 PM EST and is open to residents of the USA, only (sorry guys!). Rules, quantities and whatever else I forgot are subject to change without notice. WINNER will be notified via email. If you do not respond within 48hrs another winner will be chosen.

UPDATE: Due to the great response to this post I will be awarding a book to TWO LUCKY WINNERS-NOT ONE!

The Itty Bitty Kitty Committee is available for purchase for $12.99 (list price) for a softcover version or less for Kindle and other e-readers at Amazon and other outlets.

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The David of Air Naturalizing Takes on the Goliath of Stank. CritterZone Review & Giveaway.

I learned about CritterZone, the air naturalizer about a year ago. I’d heard good things about it and wanted to give it a try. Frankly, I was sure it wouldn’t work. It’s TINY! Who can believe a little doohickey like that could clean the smell out of a small space, let alone a room? With much trepidation I took on the task of testing out two units because baby, I have a lot of foul odor issues in my house and one wouldn’t cover it.

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Running my cat rescue, Kitten Associates, and using my home as the main foster location can be a lot of fun. I get to play with the kittens, watch them grow, enjoy their warm purring bodies fall asleep in my lap, but the one thing a lot of folks don’t know is very young kittens, often with parasite-laden bellies, produce a special sort of foul-smelling stool that the U.S. Government should use as a toxic agent in chemical warfare. Yes. It smells THAT BAD and on top of it, the smell isn’t from ONE kitten, it’s usually from FOUR OR MORE. Combine that smell with what their moms unload, (who have eaten God knows what before they come to us and got good food) and it's a nose-hair-melting blast.


©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Does this happen in your house? If ONLY I had a CritterZone running when I shot this video!

Although I scoop the litter pan MANY times a day and refresh the litter often, it does no good. In the winter, I can’t open the windows and the door to the foster room is kept closed, so smells are pretty much sealed in. I can’t use a candle or plug-in cover up because a) they don’t work and b) I don’t want chemicals in a room with 4-week old kittens who would inhale the fumes. It’s too dangerous.

The added problem is that we have people coming over all the time to meet the kittens and they can’t be grossed out by the smell or we’d lose out on adoptions. I was growing tired of making excuses to adopters about forgiving me for the smelly room, but I was not sure what I could do about it.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Buttercup checks out the CritterZone.

Enter CritterZone. I plugged it in, set it on high, and left the foster room for an hour. I returned to the room and the smell was GONE. I thought I lost my mind or that my sense of smell had been destroyed by smelling one too many cat “bombs.” I asked our visitors (they had kids who have an even more sensitive sense of smell) about the odor in the room and they could not detect anything other than a fresh scent. This is in addition to the fact that I knew one of the kittens had recently used the pan for “evil”.

I could have stopped my test there, but this is not a mamby-pamby review. I told you I have stink-issues, so the test continued.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Our foster kittens can be friends with the CritterZone because it doesn't use harmful chemicals.

I have 9 cats who occasionally urinate beyond the confines of their litter pan in places that break my heart. I’ve had little resource in how to get rid of the smell even though I’ve used a lake full of odor “removers.” Some do an okay job, but when Pee-Tunia peed on the sofa, that was it. It was a first and I wanted it to be a last, but the only way to stop the others from peeing in the same place was to get the smell OUT.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Can you see the crystals? This shows the unit really did the job, but it also means it needs to be cleaned. (photobomb by Fluff Daddy).

I read that I could place the Critterzone face down directly onto the soiled area. It wouldn’t clean the stain, but it would remove the smell. In my case, it would take a long time because there was a large area involved. I’d have to place the unit at one end of the stain, then move it every 45 minutes along the length of the stain. If the area dried, I had to re-wet it with water. I did spray the area and the fabric was stained (my fault), but the smell started to go away. I could even hear the unit sizzle when it was first placed on the soiled area. It took a good day, but by the end of it, I carefully sniffed the cushion and the smell was gone. The unit, however, had grown small white salt-like crystals on it which meant it had done its job and it needed to be cleaned. I found easy directions on how to do that on the CritterZone web site.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. I'm sure the folks at CritterZone are not happy to see this. You're SUPPOSED to clean the unit every two weeks. Oops. I didn't. My bad..but heck, it's STILL WORKING (and now clean).

The good news is that it only takes a few minutes to clean the unit. I do NOT have to buy filters, which always ends up being a pain in the neck. There are NO mystery chemicals to add to get it to do its magic. CritterZone provides indoor air with the natural charge it needs to virtually eliminate odors, allergens, dust and bacteria in an area up to 800 sq ft.

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©2014 Robin A.F. Olson. Time for a clean up! The cover comes off easily for cleaning.

There have been a lot of reviews of CritterZone and many tests, but I doubt anyone has put the CritterZone into their car and hauled 15, 30-gallon bags of garbage including lots of bags of soiled cat litter across town to the local dump.

This winter was so bad, we didn’t have garbage pick up for MONTH, so we had to move our own garbage by car. This was definitely something I did not EVER want to do...be trapped in a car with the stench of rotting food and cat excrement even for a few minutes. It was too cold here in Connecticut to open the car windows during our trip, but I figured that’s what we’d have to do. I feared this sort of smell was going to “stick” in my nose for hours after exposure, too.

I hooked up the CritterZone and placed it between my partner Sam and I as he drove us to the dump. As the heat kicked in and the car warmed, I expected to get knocked over by the smell of the garbage. I heard the unit buzzing away, cleaning the air. I expected to smell something terrible, but in fact there was no bad smell.

That's when I knew without a doubt, CritterZone is your first line of defense in preventing stench-offense.

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The only caveat I will add is that I had mild respiratory irritation, which I discovered when I left the unit on overnight in the foster room. It had cleaned the air, but since I left it running after it had done its job was when it caused the issue. I wanted to sleep with the kittens, but not have the smell of a litter box visit wake me up. Turning off the unit stopped the irritation. Because it works so well I only run it from time to time. You may have a completely different experience with how long or under what circumstances you should turn off the unit. I did a test, leaving a unit running 24/7 in a room that was open to the rest of the house and it worked really well and I had no issues.

CritterZone can also help folks with ALLERGIES, too! I just fret about stinky air, but if you have the sniffles you might want to try a CritterZone for that as well. Here’s more information about their technology and the MANY WAYS it can help make your life better.

CritterZones come as a wall mounted unit for near the litter pan or other locations that need naturalization or a corded unit with an optional adapter (you can purchase separately or it comes with their Travel Pack) for your car for added flexibility.

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Thanks to Mary at CritterZone I can do a giveaway of ONE CritterZone (a $99.00 value) to a VERY LUCKY reader. For everyone else, I can offer a Coupon Code so you can SAVE $10.00 on as many units as you want. USE the Code: CICH

To purchase a CritterZone, simply visit their web site http://www.critterzoneusa.com/ Products

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If you'd like to WIN a CritterZone, simply leave a comment in this post to enter. Tell us about your worst stench and why you need help. Make it funny, creative, compelling-whatever you think you need to say to convince me that you should WIN!

Best entry as Judged by me, Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, will win ONE CritterZone. You may only leave ONE comment for ONE CHANCE to win per person. This Giveaway ends Friday, MARCH 14, 2014 at 11:11 PM EST and is open to residents of the USA, only (sorry guys!). Rules, quantities and whatever else I forgot are subject to change without notice.

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After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.

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REVIEW: A Street Cat Named Bob

In any big city as you walk down the street, you might come across a street performer playing music with an open guitar case next to him displaying a small collection of spare change scattered inside it. You might walk hurriedly past the person, feeling uncomfortable to connect with a stranger, or, if the music is just right, you may become his audience, if only for a few moments. Before you part, you fish out a few coins or notes to offer him for his time, leaving it behind in the case.

James Bowen’s International Bestseller; “A Street Cat Named Bob & How He Saved My Life” chronicles his life and the divine meeting of the self-described recovering heroin addict and “busker” (in the USA we would call him a street performer) and a very special orange tabby cat he later named, Bob.

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You can’t read a book about someone else’s life without comparing it to your own. In reading Bowen’s words, I was caught up in challenges of his life lived on the streets, to transitional housing in London, which allowed him to continue treatment for his addiction. Where one night his fate would be forever changed by meeting an injured Tom cat who was sitting outside the door of an apartment in his building. In the same way the busy London crowds might ignore a busker, Bowen could have chosen to walk past the cat and not get involved.

In fact, during Bowen’s first weeks with Bob, he often gave the cat chances to leave since Bowen could barely afford to feed himself, let alone provide vet care for an injured cat. Where this story takes a surprising turn is that regardless of how much Bowen protests or questions what he's doing with this cat, the cat, however has clearly made up his mind about what he wants. This cat is like no other. Instead of being fearful, he saunters along with Bowen down crowded streets, even following Bowen onto a bus. He keeps Bowen company as Bowen plays guitar in a public garden, hoping to earn enough money to get to the next day. With his new furry partner at his side, crowds begin to form around the curious duo and the contents of the guitar case show surprising results .

 

The lesson that was clear to me is that in getting involved with Bob, Bowen’s life opened up in ways he NEVER could have imagined. What’s true for his relationship with his cat is also true in our daily lives. It’s a reminder that we need to stay open to each other whether it be a stray cat in your yard, a stranger on the street or your neighbor. We need to be willing to take a chance and get involved-to be of assistance to each other without a thought about “what’s in it for me?”

 

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Photo courtesy of James Bowen & Street Cat Bob's Facebook Page

A Street Cat Named Bob is a quick read, especially if you speed-read the scary parts where a few worriesome things happens to Bob and Bowen (I won’t spoil it here) and you can’t stand waiting to get to the part where you hope they’re okay again. I found myself rooting for the two of them to see what was becoming clear-that they belonged together.

While the prose is a bit awkward and those of us in the USA might need to translate some of the terms (like moggie=cat), it’s an honest telling of the story. Bowen, himself, is not from a polished private school background built around decades of studying literature. I wouldn't believe the story if it was better written and it would have lost some of its charm. His voice rings clear, even though he did have some help from writer Garry Jenkins to structure the tale just right.

I had the opportunity to ask James a few questions about how he’s doing now and how he feels about his book becoming an International Bestseller and this is what he had to say:____

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Photo courtesy of James Bowen & Street Cat Bob's Facebook Page

Nothing…I tried in vain to get answers to a handful of questions. I spoke with Mr. Bowen's Publicist via email a number of times. After two months I've given up that any of my questions will ever be answered. Though I'm definitely not thrilled to share this news with you, it does not diminish what I think about Mr. Bowen's book.

Considering we're about to hit a holiday here in the USA where we should remember to be thankful, A Street Cat Named Bob is the sort of story that reminds us to be grateful for what we have when so many aren't as fortunate. As for Mr. Bowen, his life is changing in ways he never could have imagined and with Bob by his side the future is looking bright.

A Streetcat Named Bob is available for purchase HERE.

UPDATE: LEAVE A COMMENT TO WIN YOUR VERY OWN COPY OF  A Street
Cat Named Bob! Winner chosen at random 11/27/13 at 6PM EST. USA Residents only.

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Lil Bub's Lil Book Review

What is it about a cat that would make you drive over 200 miles just so you could be in her company for a few minutes? Yesterday afternoon, I couldn't begin to answer that question. I'd been going through a wave of very deep depression and felt pretty much hopeless. Mentally, I felt impaired from feeling like a failure. While I was surfing around online, I read that the feline-phenom, Lil Bub and her “Dude” Mike Bridavsky were going to be attending a book signing for Bub's first book; Lil Bub's Lil Book. The Extraordinary Life of the Most Amazing Cat on the Planet. It meant a long drive to New Jersey later that day. I was tired of feeling lousy, so I decided I had to make the trip. Maybe getting away from home would help soothe my tangled nerves?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

As many of your know, Bub was rescued after she was born outside, the runt of the litter, to a feral mama. Bub had many severe physical deformities including dwarfism (she only weighs four pounds), a shortened lower jaw that leaves her tongue hanging out and her teeth never erupted (which ends up being a blessing since those teeth surely would have caused her a lot of mouth pain). Bub wasn't expected to live beyond a few months, but when her daddy, Mike Bridavsky met her, it was "lub" at first sight and perhaps, in that moment that bond gave Bub the will to survive.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Grateful that my tongue doesn't stick out all the time like Bub's does because this is something that maybe should not be seen on the internet. Oops.

Bridavsky was at a low point in his life when he met Bub. Inasmuch as he saved her life, she's now saving his. She's become an internet sensation and media darling, with millions of fans. She stars in an internet talk show called Lil Bub's Big Show. The episodes are set to air every Tuesday on Vice Media and the first episode has already aired. It features Whoopi Goldberg, but the star of the show is the script Bridavsky wrote. It's clear he has a talent for giving Bub a voice that is both endearing and completely charming without being overly saccharine. Bub's interview with Ms. Goldberg will leave you glowing with joy.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bub and “Dude,” Mike Bridavsky.

Bub's been very busy. She has her own movie titled “Lil Bub & Friendz”. It's available to view in four parts on Vice. Part one (all I've seen so far) is a documentary on Bub's life, but also includes an interesting discussion on just why cats are such a huge part of the internet. Some clips include interviews with the likes of Ben Huh, creator of I canhascheezburger, NYAN Cat, Keyboard Cat, Grumpy Cat and more. It's very well done and I admit, the scenes with Bub really tugged at my heartstrings. What IS IT ABOUT THIS CAT that's so appealing beyond the realm of normal?

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stubby legs with extra white toes, Bub may be the most curiously constructed cat ever.

My intentions were to buy Bub's book, get it signed, say hello, go home. On a lark, I worked up the nerve to ask for Press access to Bub, hoping that coveredincathair.com would be enough credentials to get me in the door. The owner of Book-Ends, where the signing was held, took my business card and disappeared into a back room. Thirty seconds later he came out and held up his hand, spreading his fingers apart. “Five minutes. You have five minutes.”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Buy a Bunch of Bub's Books.

“Right now?!”

I was ushered into a small office behind the front desk with no time to clear my mind, prepare some questions, focus my camera. It wouldn't have mattered how prepared I was because as I turned the corner, my mind went blank. Before me was Bub sitting on a knitted mat on a folding table, with her “Dude,” Mike by her side. It caught me off guard and I felt a lump of emotion rise in my throat. Was I going to burst into tears? Why did I feel like I was meeting a major rock star or the President? It was a CAT! How many cats have I met in my days? Probably thousands by now. Yet meeting Bub was transformative.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Thank you for giving my blog your paw of approval, Bub.

I said hello to Mike, not wanting to be completely rude, but later I realized I forgot to say my name! I told him I wrote a blog about cats. I gave him my card and he put it right next to Bub, thinking I could take a photo of her with my card. Oh dear…then I realized that of course everyone would want to hitch their trailer to this rising star. Mike was dutifully doing what was expected, except that I didn't have any interest in plugging my own work when I was trying to be respectful of his situation. This was his cat, her success. I was just documenting my visit so I moved the card out of the way.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. BUB!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I thought about this a lot last night while I was struggling to fall asleep. Bub is providing her Dude with a living. I'm sure advertisers are knocking at the door. Fans are lining up around the block. Everyone wants something from both of them, but it's Bridavsky's job to find a balance between leveraging the spotlight on Bub without it causing her harm. I got the sense that if he could be doing anything it would be to get away from all these crowds and be back home with Bub. I didn't get the sense that Bridavsky's ego was involved, nor did I get the sense he's out to make a buck off his curious cat. There's still an honesty there. He has to make a living, everyone does, and he's surrounded himself with a team of friends, not internet marketing geniuses, to create the Bub dynasty. There aren't handlers and crowds of publicists. It's still Mike and Bub sitting very quietly in an office, having a chat with a strange lady with crazy hair who seems to have forgotten how to use her camera and speak the English language.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. My anointment into the Bub clan.

I was cautious about approaching Bub and immediately whispered when I addressed her Dude, Mike. He told me it was okay to speak at a normal volume, but that she didn't like the noise level in crowds. I still kept my tone soft and I got down so I could be at eye level with Bub. I asked if I could touch her and Mike said it was okay. I offered my hand to sniff, which she did, but she didn't react like other cats. I couldn't tell if she was giving me the okay or not so I gave her a gentle pet, then as I do with my own cats, I tipped my head to her so she could sniff me better. As she sniffed me I could hear her raspy breathing. It felt like I was being blessed by a scared creature. I struggled with wanting to pet her, but not bother her, out of respect for her well being. She must be handled so much that I just couldn't treat her like that. I knew there were a lot of people waiting to see her at the signing and I felt my cat-rescuer code calling me to to protect her more than I wanted something for myself.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Lub Bub!

I took as many photos as I could, then forgot my camera in the office. I left Mike and Bub feeling completely transformed, but frustrated that I didn't get to ask half the questions I'd wanted to and wishing it could have lasted a few minutes longer. I was energized, vibrating. Why was I so happy?

I sat down with my friend, Irene to look at Bub's book. It's a colorful, whimsical, wondrous piece of art containing hundreds of color photos of Bub with a tapestry of words that weaves a magical tale of Bub's past. In it she declares that she's actually not from planet Earth, but from another planet far away. Bub crash landed here when she was looking for fishes, but now that she's met “Dude” she's here to stay. Bub is featured in imaginative sets, much like her TV Show and Film, but because this book is something you can hold in your hands and hold dear to your heart, it makes it more precious. Captured on film are the many faces of Bub. In some of the photos she's featured in hokey sets with mutant-sized props. I loved it. It left me wanting more. I couldn't stop thinking about this tiny creature on the glossy pages, with her owly eyes and tongue hanging out. She doesn't do amazing tricks. In fact, walking around is difficult for her, but lately she has gotten a bit stronger. It almost doesn't matter what sets she's in, because Bub is cuter than cute and becomes more irresistible with each turn of the page. She shares her book with some friends like Colonel Meow, but what stands out are the words. There's a tenderness and affection in the story that Bridavsky penned. I'm sure not only would adults love this book, but every kid, too. Bub's magical powers effect us all and I could read this book over and over and always reach the end with a smile on my face and a warm puddle in my heart.

 


©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Bub's arrival!

 

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Mike is constantly checking on Bub to make sure she's comfortable-a true doting dad.

It would be easy to take a lot of cute photos of Bub and leave it at that, but this book has soul and is filled with love, which is expressed throughout as well as in some of the images of fan art the book also includes.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I'm sure there are a lot of ladies looking at this cute gu,y who loves his cat, who are writing marriage proposals as we speak.

 

The title of this book suggests that Bub is the most amazing cat on the planet and even though I think my own cats should give her a run for the money, they can't. Bub is in a class all by herself. She truly does rank as being quite extraordinary and truly amazing. Being in her presence is a gift I will always cherish.

 

Bub and her Dude are a talented team, but they don't flaunt it. There's a great sense of generosity that goes hand in hand with their fame. They use their super-powers for good by reminding their fans to adopt from shelters, and more importantly, to not overlook special needs cats. And as someone who runs a cat rescue, part of whose mission is to encourage spay/neuter legislation, Bub is there, encouraging everyone to make sure their own cats are taken care of, too.

 

In Bridavsky's own words, Good job, Bub. Good job.

 

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. I lub Bub.

 

Lil Bub's Lil Book is available TODAY via her web site or the following resellers: amazon.com barnes&noble, indie bound and more.

 

PRODUCT REVIEW and MYSTERY: The Case of the Neko Flies String

Your cats are bored. They get into fights. They bite your ankles or the just lay around with a glazed look in their eyes. They're little hunters with nothing to hunt (unless you let them outside, but please don't do that!). Can you imagine not having an outlet for your deepest desires? To be crass, that would really stink.

I try to have play time with my cats every night, but getting them to chase after a toy can be daunting because my cats are either 2 years old or 12 years old or older. What would I use that appeals to all of them?

Some cats are “air hunters” while others prefer to stalk prey at the ground level, so I'd need a toy that works well dragged on the floor, mimicking the movements of a bug, and something I could gently whip back and forth to get my air hunters to jump.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stan is the consummate high-flyer when Neko Flies are around.

Usually I've solved this problem by having more than one toy in my arsenal. I still believe that you should offer options for your cats, from small balls to faux mice and catnip laden toys. That said, I can only hold so many toys in my hand at one time and I needed something that covered all the bases. At last I've found a series of interactive toys that gets cats off their big behinds and turns the lights back on in their eyes. I give you, Neko Flies!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Jellybean Mel inspects mysterious package.

Unlike many wand toys I've used in the past, Neko Flies feel well made. Their clear plastic rod has a comfortable rubber grip. At the opposite end of the grip is a clip with a charming braided green and black cord that's attached to a variety of “Lures” that resemble and move like real bugs or mice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey grabs her Kattiepede.

Ellen, the creator of Neko Flies, underscored the importance of creating unique, carefully crafted (some elements are done by hand) toys that are as safe as possible for cats. She told me they constantly look for ways to improve their product, from finding ways to use less glue (they already only use a few drops), to finding thicker material for the wings of their Kragonfly cat toy as well as for better ways to anchor the loop into the toy so it doesn't pull free when cats tug on it. Ellen seems almost obsessed with designing toys that truly appeal to cats and are not just a collection of feathers glued to a string or that utilize materials that are so cheap they fall apart after one use.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. What IS this?!

It was tempting to write the world's shortest review by stating: I LOVE NEKO FLIES. Rather, my CATS love Neko Flies.

But then something happened…

One of the cats bit the green and black cord, severing one-third off it, along with the Kragonfly. I took the fly away so they wouldn't eat it, thinking I would just trim the end of the cord and reattach the Fly to it. In the meantime, since I was cooking dinner and trying to play with the cats at the same time, I would just have them chase after the string, without the toy attached because they seemed to like it just fine.

Ahhh…hindsight is 20-20 vision, as they say.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Love at first bite.

I'd gotten into the habit of hiding the Neko Flies where the cats couldn't get at it to keep them from destroying it. These toys are SO ENTICING you can't leave them laying around. It's just not safe. Really. If only I had READ THE BOX the Neko Flies came in because I would have seen the WARNING on it. I didn't read the WARNING on their web site, either, which I'm sharing with you here:

Some cats become so enamored and hooked on NEKO FLIES that they have been known to try and get the toy off a shelf by themselves! This is an interactive toy for a human to play with the kitty, so keep your Neko flies tucked safely tucked away in a drawer or closet until you are ready to play with your cat again!

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[Neko Flies Lure is attached to a card with this warning printing on it. See? They told me so!]

“Neko Flies are designed as a toy for you and your cat to play with together. The lures at the end are designed to move in a lifelike way which is a great part of their appeal, even to cats who usually are not interested in toys or playing. However, these toys are not intended to be left with a cat to chew or destroy (as she would actual live prey). Once your cat manages to catch a toy you should praise her and then get her to release it right back to you by offering her a really tasty treat - doing a "bait-and-switch" the way you would with a human toddler or a dog who have gotten something you don't want them to possess. Because the Neko Flies lure toys are so enticing to cats, there is a warning that they should never be left anywhere your cat can get to them without your participation. This is a wand toy, not a chew toy! Neko Flies satisfy your cat's primal instinct to hunt and chase - but it is up to you to then protect the lures from your cat's instinct to "kill!"”

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

I turned my back on my cats to check on dinner. I didn't even leave them alone for more than a minute. I looked back and the green and black cord was one-third the length it had been. Clearly, one of the cats had chewed it off and possibly EATEN IT. In decades of being a cat-mom, this was the first time I ever had to worry that a cat ingested such a large part of a toy.

I searched the living room. I knew the culprits were either my tiny foster cat, Mabel or my big bruiser, the DOOD. I had a bad feeling it was DOOD because he's, well, not the sharpest pencil in the box.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Stanley goes nuts for Neko.

I couldn't find a thing. In a panic, I called Neko Chan, home to Neko Flies. Ellen, herself, called me back right away. We talked about what materials were used in the cord (polyester).I called the ER Vet and told them about what material I believe one of the cats ingested and they suggested I bring both cats down, spend $1500.00 per cat on endoscopy-that was IF they could get an internist to come to work late on a Sunday night. They also told me to get a cat to vomit is some sort of “holy grail” treatment because the chemicals they might use to make them vomit usually kills them.They told me to watch for the cat to become listless, vomit, not eat and if that happened to RUSH them in for EMERGENCY SURGERY because the cord could twist up in the intestines and basically KILL the cat.

OR…it might pass on its own…out the “other” end.

Great.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Petey prepares to pounce.

The next few days were absolute Hell on my nerves. I ripped apart the living room the next day and checked everywhere I could, but no string was found. I hovered over the DOOD and Mabel, but they ate as usual and seemed unaffected. Then I started to worry that maybe it wasn't them, but another cat. I have 9 cats running around! This was going to end badly, I just knew it.

Ellen checked in with me, hopeful I had good news, but there was no sign of the missing string. I thought maybe I was getting Alzheimer's and this was the first sign? I was so paranoid that I carried the remaining section of cord in my purse, in case I had to take one of the cats to the ER so they would know what to look for yet still…nothing.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Gracey and Joey enjoying their new toy..

Six WEEKS passed. I was getting breakfast ready for the kittens and I saw a GREEN ball with pale colored ball next to it on a paper towel on the counter. I asked Sam what it was and he said he found it when he was scooping the litter pan. I looked at it for a moment, then the alarms went off in my head. It was cat excrement with the STRING from the Neko Flies in it!

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Woah. Green Poo (and no ham).

Being the offspring of two scientists, I HAD to get a magnifying glass out and inspect the green stool. We feed our cats a raw diet so their stool is VERY pale, hard and dry. I teased apart the green ball and saw fibers. I put the section of string I had in my purse next to the questionable object and the color matched. Whoever ate the string passed, at least some of it out. Thank God.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Six weeks later, the green string is found.

Although I'll never know if that was ALL of the string, hopefully it was enough so that it won't adversely effect the cat who ate it (most likely the DOOD). I don't know if the raw diet slowed the process down since the cats don't pass much stool or if it helped. All I care about is that my cats are fine and my pocket still has a few bucks in it.

After all this would I still tell you to go out and buy Neko Flies. Absolutely, YES I would! I want you to know about my foolishness so that you truly appreciate the warning from NekoChan. Their toys are so enticing we must be careful in how we use them and our reward for that mindfulness is that our cats will get the exercise they need and have their hunting desire sated. I'm still using the Kattipede today and hope to add more Lures to my collection soon.

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If you'd like your very own Neko Flies: Foxifur Kittenator with Rod, simply leave a comment in this post to enter. Tell me what's the weirdest thing your cat has eaten or just give me a good reason why you should win. Make it funny, entertaining, creative.

Best entry as Judged by me, Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, will win ONE FOXIFUR KITTENATOR with ROD. You may only leave ONE comment for ONE CHANCE to win per person. This Giveaway ends FRIDAY, AUGUST 30, 2013 at 11:11 AM EST and is open to residents of the USA and CANADA (yay Canada!) only (sorry guys outside of those areas!). Rules, quantities and whatever else I forgot are subject to change without notice.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. DOOD.

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After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ (I can only hope there will not be any ER Vet visits!).

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Love Saves the Day

Summer's here; time to kick back, take a break and savor reading a good book. I'm always a fan of quirky summer romance where a crazy-haired, hard-working woman runs into (and sometimes over) the “wrong” guy (who, of course, is the “right guy” by book's end), but this summer I decided to try something different by reading Gwen Cooper's “Love Saves the Day.”

Love Saves…is Ms. Cooper's third novel following “Diary of a South Beach Party Girl” and her New York Times Bestselling book, “Homer’s Odyssey,” the once-in-a-lifetime story of an extraordinary cat and his human companion.

Love Saves the Day, is a different kind of love story, segregated into chapters, each told in the voice of one of three characters: Sarah, her daughter Laura and Prudence, a cat. Initially, I was reluctant to read a book that included something written in a cat's voice. I've long-ago tired of reading cutesy misspelled words supposedly penned by a cat and I feared this would only end up in a lot of eye-rolling on my part.

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From the first page, I was delightfully surprised by the perky and precocious tone of the feline lead. There were no cutesy misspellings. In fact this cat-character was charming, clever and insightful—who, from having had a few conversations with Ms. Cooper reminds me, is not much different than our esteemed author, herself. The world through Prudence's eyes was one I've not imagined before. Ms. Cooper definitely has unique insight into what her cat is thinking and how the world looks from five inches off the ground.

I devoured the story, quickly getting hooked on Prudence's journey because, in part, it reminded me so much of my own. Prudence is a bridge between her cat-guardian Sarah and Sarah's daughter, Laura. The challenging relationship of mother and daughter, the awkward discussions, the misunderstandings, the assumptions that can keep two people who love each other apart. This story is poignant and tender and some times funny, too. Ms. Cooper has a keen sense of what makes relationships tick and why they can so easily take a turn for the worse, even with the best of intentions.

But perhaps, Ms. Cooper's true gift lies in weaving three voices so artfully together, that make us want to turn the page and find out what happens next. Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if Loves Saves the Day (which, by the way, was the name of a VERY cool shop in NYC I used to spend hours in back in the 1980's) was destined for the Big Screen.

This is a grand tale that had me giggling and in tears, too. It's the kind of book you can read again and discover something new and once you reach the last page, it leaves you wanting more. I hope we'll get to read about Prudence again one day, but for now it's good to know a cat can be entertaining and without being saccharine. Save the sweetness for the iced tea you'll enjoy as you read this fine work.

WIN AN AUTOGRAPHED COPY OF LOVE SAVES THE DAY

Thanks to Gwen Cooper being such a generous person, I'm able to offer one reader in the USA or Canada or UK or Australia (I hate leaving out folks outside of the USA so I will pay for the $$$ shipping this one time) an autographed copy of Love Saves the Day. To enter the contest, simply leave a comment below. Say something nice! Or "I want to win" or whatever you like. ONE ENTRY PER PERSON.

ONE ENTRY will be drawn at random and selected to win on Friday, June 28, 2013 at 11:11AM EST.

LEARN MORE & HOW TO PURCHASE COPIES OF LOVE SAVES THE DAY

If you'd like to learn more about Love Saves the Day or to order your own copy, just visit Gwen Cooper's website.

After you've read Love Saves the Day you can join the Facebook Fan Page and talk about it, as well as find out about Ms. Cooper's numerous book signings across the USA.

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Don't forget to VOTE! If you like what we're doing here at Covered in Cat Hair, simply use this LINK every day until June 28th to cast your vote for BEST CAT BLOG, BEST CAUSE BLOG, BEST BLOG WRITING (here's a LINK to a good article or you can choose your favorite) and make sure you add KITTEN ASSOCIATES as your SHELTER NOMINEE! THANK YOU!!!

You DO NOT HAVE TO COMPLETELY FILL OUT THE NOMINATION FORM TO VOTE! Thank you for your support!

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After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

PRODUCT REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: Brawny Cat Sleeky Lounge XL

After careful consideration, from time to time I write product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.

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I admit that I'm a sucker for cat furniture. I take great joy in seeing my cat relaxed on a cat bed or belly up on the top of a cat tree. In my book, you can never have enough comfortable places for your cat to sleep. If you add to that furniture that is made to be ripped into, yet is good looking and well built and you have my full attention.

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One of three color choices of the Brawny Cat Sleeky Lounge XL.

Brawny Cat has a gorgeous product line of handcrafted cat scratch loungers they call their Scratch'n Slumber® Comfort Lounge. The Largest of them is the "Big Baby" Comfort Lounge. You may have seen this one featured on Animal Planet's "My Cat From Hell”, hosted by Jackson Galaxy.

I saw my first Comfort Lounge last year at BlogPaws in Salt Lake City. The model I saw is called the Big Sleeky Comfort Lounge. I was taken aback by the sheer SIZE of the piece and impressed with the gentle bolstered sides and handcrafted wood frame. I admit to lusting after the Lounge because most of my cats are over 10 pounds and physically big. As fate would have it, I WON the Lounge at the show and couldn't wait to get it home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Hand-burnished corrugated for a smooth surface feel.

The price point of $179.00 was more than my budget could handle even though it is worth the cost. In my heart I knew I would load up on these loungers if only the price was more friendly to my multi-cat home.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Very fragrant catnip. Yummy!

Brawny Cat must have been reading my mind because they've recently introduced a new lounger to their line-up of must have loungers—The Sleeky Lounge XL.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. the DOOD gets his scratch on.

The Sleeky Lounge XL is at a much lower price than it's cousins, but it doesn't sacrifice quality to save on costs. The XL's main difference is that it does not have the hand-crafted cedar frame. Instead, the unit is made entirely of laminated corrugated cardboard.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. the DOOD is a HUGE cat and he still has ample room to relax.

When I first lifted the XL out of the box I noticed how HEAVY it was. This is not a cheap scratcher trying to be a piece of furniture. This is furniture that can also be a scratching surface. The XL is not only much longer, at 26", than almost every other cat scratch lounge, it is extremely WIDE! - and at 16" from the front to the back of the XL, it goes way beyond the industry standards of 9 to 10.5".

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Seconds later, Blitzen “urges” the DOOD to give him a chance to enjoy the Sleeky Lounge XL.

I was very impressed. It was clear that the intention was to take the best of the more expensive loungers and rework it into a piece that was affordable, especially for multi-cat homes, and I think they did a great job.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson.

The front and back sides of each lounger have a patina style graphic that comes in in one of three colors: Sleeky Lounge XL in Blue Patina, Sleeky Lounge XL in Lavender Blend and Sleeky Lounge XL in Royal Red. I think the colors will blend with most decor even if the cats don't care what is the color of their lounger.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. You can see Blitzen, at 11 pounds, has more than enough room.

My cats immediately scratched, stretched, laid upside down on the XL. They didn't need the catnip that comes with the lounger to be enticed to use it, but the catnip is VERY GOOD quality. It was fun to watch them rip into the lounger, then clearly enjoy themselves since they had PLENTY of room to roll around. Even my HUGE cat, the DOOD, fit comfortably.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Nicky wants a turn, but Blitzen isn't up for sharing.

After a week, my cats are still enjoying the XL. I would say the only not-so-glowing comment I can make is I need MORE Sleeky Lounge XLs! My cats are constantly knocking each other off the XL so they can have a "turn." With the retail price of $59.95 I could definitely add to the one I have…

…but starting today, Brawny Cat invites us to get rid of our old, inadequate scratcher/loungers and upgrade to the New Sleeky Lounge XL.
Check out Brawny Cat's "Out with the Old - In with the New" Spring Sale!
You can get your kitties their very own Sleeky Lounge XL for just $47.95.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Blitzen admires the smooth finish to the corrugated cardboard.

In conclusion, I find the Brawny Cat Sleekly Lounge XL to be very well built, with smooth, flowing bolsters that all my cats seem very comfortable using. They would probably give this a big paws up based on the way they fight over the XL. The built-in Comfy Back support is a smart addition and adds to my cat's comfort. I am very impressed with the density of the corrugated cardboard. It's tightly compressed and seems to be very long-lasting. If I wanted to encourage my cats to NOT rip up the furniture or the carpeting, I would make sure each cat had their own XL and I'd put it by a sunny window.

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©2013 Robin A.F. Olson. Here's Graice (front) and Petunia (back)-even two cats can snuggle on the XL.

Pop over to Brawny Cat's web site to see more information about the Sleeky Lounge XL and to place your order soon. I don't know how long this offer will last!

NOTE: The only tough part about purchasing the XL is to figure out which color you want!

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If you'd like to WIN a Brawny Cat Sleeky Lounge XL, simply leave a comment in this post to enter. Tell me what your cat is using for slumbering and scratching and why it needs to be upgraded to an XL. Make it funny, entertaining, creative.

Best entry as Judged by me, Robin Olson of Covered in Cat Hair, will win ONE SLEEKY LOUNGE XL in your choice of Royal Red, Lavender Blend or Blue Patina. You may only leave ONE comment for ONE CHANCE to win per person. This Giveaway ends TUESDAY, MARCH 19, 2013 at 11:11 PM EST and is open to residents of the USA, only (sorry guys!). Rules, quantities and whatever else I forgot are subject to change without notice.

Tags Click a link below to find more articles on that topic.

REVIEW & GIVEAWAY: AWKWARD FAMILY PET PHOTOS, the CALENDARS Edition

Last year I reviewed Mike Bender and Doug Chernack's wonderfully warped book, Awkward Family Pet Photos which hit the market on the heels of their New York Times Bestselling book: Awkward Family Photos.

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©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. Pretty in Pink..and blue and purple?

Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Wall Calendar

This year the purveyors of preposterous are back, just in time for the Holidays, sporting a dazzling duo of 2013 Calendars. One is a well designed, colorful, 12-month Wall Calendar whose message, “Celebrating the Special Bond Between People and Their Pets” is achieved in the most twisted and sometimes downright creepy fashion. Each month celebrates a particular species. The year begins with dogs. In April, they celebrate bunnies or animals dressed a bunnies. One month features monkeys but I won't spoil it by telling you which month it is. Can you guess which one it is?

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©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. I hope they get matching cars one day, too.

I'd like to know the criteria Bender and Chernack use to choose their photos. The process must be a delicate one, walking the fine line between photos that make you shudder with delight versus photos that are simply vintage images including pets.

Perhaps they have an inner guidance system that recognizes they're on the right track when scrutinizing a family's precious photos? They might wonder aloud; “Why did they do that to their hair?” or “Did they really wear that sweater with the image of the cat rear ends on it, then send it out as their Holiday card?”

If Bender and Chernack ask themselves “What were they thinking?” I'm guessing it seals the deal and the photo is accepted into their collection.

Clearly the people and pets featured in this calendar never asked themselves these sorts of questions and we are all the richer for it.

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©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. Well said.

The beauty in projects like Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Calendar is that it reminds us that we're not as cool as we think we are. Everyone has a photo (or in my case albums full) tucked in a drawer somewhere they'd rather no one else ever see… and no, I don't mean that kind of photo!

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Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Day-to-Day Calendar

If you can't get enough Awkward Family Pet Photos, then check out the 365 days of screwy-louie-weirdness in their 2013 Day-to-Day Calendar. Each day reveals a new image of the curiously clueless. I love it. Unlike some desk calendars, this one is in full color so you can appreciate the awkwardness even more. The only thing lacking is that it should be in 3-D and come with a pair of glasses. Maybe they'll do that next year?

9781449420475 3d.jpg©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC.

 

If you'd like to WIN a copy of “Awkward Family Pet Photos 2013 Day to Day Calendar” simply leave a comment below and tell us about an awkward moment (with pets). Increase your odds by emailing me an awkward pet photo at info@coveredincathair.com. Share your awkward photo if you dare! ONE comment or photo will be selected to WIN! You can only email me ONE photo for one chance to win OR make ONE COMMENT HERE describing an awkward family photo. Voting ends NOVEMBER 15, 2012 at 11:15 AM EST and is open to residents of the USA, only (sorry guys-licensing issues!). Rules subject to change without notice.

 

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©2012 By Awkward Family, LLC. I want to see the photo that was taken 30 seconds after this one.

Oh, and make sure you check out May 16th if you get a copy of the Day to Day Calendar…I'm just sayin'...

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In honor of Awkward Family Pet Photos, I thought I'd share a special one with you from my archives.

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©1992 Judith K. Feminella. My dad in his underwear reading the Sunday paper---if Blue the cat will let him.

If you want an even bigger Awkward Family Pet Photos fix, visit their Webby Award winning web site HERE or Like them on Facebook and let them know Covered in Cat Hair sent you!

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After careful consideration, from time to time I write a product reviews. If you see it here, it's because, at LEAST I think it's worth you knowing about even if I have an issue with it and, at BEST, I think it's amazing and we should all have one, two or more of whatever it is I'm reviewing. I get NO reimbursement for writing these reviews, though to write a review I am supplied with the item, as I was in this case. This review is MY OPINION, ONLY. The result you experience using this product may differ.

Addicted to Jackson Galaxy: A Review of the book “Cat Daddy”

If fans of Jackson Galaxy, the punk-abilly “Cat Daddy,” who stars in Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell,” weren’t already swooning over his “catuitive” techniques; Galaxy’s first book, “Cat Daddy: What the World’s Most Incorrigible Cat Taught Me About Life, Love and Coming Clean,” would push them into catastic bliss.

His story, which runs a breezy-to-read 300 or so pages, is not your typical tale of how a cat changed a human’s life. It’s a tag team relationship that spans thirteen years—many of which, for Jackson, are overshadowed by his intake of a dizzying array and quantity of illegal drugs, alcohol and prescription medications. And there’s his cat, an owner-surrendered white and gray shorthair with a broken pelvis named Benny who acts as both witness and muse (though more often he plays the part of a Gremlin, flipping off Galaxy’s initially arrogant assessments of his non-human-friendly behaviors).

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. For the first time in his life, Spencer wishes he could read.

I had a chance to speak with Mr. Galaxy a few days before his book hit the store shelves. Ready with my questions, I waited nervously for him to call, wondering if it would matter that due to a snafu, I hadn’t gotten an advance copy of his book to read! As in our previous conversations and sole “4-hours-I’ll-never-forget-dinner,” within 30 seconds of our conversation beginning, I was unable to maintain my professional distance and conduct the 10 minute interview (which somehow went for 30 minutes).

Instead, Jackson clearly wanted to tease me, to charm me and to lay down the law. All fun and games aside, there’s a churning passion in this man’s heart that’s simply electrifying. His book, “Cat Daddy,” serves up his passion on a brilliant platter, but be careful, there’s a Petri dish on top, incubating a lifetime of pain. Galaxy repeatedly falls flat-faced onto the floor from a near overdose of drugs. You wonder how someone so decidedly “over-sensitive” to the world around him, who works so hard to cocoon himself from feeling, is ever going to survive, but somehow he does and then some.

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©2005 Dr. Jean Hofve DVM. Used with permission. Benny near the window in Jackson's former Boulder, Colorado apartment.

The cure for what ails Galaxy walks on four, albeit one gimpy, legs. Benny’s a physically and emotionally broken cat who gets under Jackson’s skin and who metaphorically rips him to shreds until he learns how to feel again. Galaxy finds in Benny the key to unlocking both their inner demons though the transformation doesn’t happen overnight. His endless dedication to solving the mystery that is Benny, supercedes any need for a drink, a smoke, a snort.

Through Benny, now all cats have a chance at being understood, for maybe the first time in their lives. This is a story I wanted to read, then read again.

What’s curious is that Galaxy stated he didn’t experience Bobby Brady fireworks” when he realized his emotional over-sensitivity was exactly what was needed to help him get into the heads of the cats at the Humane Society of Boulder Valley, where Galaxy worked in the early 1990’s. One night, during a violent thunderstorm, the cats began to literally scream in fear. He was a rocker, dammit, and his band Pope of the Circus Gods was going to hit it big some day. What was he doing testing his theories on how to help soothe the cats anxiety during such extreme stress when he could be writing the next hit single?

Yet Galaxy told me that after the storm passed, exhausted, he slumped against the wall of the cat room, soaked to the skin from the leaky ceiling, and realized he was surrounded by cats who were no longer panicked from the storm. Instead of bliss, it’s resignation. He sighed and said; “Shit. You’re a fool not to notice a defining part of your life.”

From “Cat Daddy”:

“Despite the sweaty layer of pharmaceutical shrinkwrap that muted my physical, spiritual and psychological self, I forced myself to read, to study, to observe, to learn. Despite what I didn’t want to be, something was growing.”

Galaxy’s words are unvarnished, sharp-witted and equally sharp-tongued— especially when he talks about being chided for euthanizing animals. After he explains why it’s reprehensible to vilify someone for purposely ending the life of a shelter animal just to ease overcrowding he writes:

“The job had to get done, and I would do it, but I would do everything in my power to change the necessity at its source: I would commit to spreading a strong message about spaying and neutering…”

Can I get a Hallelujah here?

There are other equally important messages in “Cat Daddy.” One such message touches on the importance of feeding a species appropriate diet (and you know how I feel about that-right on Mr. Jackson!), as well as sprinkled throughout the book there are helpful cat behavior tips. My only pet peeve is that I would have loved to see the tips grouped together at the END of the book. Galaxy’s story is one I want to sit down and read without the distraction of a specially formatted callout begging me to read it before I get back to the story. In fact, I read the book a second time, ignoring the tips and the tale landed a stronger punch.

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©2005-ish Jackson Galaxy. Sweet Benny.

If you share a passion for cats and are confused about how to co-exist appropriately with them, this book, though not specifically a cat behavior guide, lends a friendly hand. In a way it’s like reading two books in one because you also get to hold tight as you bear witness to Mr. Jackson’s Wild Ride.

You’ll navigate through the messy pieces (and there are a lot of them) of one man’s journey as he not only falls down, but dusts himself off, then with a swift kick to his own backside, he's up with a smirk and a drive that is pretty darn amazing—all while Benny challenges his every move.

When I asked him about his growing celebrity he laughed it off. He has “no patience for what he sees—entitled celebrity B.S.” Sure, he’d like to spoil himself by maybe flying First Class” or buying five pairs of glasses but doing anything beyond that—even buying his first house seems “too big to think about right now.”

He “feels blessed” for having his 15 minutes of fame (which will hopefully end up being much more) and he wants to spend that time helping cats. He doesn’t want another cat to die because of a behavior issue or as a result of people not spaying or neutering their cats. For Galaxy, it will always be “mission before celebrity.”

I found it ironic that Jackson wrote that his father, grandfather and brother were all salesmen, but he was not. I think Galaxy missed what seemed obvious to me after reading “Cat Daddy.” That he’s the best salesman in his entire family. He’s sold millions of fans who watch his show or read his book on the idea that cats are not little people in cat suits, who think and act just like humans and should be treated accordingly.

After a decade of addiction, once truly clean and sober, ready for a fresh start, Galaxy writes about a turning point with his cat, Benny: “I began to approach him as the cat he was, not as a differently shaped human, and he responded.”

Cat Daddy has a lot of heart and heartache. There were moments I sat crying, reluctant to read the next words, but knowing I must. When I turned to the last page I realized I wanted to know more. What happens next? I was addicted to Galaxy’s story, of the life he shared with Benny, and maybe a little bit addicted to the man, himself.

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Jackson Galaxy just celebrated his ninth year “sober-versary.” I asked him if the stress of the book tour and 62-day shooting schedule of MCFH Season Three was going to push him into old (bad) habits. He said the all too familiar quote about the idle hands being the Devil’s workshop and that these days the only thing he does other than work is eat, sleep and feed the animals. Staying busy keeps him out of trouble and so far he’s still very thankful and humbled by what’s happened so far, which was clearly evident during our interview when he described just how amazed he feels about this journey.

“I was driving this stunning car [which will be featured in Season Three of MCFH] along the cliffs of Palos Verdes on a beautiful day. It was my birthday…and in that moment I had a moment of WOW.”

Wow, indeed, Jackson. You’ve come a long way, Cat Daddy.

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©2012 Robin A.F. Olson. Cricket, my former feral feline, thinks “Cat Daddy” is worth making his own as he adds his scent to the spine.

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I received a copy of this book for review purposes only. The review above is based on my opinion only. Your results may vary. Read with a box of tissues nearby.

You can purchase a copy of “Cat Daddy” HERE and enter the Book Launch Contest of the Year, which includes a mini-consultation with Jackson, himself. For more details on how to enter go HERE.

If you’d like to enter my giveaway to receive an autographed copy of Cat Daddy, simply leave ONE comment below (comments are moderated so give me time to okay them before they show up), describing the most important lesson you learned from your cat. A winner will be chosen at 11:11 AM EST (Eastern Standard Time-USA) on May 18, 2012. You MUST be a resident of the United States of America OR be willing to pay for the extra postage if you live abroad. Rules subject to change without notice.

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