Saturday, 30 July 2011

And the kitty was fast as lightning...

This is Sookie at 7am having her daily 5 minutes of madness. Mr Darcy just looks bemused and soon gets out of the way. Sorry for the sound, I was running some water into the sink and didn't have time to turn it off.

And this is my new favourite shot of Sookie, taken when she stopped for breath!

Happiness... is a vacuum called Miele

I used to love shopping for designer handbags and pretty shoes, but these days I'd much rather invest in something to make the chores easier. Gone is my need for beautiful bags, hello obsession with luxury household gadgets!

My old vacuum cleaner was reliable and I had no complaints for 5 years. However 'post ragdolls' it just hasn't been able to cope. Most of my house is carpeted and the cat hair is very fluffy and fine, so the vacuum just doesn't pick it up. My carpets look okay until closer inspection, when it becomes apparent that the top layer of the carpet is actually cat hair! I have found that the only way to really get the hair up is to have the brush down whilst vacuuming the carpets, however this not only makes it incredibly hard work, but I also suspect that it's gradually wearing down the carpet pile. Plus all the fur ends up clogged in the brush rather than getting sucked into the bag so I spend ages defuzzing the defuzzer  - what a waste of time when I could be playing with the kitties.. or shopping!

All of the main vacuum brands now offer models designed espcially for pet owners. After extensive research online checking customer reviews, consumer website recommendations and forum discussions I decided on the Miele S5261 Cat & Dog. It's priced at the higher end of the market at £199 but this is still significantly less than it's nearest rival, the Dyson Animal. 
The Cat & Dog is a cylinder vacuum cleaner. I prefer these to uprights as I have a sprial staircase and need something light enough to carry and that is easy to manouever into the tight corners. This cleaner does the job well; the handle makes it easy to carry and I like that you can stand it up so it fits on the steps.

 It comes with all of the normal attachments you'd expect and these are all neatly stored in a compartment in the vacuum itself.
 But the real selling point for me is the turbo brush floorhead, designed to deep clean cut pile carpets with rotating air driven rollers and pick up all that fine fluffy pet hair.
 

Finally, it comes with 6 power settings ranging from 'min' for curtains to 'max' for a deep clean of your pile carpet. I of course went straight to the highest power setting to test it out! 
I am thrilled with it so far! On the first outing I happilly zipped around all rooms of the house in about 30 minutes and could immediately see the difference it was making. It picked up the cat fur with ease... I even got down on my hands and knees for a closer inspection as I couldn't believe that after a couple of goes back and forth it was all gone! It's also quiet considering it's 2200w. My cats don't agree and still run away from it though - you can't please everyone!

According to the t&c's on Miele's website I can only post a link to their homepage, not directly to the vacuum itself. So here it is:
http://www.miele.co.uk/


My husband has already moaned as I got the hoover out again yesterday...that's the second time in 3 days! (Much like cats he does not like the hoover, although to date I haven't seen him try to 'swat' it). I have always wanted to vacuum more often to help my allergies but usually only manage once a week because it's always been such a thankless task. Now I'm aiming to vacuum at least every other day if it needs it. 

Sorry husband, but as the saying goes: Happy Wife, Happy Life!

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

Big Ol' Blue Eyes


Mr Darcy in our hallway giving me 'the eyes'. I think this is my new favourite picture.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Leash Training - to do or not to do?

When we first got Darcy, an indoor Ragdoll cat, I felt very bad for him cooped up in the house all day every day. After all, humans benefit from fresh air, why should cats be any different?

We had an outdoor cat enclosure built and connected this to the house via a cat flap and tunnel (I'll blog about this in more detail at some point). This way he was able to get some fresh air and I could tell he loved the outdoors! We decided to get him a harness and lead so that he could trot around the garden if it was good weather. Darcy took to it almost immediately, but we were soon fed up of him getting tangled in the garden furniture or around plant pots and eventually trusted him enough to take him off the leash.
Darcy at about 6 months old, on the lead
Fast forward a year and we now have two cats, both of whom love to go out into the garden. I haven't been on holiday since we got the cats as I'm rather wary of leaving them in a cattery. It would be nice to go somewhere in the UK, maybe to a pet friendly cottage and take the cats with us, but I don't feel it's an option if they're stuck inside all day long. I have this idyllic idea in my head of taking the cats with us to explore the countryside, so they get a holiday too!

I'd also like both myself and the cats to get a bit more excercise, so with all this in mind I decided it was time to restart leash training.

Hubby and I measured the cats and decided that Darcy's old harness would now fit Sookie - Darcy had outgrown it and would need a new harness. The local pet shop harnesses for cats came in one size so we've ended up with a 'small dog' harness for Darcy - he is bear sized after all!

The first problem was that we couldn't work out how to get the harness on him. My hubby had terrible trouble and Darcy had a complete fit - whining, growling and finally hissing, something he never normally does. Turns out that my poor hubby was trying to put it on the wrong way round. With ample treats I managed to persuade Darcy that there was nothing to be scared of, popped on the harness and he was soon sitting at the door waiting to go... he remembered his previous training!

Sookie on the other hand... different story entirely. I got the harness on her no bother and let go. She then looked at me like I'd threatened to swop her for a dog, lay down with her back arched and refused to move. Treats did not work, soothing tones did not work, nothing. I decided it was best to leave her alone for a bit and let her get used to it. After a while she started to run around and seemed to have almost forgotten it, so I clipped on the lead. This is where the trouble REALLY started! 

Sookie's back arched and she lay down again, refusing to move. In hindsight I should have stopped there for the day, but I thought maybe opening the door and showing her that she could run around the garden on the lead would help. To cut a long story short, she made it into the garden, then made a sudden dash into the flower bed, thrashing wildly like I'd never seen before in a blind panic, trying to shake off the lead and harness. She ended up curled in a corner, covered from head to paw in soil, wailing. I had to climb into the shrubs, unclip the lead which had got all tangled and pick her up and cradle her for a good 10 minutes. Poor little thing.

Lessons learned: 
  • Some cats will take well to leash training, others will need a lot of time.
  • BE PATIENT. 
  • Don't push them to do something they aren't ready for. This will only lead to them associating the activity with negativity, whereas the whole point is to create something fun for them.
I've now found a really good video on the subject which tells me all the right things I should do. I am going to follow it properly even if it does take several months.


This video is taken from http://www.wikihow.com/Leash-Train-a-Cat and there is a really good article that goes with it:



After all this though I'm still worried about a few things:
  1. Will my cats get used to the scents outside, traffic etc and decide that it's safe to climb the garden fence and go for a wander on their own? At present they don't seem to have much interest in escaping the garden, cars and other noises scare them enought to keep these thoughts at bay.
  2. Will anyone see me walking the cats and decide they are worth stealing? Should I therefore only walk my cats away from my home so people don't know where I live... or am I being paranoid?
  3. I can't train them to not be scared of dogs ...how will they react if we (inevitably) bump into dogs whilst out walking?
So many pros and cons... I suppose I'll have to continue to weigh it all up, see how the training with Sookie goes and then make a decision.

Playtime!

My husband decided to take up golf. This consisted of him buying clubs and a golf ball and trying to 'putt' the ball into a coffee cup in our living room. Much like my raggies, hubby soon got bored of his new toys and left them on the floor around the house. Sookie has claimed the golf ball as her own.

Ragdoll Cats = Bear Paws

I have a small obsession with my cat's paws! I call them bear paws because they are HUGE! 
Mr Darcy has particularly massive paws, I think this is a male ragdoll trait as he's about a third bigger than Sookie all over. 
 Sookie's paws seemed too big for her as a young kitten, but she's grown into them now!
I'm also fascinated by the toe tufts as I'd never seen these on a cat before. Admittedly I'd hadn't ever gotten too close to a cat before my two came along, but supposedly most outdoor cats with medium to long hair have them, but they wear off from excessive abrasion from all the pavement pounding! 

I've found two reasons online for why cats have toe tufts:
  1. The tufts help a cat by muffling excess noise so that they can silently stalk their prey
  2. To help the cats withstand the cold in the cold winter months
Whilst my cats would argue that they are excellent hunters and are rather partial to a bit of fresh air, I'm not sure that the toe tufts come in for much of the intended use with indoor ragdolls. But my goodness do they look adorable!!

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

16 hours a day and still tired...

My cats love to snooze. They seem to have favourite spots depending on the time of the day rather than one place in particular. 

Sometimes it's too quiet in the house and I have to go and find them. And take their picture. Strangely my husband doesn't seem quite so 'in' to viewing the pictures as I am taking them. Hmphh.








Monday, 18 July 2011

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Quest for the Best Pet Hair Remover pt1

I've now owned ragdolls for a year and a half. In that time I've experienced the wonder of the full beautiful Ragdoll fur coat.. and the nightmare shedding aftermath! 

I am always on the lookout for cheaper, more effective and eco friendly products to help make life easier, with varying results. I dread to think how many lint rollers I have gone through and how much money I've spent experimenting with different products! Here are a few of the best, which I still use today:

Disposable paper lint roller
Sometimes only a sticky bit of paper will do! They usually retail at between £1 and £3 and are great when you are on the move or the item isn't on a flat surface, i.e. hanging curtains, clothes that you're wearing, cushions etc.
Pros: stocked everywhere, cheap to buy, good to stick in your bag for emergencies
Cons: not cost effective in the long run, disposable so not environmentally friendly, wasteful - I end up with all of these spare plastic handles that go in the bin eventually

Deshedding Tool
This is a special comb which is designed with a unique edge that removes excess dead or loose hair without cutting your cats coat. It will remove fur balls from long haired cats without causing distress.
I bought mine off a shopping channel. It was called the Groomit Deshedding Tool but it's very similar to the FURminator which is readilly available in the UK and USA.
I was pleasantly surprised as Darcy HATES being groomed, but tolerates this and on occassion looks like he might even be enjoying it!

Pros: Easy to use, very effective at removing dead fur, good for cats who get distressed at being groomed, gentle
Cons: Overuse can damage sensitive cat's skin or effect the natural coat - be careful and follow the instructions! More pricey than your average comb.

The AmazeBrush Lint Remover
I discovered this little gem at the Ideal Home Show. It is a small hand held linter and the pad surface is like a fine grained sandpaper. You can use it on almost any fabric (avoid silk, satin or leather) and 'brush' the fur off in short sharp strokes. I find this particularly good for getting fur off of the curved parts of my stairs as my hoover doesn't cope well with this and it's also good at defuzzing the sofa. Although not related to cats at all, I accidentally left a tissue in the wash yesterday and found that this worked a treat at removing the mess.
Pros: Cost effective and eco friendly - one pad should last you at least a year. Easy to use, good for small jobs.
Cons: Only works on a flat, taut surface. Website orders only - I haven't seen it stocked in any pet shops.

Even with these to help me, I still spend a great deal of time vacuuming and can't say I enjoy the process! Even with a great deal of effort it tends to just leave gathered clumps of cat hair on the carpet rather than actually picking it all up, so I have to go back over each room to pick the bobbles up by hand. I need a nw vacuum. 

I've scoured the internet for reviews and recommendations and I think I've found the top pick, but it's not in stock. Hopefully within a few weeks I'll be able to post how I get on.

If anyone has any tips for removing pet hair or recommendations on a good product you've found please feel free to share it below by leaving a comment.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Shopping Update

Well my bumper shopping parcel has arrived consisting of:
- a cat tunnel (£8.99)
- the Kitty Lake (£13.99)
- a wand toy (£1.99).

The clear winner? The wand toy of course! What can I say... my kitties are a cheap date!

But back to the The Kitty Lake. It's designed for outside use and has a reflective surface to bounce the light which is supposed to entice the cats. There are also floating foam toys which you can put treats on so the cats have to use their paws to get the treats, i.e. 'work' for reward. I've been dying to try it out but the weather has been pretty miserable - no sun in sight. Not to be deterred, I added a couple of treats to see what the cats would think of it. Sookie is not interested, and Darcy... well see for yourself...



So much for having to work for it, he's just too good at treat hunting!

The weather now looks like this:


Hence we are stuck indoors. Both cats are having fun playing with it in the shower for now, mostly drinking from it!
Conclusion - it's a rather elaborate and expensive water bowl... but they like it so hey ho :)

Monday, 11 July 2011

Shopping!

I went online last week to order some replacement filters for the cat's drinking fountain. BIG MISTAKE! Darcy and Sookie are indoor cats so I'm always trying to find new ways to keep them entertained and excercised. Plus I just love the toy section.

I use a few different sites, but I particularly like to browse Zooplus as it posts product photos taken by it's customers. So often you buy something online and it turns up looking nothing like you expected or the product is just far too small for a ragdoll cat.
(I also love viewing cute cat pictures!)

I was intrigued by a new toy under the activity centre section called Kitty Lake. I clicked on the pictures and... SQUEE!! I had to buy it. And a cat tunnel. And a new wand toy.

Here's  a link to the Kitty Lake, is it not a fab idea??
http://www.zooplus.co.uk/shop/cats/cat_toys/miscellaneous/cat_toys/138880

I am now impatiently waiting for delivery. No doubt upon arrival I will excitedly unpack everything, squealing 'what's this kitties, have you got new TOYS?' only for them to ignore me, climb in the empty box or even worse, sniff the toys then wander off. But for now I'm all excited.

It also turned out that Zooplus don't do the cat filters I wanted, so I had to go to Petplanet and spend even more money. Rats.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Subtle is not a word in their vocabulary..

A lazy weekend

My cats bestowed a lovely gift on me Saturday morning, they let me sleep in until 9 AM - squee!! Usually Sookie is quite persistent and either miaows, licks my face, or gives me furry headbutts until I give in and get up. At which point she runs off and settles down in her bed for a sleep, as if her work is done.

My lie in did come at a price however. A very cute Mr Darcy followed me to the bathroom and began his usual routine of trilling and chirping whilst rolling around in the shower cubicle. Through bleary eyes I noticed he had litter stuck to his back paw. Closer inspection showed it was stuck there by poop. So my first task of the day was to run a mini bath in the sink and 'dip' Darcy until clean. This doesn't happen too often these days thankfully!

The rest of the weekend has been so nice and lazy, mostly comprised of sitting on the couch with a ragdoll rolled up next to me, or in the garden playing with the cats and attempting to take some photos. It is so damn hard to get a picture of Sookie, she has some kind of radar and automatically turns around so you get a shot of her backside, or worse she zips off and you get a blur. 



Darcy on the other hand loves the camera...and his wand toy!




Saturday, 9 July 2011

Introducing...

So I decided to start a blog, but I have to admit I have no clue what I'm doing. Hopefully I'll learn in time. 

Let's start things off easy with a picture or two. I introduce to you.. the furbots!

Mr Darcy 

Sookie

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