NEWS & FEATURES
Have you heard the woofest mews?
Have you heard the woofest mews?
STARBUCKS in China recently released an insanely cute transparent mug featuring a cat's paw inside that becomes visible when coffee or any liquid is poured into it.
The cat-paw mug literally became an overnight success as supplies were reportedly depleted in 24 hours and caused some customers to become catty with one another, even resulting in brawls among those who desperately wanted to take one home.
Here's how it looks when empty:
This is not the first time that Starbucks released a cat-inspired mug. In Korea and Taiwan, the company has previously sold similar cute coffee cups that attract cat and coffee lovers alike.
The latest Starbucks cat-paw mug retails for 199 yuan (around US$40). Starbucks said there will be more pieces to be sold through online shops like Taobao in the coming days to accommodate even customers outside China who want a cat-inspired mug from the global coffee shop. -- MetroPets
Mookkie, the pet feeder powered by artificial-intelligence, is probably among, if not the most revolutionary pet food dispenser in the market today, which is proven when it bagged a CES 2019 Innovation Awards.
This pet food dispenser can identify a pet using its camera and dispense the right food for it. Mookkie is ideal for multi-pet households where food bowls left out in the open could lead to dogs and cats eating food that are not for them.
Mookkie visually recognizes the associated pet and opens the flap to feed exclusively him or her. Associated to one pet also with a personalized style, Mookkie bans domestic “food thieves” so a pet can only eat the right amount and quality of daily food. Its closure keeps the food fresh and keeps bugs, flies insects away. The base of Mookkie features an anti-ant system.
Volta Artificial Intelligence powers the visual recognition system of Mookkie. A front-facing camera sees the approaching animals. The images from the camera are processed through a deep neural network that establishes if the approaching animal is the pet associated to Mookkie. The flap over the bowl gets opened only when the paired pet is nearby Mookkie. The technology of the bowl is patent pending but the design is registered.
Mookkie's ergonomic food bowl is removable, easy to grab, and self-centering during re-positioning thanks to a magnetic mechanism. The food is guided by gravity to the center of the bowl.
Mookkie's A.I. is always aware of the status of the food. This feature makes possible to send notifications and short video clips to the owner. At night a very soft and gradual IR light allows it to be seen
The Mookkie's color can be personalized and labeled with pet’s name. – MetroPets
New Year’s Eve is a time of joy and celebration for most people, but with all the thundering noise from firecrackers and fireworks, it is definitely one of the scariest time in the life of pets.
Ford in Europe, thought of a solution to help dogs: a noise-cancelling kennel that will give refuge and solace to pets, especially dogs whose ears are highly sensitive to sounds.
Ford already has a prototype and it looks like a very modern triangular hut with bedding materials and lighting, too. The market's response was one of excitement and impatience as pet owners wish they could already purchase one to protect their pets from the coming New Year's Eve revelry.
The noise-cancelling feature of the kennel uses similar technology to that found in cars and headphones to protect sensitive canine ears. The special "quiet" kennel can be placed in the middle of the room as it has good aesthetic values, which means the dogs can still be close to its family during the celebration but without having to shake uncontrollably out of fear from all the noise.
Here's how it works: once microphones inside the prototype kennel detect the sound of the fireworks, a built-in audio system emits opposing frequencies that in effect cancels out the noise completely – or at least reduces it significantly. High-density cork, ideal for sound proofing was an integral part of the design.
The idea was inspired by the noise-cancelling technology that we have introduced to the Edge SUV, that helps to ensure quieter journeys for drivers and passengers. When microphones pick up high levels of noise from the engine or transmission, this is counteracted using opposing sound waves from the car’s audio system.
The result? No more stress for your pet. A concept for now, but with the potential to mean a much better start to the year, both for your dog – and for you.
Unfortunately, Ford's noise-cancelling kennel is still a prototype. Until it becomes commercially available, pet owners must find a place where pets can feel safe from all the noise that will usher in 2019.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
EVERYDAY, 65-year-old Thomas Francisco, Sr. works in the streets of Metro Manila looking for recyclable materials in the trash to eke out a living.
His gaunt face, thin body and sun-burned skin reveal how hard his life has been. It was already dusk that day we saw “Manong Thomas” near West Avenue in Quezon City pushing his big, bright blue cart with the help of five dogs. He has seven Aspins (Asong Pinoy).
Three dogs were loosely tethered on the left side of the cart led by Brownie, Tsoytsoy (a small dog that looks like a beagle) and Whitey. Two other dogs, Tagpi (black-and-white fur) and Pacman (brown), push the cart from the right side. They are like sled dogs, only they are helping drive not a sleigh, but a cart full of junk.
A sad-looking dog named Blackie stands inside the cart because he is sick, Manong Thomas said. His seventh “little helper” is Wawa, a puppy that is too small to work yet and is a bit malnourished. Manong Thomas lamented that Wawa's growth has been slow.
The old man told MetroPets that he has no place to leave his dogs behind so he takes them with him when he works as “mangangalakal”, which is someone who looks for recyclable materials like plastic, metal, rubber and paper to sell. He was vague when asked where they live. In Novaliches, he said, but wouldn't elaborate.
Except for Blackie and Wawa, the rest of the dogs look okay, if not a bit tired. Asked if he also likes cats, Manong Thomas sweetly smiled: “Meron dyan sa loob, nagtatago” (There are some [cats] inside, hiding).
While we briefly talked to Manong Thomas, his dogs took the time to rest, pee and even play with whatever they could find on the ground. None of them barked, but good-naturedly wagged their tails and waited while the humans talked to each other. They also would gingerly smell passers-by who got close.
The top deck of the cart is decorated with plastic flowers for Mang Thomas' altar of religious icons like that of the Virgin Mary and the Black Nazarene. All around his cart he wrote not only his full name but also the words GOD and DOG. He found this simple play on words amusing.
As it was Christmastime, night was creeping fast and Mang Thomas and his motley crew must be on their way home. He said he will park for the night at a relative's house nearby. Tomorrow, they will start early looking for other people's junk which will give him money to take care of himself and his dogs.
Like a shepherd that watches his flock, the old man gently coaxed his dogs to get going again. Pacman, Brownie, Tsoytsoy, Tagpi and Whitey dutifully took their positions and, like Santa's reindeer, gracefully pulled their cart onwards. -- MetroPets
A DOG TRADER named Rolando Bernardino was charged guilty of violating Republic Act (RA) 8485 as amended by RA 10631 known as the Animal Welfare Law and will be jailed for two years as a result.
Brought to court by the Animal Kingdom Foundation (AKF), Bernardino was found to have slaughter-bound dogs in his house when it was raided by authorities. Three dogs were also rescued during the raid.
AKF said it was a long-drawn battle but with determination a guilty verdict was achieved.
"Let this be known to anyone who treats a dog badly especially those who slaughter one, we will dedicate our time to see you get locked up. That is a promise.
"Please stay with us, fellow advocates. Help us give justice to our voiceless furry-friends! We need your help," AKF said in a statement. -- MetroPets
By ALMA J. BUELVA
NO self-respecting cat lover should pass a chance to visit a cat village even when a typhoon is about to hit it. Taiwan has one up north in Houtong reputed to have at least 200 free-roaming cats. The day I came for a visit, typhoon Maria had the same plan.
It was a gloomy afternoon when I reached Houtong by train along with other tourists, just as typhoon Maria started to hit the northern parts of Taiwan. But though the skies looked dark and pregnant with rain, Maria thankfully didn't rain on my parade until I finished a quick tour of the cat village.
Maybe it was the impending rain and blustering winds that caused most of Houtong's cats to hide away that afternoon. It was unfortunate that only a handful of them were around to amuse travel-weary guests.
The Houtong train station wastes no time and space in shepherding tourists to the tiny cat village. A stairway immediately connects the station to a bridge – almost like a short tunnel adorned with cat items that opens to the cat village. There we were greeted by our first two Houtong cat residents, a black-and-white kitty and a grey tabby that walked a short distance with us.
Despite the poor attendance of actual cats that day, the place will still excite cat lovers given the number of cat objects around the village. From street signs and memo boards to flower pots and stepping stones, just about anything that can follow the cat theme has been done so.
The Houtong Cat Village is a very tiny community, which is all that is left from what used to be a busy mining town. From the bridge, guests can walk up the Cat Corridor where cat-inspired shops and cafes are located. Here we found a few more feline wanderers who, like us, were peering into the glass doors and windows of shops that closed early due to typhoon Maria.
It must be delightful to shop and dine right at the Cat Corridor, if only the weather was less unforgiving the day we came.
Below the Cat Corridor is a narrow lane where people actually live, which means more cats to see. Although people there are used to tourists walking up and down their streets, it still felt like we were trespassing so I veered away from the area.
At the ground floor of the train station is another street with gift shops. Here I found a bakeshop selling pineapple cakes in cat forms. Pineapple-filled cakes are one of Taiwan's popular souvenirs. I wasn't convinced that I want some until I found them in the shape of cats!
Most of the cats, if not all, in Houtong Cat Village are strays but residents and volunteers attend to their basic needs. I've spotted cats with one of their ears clipped which means they have been spayed or neutered already, and I've also accidentally walked in on pairs while they are mating.
As in any big cat colonies, the Houtong Cat Village has cats that look sickly or with skin ulcers. As for behavior, the prevailing cat attitude the day I visited was indifference. Sure, there were sweet cats who followed tourists with cat food to give, but many were aloof and stubbornly refused eye contact. In fact, meowing at them or saying “Here, kitty, kitty...” would get you nowhere. But we can't blame the cats for not being accommodating. You would be a sour-puss, too, if you had to put up daily with cellphone-toting tourists who take your photos all the time. To get the cats' attention, one must be creative so I barked.
Seeing that the cats were not in the mood to play good hosts that day, we went back to the station to wait for our train to Taipei. It was then that typhoon Maria brought cat visibility down to zero, for the time being.
Overall, Taiwan's Houtong Cat Village is quaint and charming but is starting to look tired and lonely, too. But I'm sure you can overlook what qualifies as eyesores here and there if you are truly fond of cats. After all, with allegedly over 200 cats, Houtong is like no other purridise.
** Text and photos are all original properties of MetroPets Magazine and protected by copyright laws. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly not allowed.
THE Taipei Pets Show, billed as the biggest one in Asia, was the perfect venue to find new innovative pet products. After four days of combing the show floor, we narrowed our top product picks to 10 items that should make life better for pets and people.
Mind you out hot picks are not all made in Taiwan and most are not available in the Philippines yet. But there's always Amazon and brand-specific e-commerce sites where you can order the following mouth-watering and snazzy goods for your pets.
OPPO DOG MUZZLE QUACK
Nothing says danger than a dog wearing a leather muzzle. If you must put a muzzle on your dog when walking or grooming time, go for a softer look by using the Quack. The duck bill shaped muzzle is a big hit in Japan and in other countries where dog owners appreciate the combined utility and humor of this product.
It sells for US$38 and was showcased at the Taipei Pets Show alongside another quirky design meant for dogs and cats with short snout. The Quack muzzles are available in three different sizes and colors to match any kind of dog you have.
PET EMOTIONAL MACHINE
You read it right, this product is called the Pet Emotional Machine. But what is it exactly? From Taiwan-based firm Smypet, the Pet Emotional Machine is a device that releases a certain frequency detectable only by pets.
When cats and dogs sense the frequency, it supposedly would help them feel calmer and relaxed. Clingy pets, pets that experience panic or anxiety attacks or have troubles being left alone might benefit from this device. There are different settings to suit different pets' sizes. It retails for NT$12,800 and comes in blue or beige colors.
EVERCLEAN PAW CLEANER & COMB MASSAGER
From PetKit, the Everclean Paw Cleaner and Comb massager gives your dog an instant foot bath and spa right at your home. Inside the canister are round-headed silicone brushes that gently but meticulously cleans the dog's paws. Simply insert your dog's individual paws inside the container to clean them after walking or playing outside. The cover's slotted design conforms with the physiological structure of the paw so dog's won't get hurt using it.
The parts can be dismantled for easy cleaning, especially the Everclean Massage Comb inside which can also be ideal for brushing your cat's fur. The comb can be used on wet fur, too, during bath time. It not only massages and removes loose fur, it also promotes blood circulation on pets.
CHEW ME TURTLE MEAT
This cat treat takes exotic food to a whole new level as it is made of soft-shell turtle meat or eggs. In gel form and green in color, Chew Me is a product of Brimoon Pet Care, the leading Taiwan company that pioneers the use of turtle, from soft shell to meat and bones, for pet food.
The soft-shell turtle is said to be rich in amino acid, omega 3 and other minerals that are effective in promoting good skin and fur in cats. Aside from soft-shell turtle parts, Chew Me is also loaded with broccoli. Chew Me made its product debut at the Taipei Pets Show. A pack of six 12g pouches of Chew Me costs NT$100 as a special introductory price during the show.
PETALS PET COLLAR
A Taiwanese proprietress exhibited her own line of pet e-collar in the shape of petals. Stuffed with pure cotton, the petals are sewn together to form an opening in the middle where the pet's head goes.
It's a bit pricey though with the smallest collar sold for NT$950. The cloth is made from silky soft materials so it doesn't absorb water and get stained easily. Ideal for both cats and dogs of different sizes.
International Cats House Corp., the manufacturer of the No. 1 local brand of cat litter in Taiwan, has a clever packaging concept for its cat litter. Called BoxCat, the litter are contained in a beautifully designed carton box that turns into a cat house or cat sleeping quarter. The Boxcat also comes with free scratch pad that fits perfectly inside the box!
Instead of using the typical bag or sack for its litter, the use of specially designed cardboard box caught cat lovers' fancy who, company officials said, sometimes buy BoxCat first for the box, then the litter.
Would you like to have a drink with your cat and dog? Paw Wine is a non-alcoholic drink for pets based on extracts from peppermint, chamomile, beets and catnip. The peppermint and chamomile flavors are for dogs and are supposed to freshen their breath.
The beets and catnip with silvervine are the cat's “wine” to perk them up during dreary days, perhaps. The Paw Wine can be refrigerate and ideally consumed within three days after opening. A large bottle of Paw Wine costs NT$399 while the small bottles cost NT$299 (for dogs) and NT$199 (for cats).
A wide range of eco-friendly products made from paper were on display at the Taipei Pets Show and one of the companies that brought forward its cardboard-made products is Carton Meow.
From scratch pads to beds, Carton Meow designed them in fun shapes to make them great conversation pieces, too. The cat-shaped scratchpad, for example, looks elegant enough to be left standing in the corner of the living room. It costs only NT$360 while the bed costs NT$760.
YAK CHEESE TREAT
T.N.A., a Taiwan-based pet food company, creates cheesy dog treats using milk from Yaks. The cheese are handmade in Nepal and finished for commercial production in Taiwan.
The finished product is a super hard stick of cheese that can help clean dog's teeth as they gnaw on it. A large stick can cost up to NT$430 while the smallest stick could cost arount NT$280.
ECO PET DISH
Made by Petique, this eco pet dish is a 2-in-1 dog or cat bowl you can take anywhere! It snaps together for easy travel and it doesn't absorb odors. The best part of this Eco-Friendly Pet Dish is it's BPA free, non-toxic and made out of starch based material, which makes it completely biodegradable. It retails for US$28 online.
THE Philippines has successfully convicted a dog killer, a historic first.
The news was shared by the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS) which helped attain justice for the dog killed by Roberto Olivar from Caloocan City. The decision came last June 14, 2018, with Olivar convicted for violating the Animal Welfare Act. He spent some time in prison and was fined P5,000.
According to PAWS, Olivar was filmed killing his own dog and then feeding it to his other dog. The person who filmed the crime and uploaded it on Facebook was not involved in filing criminal charges, but concerned citizen Emma Manalili did. She saw the video and, accompanied by local police, immediately located Olivar's place. She later testified for the Prosecution.
Part of the Facebook video below was played in court and elicited stifled gasps from the stenographer and other members of Caloocan MTC No. 52, PAWS said.
PAWS added that during the promulgation, Honorable Judge Dorothy Grace Daguna-Inciong warned Olivar sternly that should he be reported for dog-killing again, she would make sure that he will be given the maximum prison term for violation of the Animal Welfare Act.
“I have three dogs myself and I love them. This act that you did is despicable and I hope you know that this is wrong and should never happen again,” the judge was quoted saying.
Animal cruelty is a crime under the Animal Welfare Act of the Philippines (RA8485 as amended by RA 10631). Those witnessing animal cruelty should report it to the police first, before taking photos and videos that can be shared in social media later.
THE People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) announced that the Japanese government has decided to stop conducting year-long tests on dogs, particularly beagles, to study the potential effects of pesticides on people.
After hearing from PETA U.S. scientists for the past three years, the Japanese government made the decision to end the cruel tests wherein beagles are forced to eat pesticide-laced food or inhale pesticide fumes daily for a year and are then killed and dissected. PETA U.S. repeatedly provided evidence that data from these tests are not used to protect humans.
At the urging of PETA U.S., the U.S. ended this same test in 2007, the European Union ended it in 2013, and Canada followed suit in 2016, sparing thousands of dogs annually. Japan will now join the growing list of countries that have made the right decision for dogs and for science.
PETA U.S. and PETA Asia are urging other countries, including South Korea, to end their requirement for one-year pesticide testing on dogs, and are working to end all pesticide testing on dogs and all other animals. -- MetroPets
By ALMA J. BUELVA
THE Philippine market is sorely lacking its very own locally produced cat food, but that could change if the first set of trials spearheaded by a doctoral student succeeds.
Five cat food flavors, all using squash as major ingredient, are undergoing market tests and could be the start of a local brand that can help farmers and give cat owners an alternative to imported cat food products.
Hazel Alfon, who is taking up Doctor in Business Administration from the Polytechnic University of the Philippines, developed her own kitty fare for her research project in functional strategy and business ethics.
A cat lover herself, she wanted to cook up something inexpensive but nutritious for cats and at the same time create an opportunity for squash growers to sell more of their crop.
“What prompted me to do the study is the surplus of squash during harvest time. Lugi yung farmers, halos ipamigay na yung kalabasa nila. (Farmers lose...almost giving their squash away).
With both the cats' and farmers' welfare in mind, Alfon set about baking her first handmade dry kibble. She soon, however, switched to wet cat food as she believes cats need it more to supplement their water intake.
A licensed chemist, Alfon told MetroPets that she did extensive research on the kinds of food that are good and bad for cats. She also took samples of her squash-based cat food to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) for analysis. In addition, she consulted with veterinarians to make sure her cat food is safe. Later on, she used social media networks to invite cat owners to try her products for free.
“My cat food are all-natural, human grade and with no salt and chemical pre-treatment,” Alfon said.
Alfon added that she uses from 80 to 90 percent fish, beef, chicken breast, liver or gizzard. The rest are vegetables, particularly squash.
The results are the following variants:
* Salmon with carrots, green beans and kalabasa (squash)
* Ox tripe with chicken liver and kalabasa
* Tuna with kalabasa
* Chicken with kalabasa
* Beef with carrots, green peas and kalabasa
Sealed silver pouches, each containing 85 grams of any of the five flavors, were shipped to market testers who volunteered to feed it to their cats for seven days. Alfon said the most common feedback she received pertains to cats' poop becoming less stinky or even stink-free!
MetroPets' resident cat reviewers tested Alfon's homemade cat food and while they showed indifference at first, they soon acquired the taste and feel for it. The top hits were the squash with chicken and squash with beef. Used to the texture of paté, the cats set aside morsels of ox tripe. They ate the fish variants with no complain but also with less gusto.
Meanwhile, Alfon told MetroPets that she has started work on another cat food specifically for lactating cats.
If all goes well with her cat food, Alfon said she plans to turn it into a business and share her revenues with animals shelters.
* Report sees pets as cure against loneliness crisis