If it moves, it dies.
A START-UP is pioneering the use of water hyacinths to make beds for cats.
Fittingly called Alaga (pet), its two initial creations clearly show how it has the cats' and the environment's welfare in mind.
Water hyacinths are commonly used for basketry, but only Alaga has so far used them to make animal companion products in the Philippines. To do that, Alaga has tapped an urban poor cooperative in Las Piñas to weave dried up water hyacinths into cat beds and cat pods as designed by Alice Sarmiento, a writer, teacher, curator and cat lover. By choosing the prolific water hyacinth as material, Alaga helps put this rather invasive plant to good use while giving cat owners a “green” alternative when it comes to cat beds.
Alaga's Blissful Bed may look a bit ordinary, except that its entry point is located on one end and not on the front like in most cat beds. The Peaceful Pod is the more interesting one because its unique shape offers a private, cozy and cavernous space for lounging and sleeping. Both the cat bed and cat pod come with a thick oval-shaped mat in colorful fabric.
HIGH & LOW. MetroPets' cat reviewers give the Peaceful Pod a thorough inspection.
They say necessity is the mother of invention and Alaga is proof of that. While searching for affordable and washable cat beds, Alice realized she could instead have something produced based on her specifications.
“I was looking for an affordable bed for my cat that could easily be laundered and reused. The stitches on the heavily padded and cushioned ones tend to break when laundered. While the cushioned beds were comfortable, it was just as important to have the cheaper floor mats around as alternative,” Alice said.
“We developed a woven bed because I wanted something that is easy to wash and dries easily. I often foster cats rescued from the streets, and usually the ones who fell really ill could no longer walk to their litter box. So, washability was a huge consideration,” she added.
Alaga's Blissful Bed and Peaceful Pod can be simply washed with cool soapy water, then rinsed and dried. No intense scrubbing or strong water pressure required to avoid damaging the weave. If they are not too soiled yet, both cat “purrniture” can be wiped down with a damp cloth before letting them dry in the sun.
Alaga's products are labors of love as they usually take weavers about half a day to make the bed and a full day to do the pod. Alice said two to three people work on each, “because it takes one person to create the wire and wicker armature and another to do the weaving. The process is quite labor intensive, so each pod and bed tends to look slightly different.”
Those interested to buy the Blissful Bed and Peaceful Pod can put an order through Alaga's Facebook page. Delivery is done by Alaga and a third-party courier. Meanwhile, stay tuned for Alaga's next environment-friendly products, which may include a tiny divan for cats and a teepee that really looks more like a woven igloo, said Alice. -- Alma Buelva, MetroPets
By ALMA J. BUELVA
GET a cat and you could be in a sticky situation as one self-proclaimed cat lady discovered. It is not a bad thing though for Katrina Ballecer who built a small business out of making stickers in her cats' likeness.
Five years ago, Katrina made stickers of her orange tabby cat Nugget which she put on random places. They proved to be a hit among her friends who asked to buy them, so she made more Nugget-inspired stickers for them and to sell at art markets. Thus, The Offbeat Cat was born.
Katrina works as a designer for a graphic software firm. She comes home to 10 cats who provide her with all the inspiration she needs to design quirky looking kitties, which is the essence of The Offbeat Cat.
“I just like the idea that all cats are out of the ordinary, quirky and weird. I am hoping that my brand has that same spirit,” she told MetroPets.
Although Nugget died in 2015, Katrina continued with what she calls as her “passion project” with the help of her current cats.
“Most of them are featured in my stickers. The newer cats will be added soon,” she said.
Aside from stickers, Katrina expanded The Offbeat Cat merchandise by adding cat-themed fabric pins, postcards and iron-on patches. She is also planning to launch pet accessories this year.
While there's a lot of cat-related brands out there, The Offbeat Cat is different in a way that it truly has a heart that beats for cats. Most of its proceeds go to animal welfare projects.
“There is purpose behind the brand. Most of the profits go to helping out with trap-neuter-return projects, funding medical bills (usually posted by members of Cat Care PH), and buying food for the strays. We have donated to PPBCC, PAWS, CARA, Purrhaven Cats, Cats of Technohub, Cats of Ortigas, MAS and some people who reach out on Cat Care PH,” said Katrina.
“The Offbeat Cat is my passion project. I figured that I needed to find a fun way to fund my cat projects and this was it,” she added.
Aside from joining art markets, Katrina also attends events like the Komiket and Sticker Con to promote and sell The Offbeat Cat items. People can also buy them through The Offbeat Cat's Facebook and Instagram accounts. -- MetroPets
By ALMA J. BUELVA
PET owners know that cats and dogs (no matter how well-trained) sometimes still pee or spray where they are not supposed to for different reasons. Unless they leave a puddle behind, finding where pets made their mark is like being in a mini-episode of Crime Scene Investigation (CSI) where you have to use some high-tech gadgetry to do the job.
Recently, we stumbled upon just the thing for spotting cat urine deposits that have already dried, so they are not easily visible to the naked eye. Urine Finder, from the line of Urine Off products made in the USA, is a mini LED/UV flashlight that helps locate where your cat or dog did a No. 1. This unassuming tool can spot urine, even old and dried ones, while letting you live out your fantasies of being this quiet but very sharp CSI or NCIS agent. For these two reasons, we agreed to pay almost P900 for essentially a small flashlight that promises mad powers against “wiwi”.
At home where some cats practically live in my bedroom, I felt a tinge of dread and trepidation about using the Urine Finder. Outwardly, everything in the room looked in order, but I kinda didn't want to see what the Urine Finder would reveal to me and confirm what I knew all along – my cats' betrayal of my trust and cheeky violation of the sanitation code I hold dear.
But without further ado: lights out, Urine Finder on. Oh my God!!
Well, it was not as gross as I feared, but my cats did a Jackson Pollock in certain areas where forgiveness can't be granted. However, the way the UV light makes pee marks shine green kinda cushioned my shock, and I found myself making mental notes of the exact “scene of the crimes” so I could clean there later.
If you suspect your pets are having a pee party behind your back and you want to investigate, the Urine Finder can show you a trail of evidence in one sweep. All it needs are three AAA batteries.
The Urine Finder is available at Bow & Wow for close to P900. Amazon.com carries it for $14.98 plus shipping charge.
#pet_urine_remover #urinefinder #urineoff #pet_urine
CAT OWNERS who are always looking for products to deal with their cats' shedding might have seen or heard about the Hurricane Fur Wizard by now.
The way it is advertised, the Hurricane Fur Wizard seems like a dream come true as it does away with expensive lint rollers and refills and it looks so easy to use. The main product is this big reusable double-sided lint brush that one dips in a self-cleaning base to remove collected fur. The manufacturer added a travel-size version in the package. At online shop Lazada, the Hurricane Fur Wizard retails from P385 to over P600, depending on the supplier.
For the purpose of this review, the kit I bought from Lazada cost P474.
I immediately unboxed the Hurricane Fur Wizard because God knows how much fur it needs to remove, thanks to the diva house cats. But the excitement to use it right away didn't even last five minutes because the second I dipped the brush into the base, it got stuck!
I didn't want to be easily disappointed, so I half blamed myself for not reading the instructions that might have told me not to dip a clean brush into the base, the walls of which are covered with the same material as the brush. But, wait, there are no instructions whatsoever. In fact, the package stated that using it is as easy as 1-2-3: swipe to clean, dip into base, and remove fur from brush.
No amount of nudging, twisting and pushing could get the brush out of the self-cleaning base. Soon, the plastic handle separated from the brush as one of its prongs inside snapped! By now, I was completely aware that I bought a lemon like a real schmuck.
To successfully pry the Hurricane Fur Wizard brush off its self-cleaning base, I used a not-so-elegant solution: chopsticks. I squeezed a piece of bamboo chopsticks in between the lint removers (that line the side of the base) and the brush on both sides to loosen their grip of one another. The trick worked and I was able to slide the brush out, though I had already lost confidence that this product would even do half the work.
Still, I took this newfangled fur and lint remover where I knew there's always a lot of cat hair (the headboard) and rubbed the brush against it. I must say it did a decent job, but it got stuck again inside the self-cleaning base when it was time to clean it. Later on, I decided to junk the poorly designed self-cleaning base and just keep the brush. I used a comb instead to tediously clean the brush after use. After all, the manufacturer didn't really explain how to remove fur from the self-cleaning base.
“One dip in the self-cleaning base removes pet hair from the Fur Wizard lint brush,” the box states.
“The reusable brush that picks up fur and lint with ease,” it added.
I can appreciate the reusable brush, but not the self-cleaning base. This combo doesn't work. Together, they make the Hurricane Fur Wizard hard to use. If you must use muscle and brawn to make a simple product like a lint remover to work as advertised, then you'd be better off picking up an old-fashioned lint roller than the Hurricane Fur Wizard. -- AJ Buelva
By ALMA BUELVA
NOT everyone deserves a dog, especially those who are clueless about dogs. But, if they insist on having one, the book called Dog-Life Balance by Onayd Lumbao offers a quick guide to dog ownership written in the Philippine context.
Lumbao, a certified dog trainer and behaviorist for over two decades, wrote Dog-Life Balance: Finding the equilibrium between pet ownership and other details of life, to educate Filipinos on how they should work around a dog's primal physical, mental and emotional needs so they could both co-exist peacefully, if not happily.
The book tackles the starting points in dog ownership from choosing a name and introducing a dog to members of the family and other pets, to some disturbing conditions such as excessive barking, humping and eating stool, among others. In addition, the book tries to lift the veil on the wrong forms of dog training that were once considered effective, and suggests more positive methods of disciplining and training.
Dog-Life Balance is only 93-pages long, easy enough to finish in one sitting. Although brief, it is not short of eye-opening takeaways that dog lovers could use. Here are some of them:
A dog owner's personality affects the behavior of his or her own dog. Lumbao said behaviors are made, not born. Most of the time, humans are responsible for creating them.
A well socialized pet is better than a well-schooled dog. Dogs are highly social animals and we are doing them a disservice by limiting their chances for interactions. Lumbao said some people invest more on training dogs in confinement, but spend minimal time taking them outdoors. He said dog owners should give their dogs time to satisfy their social and physical needs. A 20-minute daily walk is fair, he added.
Dogs can bark. Owners shouldn't shout. Barking is a normal canine behavior and is only a problem from the human's perspective, wrote Lumbao. Barking is one of the top reasons dogs get yelled at, but the author said he doesn't recommend yelling or shouting “as many dogs become used to human words in varying degrees.”
Want to keep them dogs calmer? Let them hear classical music! The book cites a study wherein dogs barked aggressively to rock music but settled down when they heard classical pieces.
Make adjustments, employ creative tools. Howling, biting, digging, chewing and other things that get dogs into trouble could be abated with the help of positive training and tools. The book appreciates that puppies see the world as one big playground and that dogs, young or old, have a tendency to bite as part of their nature to survive.
Providing dogs with the right objects to chew such as large pig bones, coconut husks, sugar cane and cow hooves can distract them away from being destructive. A noise-maker can also do the trick of breaking up a fight and other mischiefs dogs do, especially when they are bored.
Be the dog's best friend. Often called man's best friend, dogs can also use a friend who could mold their behavior without lording it over them. When training or disciplining dogs, the book recommends “obey and be rewarded” over “disobey and be punished”. Speaking of positive reinforcement, the book made me chuckle when Lumbao wrote: “Do not use prongs or chokers, these are painful. Try putting one around your neck if you don't believe me.”
Love beyond words, after all, dogs don't talk. It's easy to fall for puppies, but the book also emphasized the need to take care of senior dogs. Senile dogs need more patience and the older the dog, the more they need to be introduced to new things, Lumbao said.
When not everyone in the family loves a dog, Lumbao suggested that it is the dog owner's task to keep them from hating the animal. Like it is also his responsibility to practice pet population control whatever the dog's breed may be.
Appreciate the reliable Bantay. Dog-Life Balance is a rare book in the sense that it has pages that talked about the Philippine native dog, commonly called Aspin (Asong Pinoy) and widely kept as Bantay (Guard), hence their popular household name. One would be hard put to find another book that mentions and even hails the strong character and spirit of aspins.
Now, for the bad part:
Where the book mightily failed, however, was in the editing and proofreading. It has one too many instances of repetitive texts on top of grammar and spelling slips that could turn off some readers.
Throughout the book, names were dropped to highlight their contributions or experiences leading, directly or indirectly, to better dog ownership. Some don't need introduction like French philosopher Rene Descartes and management guru Peter Drucker. But the rest of the names mentioned (we came across 30 names or so), with the exception of one or two, were not properly identified so it would be up to the reader to Google who they are. Such is far from the norm. It particularly becomes bad when the person cited doesn't even have a last name! “Jerry, a sporty guy in his 20s” in page 87, simply doesn't cut it. A non-fiction work requires full names for veracity.
The book wants every dog owner to appreciate the huge responsibility of keeping a dog.
“If we fall short, we not only rob dogs of their right to live to the fullest but we also contribute to the development of many behavioral problems like aggression,” he wrote.
Lumbao believes that a balanced dog owner has peace and compassion and, preferably, has no breed bias.
“Whatever the size, shape, color and character of the dog sitting next to you now, appreciate him; he is, after all, smart enough to take you as his best friend,” he added.
Dog-Life Balance: Finding the equilibrium between pet ownership and other details of life, is available in local bookstores. -- MetroPets
TIRED of the usual biscuit treat for your dog? How about giving them a rabbit ear to nibble on?
Treats that make dogs' ears stand up in excitement are inspiring one culinary student to develop not-your-usual dog snack items. From dehydrated rabbit ears to dried up cow throats, Dog-apetreat lets dogs to literally sink their teeth into something more natural and exciting.
The brainchild of 20-year-old Mikaela Dy Tecklo, Dog-apetreat offers organic homemade dog treats prepared by Mikaela herself. Only last May did she start selling her products to an informal market of friends and relatives and, from there, word quickly spread about Dog-apetreat.
“I got into this particular business because my passions are cooking and baking, plus I love dogs so I decided to make dog treats,” she said.
Mikaela first offered her dehydrated meaty treats to her own dogs whose approval encouraged her to launch Dog-apetreat. She shuns the use of preservatives even if these would make her treats last longer as she believes preservatives could upset a dog's stomach. Instead, she makes sure she dehydrates her treats really well and prepares them only when customers place an order.
“When treats are not dehydrated well, molds would form around them in just one week. I make sure our treats are something that customers will feel safe to give to their dogs. My organic treats don't have preservatives commonly present in local and international brands,” Mikaela said.
Truth be told, we kept some pieces of beef heart and beef liver strips and they're still mold-free after almost two months in the bag and beyond their expiration date.
Variety is the spice of life and Dog-apetreat works hard to make it one of its selling points. To date, it offers beef heart crisps, beef liver crisps, chicken liver crumble, sweet potato, duck jerky, and the most sought after rabbit ears and cow throats.
Based on customer feedbacks, a lot of dogs crave for Dog-apetreat's beef and rabbit treats because of their meaty flavor and great texture. Our short review of these items revealed the same thing (short because the rabbit ear and beef throat were quickly gobbled up by our dog reviewers).
Mikaela said dogs can gnaw at the beef throat so they don't destroy slippers and other objects around the house. It is also big enough to keep them busy while their owners are away. We tried to break it into pieces, but it's really tough and will need a strong pair of scissors, or FANGS, to do it!
The rabbit ear, on the other hand, is not only packed with flavors but also fiber from the fur.
“My brand's vision is to be original and unique. I know that there will be companies that will have the same treats as I do, and some that will try to copy our ideas or what we have. But they will never be the same as Dog-apetreat's variants because the methods, technique and quality ingredients that we use are different. Also, because I make the treats myself, even the packaging, I can control the quality of treats that I sell,” Mikaela said.
Next year will see Dog-apetreat releasing more unique dog treats in the market. They will also be cheap, safe and nutritious, Mikaela said.
“We have so much more treats coming! We are already on the way to make dehydrated dog food,” she added.
Dog-apetreats are available online and in select partner pet shops and veterinary clinics in Metro Manila. For more information on where and how to buy, visit Dog-apetreat in Facebook and Instagram. -- MetroPets
TV DINNER. That's what came to mind when packs of frozen dog food from Canine Chow PH arrived at our doorstep.
The individual packs contain cooked meat and vegetables that looked ghoulish brown and green. They were also modestly labeled, so it was immediately obvious this brand of dog grub is not big on appearances.
People eat with their eyes, but dogs don't. Visually appealing food is not their thing. Flavor is. Fortunately, the Canine Chow meals proved to be the opposite of TV dinners as they tasted better than they looked (according to our dog reviewers).
Canine Chow PH offers Meat and Veggie Mixes (beef, pork, chicken, or fish only) and Meat Kibble Toppers: (beef, pork, chicken, or fish only). We put four dogs to “work” to see how Canine Chow meals would fare based on palatability and digestibility. Here's how it went down:
The black Labrador tends to eat anything and everything with gusto, but from time to time he rejects some food and treats that are new to him.
The Beagle is a snob and likes to study her food and that of others' first before deciding to eat or not.
The Aspin is a moody eater. He likes flavors that are familiar to him. He used to be a stray.
The Pomeranian (a rescue with health issues) is a tough nut to crack. A real picky eater and not a fan of carbs.
All four are regularly fed either kibble or meals specifically cooked for them.
To cut the review short, let us just say it went very well for Canine Chow in the palatability test. The moment we put down the bowls of Canine Chow, the dogs simply demolished them. The only one who wasn't too happy was the photographer who saw the dog food disappear before taking enough good shots.
The dogs didn't dilly-dally as they tend to do when presented with a new kind of food. Why? Was it because the taste was close to their home-prepared food? But the texture was different as Canine Chow were all finely chopped. It also had more veggies (the Beagle hates greens). Certainly, they must KNOW that it's not their usual food, but there they were—mopping up their bowls like they always do.
They say the best compliment you can pay a chef is to send a clean plate back. Judging by the way our esteemed pack finished their Canine Chow on first try, its makers deserve a pat in the back!
But that's only half the test. The proof is in the “pudding” (catch the drift?). Canine Chow meals are no way oily, but they smell quite herby. For everyone's good, we hope things went down well in the digestibility department, too. The next day, with bated breath we walked up to the scene of the crime and Aha!! All's well that ends well!
COOKIN' UP CANINE CHOW
Cybele Manlapaz, a marketing consultant, and Jed Mesina a BPO executive, run the business. Together with their own dogs Tony and Tuco (Golden Retrievers) and Cooper (Boston Terrier) serving as product testers, they created Canine Chow PH three years ago. They believe what helped their dogs become healthier should be shared with others.
Cooked dog meals also proved a boon to busy dog owners who don't have time to cook for their dogs but can now simply thaw or reheat Canine Chow meals. They require very little preparation, just like those TV dinners, but are probably healthier if not tastier.
“Really, what we provide is more of a service than a product. Our goal is to help our clients provide as much fresh food for their dogs as they can in the most convenient way possible,” said Cybele.
True enough, their slogan “Giving your dogs real good food has never been this easy” was made with dog owners in mind.
Made from food-grade meats, nutritious offals and vegetables cooked over low heat, Canine Chow supports a dog's carnivorous diet. The finished product is made of 75 percent meat (in the case of the meat and vegetable mix) and safe enough for a person to eat (Cybele said she did).
“I have tried my dog’s food. It just doesn’t taste so good to me because it doesn’t have any seasoning, not even salt! We don't use any preservatives, vegetable oil or seasonings,” added Cybele.
Diligent research on dog nutrition and discussions with clients and veterinarians help them improve Canine Chow's suitability for pet dogs. They're looking at adding duck and goat to their offerings, and lamb as well if things go as planned.
From producing 15 to 20 kilos a week, Canine Chow is now cooking up a storm, averaging 90 kilos or more a week. Cybele said they don't keep a lot on stock because they prefer to make their deliveries as freshly cooked as possible.
“Currently, we are strictly a weekly made-to-order business. We are only available online. Orders are placed every Monday, ingredients are bought on Tuesdays then deliveries are from Friday to Sunday,” she said.
Packed in microwavables, Canine Chow meals stay good up to four days when refrigerated and up to a month when frozen. But if dogs could speak, they'll probably tell you these best before dates are inconsequential and instead you should soon schedule your next order of Canine Chow.
JERHIGH, a popular brand of premium dog food for all breeds, has five new flavors that sound like fancy dishes that a top chef would prepare.
Imagine serving your dog roasted duck in gravy for lunch and grilled beef with carrot in gravy for dinner. If they love chicken, the choices are chicken and liver in gravy, chicken and vegetable in gravy and grilled chicken in gravy.
Yes, each flavor has a gravy base plus real meat and veggies that have been formed into chunks. For a small or medium size dog, the 120-gram pouch JerHigh wet food is already good for one meal. A big dog might need a little extra.
The JerHigh Beef Grilled & Carrot In Gravy, JerHigh Roasted Duck in Gravy, and JerHigh Chicken and Liver in Gravy have added Omega 3 and Zinc to promote dog's healthy skin and fur.
The JerHigh Chicken and Vegetable in Gravy is ideal for dogs that need inulin and fiber for improved digestive and excretory systems.
The JerHigh Grilled Chicken in Gravy is recommended for dogs that need support for calcium and Vitamin D to strengthen bones, teeth and muscle growth.
Any of the five new JerHigh flavors can be fed to dogs straight off the pack, or mixed with kibble so they have more to eat.
A pouch of the new JerHigh (any flavor) sells for P45. It is available in Pet Discount, Inc.'s retail partners, including online pet shops like MC PetLovers Hub.
PAWFECT PLATE, maker of all-natural homemade pet treats at affordable prices, plans to launch more varieties of its delicious dog treats soon.
All Pawfect Plate treats undergo dehydration—a proven and highly safe process that essentially maintains our treat’s nutritional value and enhances storage life. They're pawfectly healthy for your fur babies!
Pawfect Plate's bestseller products to date are the Chicken Xanders (dehydrated chicken feet), Summer Stix (chicken skin), Bailey Bites Pork, Bailey Bites Chicken, Bailey Bites Beef.
Learn more about Pawfect Plate by visiting their Facebook and Instagram accounts (@pawfectplate).
AS pet owners, we are always on the lookout for great, natural sources to integrate into our pet’s daily routine. We learned that malunggay is a great super-food to add in our dog’s diet once in a while and how madre de cacao is great to treat mange. Now, there's a new favorite and must-have for pet care products: Neem!
The Neem Tree is a tropical plant found in India and Southeast Asian countries. In India, it is known as the village pharmacy, as the seeds, bark, and leaves contain compounds with antiseptic, antiviral, antipyretic, anti-inflammatory, anti fungal, anti-oxidant & bug repelling properties.
For pets, Neem delivers many skin benefits. It naturally moisturizes skin and coat without making the fur sticky or oily, soothes irritated skin and hot spots, naturally repels and helps gets rid of ticks and fleas, helps clean up mange and wounds, and naturally deodorizes so no more “wet dog/cat” smell! In addition, compared to other plant or chemical based products, Neem is non-toxic when ingested by pets, which makes it safe as a house cleaner as well.
Want to try Neem? A current market bestseller is Fetch! Neem Natural Pet Care System as they are the first to use 100 percent Neem Extract as the products’ base while other Neem shampoos would add Neem oil or powder into its shampoo base or water. Because of this, Fetch! is able to maintain the potency of Neem’s healing, deodorizing, and bug repelling properties in a water soluble form. In fact, getting the extraction goes through an interesting (and meticulous) process where that lasts for 2-3 weeks, just to ensure that the efficacy of Neem is maintained. It’s because of this that Fetch’s extraction process won the silver medal at the 25th Salon International des Inventions in Geneva, Switzerland.
Currently, the Fetch! Neem Pet Care System includes Shampoo, Leave-on Rinse to clean up and deodorize your dog or cat while helps continue to repel bugs, and a House Cleaner and Deodorizer to be clean your floors or your pet’s beddings while shooing away creepy crawlies from your home. A complete solution that’s good for pets, humans, and their homes!
Have you tried incorporating Neem extract into your pet’s everyday routine? How do you find it?
To learn more about Fetch!, check out their website or their social media pages at https://www.facebook.com/FetchPH/ and https://www.instagram.com/fetchphilippines/.
For a list of locations and retailers that carry Fetch!, you may find them at https://www.fetch.ph/neem-faq.
* Water hyacinths: the new cat's cradle!