If it moves, it dies.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
HOW do you solve a problem like cat litter odor?
As a “mother of cats”, I should have a couple of hard-earned knowledge about the subject, but the only sure way I know to stop a cat's stink bomb from befouling the air is to scoop it as soon as it drops.
That means keeping a close watch, which is impossible as cats like doing “No. 2” in stealth mode. Also, if you have several cats, that would mean being on poop patrol constantly.
An evil-smelling cat litter that reeks of harmful ammonia from cat's urine is no joke. In fact, eradicating the insufferable stench with science was the challenge for a small team of opto-semiconductor experts from Taiwan. That (and the possibility that the chief product engineer is a cat owner) led to the invention of Ventifresh, the world's smallest cat litter deodorizer that applies a NASA technology called photocatalysis so kitty's commode won't stink.
Starting out as an Indiegogo campaign two years ago, Ventifresh is the smallest electronic odor eliminator that can neutralize odor build up in cat litters, trash cans, shoe cabinets, gym lockers and other small and enclosed areas like refrigerators.
This is how it looks:
Cat owners' struggle is real when it comes to cleaning cat litter boxes. Using air fresheners, scented candles and adding baking soda in the cat litter have been tried and tested but not necessarily effective.
Aerosol sprays only mask bad odors and make cats snort in discomfort when they get a whiff of it. It's not very safe either to use electrical air fresheners that swirl perfumed water where curious cats can knock them over. Needless to say, lighted candles are fire hazards when left unattended. Baking soda sprinkled on cat litter creates muddy paws!
To see how it works, we first showed it to MetroPets' newest resident cat reviewer, Max who carefully inspected every part of the little device. Because we didn't have an enclosed cat litter box to test it with, we simply installed Ventifresh next to the cat litter tray.
Aside from blowing away the musty smell around the cat litter area, we noticed that having a Ventifresh there also "disciplined" the cats from spraying on the wall. As Ventifresh quietly whirred away the funky odor, the soft sound it makes probably threw the cats off from pissing where they shouldn't.
The solution offered by Ventifresh is a breath of fresh air – literally and figuratively. Ventifresh is all about ventilation and freshness, hence, its name. This tiny air purifier draws in foul air and cleans it up with its built-in motor fan that produces from 45L to 50L of air volume that fights off stinky odor before it wafts through the room.
Made by Conary Enterprise, Ventifresh also uses UV light (tested safe for pets' eyes) to decompose odor through natural photosynthesis methods to produce clean air that is safe for pets, people and the environment.
We give Ventifresh additional points for being maintenance-free as it doesn't even need batteries and filters. One simply need to plug Ventifresh to a power outlet to turn on its fan and light sensor. The device automatically shuts off when users open the door or lid of the cabinet or cat litter box where it is installed, so accidental UV light exposure is not a problem. It has a built-in magnet and “Gel Pad” accessory, so it can be installed to any plastic or metal surface within seconds.
As it is quite tiny ( 2” x 2.48” and weighing a mere 70g), its energy consumption is also low at 3W. Ventifresh can be powered by a DC5V adaptor (used in phones) or power bank for short term use.
Ventifresh's creators are confident that Ventifresh's dust-resistant motor fan can run for a minimum of 10,000 hours at least. The product ships with a one year warranty against material and workmanship faults.
Ventifresh sells internationally for $64.99 - $69.99 through its online store, with 59 countries covered so far, including the Philippines. MetroPets learned that the next model will be ideal in cleaning air in small rooms and suitable for cat owners with no enclosed litter boxes.
Ventifresh proves that great things come in small packages. If Max could speak, he will probably say it's pretty purrfect.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
PURINA Petcare Philippines, a business unit of Nestlé, plans on making 2016 more fun and exciting for people and their pets.
Without giving specifics, Joshua Frederick P. Alarkon from the local Purina office told MetroPets that they will continue the meaningful programs they have done in the past like the Lend A Paw campaign. He also hinted at the possibility of additional pet products to provide local consumers with more choices.
Known for its creed “Your pet, our passion”, Purina staged the social media-driven Lend A Paw program in 2014 and 2015 which encouraged pet owners to share original photos of themselves and their pets holding hands as a way of reaching out to shelter cats and dogs with the Philippine Animal Welfare Society (PAWS).
“We saw the way pet owners love to take photos of their pets, so might as well do it in a way that could help,” said Alarkon.
For every valid photo entry, Purina donated a bowl of Alpo or Friskies for the animals at PAWS. In total, 17,000 bowls of pet food were donated in 2014 and 18,000 more in 2015.
Alarkon said it's likely that there'll be a third run of Lend A Paw this year, again for the benefit of PAWS.
“We chose to partner with PAWS because what they do is close to what Purina stands for,” he added.
The Lend A Paw campaign was primarily an avenue for Filipinos to help shelter animals, but it also attracted a big share of participants from abroad. This year, Purina aims for bigger participation among local pet lovers.
Meanwhile, Purina is in the middle of a Facebook-based campaign called PuspinsofMeownila that seeks to elevate the image of the humble native cat to high-quality pet material. (See related story).
“Purina wants to fulfill the lives of pets and pet lovers. Across the year we will have programs and events for dogs and cats,” Alarkon added.
Purina is the maker of the premium canned cat food Fancy Feast and also the popular brands Alpo, Friskies, Beggin' Strips and Tidy Cats (non-clumping cat litter). Asked if there'll be new products coming in the market this year, Alarkon declined to answer but emphasized that “pet lovers will be happier this year”.
TOFU is a versatile byproduct of soybeans that can be turned into a variety of dishes. But in Japan, they have pushed the “tofu envelope” by making cat litter sand out of drained tofu and white birch wood.
If you are a cat parent who is as curious as a cat, you'd be wont to try the Okara tofu cat litter simply because it's like something straight out of the kitchen lab. We tested this unique product to satisfy our curiosity and to see if it really delivers on its promise.
Chong, our resident Balinese cat, went on a solo testing adventure for this one. Chong is a fastidious cat who doesn't like to get his paws dirty. For that reason, Chong doesn't like using cat litter as much as possible and prefers his wee-wee and poo-poo pan clean and dry.
For days, we left a litter box filled with Okara tofu sand next to Chong's pan. He snubbed it, as expected. But on Day 4, he finally left a large clump inside the box—proof that curiosity got the better of him and he experimented by doing “No. 1” when nobody was looking.
Here's Chong sniffing around the box of Okara cat litter.
You'll know Okara is made from real tofu because it smells like one. In fact, the smell is quite strong when you open the bag for the first time. But that and the birch wood's scent, effectively counter the smell of ammonia in cat's urine. To make sure no foul odor develops, Okara also added apple scent in the mix.
We like the size of the pellets; not too chunky and not too tiny either. The pellets are highly-absorbent and easy to scoop for disposal.
Here's a short video clip to show how the clumping looks like.
Used Okara cat litter can be flushed in the toilet, discarded along with other trash or burned. But why burn it when you can just flush it?
The makers of Okara said the used tofu litter can also be recycled as fertilizer.
One issue we have with ordinary cat litter is it makes cats track dirt around the house and their paws become smelly especially after stepping on litter that is already days old. These didn't happen with Chong at all, although he did leave some dirt on the floor because of his tendency to vigorously dig around his litter box.
We noticed a film of dust that settled and clung at the bottom and the sides of the litter box, respectively. It becomes pronounced when we give the litter box a shake to evenly spread out the tofu litter pellets and when topping up the old batch. Printed on the back of the Okara plastic bag was an explanation that there's actually powder in the mix which helps the clumping process.
You get 7 liters worth of Okara tofu-based cat litter in every bag. We poured all of it inside Chong's litter box and it reached about 9 inches deep. For Chong's personal use, we reckon 2 inches of it would be enough and, based on our test, that quantity lasted for about five days before we felt the need to completely change it. At that rate, it will take one cat almost a month to finish a bag of Okara.
The makers of Okara suggested mixing your cat's old litter brand with theirs to condition the cat to use the environment-friendly tofu variant. Or you can be more stubborn than your cat and let them get used to it eventually so that you can preserve the flushable character of the Okara.
Overall, we are quite pleased with this product specially how it helped change an old cat's habit. Like him, we will never look at tofu the same way again, which is not a bad thing.
Chong now switches between his plain litter box and the one with Okara pellets, which tells us that he doesn't completely abhor cat litter anymore. But he still would not let us photograph him doing his toilet business. This plastic cat model should do for now -- Alma J. Buelva
CAT OWNERS know that cats' toilet business is a big deal. What they put inside the litter box could determine how hard or easy it would be to clean up after their cats.
There are cat litter products that complicate rather than simplify this unpleasant aspect of having a cat. Instead of keeping the mess to a minimum, the litter itself necessitates more cleaning—and disposing of it is a challenge.
Organic cat litter from natural materials promise several benefits that any cat owner would be attracted to. The Our Cat Pine Wood Litter is one of the eco-friendly products in the market today to be recently tested by MetroPets' resident cat reviewers.
We helped the cats do it by the book following the instructions printed at the back of the Our Cat bag. Using an ordinary litter box, we filled it with about 3 inches of pine wood litter and then cajoled the cats to dig in.
Minutes passed and the cats remained lukewarm about the cylindrical pine wood pellets they saw. They are used to sand litter and the pine wood pellets must have felt different under their soft paws. Things didn't change the next morning so it was time for Plan B.
The makers of Our Cat Pine Wood Litter suggest topping two inches of their organic litter with an equal portion of the old sand litter to slowly ease the cats to the pine wood variety. This should do the trick, but we wanted to preserve the pure flushable character of the pine wood litter so we fine-tuned it our way.
We poured an acceptable amount of water to soak the pine wood pellets to make them softer. The individual pieces absorbed the water, disintegrated like coarse cotton and became softer after drying out. Soon after, the fastidious cats came one by one, sniffing and turning followed by (drum roll, please) dumping and digging. Success!!
As with any cat litter, the solid waste must be removed daily or as soon as possible. Scooping cat poop and collecting them in bags for disposal is tedious. The dirt and the smell, combined with a pinch of guilt for passing it to unsuspecting garbage collectors, make the whole matter dreadful.
Using organic litter like the Our Cat Pine Wood offers the convenience of flushing litter-covered cat poop directly in the toilet without clogging it. It could take two flushes depending how much cat waste there is, but it's much more convenient and hygienic compared to bagging it.
We give the Our Cat Pine Wood Litter another big thumbs up for keeping our noses safe from the killer olfactory assault that only cat poop can do. Somehow, the pine scent is able to mask the really nasty smell which, for us, is tantamount to a miracle.
The cats also left no trail marks after using the pine wood-filled litter box. Pellets that have absorbed urine “bloom” and crumble after several use. Shaking the litter box helps the crumbly bits' dust to settle at the bottom.
Here's a short video to show how the pellets expand then become crumbly.
Because the pine wood pellets are highly absorbent, dry fast and hardly smell, finicky cats may be inclined to reuse it. Or you may top up the old litter with a new batch in a smaller amount just to keep things fresher and useful longer. This makes the product quite economical and all crumbled pine wood pellets can be used as plant fertilizer afterwards.
This product can also be used to line the cages of small animals like birds, rabbits, hamsters and guinea pigs.
Our Cat Pine Wood Litter is exclusively distributed by Gilbert Emerson Marketing Corp. A four-kilo bag costs P399.75 at Pet Express.
So, if you are litter-ally pining for organic cat litter, we reckon this product is worth a shot.
By ALMA J. BUELVA
CAT owners have probably seen bottles of shampoo with different breeds of cats on the label. The bottles are exclusive in a way—people tend to pick up the ones that show a cat that looks like the one they have at home. The brand, however, is inclusive: it's “Our Cat.”
In pet stores, the multi-colored bottles of Our Cat are easy to spot. It's a local brand, but the shampoo is made in Australia.
By registering the exclusive use of the word "Our" to name its pet products, the company in a way is able to give consumers an immediate sense of ownership. It's a strategy that seems to have worked, giving Our Cat solid foothold in the market.
“Our Cat shampoo is about five years old. It is available in six different scents, plus one with no scent. “Our partner in Australia has chemists dedicated to developing the Our Cat product. We also sell Our Cat in the Australian market,” said Leslie Wilkinson D. Sy of the Gilbert Emerson Marketing Corp.
Gilbert Emerson is the maker of Flea Away, a 30-year-old product that remains strong even today. It also owns the Our Dog line of shampoos and conditioner.
In 2011, the company decided to expand the Our Cat product by adding clumping cat litter to the mix. The plan was to manufacture locally, but material sourcing and other costs were too high, so the company decided to outsource everything to China.
Our Cat litter officially hit the market in 2012 and Sy said they were surprised by how well it was received by consumers.
“Our Cat litter's clumping effect is just right – not too small and not too big. If it's too big, the litter won't cover the cat poop. If it's too small, cat's can track the litter on the floor,” Sy said.
The Our Cat Clumping Litter is available in several scents such as strawberry, lemon citrus, forest fresh, baby powder, floral fresh. A 4.0 kilo bag costs P224.75 at Pet Express.
Two years later, the company thought of exploring other types of litter, specifically the organic variety. They chose pine wood, which enables cat owners to flush the used litter afterwards without worrying about clogging. They also manufacture the pine wood variety of Our Cat in China.
Emerson said their pinewood cat litter is doing well as it is able to find other uses, namely as bedding for small animals like hamsters and rabbits.
“This is why in the bag, we have not only the image of cats, but also rabbits and mice,” Sy said.
A four-kilo bag of Our Cat pine wood litter costs P399.75 at Pet Express.
* Pet Emotion Machine calms sensitive dogs