Hermione & George Review Greenies’ Pill Pockets.

Recently I needed to give Hermione and George medications that came in capsules. I asked the nurses at the vet how I was supposed to give them a capsule (liquids are hard enough) and they looked at each other in a way that should have raised my suspicions more than it did and the answer was somewhat muttered…but they did suggest that I could buy Greenies’ Pill Pockets and that these would go around the capsules and the cats would eat the pills without issue…so I bought a small bag – I think it was around $8-$10, it had 45 treats and was chicken flavored. I only needed four, but I figured the cats could just eat the rest as treats.

A package of Greenies Pill Pockets, chicken flavored.
A package of Greenies Pill Pockets, chicken flavored.

Hermione and George did not have a high opinion of said Pill Pockets. I imagine much depends on one’s particular cats, but mine are picky – they put the treats in their mouths, then dropped them back out. I thought maybe it was the capsule that was deterring them, so I tried giving them some of the treats by themselves to “warm them up” to this being tasty food – but they weren’t interested. They didn’t care for the treats at all…

Hermione and George give these Pill Pockets a 0 out of 5 score. They are being especially harsh b/c I then had to pin them to the floor and try to force them to take the medications (they successfully resisted)…

Trying to Make Sense of Cat Food.

Goodness gracious, there are like a billion different cat foods out there – it is so overwhelming! Even just by a single company there seems to be endless variations! I had recently been fairly happy with the Goodlife Recipe with Chicken Food for Indoor Cats (14 lbs) but then it shot up to the outrageous price of $50+. Maybe this is only a temporary issue with Amazon’s supply – but for now, with a doubling in price, there is no way I’m buying it.

So, here I am, yet again looking for cat food. I have four cats – one that has an eating disorder and will continue eating till she vomits, continuing eat, vomit, and repeat forever. Two of the other cats have sensitive stomachs and a lot of cat food doesn’t seem to agree with them.

I’ve spent a little while on Amazon and here is what I’ve narrowed my options down to…I’ll probably end up trying a few before I find one that works well with my sensitive cats (the only way to deal with the eating disordered one is portion control) and this will give me a list to come back to and hopefully help others who are trying to decide on a cat food narrow down their selections from the hundreds of options available.

I’ve selected the foods based on brand name, customer reviews, price, weight, ingredients, and so on.

Budget Options

Organic Options

I’m going to try Hill’s Ideal Balance Natural Chick and Brown Rice Recipe first. The price is reasonable, and becomes more reasonable with Subscribe & Save and I like the fact that in addition to being all-natural it doesn’t contain any corn, wheat, or soy. We’ll see how it goes…

Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box Review.

I have four cats and five four[1] litter boxes. The vet says I should have more, but where am I supposed to put them? And keeping five litter boxes clean already takes too much time! I have tried several different automated litter boxes, including the CatGenie. In the end, I’ve always gone back to the old-fashioned litter boxes that require manual scooping.[2]

Omega Paw Roll'n Clean Litter Box.
Omega Paw Roll’n Clean Litter Box.

Still, I’m always keeping my eyes open for ways to reduce the amount of time, smells, and mess litter boxes create for me. On April 10th I purchased an Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box (Large). The price was right – $30 – and while it didn’t flush the litter down the septic like the CatGenie, it did simplify the process significantly.

When it arrived a few days later it took only a few minutes to assemble – but I didn’t listen to the “use clumping litter” instructions, since I didn’t have any around the house and instead used some regular litter – yeah, that didn’t work at all!

So, I purchased a 40 lb bag of Precious Cat Ultra Premium Clumping Cat Litter for $23 on April 24th and have been using it ever since. As of today (June 10th) I still have 10-15 lbs left. I was worried I was going to go broke buying litter – but whether it is the litter which is so long-lasting, the Omega Paw litter box which performs the magic, or some combination of the two – the litter seems to last FOREVER, so I’m not so worried about that any more.

Using the Omega Paw is easy-as-pie. I move it into a wide open space (and yes, you need a wide open space), roll it upside down, hit the bottom two or three times (to dislodge anything stuck to the bottom) and then roll it back. I pull out the scoop and dump the collected cat refuse into a plastic bag and take it outside and place it in a trash can.[3]

I’m very happy with the product – and hoping to replace at least two[4] one more of the existing litter boxes with Omega Paw’s. Currently there are two I can’t replace, b/c they are in too tight of a space and it would be too great of a hassle to move them into a space large enough to roll them.[5]

Another really nice element of this litter box is the hood. Some of my cats occasionally “miss” (especially our biggest cat, Barclay, whose butt occasionally hangs out of the litter box when she attempts to “do her business”) – and the hood has prevented this 100% 95%!

Now that I’ve raved about the Omega Paw, let me highlight a few drawbacks:

  1. The Omega Paw needs to be cleaned regularly. If you forget to clean the litter box for a day too many and too much refuse builds up, it will overflow the scoop and it becomes difficult to get the scoop out of the Omega Paw and can make a little mess in the process.
  2. It is overly difficult to add litter to the Omega Paw. You either have to remove the top (which has a number of tabs so it doesn’t fall open when rolling) or you have to throw litter into the Omega Paw via the entrance way the cats use.[6] This isn’t impossible or even that difficult, but it sure would be nice if there was a door in the hood which could be easily opened and would allow one to drop litter in from the top!
  3. The plastic tabs are of poor quality. I haven’t had any break, but they just don’t show a high quality of workmanship, with extraneous plastic on some of them, rough fits, and so on. Once you get it put together you really don’t need to take the hood off often, but still, a little extra work on this front would make this product “premium.”
  4. It requires a lot of space. You have to roll the Omega Paw upside down and back again, and this requires some significant space. I would suggest that Omega Paw make another model (more expensive) which could “roll in place” and could be used in tight spots. The Omega Paw is great if you have the room – but for those with space constraints (e.g. especially apartment dwellers), The Omega Paw may not be a viable option.
  5. The scoop slides out. Sometimes when I am rolling the Omega Paw, the scoop will begin sliding out – which results in litter falling on the floor. Yuck! If there was a latch that held the scoop in place, this would be awesome!

All that said, The Omega Paw Self-Cleaning Litter Box is the best litter box I have used thus far. It isn’t as nice as say a CatGenie is theoretically, but at least in my experience with the older CatGenie model, it didn’t work consistently and created lots of messes – The Omega Paw is a little more work, but it just works.

  1. [1]The cats seem more willing to use the Omega Paw litter boxes, so I eliminated one litter box – I now have two Omega Paw litter boxes and have purchased another which is on its way. I hope to eliminate one more little box so that I’ll only have three boxes total.
  2. [2]Though I’d like to try the latest model of CatGenie, I’m not about to shell out the money for a new one.
  3. [3]Which, btw, seems to keep other creatures – e.g. raccoons and squirrels – from diving into your household trash.
  4. [4]I have replaced two already and have a third on its way.
  5. [5]I’ve replaced the two litter boxes with one Omega Paw. It is a tiny bit of a hassle, but still worth it.
  6. [6]While I still think a door in the hood would be nice, I realized if I roll the box onto its back the door is then facing upwards and I can easily pour litter in that way.

PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser.

I have four cats – Hermione, Barclay, Piper, and George. I love my cats – but on occasion they can drive me insane. One of the primary ways they encourage insanity is by whining when they want food and ripping into Charity and I’s food when they are hungry. We used to leave food out all the time for them – but Barclay has an eating disorder of some sort. She will continue eating as long there is food, puke, then repeat (forever).

Slimcat Toy and Food Dispenser
Slimcat Toy and Food Dispenser from Amazon.com

She gained tons of weight – I think at her heaviest she was 25 lbs. She was going to die (from diabetes or etc.), we were spending unnecessary amounts on cat food, and cleaning up vomit is not my idea of fun…so we began rationing the food, giving them portions in the morning and evening.

But sometimes they aren’t happy with this, or think we should feed them at a different time, and sometimes they want more food – especially Barclay. This means they break into our food – rice, crackers, cereal. Sometimes they knock over the trash can – all forms of disasters can occur when they feel they need more food.

Recently they broke into a bag of cat food I accidentally left out. I moved it into the pantry and a few days later noticed something interesting – the cats weren’t begging for food. What had happened? Well, with the bag ripped the cats where able to stick their paw under the pantry door and pull out pieces of food and keep themselves sated. It was easy enough that Hermione, Piper, and George could do it whenever they were hungry and difficult enough that Barclay wouldn’t keep eating forever.

I wanted to replicate this experience. One option I found (and have been very happy with thus far) is the PetSafe SlimCat Interactive Toy and Food Dispenser. It is a plastic ball with holes cut into it. By sliding the plastic around you can make either the smaller or larger holes open. The top pops off and one can fill the toy with cat food. As the cats knock it around the floor a few pieces come out here and there. In this way the cats have to work for their food (we still give them regular servings as well) and also can’t get too much all at once. I see it as a reasonable solution for anyone who has an eating disordered cat – especially in a multi-cat household.

CatGenie – Automatic Litterbox?

UPDATE: Gave up on it. 😛

UPDATE: I’m fairly satisfied with my CatGenie now and can recommend it. Nora from CatGenie contacted me and sent out a new hopper and a new robotic arm. Another CSR sent me a replacement processing unit. With these new items in place, and after having corrected the issue that my plumber had hooked up the CatGenie to hot water instead of cold, and after switching to non-scented cleaning solution – everything is working amazingly. I spend around two minutes a day paying attention to the CatGenie – just enough to press the start cycle button.

Here are my revised requests for a future CatGenie:

  • Larger – Small/Medium cats have no problems…My “gentle giant” Barclay finds her behind sometimes hanging over the edge…Resulting in a mini-mess to cleanup.
  • Automatic Cycles – After a cat uses the bathroom it would be nice if it ran through at least a minimal clean cycle. Perhaps just scoop and flush the poor and rinse/dry with water.
  • Different Litter – Not sure what can be done about this but my cats track this litter all over. It seems to stick to their little paws.

Charity and I have three cats (Hermione, Barclay, and Piper) – and they are very precious to us. Unfortunately, they do not know how to use proper waste facilities (e.g. our bathrooms) and so we have the litter box issue. We’d love to let them go outside, but our house is surrounded by busy streets – so not such a great idea.

We started with traditional litter boxes – and that was okay. The poop scooping isn’t bad, the problem is the pee – eventually it saturates the litter and you have to change the entire box. Uck. We tried one of those automatic litterboxes that uses a robotic arm to move the poop into a small waste can – but this still didn’t solve the main issue – the urine!

Finally, it was time to pull out the big guns. We purchased a CatGenie from PetNovations. With taglines like, “Never touch, smell, or buy cat litter again” and “The only automatic cat box that flushes away waste and, like a cat, washes itself.” Wow. Now, I should note that I’m really the sucker for these automated toys – I was the one who bought the automatic shower cleaner (which didn’t work) and wants a Roomba (even though people tell me they are far from perfect) and who dreams of self-driving automobiles. Charity is not so easily drawn in – so the blame mainly rests on me for these new-fangled purchass.

Anyways, the CatGenie is a nifty idea. It hooks into your water and into your waste. You can have it dump directly into your toilet or into a laundry drain. We initially started with the toilet – but when we had our bathroom remodeled (it was a very cramped half bath, we expanded into a master bath) I had the designs include a small cubby hole with separate water and drainage that we could place the CatGenie into. Woohoo!

The CatGenie has a bowl and you fill it with these washable, litter-like granules. Your cat jumps into the bowl and does her business. Any urine moves down through the bowl (which has holes in it) into a holding tank (essentially a septic tank) while poop remains on the top. Occasionally you run the device and a robotic arm pops up, scooping out the poop and liquidating it with some heavy duty cleaner they have. It also sucks all the urine into the drain as well. It uses water to rinse the litter and basin so that there is no residual smell. Wow, amazing!

It is a great concept – and we’ve actually chucked our old litter boxes, but that isn’t to say it doesn’t have some major problems. Namely:

  • Size – The bowl is smaller than most single cat litter boxes. While Hermione and Piper have no difficulties, Barclay who is our “gentle giant” finds it a bit more difficult to utilize. The litter area could use about twice its current size.
  • Robotic Arm – The robotic arm is supposed to grab all the poop and scoop it up and then dump it down this shoot where the poop is liquidized. Unfortunately, it has this violent shaking process it utilizes to ensure the reusable litter doesn’t get disposed of as well and generally looks 25-50% of the poop it scoops.
  • Smell – And thus begins the smell issue.
  • Smell #1 – You essentially create a small sewer in the bottom of your CatGenie. This does not smell friendly – so don’t forget to run it regularly!
  • Smell #2 – I don’t know about you, but the heavy-duty cleaning agent they utilize drives me out of the entire upstairs of the house[1. I just ordered unscented cleaning agents.]
  • Smell #3 – Oohh…Poop stew. This is what you get when the robotic arm fails to grab all the poop and the CatGenie then begins washing the granules (and all the poop that was missed). The smell is not pleasant!
  • Smell #4 – Stir up poop! This is essentially what happens in the wash cycle…and the smell can be absolutely horrid!

In spite of its seemingly magical self-cleaning state (I was hoping for something like a human toilet’s self-maintenance) it has a tendency to clog (if you have long haired cats) and my processing unit just died, so until Monday or Tuesday it is back to the manual processes.

That said, it hasn’t gone onto the trash heap like the automatic shower cleaner. Instead, we’ll be getting a new processing unit (here’s hoping they’ve improved their routine a bit for cleaning), and I’ll probably start scooping the poop and dumping it down the toilet rather than letting it run through (the horrid smell you get is pooh, not urine generally). Finally, we use some Baking Soda-esque powder to occasionally dump onto the waste in-between cycles. It replaces the wretched smells with something rosy and beautiful.

If I didn’t have a CatGenie, would I buy one? Nahh…But since I have one I’m gonna use it. It’s good enough to use, but not good enough to buy.