BY ERIC STENSON
With lazy summer days upon us, it’s a great opportunity to invite our feline friends to enjoy the great outdoors with us, including those that might not necessarily be used to spending a lot of time outside.
LupinePet of Conway, New Hampshire, makes a variety of cat collars, leads and harnesses. Included in its line is a “breakaway” collar that can be used to ID a cat. These are available with a bell attachment, so if your cat likes to hide, the tinkling sound will give it away.
“Many consumers do like to identify their cat if it spends time outside. A collar with ID can also help reunite an ‘indoor’ cat if it manages to slip outside,” said Tracy McCarthy, a member of Lupine’s marketing team. “Breakaway collars are designed to release under a certain amount of pressure, which can save a cat’s life. Cats that wear a collar should be handled every day so that the fit and condition of the collar can be checked.”
Harnesses and leads work very well in getting a cat to go out for a controlled stroll outdoors, McCarthy says, as long as the owner is careful to ensure the proper fit.
“The harness is essentially an adjustable collar attached to an adjustable girth,” she said. “When the collar portion is adjusted so that it will not slip over the head and the girth is adjusted so that the front legs won’t easily get out of the girth, the person holding the leash has an excellent chance of keeping the cat connected.”
Convincing a Feline
A little positive reinforcement goes a long way toward convincing a cat that wearing a harness and following a lead is a good idea.
“The best way to introduce a cat to the harness is to treat it like a desensitization process. The goal is to have the cat not mind wearing the harness, or to even look forward to going on outings with it,” McCarthy said. “As with all training, you need to break it down into tiny steps. When you gain acceptance of one step, then you can add the next step. Success is driven by the personality of the cat and the patience and persistence of the trainer. A calm cat and lots of ‘high value’ treats (small bits of hot dog or cooked chicken, for example).
“Forced acceptance is a good way to make your cat hate wearing a harness,” she continued. “It’s important to remember that the harness does not break away, so the cat should never be left alone wearing one.”
Lupine has been making cat products since its beginnings in the early 1990s, employing bright colors and patterns to give felines a sense of fashion as they stroll down the avenue on summer days.
Cats are famously independent and might feel the urge to “get away from it all” during the outdoor season. What better way than having a place of their own? Petmate of Arlington, Texas, makes the Kitty Kat Condo, a great crash pad for the feline on the go.
“The condo is a great place for cats to hide and sleep, while the rain-diverting hood directs runoff away from the entry,” said John Rodriguez, product manager at Petmate. “It can also keep their food dry if cats prefer to be outdoors.”
Rodriguez says cats take to it readily, so once they realize it’s a place of comfort, they will return to it again and again. It also provides a welcome refuge for wandering felines just looking for some temporary shelter.
“It’s designed to provide a comfortable and enclosed space that caters to a cat’s natural tendency to curl, day or night,” Rodriguez said. “The Kitty Cat Condo is a great option for anyone taking care of stray cats that won’t exactly come into the household. The condo ensures that they will always have a place to feel safe, warm and secure, even if they are not domesticated.”
It’s also crucially important to keep cats safe from blood-sucking insects that can make their outdoor experience an exercise in misery. Natural remedies exist to save felines from facing harsh chemicals to protect them from fl eas and ticks.
Earth Animal of Westport, Connecticut, makes internal powder and drops for feline use. Susan Goldstein, co-founder and co-CEO, says the company is working toward development of a natural flea collar made primarily of herbal ingredients, expected to be ready later this summer.
Products made by Wondercide of Austin, Texas, include flea, tick and mosquito control spray for pets and home. Stephanie Boone, CEO, founded Wondercide to protect people, pets and property without resorting to harsh chemicals.
“We use organic, human-grade, therapeutic-grade essential oils that are specifically formulated to be aromatherapeutic for dogs and cats,” she said. “Cedar oil is calming, soothing and comforting. Lemongrass is revitalizing, invigorating and uplifting. Rosemary is relaxing, restorative and clarifying.”
One of the reasons behind the selection of her company’s formulas was specifically making them safe for cats, since they are self-grooming and could easily be licking themselves right after treatment and could ingest some of the product.
As far as interacting with retailers is concerned, Boone says her company deals specifi cally with independent businesses.
“We believe in supporting local communities and ensuring wherever our customers purchase Wondercide, they receive personalized service and the expertise of a knowledgeable staff ,” she said.
Removing a Tick
Suppose you have treated your tabby and it still comes home with a tick. What do you do? That’s where Dan “Tick Man Dan” Wolff of TickEase in Needham, Massachusettes, can help. His company’s device—the TickEase tick removal tweezer—is specially designed to remove ticks from humans and pets. He is developing a foldable version that can be carried on a keychain for hikes or camping.
The tweezer has two ends—one pointed to remove ticks from humans and a scoopshaped end for use on pets. The angled construction works well for pets, especially behind ears, he said.
Wolff, whose “love-hate relationship” with ticks is demonstrated by the tick tattoos he has on each leg, says it looks like a particularly heavy season for ticks. Th is can be very dangerous for cats, potentially exposing them to Bartonella, commonly known as cat-scratch fever.
He also says that pet owners need to take a different approach when removing ticks from cats vs. dogs.
“Dogs will roll over and let you rub their bellies to check,” he said “You have to sneak up on cats, so the cat won’t know any better. Don’t put any substance [on the tick]. Pull it straight out. Don’t leave the mouth parts on, that can lead to further infection.”
From a retailer perspective, Nadine Johnson-Barthel, manager of Bentley’s Pet Stuff Bayview in Milwaukee, says that major outdoor cat products have included fl ea and tick control, glow-in-the-dark collars, quick-release collars and harnesses. RC Pet Products, Alzoo and Richard‘s Organics are popular brands. She said she recently had a customer get a bike carrier for her cat, and she personally has a tent for her feline to enjoy the great outdoors.
“More and more cat owners want their cats to enjoy life outside but don’t want them to roam on their own,” she said