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Monday, 28 November 2011

Food review and competition time!

Hi there, folks. Well, it seems that you'll be hearing from me sooner than I thought you would! It's for something very exciting though.

Last month, we ran a competition for attending the Supreme Cat Show, and our winner had a fantastic day out. This time, I'm running another competition, and this time it benefits both you and your cats.

A few months ago, I was contacted by a representative of NutriCat,
a new dry cat food recently released in the UK. They had been following the blog, and were interested to see what I, and more importantly the cats, thought of their new pet food. I agreed to review the food for them. Let me make it very clear that I was not paid in any way for the review, except, of course, for the provision of a bag of cat food to be reviewed. Nor has the review been censored by them in any way.

NutriCat, as I've said, is a new dry cat food, marketted as being vet approved. Indeed, their vet features very heavily on Their Website
which is quite informative and has a lot of information on there. As those of you who know me can attest, I am very, very particular almost to the point of being OCD about what I feed my cats as I don't want to compromise their nutrition in any way. I am a big advocate of feeding wet, but I do also feed dry alongside it to supplement the wet food that I give, and also to make sure that if any new owners choose to feed dry, the kittens are used to and accepting of it. That said, the dry food that I feed isn't the most nutritionally super on the market.

"But you're OCD about their nutrition", I hear you say. Yes I am, but unfortunately the cats don't share my slightly crazy tendancies. Tia came to me on Royal Canin Persian, and no matter how many times I've tried to change her onto something that has a higher meat content, she rebels, usually by way of frequent piles of sick or hair balls on the only carpet in the house which isn't stain proof. Eventually I gave in, and I now feed RC exclusively as my dry choice.

In order for me to try this new food, I examined its nutritional profile very closely, and found it to be not far off that of the Royal Canin I was feeding. "ok," I thought, "I'll review it, but feed it in small portions to avoid any bouts of sickness and rebelling from Tia... My carpet doesn't need any more abuse!"

And that's exactly what I did. NutriCat comes in 400G, 1KG and 2.5KG bags, but no bigger. I'd see this as a potential problem if breeders wanted to feed this exclusively, as 2.5 KG just isn't large enough to sustain a big cat population for more than a few weeks. However, the fact that it's easily available in trial sized bags is excellent as it gives new owners the chance to sample the food without having to throw loads away if the cat decides they don't like it. Storage is easier if it's bought in smaller bags, and you won't break your back trying to lug 10 KG of food into your house!

When I opened the bag, the first thing I noticed was that it didn't have a terribly good reseal mechanism, but this isn't a huge issue for me as I normally put bags of dry straight into air-tight containers. However, this is something you need to be aware of if you're planning to keep it in the original bags, as I doubt they would be air tight. Again though, because the biggest bag is only 2.5 KG, the chances of food perrishing due to exposure before it's eaten are minimal.

The kibbles themselves are small and round, and would be just as easily picked up by kittens as adults. They don't even smell too bad, something I normally hate with dry food as it does tend to pong a lot. I found that my cats were dropping a lot of the kibble when they picked it up, but to be perfectly honest, they do this with every dry food except for the RC Persian, and this isn't surprising as the RC kibble has been specifically designed to accommodate the Persian's sublingual method of bringing food to the mouth (something which is unique to that breed). Because of this, I don't count the kibble dropping as a negative point. It's just worth noting if you have Persians. My lot didn't mind though, because they had fun picking the bits up off the floor to eat.

Now, as for its palatability, well, I haven't one bad thing to say! The cats ate it as though it was the best treat in the universe! In fact, in the end, I just filled a treat ball up with it and they were as enthusiastic about it in the ball as they are when it's filled with Dreamies or some other treat like Temptations etc. In fact, it was so much of a treat that it was actually this particular food that convinced one of my kittens that hand feeding was a good idea. I try to encourage them all to hand feed so that their owners can feed them treats, but one little boy simply wasn't interested until the NutriCat was offered. As I was coming close to the end of the bag, I filled a jar with the remaining food, and had to physically keep my hand over the top of it to stop them shoving their heads inside it during feeding time. they absolutely loved this food!

I gave small samples of this to a few friends to make sure that my cats' reactions were fairly typical, and every one of them reported that their cats wolfed down the food and asked for more. None of mine were sick on NutriCat, although I was careful how I fed it.

NutriCat is very easily available, being stocked and sold by Tesco nationwide. Its price is around the same as Royal Canin charge for breeders, but significantly cheaper than RC can be bought for by non-breeders. A 2.5 KG bag of NutriCat retails at £12.80, whereas a 2 KG bag of RC Persian is £16 plus. However, RC does include hairball control, and the kibbles are specially shaped for a Persian's mouth, and NutriCat doesn't possess either of those traits.

In summary, NutriCat is an incredibly good supermarket food, miles ahead of Whiskas and Felix, its two main competitors as I see it. If someone insists on only buying from the supermarket, I'd recommend NutriCat without hesitation. I won't change to feeding it exclusively myself, but this is only because of its lack of hairball control and its not having kibbles shaped specifically for the Persian's mouth. For any other breed though, it is a food to consider if you insist on feeding dry. Ask the cats and I'm sure they'd plump for this every time... It says a lot when you can use a dry food as treats! I'll continue to buy the small bags of it just to treat them with, as this is a far healthier option than Dreamies or their alternatives. Over all, both me and cats are very pleased with NutriCat.

And now, what about this exciting thing that I mentioned? Well, thanks to the generosity of NutriCat, you too will have the chance to try it out! NutriCat have agreed that I can run a competition to give one lucky winner the chance to sample the food themselves.

So, what's on offer? NutriCat have agreed to provide the winner of the competition with one month's supply of NutriCat in a flavour of their choice. The competition is very easy to enter.

All you have to do is visit the NutriCat Website
and have a look around. Then come back here and tell us which flavour of NutriCat you'd like by leaving a comment on this post. And that's it! The competition will run until 12 midnight GMT till next Monday the 5th of December. Entries will then be allocated a number, and a random number generator will be used to choose the winner. Then all that remains is for you to crack open the bag, and watch your cats enjoy! Remember, folks, even if you don't want to change your cats over totally to NutriCat (I know a lot of you are set on what you like to feed), they like it so much that it can be used as a very healthy, complete Treat Food too! So this competition is really worth entering. I'm sorry, but it's limited to those who live in the UK only.

I'd like to say a big thank you to the folks at Nutricat on behalf of the cats who absolutely loved the food. Good luck to all those who enter the competition too!

Wednesday, 23 November 2011

The Supreme and Paws

Goodness, it's been a long time since I've written on here. Time just seems to run away with me, and when you add to that the fact that my computer blew up over the weekend and my internet access has been restricted, it doesn't make it easy to post! I've actually put off writing this for another reason as well.

Paws has gone to his new home. He left on the 12th of November with his new mum, who spent most of her visit on the floor playing with everyone... Always a good way to convince me that you're a good home for one of my kittens. Paws actually put himself into the carrier when it was time to go, settled down, curled up and was quite content in there. I, on the other hand, was and still am to some extent an emotional wreck. I knew it was coming, but with him it's been particularly hard. I had him for a long time, got to know his little personality, and I miss him so much even a week and a half on that the hurt is almost physical.

I won't write too much more about him here. I'm trying to move on for the sake of my own sanity, and talking about him doesn't help that. I will tell you that he settled well, and, just like his brother, within a few minutes of getting home he was yelling to be let out of his safe room! I consider it an incredible complement that all of my kittens are more distressed about being left alone than being moved to a new home, because it shows what a good job I've done socialising them with people. Paws now has another cat to live with, and is just working out how best to interact with an older cat who isn't too impressed that her days of being the single spoilt puss are over! There's been no fighting though, and he's eating well (well there's a surprise), and settling superbly. His new name is Manny.

Saturday saw me and the remaining cats packed off to the Supreme Cat Show, and what a packing job it was! I had 2 cats, all the usual show equipment, drapes, themed items etc. Fitting it all in the car was a nightmare! We'd gone up the day before to decorate the pens, so on the morning of the show, setting up the cats was relatively simple.

The Supreme Cat Show is very different to most other GCCF shows, with cats being judged in rings rather than simply being taken from their pens and judged right in front of them. Sadly, neither of my two girls were overly impressed with being removed from one pen, shoved into another strange one, then handled by complete strangers. Millie coped well enough, but Tia degenerated quickly into one huge grump, even grumping at me when I tried to give her a cuddle and settle her. She just didn't enjoy her day at all, and by the end of it, she actually hid herself under the bed. Needless to say, as much as I'd like to, I won't be taking her back to the Supreme. I never show a cat if they give me signs that they aren't enjoying the experience, and Tia really wasn't.

Millie wasn't overly thrilled. She too hid under the bed, but more I think, because it was cosy rather than because she was frightened. She does this a lot at home, hiding under blankets, snuggling under cushions, and on the day she came out straight away whenever she heard my voice and showed no signs of fear. When she was judged in one class, she even asked for a tummy tickle! However, the day was absolutely manic, and running between two cat pens plus trying to see the rest of the show myself was simply too much. I don't think I'll take two cats again, unless I'm certain they will be penned very near to each other.

I'm very pleased to announce though that both girls got a first place in their breed classes, and little Millie's pen was awarded 5th place in the over all best decorated pen competition! Considering that there were over 1100 pens at the Supreme (I'll admit that not all of them were decorated), this is quite an achievement!

What's even better is that Cat Planet actually took photos of my pens! Do you know how long I've been waiting for a Cat Planet photo? I'm so, so thrilled to actually be up there! You can see photos of Tia's pen, pen 8, by clicking Here.">Here.>

You can see Millie's pen, number 33 I think, by clicking Here.
I'm so proud of both girls for doing as well as they did!

My next show won't be until mid December, so you may not here much from me until then. Wish us luck!

Wednesday, 2 November 2011

AWOL No More!

Hi there, folks. Long time no see, eh? All I can say is I'm sorry. I'm not going to go into details of why I haven't been around. Let's just go with the revelation that life has been, well, interesting over the last month or so, and I just haven't had the physical time or the mental want to write a blog. I think stress is my middle name!

Firstly the cat show. We did well in some ways and badly in others. Both girls came first in their open classes (these are the classes where the results really matter), but Tia's CC was withheld. A CC is a challenge certificate, and you need three to make your cat a champion. Previously, Tia had always been withheld on because of her type. Her face isn't flat enough. I'd very privately decided before I went to this show that if she was withheld on for the same reason, I'd stop showing her and let the Supreme be her swansong. I always ask to talk to the withholding judge, and this time was no different... Except that it was.

My judge on the day was perhaps the nicest judge I'd ever met, and I can't even begin to tell you the encouragement I got from her. She had withheld on Tia not for her type, but for her coat condition. It hadn't fully come back in yet after kittens, and I knew it, so I wasn't surprised it had been mentioned. The lady went on to say that I should continue to show her as it was nice to see an open type back on the show bench, and that she should do well once her coat sorts itself out again, provided I was careful to choose those judges who liked the open types. She also complemented me on my very beautiful kittens. My day turned from a resolution not to show her again to a new hope that other judges might just recognise the merrits of the open type Persian.

Paws came second in his open class, with the first and best of breed going to the most adorable little chocolate point boy kitten who was a great snuggler and just scrummy! His breeder was so lovely that I couldn't even be sorry that her kitten had won over mine. She was incredibly encouraging about my kittens and even Tia, too. Said she'd bred some cracking open types, and that I shouldn't get down because not everyone liked them. I can't tell you how much good this day did me. I was starting to question if I'd ever get anywhere with the Persians.

Millie did the best out of all the cats on the day. She got a first in her open class, the best of breed being taken by that little chocolate boy, but this is a big thing, because the judge who awarded the placing is one of the strictest Persian judges who would have withheld the first if there had been any major faults. The critique he's written isn't glowing, but nor does it tell me never to show the kitten again as she's awful, and I've seen him hint at this in other reports! Millie also beat off competition from nine cats to be placed third in a side class. How wonderful is that! I was absolutely chuffed to bits, as some of the kittens there were absolutely stunning.

I came home on a high, but hit rock bottom the next morning when Millie had the worst case of the runs I've ever seen in a kitten. I won't go into details, but she was so bad at one point over the next week that I was convinced I was going to lose her. I watched as she was too ill to even get up and vomit and was forced to do it all over herself instead. I sat by her and cried as she just put her head back down again, too sick to even move away from the pool of puke she was lying in. I gave up trying to clean her bum as the constant bathing was making it red and sore. So there she was covered in her own puke and poo, and not making any attempt to do anything about it. I held her and said my goodbyes. The next day though, while she wasn't super well or anything, she was better, and the next, she was a little better again. Paws caught whatever it was off her and they both got sick. Over the last few weeks they've had a few relapses, but I'm not sure if that's because I'm trying to reintroduce their old food too quickly or because the bug is coming back. However, they've been clear for ages now, so it's time to start moving them onto their old food again... Fingers crossed that their tummies stay solid!

Incidentally, for anyone else going through the same thing, you need pumpkin. I swear I've fallen in love with the stuff, and it works so well! If they have the runs, pumpkin bulks them up. If they're constipated, pumpkin loosens things. It's amazing! To prepare it, remove all of the innards and seeds from the pumpkin and throw away. Chop the shell of the pumpkin into roughly 2 inch squares, place in a pan, just cover with water, bring to the boil, then simmer gently for 25 minutes. Then drain the water and, using a spoon, scrape the now soft pulp away from the skin. Throw the skin away. Mash the pulp with a fork, continuing to remove excess water. You should serve 1 heaped teaspoonful per meal to a cat, and one heaped tablespoonful of this pulpy mixture to a dog with every meal. It can be frozen, or stored fresh in the fridge for up to a week. I swear it saved my bacon. Kittens are almost totally solid again within hours of giving it. Have I mentioned I love pumpkin yet?

On a brighter but also much sadder front, I think I've finally found a new home for Paws, and it's breaking my heart. Every time I think about him going, I want to scream, then hide him in a cupboard, and when the poor woman gets here I can say "Cat? What cat? Don't know what you're talking about!" I keep trying to convince myself that I could keep him and show him in the household pets section because his personality is just so loving and cuddly. He wants to be on a person at every waking moment. He's gentle when he plays, he'll purr for anyone, he even purrs in the vets! He sleeps on your chest rather than in his lap, he purrs away to himself even when you're not touching him... In short, he's everything I've ever wanted in a cat. He's what I've been waiting for. The only problem is that he's not a stunning show neuter. Can I afford to give him up? What if I regret it? What if I decide to stop breeding next year and discover that there would have been space for him to stay after all? What if he would have done well in Household Pets? But then, this new home is spectacular. They already have a Persian who is so spoiled that they can't even bear to leave her alone long enough to visit relatives. She has hundreds of toys, sleeps with the couple by night, and is so much queen of her house that they daren't close a door in her face even for a bit of peace! Isn't this a better home for a very people oriented cat than one where he'll have to deal with moody, hormonal queens (his mother's already smacking him about thanks to her being on full call today, and all because he wants a snuggle), fractious mums, rampaging kittens and the portion of my attention that I can give to him? The answer is pretty clear, and as much as I really do love him, and I do, I need to not be so selfish and think about what's better for him. Of course, this all implies that I continue to breed, and I do have a sneaky suspicion that if I give up any time soon, I'll beat myself up forever for letting this one go, but what if I don't? That's the question, and because I don't know, I need to proceed as though I will continue. If I could just be sure that I'd be able to produce another kitten with his temperament then I'd not feel so bad. But life gives no assurances.

Millie has learned to chirp! Up until now she's managed to Weeeeow! or Wooow! or Eo at me, but when it was food time on Monday there was a definite brrrp in there! She was so pleased with herself that that little tail of hers was sticking straight up in the air and almost quivering! I've heard her sneakily practicing to herself too... I gotta laugh every time! Their little tails are so cute though. They're all still stripey, and whenever it's food time, they stick straight up and the kittens strut around as though they're amazing!

Paws, you might remember, isn't the brightest star in the sky, but the thing he's started doing over the last few weeks still takes the biscuit. He's started getting lost... In his own house! He will go into the kitchen, then apparently forget where he is. There then follows a period of shouting and calling until I answer him, and he'll come running to my voice like there's a hoard of monsters on his tail! Of course, he then needs a reassuring cuddle, but a few hours later, the same thing happens. He gets terribly upset if you don't call to him when he's shouting, and I've seen him get frantic once when I was distracted and didn't notice. And all this in a small bungalow that he's known forever! he can see the living room from the kitchen and the hall. This is where I always am, but still he gets lost! I wonder if they have a Darwin Award for cats? If so, I'm sure he's won it.

Paws is now officially a tim rather than a tom. He had the snip yesterday, and is making it clear in no uncertain terms that his bum is sore and should be respected. He keeps smacking me if my hand goes anywhere below his ribs. Poor boy. I caught him sitting on the cool kitchen floor last night, something he doesn't normally do, so I presume it's pretty sore. Oh how I wish I could explain to them what's happened. Mind you, it hasn't stopped him playing. Within seconds of being allowed out of the carrier he'd jumped up on top of it to have a look around, bopped his mum, then jumped on his sister's head and run off to fill his face at the food dish. I've never seen anything like it. Whenever Tia has an anaesthetic, she sleeps for hours afterwards!

Paws' potential new mum is coming to have a snuggle with him on the 12th of November, and if he likes her (there's no question that she, of course, will love him), then he'll go home with her the very same day, and another little piece of my heart will go with him. I hate this part of breeding. I hate it with a passion.