Neither Amtrak nor Greyhound allows pets, so consider flying or driving to your destination. Check with your carrier before the trip, as each airline has its own policies regarding pets.read more
Fat cats now have a new incentive to exercise: They can work for their kibble. Talk to Me Pet Products has developed the new Talk to Me Rubber Treatball, which owners can use to entice their pets to bat around the ball and chase it for dry food. The ball also plays a 12-second recorded message from you every time kitty swats the toy. "A lot of people have fun with this," says Mike Sachtleben, the company's sales manager. "They say things like, 'Get your ball' or 'I love you.'"
The balls, which are priced from $13.99 to $17.99, are among thousands of pet products that will be featured at the American Pet Product Association's (APPA) Global Pet Expo, March 25-27 in Orlando, Fla. The 2010 show features 750 exhibitors. It is not open to the public, but professional buyers from around the world attend.
Pet Product Spending on the Rise
Although fallout from the worldwide recession continues, the APPA says spending on pet products and services has been on the rise. Many of the purchases come from owners buying “products that allow us to keep our pets well taken care of in spite of our more frantic personal lives,” says APPA President Bob Vetere. "High-tech items like timed feeding, watering devices, electric fences, automatic litter box cleaners and the like allow us to work and keep our pets well."
Here are three cat products you may want to consider bringing into your home:
1. "Space-age" self-warming bed Now that heated seats are standard in most new cars, it's only natural that your cat should have a heated cushion of its own. Simple Solution's Self-Warming Thermal Cat Cushion deploys a "space-age material" that reflects a kitty's body heat back to the animal. With a plush fur pad cover, the thermal qualities help soothe a cat's aching bones. It’s perfect for the aged, infirm or just plain spoiled cat. It’s machine-washable too.
2. Stress-relief gel Help your cat survive thunderstorms and other nerve-racking events. Vet's Best now makes Comfort Calm Gel with a mix of valerian root -- which the ancient Greeks used to help calm nerves and sleeplessness -- and tryptophan, a well-known calming ingredient. The line of natural products, developed by Dr. Dawn Curie Thomas, a veterinarian, is billed as a healthy way to help care for your cat. According to Thomas, Comfort Calm Gel is a soothing, calming remedy that eases the feline stress of travel, big events and loud noises.
3. Air purifier Cat allergies are reportedly on the rise. Unlike humans who tend to get runny noses and scratchy throats during allergy season, cat reactions tend to manifest themselves in itchy skin. Some pets scratch so much that they develop sores. But Annette and Mike Uda believe they’ve found a solution for their allergy-afflicted cat, Tasha.
Uda, who works in the indoor air quality control industry, and his wife use powerful, medical-grade ultraviolet light technology and allergen filters to turn homes and professional offices like theirs into safe places for pets. PetAirapy makes portable and stationary heating, ventilating and air conditioning systems starting at $395. "I think this is going to be a major breakthrough in the industry," says Annette. "There's nothing out there right now to treat pet allergies except to give them medicine."The fact that we spend more on such pet products these days is a continuation of efforts to "humanize" our pets. Vetere explains, "When we have a pet we can come home to who loves us unconditionally, never complains or has a bad thing to say, we want to tell them thank you.” You can thank your own cat with one of the mentioned products, which will be in pet stores soon, following the Global Pet Expo.
Elizabeth Wasserman, a Washington, D.C., area-based freelancer, has been writing about pets, among other topics, for more than 15 years. Her love of dogs, in particular, was handed down through the generations from her great-grandfather, Eric Knight, who wrote the book Lassie Come Home in the 1930s.
Cats reach full skeletal development when they are this old: