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News and Information about Dogs, Cats, and Pet Products

So you want to delve into the world of cat toys, but have no clue where to start. Cats are picky. We get it, and the thought of going to all the trouble of picking a new toy for kitty just for them to ignore it is frustrating! The issue is that cats—like humans and dogs—need stimulation and exercise to stay healthy. Some cats are naturally energetic, and that’s great! But with age, that energy can start to fade, so it’s important to encourage regular play. Needless to say, that’s where toys come in. But how do you pick what’s best for your feline companion?

Step one is easy. Watch your cat! Do they love shoelaces and string? Do they go nuts over cellophane wrappers? Pay attention to objects your kitty is naturally drawn to; AKA the things you’re constantly scolding them for chewing. Every cat has their own, unique preferences on what they consider to be a toy, so take that into consideration. Wand toys are great places to start.

We suggest the Curlz Teaser Cat Toy by Kong. What’s great about this particular wand toy is that it’s more than just a bit of string tied to a rod. The “dangly” part is a stretchy, springy curl which adds in a new level of fun, and attached to the end are boa feathers to make it extra enticing! What’s most important, though, is that this toy encourages social behavior.

It might be surprising to some, but even the most aloof cats can be more drawn to playtime if it involves you! Plus, it’s pretty tough to ignore something that’s being dangled in front of your face. That being said, if wand toys aren’t working, then you can always step it up a notch with every cat parent’s secret weapon: catnip.


Catnip infused toys work wonders for drawing your kitty in. Our customers’ favorite is the Yeowww Banana! When you think of cats, bananas might not be the first thing that come to mind, but it’s more about the shape. The rounded shape is great for your cat to grab and “rabbit kick”! Plus, it’s stuffed with irresistibly potent, 100% organic catnip.

But what if the wands and the catnip don’t work? Is it hopeless? Is your cat doomed to do nothing but lie around and sleep??? No! It’s just time for a little bribery. That’s right, folks. We’re talking treats.

We have yet to meet a cat who says no to their favorite snack, and there are actually products that will make them have to work for it a bit. For kitties new to puzzle toys, we like to point them in the direction of the Catit Play Treat Spinner. Simply place a few treats inside and let your cat do what they do best: knock it over! The inside has puzzle-like “barriers” and the bottom is similar to that of a toy top, which encourages kitty to use their paws and their brain to figure out how to get to the treats within. It can also be used as a slow feeder for cats who get a little overexcited about their food. The silicone cover is easy to remove and the toy itself is a snap to clean.

For those of you who have picky cats, older cats, or cats that are a little (or a lot) on the lazy side, remember to be patient. You might find the perfect toy right away, or you might have a little trial and error, but toys are about more than spoiling your kitty. They’re about keeping them healthy, happy, and stimulated so they can live their best nine lives.

In last week’s blog: Keep Your Pup Busy this Winter, I told you about a starter puzzle toy to try out with your dog this winter.  Did your pup figure it out already? Or is your pup just so smart that you need to try out some puzzle toys that are little more difficult?  Well, we have them for you!!  Here are some of our favorite puzzle toys to try today!

  • Dog Twister by Nina Ottosson ~ Skill Level – Hard. Spin to reveal the treats! This puzzle toy encourages your pup to learn to dislodge the bones and move the compartments to earn the treat hidden inside.  You can make your dog work even harder by hiding less treats or even locking some of the compartments.  This is great for cats too!

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  • Hol-ee Treat Ball by JW Pet ~ Skill Level – EASY.  It Rolls, Slides, Rotates and out come the TREATS! Holey moley…this is an awesome dog toy!  All you have to do is unscrew the top and fill it with our dog’s favorite treat!  It is made from durable, non-toxic natural rubber.

 

  • $T2eC16d,!zkFJJwSE2bJBSZR2Vfm,!--60_35Dog Magic by Nina Ottosson ~ Skill Level – EASY.  Remove the bones to reveal the treats! This is a relatively easy game, where your pup has to dislodge the bones to get the hidden treats.  You can choose to put the treats under one, several or all of the bones, to vary the difficulty of the game. Great for Cats too!

 

 

  • Tornado by Nina Ottosson ~ Sill Level – HARD.  Rotate the layers to reveal the treats! The idea behind the ‘Dog Tornado’ is for the dog to dislodge the removable bones, then turn the revolving sections to reveal hidden treats.  It has many variables to increase the level of difficulty as the dog’s skill improves.  This one is good for Cats too!COA-054_1z
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  • Bob-A-Lot by StarMark ~ Skill Level – EASY.  The Bob-A-Lot’s innovative design dispenses treats or food as your pup uses its nose or paws to tip it over.  The top and bottom chambers can have the dispensers adjusted to make it easier or harder to get the treats out.  The Bob-A-Lot is also a great way to stop your quick eaters from gobbling down their food too quickly.

Celebrate National Puzzle day by stopping in and picking up one of these or any of the other several puzzle toys that we have!  Your fur-kid will be thanking you this weekend!

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Hi guys — it’s another blog from the Cat Corner! Some of us at Two Bostons are true “cat ladies.” Not crazy, thankfully — but pretty enthusiastic when it comes to creative new toys. The Glide ‘N Seek by Kong is another one that my cats at home have tried.

The Glide ‘N Seek features a little magnetic feather that seems to come alive once the toy’s motor is turned on. This feather spins and bounces unpredictably, so cats are attracted to the movement as it pokes through the toy’s peek-a-boo holes. Cats use their paws to bat at the feather — but since it moves in all different directions, most cats start trying to hunt it, chase it, and pounce!

 

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The Kong Glide ‘N Seek, with those pesky feathers playfully poking out.

I’ll admit that it took my cats a few tries to get the hang of it, as you’ll see in the videos below. At first they liked the toy just sitting there turned off, and played with it like that. But they needed just a little more mental stimulation to hold their interest — and this is where the moving yellow feather came in. Cats are naturally attracted to movement, and they can never figure out where that feather will pop up next. Faced with a situation like that, it doesn’t take long for a cat’s predatory instincts to kick in. The magnets keep the chase challenging, so your cat stays engaged even when you have housework, homework, or other projects to focus on.

The Glide ‘N Seek is also easy for nearly anyone to operate, because it turns on and off with the press of a single button. You can even boost the curiosity factor by inserting a favorite toy, so your cat will paw at it through the holes. Here’s a video of Hunter and LuLu playing with the Glide ‘N Seek. Please ignore the background noises — but notice those focused looks on their faces! Stop by any Two Bostons store, and we’ll be happy to tell you more.

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Awhile back, I asked my niece – who owns a calico kitten named Hazel – what she likes best about cats. She said, very matter-of-factly, “I like cats because they’re so cute. But I like dogs too, because they’re smart.”

I thought that was a pretty fair statement, even for a 5-year-old.  After all, dogs perform an awful lot of important roles in our society. I mean when was the last time you ever heard of a drug detector cat, a police cat, a seeing-eye cat, or a military bomb-sniffing cat ? But then again, is that because dogs are actually smarter, or um,  just a little bit more … cooperative?

I started checking around with pet behaviorists, and even an animal psychologist. Here are a couple of interesting facts I learned, which are all confirmed by Psychology Today:

  • Unlike the brains of dogs, the brains of cats have a surface area and structure that is about 90 percent similar to humans.
  • In an average cat, the cerebral cortex – i.e., the part of the brain responsible for cognitive information processing, decision-making, language interpretation, sensory input, and problem-solving — is larger and more complex than that of the average dog. In fact, a cat’s cerebral cortex contains about twice as many neurons as that of a dog.
  • Cats have more nerve cells in the visual areas of their cerebral cortex than humans and most other mammals.
  • Cats have longer-lasting memories than dogs, especially when they learn by doing rather than just seeing.

So long story short, cats are a great deal more intelligent than many people might suspect. Their independent streak can work against them, though, because many pet parents might presume their cats just want to be left alone. In truth, a cat can benefit tremendously from regular mental stimulation — especially when all the windows are  covered with frost, or that cat’s humans are away at work eight hours a day.

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Most pet parents realize that their cats are MUCH smarter than many people might suspect. Stimulate this proven natural intelligence with fun, activity-based toys from Bergan, SmartCat, and Nina Ottosson.

 

So maybe one of your resolutions in 2014 involves some beneficial “brain training” for your best feline friend. What are some of your best options? When it comes to independent or group kitty play, consider activity-based toys that involve sensory stimulation and invite your pet’s direct engagement.

 

Cat Texts

Cats are extremely smart and curious, so they can get into mischief when left to their own devices. We realize they can’t actually send texts like Mittens here. Well all right, we wouldn’t put it past them.

 

At Two Bostons, there are a couple of options we especially like. SmartCat makes several sensory-stimulating products that leverage your cat’s natural sense of curiosity.  Bootsie’s Bunk Bed & Playroom, for example, is an ideal choice for multiple cats. It’s a sturdy wooden block that features numerous round openings for paws and toys to poke out.  It also has two bouncy spring-action toys on the outside, plus a comfy quilted pad up-top for rest breaks or gazing outside at those pesky sparrows. A great companion piece is the Peek-and-Play Pet Toy Box, which has a durable wood construction with a “Swiss cheese” design that provokes your cat’s natural predatory behavior and works with a variety of toys – Yeowww! Brand Catnip Toys are one great option.

For many cats (including my own), another all-time favorite is the Turbo Track made by Bergan. This is actually five toys in one, because you can snap the modular pieces together to create a range of different track designs. You can even add accessory pieces to increase complexity and elongate the track even further. I think of this piece as a sort of “Hotwheels/Habitrail” system for cats. They just love to paw and pounce at a round object as it scoots around the track, which can keep them actively occupied for hours … which, in turn, can mean they’re much less likely to claw at your drapes or become frantically entangled in Grandma Polly’s hand-crocheted afghan.

If you have a super-smart feline friend, give that natural intelligence a workout with any of our great activity-based cat toys by SmartCat, Bergan, Nina Ottosson and others. Any Two Bostons team member can provide suggestions that are custom-tailored to your kitty’s tastes. Don’t forget that we carry an extensive selection of interactive puzzle toys for your smart pooch, too!