cat gear

Between the two of us, we've had quite a few animals throughout our lives. Hamsters, gerbils, mice, fish, snakes, birds, frogs, ducks, dogs and cats. There were even a couple of cows thrown in for good measure. We know what pet gear you need…and what you don't. Here are our favorite (and least favorite) pet gear products.

What You Need:

Pet odor eliminator. Our cat, Ulysses, likes to “mark his territory,” so we've been through the full gamut of cleaning solutions. Simple Green, Bleach, 409…even shop vacs. You really, REALLY need a specially-formulated enzyme formula to get the smell out completely. Otherwise, pets will be drawn to mark in the same spot over and over and over again.

Pet hair roller. “I didn't realize the ‘shag' sweater look was back…oh wait. Ewww.” To avoid making an unintentionally bizarre fashion statement, stash a pet hair roller in your closet and in the car.

Play balls. For our cats, we use ping pong balls. Most dogs like to chase after something about the size of a tennis ball. This will provide hours of entertainment and exercise for your active pet.

Brushes. Use a brush to pull off the extra fur before you discover it all in a pile on your favorite chair.

Tags. Make it easy for neighbors to return your animal if when it goes missing. They like to wander and it's almost inevitable that your pet will go exploring out of your home territory at some point.

What You Don't:

Expensive shampoos. We just use Pert or any shampoo with a conditioner. Some people claim that shampoo dries out dog skin, but we haven't had that problem as long as we've used products that contain a conditioner along with the shampoo.

Pet crate. If you're traveling by air or have a very skittish animal this can be helpful. With all our pets, however, we simply sit them on the floor of the car or put them in a vented cardboard box for trips to and from the vet.

Fancy feeding systems. Those automated feed dispensers just don't cut it, and you don't really even need special dishes. A heavy bowl that won't tip over will suffice. If you have a particularly tall animal, set the feeding dishes up on a bench so your pet doesn't have to bend over and strain its neck.

A ginormous climbing apparatus. Chances are, you already own your cat's favorite piece of gymnastics equipment. We call ours “the couch.”