ManCat Monday: The Best Or Worst Gift Ever

Mancat Monday: The Best Or Worst Gift Ever.

It’s Mondays with Merlin with some help today from my fur bros. Domino and Odin, the best mancat pals a cat could ask for. When Layla got back from Florida, the first signs of spring had sprung and the boys abandoned me to spend most of the day on the porch or garden. It’s still not warm enough for me to me out for more than a few minutes because I have zero body fat. My auntie Sarah stopped by for a visit and was shocked to see how skinny I’d become and frankly, everyone is shocked I’m still alive.

There is a Finnish word my grandmother said I have bundles of and that’s sisu. It’s a dogged determination against all odds to persevere. The only food I want now is raw and I’m ravenous for it day and night. No, I will not go gently into the night. It’s driving everyone to re-examine what is best at a time when everyone is feeling their worst. My feline comrades look concerned at me at times with me flailing with blind (literally) determination to get from point A to B blind. They know. Cats have an intuitive sense about life and death. We don’t fear either but live in the moment as best we can.

Domino was out sunning himself on the big chair overlooking the burial mound. It was Gris Gris’ old chair by his grave and you could say Domino he looked mournful but let’s not anthropomorphize shall we? Okay, if we are going to go there, I could say his gaze is like “Blue Steel” from the film Zoolander. Domino gets points for surviving another winter. A big deal when you consider he spent 7 winters outdoors as a feral. We all survived but the toll was great. Sadness laced with anxiety and anger has crept into every crevice of our old house in anticipation of my demise. The humans would call it grace under fire BUT…blessed spring is here and I clearly have unfinished business.


Then the box arrived. A special delivery. We knew it was coming but it came early.  We’re used to parcels and boxes arriving. After 5 years of testing hundreds of cat products and reviewing hundreds of cat books, we know the drill. This new box lay unopened until yesterday. When Layla asked my dad, who it was from, he went all silent like guys do when they know but rather not tell. You don’t have to be a mind reader to know this would not be a new catnip toy.

Layla carefully opened the box from PawPods and found another box but not just any box but a eco-friendly burial casket. Casket? Like a coffin a box to bury the dead in or the other meaning of casket (n.) small and often ornate box for holding jewels or other valuables. Holy Bastet and curl my whiskers, but this is either the worst gift in the world or the best. I stayed upstairs and wasn’t privy to the unveiling. Cats don’t care for fancy things. Simple and natural is our mantra. I trust Layla to consider what’s best for me and I know she honors every hair on my 21-year-old body.


Odin our #1 products tester, heard the rip of a box opening and showed up in Pavlov’s dog fashion thinking catnip, catnip, catnip, treats, treats, treats. It almost doesn’t matter what the item is if the box it came in suits him. Odin has never met a box he didn’t like. The PawPod is silky smooth and surprisingly sturdy considering it’s made of bio-degradable bamboo and rice husks. The lid snaps on nice and tight but easily removed if you need to make any last minute changes. You could take a marker and doodle on it or paint a design.

The great thing about having it before we need it is having the time to prepare and make it special. Layla is thinking of doing a mandala design on top and finding the softest silk to wrap me in. Sounds rather spiffy already. Pet loss rituals and memorials are healing for everyone connected to the pet.

Doing some prep in advance is like a dress rehearsal to rein in stress and inform more meaningful choices.

Odin sniffed and immediately jumped into the box containing the PawPod. As soon as Layla removed it, he had a moment of confusion but read Layla’s mind about the real purpose and lost interest. Okaaaay, no catnip, no treats, no toys. I’m out of here. There was an odd moment of knowing we were all in sync and it was all okay.



Humans can be so judgmental but cats never are. We accept your fashion choices, weird habits and poor decisions. Cats think life and death are natural, unpredictable and a divine mystery. Dear humans, we get it.

Talking about death, funerals, or grieving can be awkward or creepypants uncomfortable. But like all fear-based emotions, they ease once the conversation starts and action is taken, like right meow. Planning ahead, whether providing for your pet in your will, prepping supplies for a funeral, memorial or burial can bring peace of mind.


If this post resonates with you, let us know in a comment and/or share.


See you next week for another Mondays With Merlin.

Love always,


Special thanks to PawPods for the gift. Best or worst gift? In my infinite wisdom I have deemed it the BEST gift ever for anyone with a pet in deep decline. Pawpods also make urns for cremation. Not all states in the U.S. allow pet owners to bury their pets in the backyard so check you state regulations. Pawpods make cute little fish pods and they are keen on stopping the practice of flushing goldfish and other aquatics being down the toilet. Not only is it disrespectful for a child’s early experience of pet loss but goldfish are now considered an invasive species.

FTC discaimer. This is not a sponsored post. All opinions are 100% feline and true.

Special paws taps to Domino, Odin and Nou Nou for their friendship and acceptance for what is. Oh yeah, my mom could use a hug and it’s my dad’s birthday today!


2016 Global Pet Expo Top 10 Cat Products

2016 Global Pet Expo Top 10 Cat Products


Global Pet Expo, in Orlando, Florida is the largest pet industry trade show of its kind. With over 1000 brands exhibiting this year, it’s impossible for one person to visit every booth but I made a good dent in the cat-centric category and clocked a marathon of miles beginning with the Skywalk bridge to the Orange County Convention Center.

If you missed it, check out our Global Top 5 Food/Treat list.

This year there were specialized sections including: Natural Pet, The Boutique, Everything Aquatic, What’s New! and the International Pavilion. To narrow down my top 10 cat products selction, I focused on new, eco-friendly products either made in the U.S. or sustainably sourced (with one exception to placate my inner child). Not only did I have to love the product but the people behind the product. I met with CEOs, small business owners, PR and sales reps and my choices were from the heart. You can’t fake passion or a good heart.

None of these brands are past or present sponsors to allow for a completely unbiased opinion. They are numbered in no particular order.

1) The Green Pet Shop KatPak Disposable Litter Box


The KatPak, a disposable litter box (in packs of 4) opens accordion-style and made from strong recycled paper is 100% biodegradable. Ideal for travel, moving, or emergencies. Pregnant women can dispose of the litter without any contact with used litter. The KatPak is a fun hideaway too since we all know cats can’t resist paper bags and boxes.

The fun, good energy team at The Green Pet Shop.


2) R2P Pets Variety of catnip and other toys.

The R2P brand has a number of pet toy brands. My favorite were from CATegories. This is a tiny sampling of a huge variety not available in stores yet. The large birds and fuzzy coils appealed to me and I’m curious how my cats would like the new toys that light up when pounced on.


3) Sauder Pet Home Collection Interactive Pet Cube


The family-owned Ohio-based company, which for more than 80 years has created stylish and affordable home furnishings for people, is now offering the same for pets. The sophisticated, modern designs are built like furniture for humans. I’m always looking for ways to use furniture the cats can use with turning in crazy cat lady decor. This handy multi-purpose table, perch, stool, scratcher is ideal.

4) Penn-Plax Cat Walk beds

This was the first booth that caught my eye with the Disney Frozen imagery. They do a number of Disney licensed products and while everything is made in China, my inner child liked everything. I snapped a few pics but I was running late and I didn’t have a chance to stop by until running back to catch a flight home. The family-owned firm has been in business since 1958. They sell to major retailers and I could find none selling the new items yet. There were a couple of furniture pieces that looked suspiciously like those from the Hagen Vesper line. I hope not but I’m going to follow-up because my next pick is from Hagen.


5) Hagen Vesper Line cat scratching perches & Catit Magic Blue


The beautifully designed and constructed Vesper line from Hagen, yet another family-owned business, wowed. The man in the photo, likely a buyer is handling the new V-Playstation for kittens. The new Vesper line in red took the #3 spot at the Global Pet Expo New Products awards. Hagen, founded in my hometown of Montreal in 1955 was my first experience with any pet brand. The photo of the new Magic Blue, a new litter box product which naturally absorbs ammonia and litter box odors is where I sat and chatted and brainstormed ideas (it seemed like the most natural place for cat lovers) with Catit brand manager, Lucas De Boeck from Belgium.  We got on so well he snuck into a cupboard and gifted me his massive and fabulous coffee table cat photography book  Pure. Pure magic.

6) Ökocat Cat Litter


This isn’t new but it’s new to me. I didn’t know they have 5 varieties and I loved experiencing the very different textures. Öko is German for “eco” or ecological, meaning green or organic. Ökocat litter is made from 100% reclaimed wood. It naturally absorbs liquid and inhibits bacterial growth. What sold me is that it weighs 50% to 60% less than clay litters. What interested me the most were the dust-free formula and the Soft Step which so naturally soft for delicate paws of kittens, seniors and poor kitties that are declawed.

7) Mugue Pet Lint Rollers


Mugue is an old family-owned company (are we seeing a trend here) from Italy. I really wish I’d been able to spend more time in the international section. What’s different and amazing about these innovative lint rollers is you can use them on pets safely to remove excess hair but they do more than that. The Pelu Pet Cat formula removes dander, eliminating allergans while releasing a tiny bit of essential oils to repell fleas. Another roller has nourishing argan oil and nourishing neem oil. They even have one for humans that removes 99% of mites and of course, one that does an awesome job removing pet hair. I’m looking forward to seeing this line distributed in U.S. stores soon!


8) Petlinks Hyper Nip

I love all the toys from Petlinks but wowed me was Hyper Nip, their brand new potent blend of catnip with silvervine. Not all cats respond to catnip but mixing in silvervine increases the odds of extra pleasure. Simply purrfect!


9) Oasé BiOrb Feline Environmental Enrichment


Okay, this isn’t exactly a cat product but I was so taken away by this product, I think it could be better than “squirrel TV” for cats. I’ve always loved the idea of aquariums but they’re so much work to clean and upkeep. I thought a goldfish bowl would be fun but cats will be cats and glass breaks. These aquariums are made of acrylic which is ten times stronger than glass and super easy to maintain. Simply replace the filter cartridge every four weeks and change a third of the water. For safety and peace of mind, the lights and pump are low voltage and are backed by a 12-month guarantee.  There are a number of models and sizes but I fell for the BiOrb Halo. The one in the photo is the small one. With its hidden waterline, it’s a visually seamless and cat-proof aquarium. It’s fitted with a ring of LED lights which at night automatically switches to the calm moonlight setting. Sounds pretty darn purrfect to me. The company was just acquired and the website does not have the BiORB listed yet.

10) Pet Memorial Products PawPods and Pet Perennials

This is a two-way tie between two pet memorial products that celebrate our love for pets in a natural way.  I had the good fortune to speak at length with the owners of PAWPODS and PET Perennials after the show. As many of you know, our 21-year-old cat Merlin is in decline and the inevitable is on my mind. I don’t want to repeat past of scrambling to find a burial container, digging in the nice spot but hitting tree roots, finding out the hole is too small while bawling my eyes out.

There is nothing we can do to prepare for the shock of death but we can prepare how we deal with death. That’s why I’ve decided to prepare in advance and have selected a PawPods casket for Merlin.

Grieving is stressful but knowing there will be one less thing to worry about, is a comfort. PawPods have urns and burial pods made of eco-friendly and biodegradable bamboo and rice husks in different sizes and come with a seeded wildflower leaf for seeding the burial area. The strong but smooth surface but can be painted or decorated with symbols, name, quote or any creative expression to ease the grieving journey.


Pet Perennials is new way to celebrate the natural cycle of life which includes the death of our beloved cats. The idea is about “keep giving” as nature does with seed wafers made with or without cremation remains. The seed wafers are planted in a choice of perennial seeds to bloom year after year in loving memory of our pet. There are kits for family projects like a memorial garden and custom orders for seed wafers in different shapes like hearts or stars. It’s truly a pet loss gift that keeps on giving, naturally.


My biggest takeaway from Global Pet Expo is the concrete evidence of our ever growing passion for pets. We recognize the deep and abiding human-animal bond and want to make their lives happier and healthier. Yes, there were more than top 10 cat products. There were lots of silly or frivolous products our cats could live without, but there were many that will enhance and even save lives.

Bob Vetere, president and CEO of the American Pet Products Association (APPA), announced that overall spending in the pet industry for 2015 came in at a record $60.28 billion, and the APPA estimates that 2016 spending will reach $62.75 billion. I enjoyed chatting with him at a small private event and delighted he won the well deserved Rolf C. Hagan Hall of Fame award.

I anticipate bigger and better things in the world of pet products next year.