Mission San Jose, CA, 18 August 2012 Michael Ostrofsky, founder of designer cat furniture
manufacturer Five Pet Place, knows a thing or two about cats and how to care for them.
"When starting this company, my goal was to build the highest quality products for cats in the world," said Ostrofsky. "In order to do that, I had to immerse myself in research related to each product then address the potential issues for each one so my customer's cats each received the very best of care. It was important to me as I'm a cat lover as well.
After learning so much during the development of our Food & Water Server, I wanted to share some of my findings with others as the way cats are fed has a significant impact on the quality of their lives. As a result of this, I changed how my cats were fed and hope others do the same."
Getting Started: Put Yourself In Your Cat's Place
Ostrofsky's first piece of advice is to put yourself in your cat's place when developing a feeding routine. "I see people refer to themselves as pet parents and their cats as furkids, yet they'll do something like serve wet food in a bowl that hasn't been washed in a week," he said. "Would you eat food out of a bowl that hasn't been washed in week? Of course not. That's why I tell people to put themselves in their cat's place and really think about what they're doing -- because when they do, their thinking changes quite a bit."
Tip One: Choose The Right Feeder
Besides the quality of the food and water you provide your cat, another extremely important factor in properly feeding your cat is what you serve those items in. To that end, Ostrofsky offers some rather surprising insights.
"I was shocked by the hidden dangers in mass market cat dishes and bowls
," he said. "Ceramic ones not intended for human use are rarely, if ever checked for toxins like lead. Plastic ones can scratch and hold bacteria responsible for acne on your cat's chin. Even washing can't get all of it -- which is why you don't see plastic cutting boards in restaurants anymore. They're not sanitary. Beyond that, chemicals used to make plastics like BPA have been found to leach into the food and water it comes into contact with -- which means your cat winds up ingesting it.
You'd think stainless steel bowls would be safe, but some were recently found to be radioactive. What happens is in poorly regulated countries like China or India, where the majority of these bowls are made, recyclers simply buy metal and reuse it no questions asked -- even if it came from a nuclear power plant or military site. Some of these metals were so toxic the workers who handled them came down with radiation poisoning. This has been going on for years so the best thing to do is simply stay away from them."
As for what to use, Ostrofsky strongly recommends restaurant grade ceramic bowls like those found in his company's Food &Water Server. "Our bowlsare made for the foodservice industry. Even the factories they're made in are meet or exceed FDA and California Prop 65 standards. In addition, our bowls are very durable and dishwasher safe -- allowing you to conveniently serve nutritious food and fresh water to your cat in a safe and sanitary manner."
Tip Two: Location, Location, Location
Where you feed your cat is an important consideration, too. To that end, Ostrofsky offers several insights."We've safely fed our five cats all over the house so each can dine in peace," he said. Kitchen, back patio, master bathroom; you name it. Yet we wanted to bring some items to people's attention as they may not be aware of the consequences of their actions.
First of all, the location you serve your cat's food and water in must be clean. If you look closely as to where your cat is served, you might find some dirt and dust you might otherwise miss. If your cat's feeder is next to a baseboard, make sure the edges of the floor and the baseboard itself are clean and free of dust. Don't just look down from a standing position, either. Get down and look from your cat's perspective. You'll be surprised at what you see.
We also recommend keeping your cat's food and water server away from carpeted surfaces and urge people to never serve their cat treats on a carpeted surface. Carpets are treated with flame retardants -- and one of them is a chemical by the name of Polybrominated Diphenyl Ether, also known as PBDE.
This chemical is suspected in causing hyperthyroid disease in cats. According to Banfield Pet Hospital, the prevalence of this disease has increased by 13% since 2007 -- and it's very expensive to treat. The idea here is when you place your cat's food or treats on or near these surfaces, loose fibers from the carpet may be ingested. Besides, even the cleanest carpet is going to retain some dust while hardwood and tile surfaces can be made dust free. So every time you walk by your cat's food and wateron a carpeted surface, you're generating small amounts of dust that's going to settle onto your cat's food.
Another important consideration is to keep your cat's food and water out of direct sunlight. From a quality of life standpoint, the sun's rays heat your cat's food up and either dries it out or changes its taste. It also encourages the growth of bacteria in your cat's water. Again, put yourself in your cat's place. You wouldn't want to eat anything like beef or chicken that has been sitting out in the sun all day. Neither does your cat.
Finally, don't place your cat's food and water anywhere near its litter box
. While this might be a challenge if living in a small space, you need to keep these two items as far apart as possible. A cat's nose is, at a minimum, 14 times more sensitive than a human's -- so the slightest of odors will be picked up by your cat. Imagine yourself trying to eat or drink something while there's an awful odor in the air. Unfortunately, that's what some cats have to deal with on a daily basis."
Tip Three: Use Clean Bowls Every Day
The sensitivity of a cat's nose is a reason why Ostrofsky stresses the use of clean bowls for food and water. "Would you eat off a dish that hasn't been washed in several days," asks Ostrofsky. "Of course not, yet many people simply dump wet food into an existing bowl because they're busy.
If you're doing this, I invite you to pick up your cat's bowl, place your nose in where the food resides and smell. It you don't want to do because it seems gross, just remember you cat does it every day. Chances are you'll smell decomposing food -- which stinks. After all, if a piece of beef, fish or chicken lying out in the open is going to smell after a few days -- the same is going to happen with your cat's food. So ifyou're not serving your cat's food out of clean bowls every day, there's a good chance your cat isn't enjoying it much due to the smell of older, rotting food.
At Five Pet Place, we designed our Food & Water Server
so its bowls can easily be removed for cleaning. However, since our upscale clientele doesn't have the time to hand wash pet dishes every morning, we sell additional dinnerware so soiled bowls can be replaced with clean in a matter of seconds. Even if you don't own one of our products, please make sure your cat's food is served in a clean bowl on a daily basis -- even if you need to buy extra bowls to do so."
Tip Four: Serve 100% Fresh Food & Water Every Day
"A real eye opener for me was learning of a bad habit I developed when feeding my cats dry food," said Ostrofsky. "Every morning, if there was leftover food in the bottom of their bowls, I'd simply top the bowls off -- leaving the old food underneath.
Clearly, I was oblivious to the fact my cats could be eating old food that was stale and lacking in taste and nutritional value -- never mind the extra food meant I was giving them too much.
That all changed when I noticed Sabrina, one of our least aggressive cats, was eatinganother cat's dry food. I shooed her away -- yet there she was doing it again a few hours later. I checked her Food & Water Server just to make sure we hadn't forgotten to fill it, yet there was plenty of food there. However, closer inspection revealed she had thrown up in her dry food the day before -- something I didn't notice when dumping more dry food in.
Obviously, the smell of her own vomit wasn't very appetizing, so she had no choice but to look elsewhere for something to eat. That was a huge lesson for me -- and our cats have gotten 100% fresh food and water on a daily basis ever since. We've also adjusted how much dry food we give our cats to help maintain their weight -- so there's little to no leftover food in their bowls to deal with the next morning.This also allows us to change the flavor of both their wet and dry food on a daily basis -- so they don't grow bored eating the same thing for weeks on end."
Tip Five: Control Portion Sizes
According to Banfield Pet Hospitals, the prevalence of feline obesity has increased 90% since 2007. Purchasing the right product to feed your cat with can help control the problem.
"People think I'm crazy selling a Food and Water Server priced from $195," said Ostrofsky. "When you consider all the other issues and expenses incurred by obese animals because they eat too much, I'd beg to differ.
Obese animals are much more likely to have diabetes, arthritis and high blood pressure. These types of diseases require ongoing visits to the vet plus numerous tests and medications. One trip the vet alone can cost $500 these days -- so buying the right food and water server for your cat and properly filling it can actually save you money in the long run.
To that end, we searched high and low for the right sized bowls for our Food & Water Server
. The ones we selected each hold a serving of wet food or a day's supply of dry food or water. Their wells are shallow enough so your cat get every morsel out of them -- and wide enough so their whiskers aren't continually rubbing on them. For cats that simply don't like placing their mussels in bowls, we offer plates to take care of them.
My biggest concern is with those giant reservoir feeders that hold a few pounds of dry food.Since the food in the reservoir takes a few days or even weeks to work its way down to where it can be eaten, it can become stale and lose its nutritional value during that time. In addition, the food in the very bottom of the serving area is only eaten as a last resort -- so it's extremely old by the time it's consumed. And if your cat accidentally vomits into the eating area as our Sabrina did -- it could be stuck eating from an area containing an awful smell for quite some time.
Then there's the issue of having simply too much food lying around. If your cat's bored, it might go and eat a few pieces of food just to have something to do. That right there is a recipe for weight gain and long-term health issues.
As for determining how much food to give your cat, talk to your vet or conduct some research online. Call the manufacturer of your pet's food as some of them are more than willing to help. Once you determine an amount, use a measuring cupfor accuracy for the first couple of days. Then, once you get a feel for the correct amount, it's OK to eyeball it to save yourself time. Whatever you do, don't just give your cat a gigantic pile of food and let it determine how much it eats. Limit it to an appropriate amount for its size and daily activity."
Conclusion: Create An Effective Daily Routine
One point Ostrofsky is particularly passionate about is the establishment of an effective daily routine to care for your cat. "People like cats because they're low maintenance," he said. "The problem is people confuse low maintenance with no maintenance and that creates problems.
When creating a healthy lifestyle for your cat there is simply no substitute for thoughtful daily care, so establishing an effective daily routine is critical. Sure, people are busy these days. However, with the right approach, you can provide your cat the very best of care in just a few minutes.This routine needs to cover feeding and litter box maintenance at a minimum. Socializing and playing with you cat is important, too, but let's focus on feeding for now.
What I like to do is set everything up the night before so feeding in the morning only takes a few minutes. To that end, I round up all our Food & Water Server
and place them on the kitchen counter. All the soiled bowls go into the dishwasher while fresh ones are put into place. We then place the next day's supply of wet and dry food on the counter next to the servers. That takes all of 5 to 10 minutes to do right before bed. That way, all we need to do the next morning is fill everything with wet food, dry food and water and give them to our cats. Again, that takes another 5 to 10 minutes tops.
Of course, when you have children things can get complicated, but there certainly isn't any reason why you can't delegate tasks to other family members. It's just a matter of setting a process up and managing it to make sure it's successful."
About Five Pet Place
Based in Mission San Jose, California, Five Pet Place is a design house specializing in producing safe, attractive and functional products for cats and selling them exclusively through an advanced, purpose built e-commerce website at fivepetplace.com
Five Pet Place