CatChow.com Website Review

 A happy cat napping in his favorite chair.
A happy cat napping in his favorite chair. | Source

Purina's CatChow Website

The back of some Purina dry cat food bags displays a url for a website promising all sorts of helpful advice.   I love advice which is good and free (notwithstanding a little bit of a sales pitch), so I visited http://www.catchow.com.

Cat Chow Home Page – Our Survey Says

Actually, the home page demands that one make a decision about whether or not to participate in a short survey.  This seems to be a backwards time to request. As a first-time visitor, I didn’t know if I’d even have an opinion strong enough to share.  However, all other links and options are grayed out until one indicates whether or not she’ll take a survey.  I clicked “No thanks.”

Three Sections

After dodging the survey bullet, one can click on one of three links:

  • Enhancing Well-Being
  • Cat and Kitten Care Library
  • Our Products

Plus there is a search button in which one can enter keywords for a topic.  The Our Products section is the info-mercial for Purina.  I do not begrudge them this section – it is, in my opinion, a quid pro quo for supplying the public with useful information.

Enhancing Well-Being

This is an odd section. After entering it, there is a short and obvious definition of well-being. The end. Then one is then directed to click on a sub-section called Connected for the Cause. This is a paragraph explaining that Purina® cat foods are partnered with Susan G. Komen for the Cure. However, there is no specific information regarding how much money goes to the Komen charity. Again, that is the end of that.  The other sub-section available is Housecat Housecall.

Housecat Housecall is their own mini realty series – like the Nanny! The videos run between 3 and 9 minutes. The page says that one can watch 31 videos but I saw only 8 names in choices on right. All the family situations were in the USA. Scenarios depict mostly behavior challenges: blending 2 families – each bringing their own cats, a compulsive chewing cat, or a cat which misses its owner. The video Called “Busy House” is not your typical family --- a 10,000 square foot house. What I could do with 10,000 sq ft! When I tried the site on a different computer, the way to see any of the videos was to click a link that led to the Animal Planet website. I think the webmaster needs to work on this section.

Cat and Kitten Care Library

In the Library section for Cat Care, I searched for “ice cream.”  I wanted to know if it was safe or not for felines.  Also, I wanted to confirm that chocolate was bad for cats.  The library quickly showed Q and As about chocolate being bad, but I had trouble with ice cream.  Finally I found a Q and A about chocolate and onions being toxic.  I found several Q and A’s in which the consumer states” my cat loves.. sunflower seeds..or peanuts… or grass… or olive oil.....is it ok?”  The answer was always along the lines of “It isn’t poisonous, but it will fill up your cat and then she won’t eat her balanced diet of meat-based cat food.”  It was difficult for me to find answers quickly.

On the browsing side, I enjoyed an article – truly an article with authorities quoted - entitled “Keeping Your Cat Happy When You're Away” which I stumbled upon at the site.  Other article titles looked intriguing and I will return to them as time permits.

Conclusion

It is a nice website for browsing but I did not find it to be well-enough indexed to do specific research. Many Q-and-A sets come up for when a key word is entered and it seems that most of them are “Dear Abby” anecdotal sorts of discussions. These letters are categorized very broadly, so that hundreds of them come up as a response to a search term. This is neither efficient nor satisfying if, for example, I want a list of plants poisonous to cats. However, I do want to clarify that although questions are rambling stories from consumers, the the answers are from veterinarians.

On the other hand, if I do not have a pressing need for an answer to a question, my casual reading has taught me many new ideas. I will continue to visit www.catchow.com.



Photos and text copyright 2011 Maren Morgan

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