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Are these Popular Cat Products Worth It?

Updated on February 1, 2020
Liz Woodward profile image

Liz has her own pride of lions and a tiger and has been visiting cat shows and reveling in her cat ladiness for 15+ years.

As a cat owner, there are many doodads out there to improve your cat's life, but are they really worth it or just ways to get your hard earned scratch? I am giving my opinion based on my years of experience with my pride of cats. My cats may have different reactions than others, so your experience may differ. I am also not endorsing or critiquing any particular brands, just the general idea of the products. If you have items you want reviewed, please leave a comment below!

Cat fountain

Cat Fountain

Price range: $15 - 90

Like every other form of known life, cats need water. They also are instinctively drawn to fresh, running water, and you will often see them pawing at the top of their water bowl as if to uncover it. This habit is to remove debris from the surface. Many cat owners have invested in cat drinking fountains, water bowls with pumps to percolate the water and keep it moving. Many fountains offer additional features such as storage tanks for more water, filters, and decorative slides. You may ask yourself if something like this is worth it; does your cat need their very own oasis in the middle of the kitchen?

I have had several fountains throughout the years, and there are some perks and drawbacks. First, the good stuff. These fountains store a lot of water, making them great for multi-cat households or if you will be away from home for a day or two. The trickling noise and constant movement of the water tend to attract cats and encourage more drinking, which can help with their kidney health (a common issue in older cats). On the other hand, these fountains are not maintenance free. The filters need replaced frequently as they pick up hair and debris, and everything inside is prone to growing scum. I especially recommend avoiding the plastic fountains for this reason; ceramic and metal are easier to clean. Before purchasing a fountain, see how they fit together and if replacement pumps are available (they can wear out after continuous use). Also, invest in some little brushes or pipe cleaners. To avoid the scum buildup, you will need to clean all the nooks and crannies, which includes getting into the pump and much as you can.

So is it worth it? Only if you are willing to put in the work. If you're looking for low maintenance, stick to regular water dishes and rinse and refill them often.

Laser toy

Automatic laser toy

Price range: $20 - 30

When they're not lazing about in a patch of sunlight or glaring at you from across the room, cats like to play, practicing their hunting skills with a ball, furry mouse, or the little red dot of a laser. You may have seen one of the automatic laser toys that swirls the dot around for you.

In theory, cats are amused by this dancing dot for hours, and you are free to go about your day. Are these toys worth it? Cats do love lasers, but a whirring robot spinning a laser aimlessly around the room is not a suitable substitute for playing with their pet parent. While the laser may look cool, it doesn't have the intelligence that you can provide with a simple laser pointer by observing and gauging reactions and adapting your play. Some cats may enjoy one of these toys when it is first set up, but most bore quickly and either just lay next to it or ignore it completely. Save your money and get a regular laser or other toy. You will strengthen your bond when you pay attention and play with them yourself.

© 2020 Liz Woodward

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