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Tesco Value Toilet Tissue
This now comes in packs of four rolls (£1.20).
Soft(ish) white(ish) toilet paper.
The rolls are smaller and narrower than the more expensive varieties, and the paper is thinner (of course), but it does the job, and however cute and soft the Andrex puppy might be, I worked out some years ago that buying that is literally money down the drain.
The quality varies, sometimes it is a bit harsh and a bit grey, I suppose depending on the manufacturing batch. Sometimes it isn't wound right, or it's cut crooked, but it works. You can even blow your nose on it.
It's very good at mopping up nasties (like cat sick - sorry if you're squeamish!) which can then be flushed away. It's so cheap that you could use a whole roll and not regret it.
Or it was. When I first started buying it, three years ago, it was £1.12 for 12 rolls. The last time I bought a pack of twelve (three weeks ago) it was £1.49. That's a 33% increase over three years.
Now it is being sold in packs of four for £1.20; I suppose these will be similar to Sainsbury's four-packs (larger rolls) but I suspect there will be less paper in them...
Royal Canin Feline Health Intense Hairball
Formulated to help furball elimination.
From the packet description:
"The combined supply of psyllium - rich in mucilage - and micronised fibres helps stimulate intestinal transit. Rather than collecting in the stomach and being regurgitated, hair is eliminated regularly in the faeces."
Available in 400g, 2kg, 4kg and 10kg.
I bought the 400g to try as my cats get furballs in spring.
The pellets are brown, and a triangular shape, with the corners turned up. They are quite big (over 1cm along the side and 0.5cm thick). This is a problem for one of my cats, who has a small mouth and some teeth missing, so I have to break them up for her.
My cats all love these. I will get a larger size for next time.
I can't comment properly on the furball elimination, as the manufacturers expect you to feed just this product and I only bought a small amount and can't give the cats all dry food anyway, but there certainly seemed to be fewer furballs this year.
The only problem was with the 400g pouch, which doesn't have a zip-lock and split right down the side when first opened spilling everything - grrrr!
Advantages: Cats like it.
Disadvantages: Shape and size of the pellets.
Hills Science Plan Feline Pouch Light Adult Cat Food Chunks in Gravy
Available in Pet shops, Pet stores, Garden Centres with pet sections. I have never seen it in supermarkets. Very expensive.
Consists of little oblongs of pate-type meat in gravy. It appears pale; this is a good thing because it is not overloaded with artificial colourants (ammonia caramel, anyone?).
I bought this because one of my cats is a bit overweight, and also because it has a very much reduced phosphorus level compared with normal cat food, which is a good thing for cats with dodgy kidneys.
I have four cats, and they all liked the idea of it, but it was not entirely successful. The little chunks seem to be "sticky" - they stick to the dish and probably to their teeth.
One licks the gravy off and won't eat the bits; two have to have the chunks sliced (not mashed - too sticky) and a bit of water added to thin the gravy, and only one just sits down and eats it.
If all my cats ate it, I would consider this (and the other Science Plan chunks in gravy) as a possible substitute for renal food, as it has a low phosphorus content.
Advantages: Possible alternative for cats who won't eat renal food, as has low phosphorus
Disadvantages: Sticky, some cats can't pick the chunks up; very expensive.
KiteKat chunks in jelly (cans)
Available as a pack of six 400g tins from supermarkets, in meat (chicken, turkey, lamb) or fish (salmon, tuna, whitefish) flavours. Sometimes also available as single tins in convenience stores and corner shops, though it seems to have disappeared from my local ones lately. It is owned/made by the same people who make the Whiskas brand.
My cats like this.
If I want to leave early and want to make sure they all eat fairly quickly, I give them a tin of Kitekat for breakfast. It is consists of soft chunks in jelly and is easily mashed up and divided into four. It is at the cheap end of the premium cat food, and they sometimes get a slightly upset stomach from it (too much grease or cereal filler, maybe), so I wouldn't feed it daily, but it is a cheap treat for them and makes my life easier if I am in a hurry. I also sometimes use it mashed (two or three to one) into their renal food which they are supposed to be eating but don't like.
Advantages: Cats like it; cheap
Disadvantage: Occasional upset stomach
I buy it as a treat / as an occasional mixer for renal food, and I make sure I always have a tin or two available.
Purina Felix As Good As It Looks Favourites
This comes in a box containing 12 100g pouches, chicken, beef, tuna, salmon. Much more expensive than the usual "in jelly" product.
The "meat" comes in pinkish "steaklets" that have the stringy texture of stewing beef, obviously reformed from mechanically recovered meat. The jelly is fairly soft.
My four elderly cats absolutely love it.
Unfortunately it doesn't love two of them. Not to put a fine a point on it, it comes out looking almost exactly the same as it went in, so obviously they aren't digesting it properly. Maybe they just eat it too fast because they like it so much. Mashing it very finely helps a little. There don't seem to be any other ill effects.
I won't be using it as an everyday food, but I have some in reserve for treats (one pouch between the four of them) , and as something to persuade them to eat (and more importantly to get some fluid in) if they are temporarily off their food (it must really have a very strong smell and taste).
Advantages: My cats love it.
Disadvantages: Some cats can't digest it properly; it's expensive.
I will buy it again, but only if it is on special offer.
Cats' Best OKO Plus cat litter.
Clumping wood-based litter, flushable and compostable.
Comes in a triple-layer paper bag (recyclable), in various sizes, from 10 to 40 litres.
I have four cats, and I was forced to look for flushable/compostable litter after my council introduced fortnightly collections. I wanted a clumping litter as it is much more economical to remove clumps than the whole trayful of litter.
This litter consists of small granules, with a yellowish colour and a slight piney smell. It has very little dust. It is very absorbent, and makes very good clumps. I line litter trays with a double layer of newspaper (torn to size if necessary), and only used about an inch depth of the litter, the clumps stick to the newspaper just as clumping clay does, so are easily removeable.
Tracking - it is lighter than clumping clay, and does get tracked out on the cats' paws. It is fine on hard floors, but if it gets on a carpet it does tend to stick very firmly to it if it gets damp.
It is compostable and flushable. The clumps may need to be broken up a little before flushing, as they are like very stiff porridge.
It is expensive. Even if you buy the largest size (40ltr) off the internet, it is still three or four times as expensive as clay - too much for me with four cats. Also, it isn't available everywhere.
However, I do still use it - as a mixer (one part to four) - to turn wood pellet litter into clumping litter. It doesn't stick to the paper as well as the neat stuff, but well enought to make cleaning out relatively easy. The combination is still compostable and still flushable, in fact it is easier to flush than neat Cat's Best.
I used this combination for two years, before I was tempted to buy a small bag of clumping clay again, and found my cats queueing to use the two trays with the clay. I still have it in the four other trays, the cats still use them as "backup". Used as a mixer, one 40ltr bag lasts five or six months.
I will definitely carry on using it.
Advantages: Flushable; can be used as a mixer with cheaper wood pellets to make them clump.
Disadvantages: Expensive; sticks to paws, and to carpet.
Sainsbury's Clumping cat litter.
Comes in a strong paper bag with a handle; contains 8 ltr. Current cost (March 2011): £1.99.
Grey clay granules, with a varying amount of dust.
No smell of its own, and no pointless perfume, so won't set off headaches and allergies.
I have four cats, and they prefer clumping clay litter to any other - and so do I. The litter has no smell, and is kind to elderly paws. I have six litter trays, four with wood-based litter, and two with the clay; my cats will use the clay-filled ones in preference to the others.
I line litter trays with a double layer of newspaper (torn to size if necessary), and only use about an inch depth of the litter. Wet litter clumps together, and - most conveniently - sticks to the newspaper. This means I can slide the clean dry litter onto another lot of paper, and pop the wet litter - (ready wrapped) - into the bin. It also makes collecting poop easier, as it is coated with a dry layer of clay, and the scoop stays much cleaner. It doesn't stick to paws; it does get kicked out a bit, but it is easy to sweep up off a hard floor.
It is economical to use - one bag lasts about four days for four cats.
I have on occasions nearly run out of this litter - I have mixed it with a non-clumping litter (eg Thomas) - one part clay and three parts other - and it still manages to clump.
Other uses: it can be used to soak up spilled oil.
Recycling etc: It is chemically inert, contains no volatile organic compounds or other nasties.
And yes, it goes to landfill. It's clay. It belongs in a hole in the ground - unlike most of the other stuff that gets dumped.
The disadvantages are:
Weight - I need a lift to get it home from the supermarket
Dust - I never try to pour from the bag, I use an old jam-jar as a scoop and pour slowly.
Summary - best for my cats, and for me.
Young's Salmon Crumble
Salmon in butter sauce, topped with mashed potato and cheddar cheese crumble.
Microwaveable in 8 1/2 minutes, 324 calories (good), 1.7g salt (a little high).
There is a fair amount of salmon in the meal, and it tastes like salmon, not just "fish".
I'm not very keen on the cheesy crumble, but that's just because I prefer my mash neat, I'm sure other people like it. I thought the sauce was a little too thick, but that could vary between batches.
No vegetables, but it's easy enough to zap some frozen peas to go with it.
On the whole, a pleasant, filling, hot meal.
And a plus point - for those of us afflicted with the misery of fortnightly rubbish collections.
The tray is made of cardboard, with a thin white plastic film liner, not the usual rigid black plastic.
If you soak the tray edges, you can peel off the plastic liner (which isn't much bigger than the wrapper off a chocolate bar), and put the cardboard into your paper recycling. Or just soak the whole tray to soften it an it will sqash up into a much smaller space in your bin. I can't see why all ready meals don't come in trays like that.
I have had four of these over the last twenty years.
I have also used the more modern jug kettles, and find this one suits me better in general.
The kettle is stainless steel, with a plastic lid. Being stainless steel, it does not taint the water with that awful plastic taste and smell. (If you can taste it and smell it, it's there - who wants to drink hot plastic?). It boils 1.7litres in about three minutes, and is fairly quiet, much much quieter than the jug kettles I use elsewhere, that sound like a lorry load of stones being emptied into a metal drum.
The kettle switches off when it boils, and has a safety cut-out.
The handle is sturdy and comfortable, not too small as a jug kettle's handle often is. As it is on top of the kettle, not at the side, it is easier to lift and tilt, even when the kettle is full.
The lid is big, and not on a hinge - so nothing to break. The opening is wide enough to get your hand in to help clean out limescale, if you have hard water.
There is no "on" indicator light. ( I don't miss having one.)
There is a water level indicator. It was introduced by the manufacturers a few years ago (my first three kettles didn't have one.) It is useless. It gets clogged with scale almost immediately. Not having had one with the first few kettles, it is another thing I don't miss - it is just something that sits there collecting limescale.
I bought the kettle I have now two years ago. The cord that came with it is too short, but luckily I hadn't thrown out the old kettle (that lasted seven years), and the old cord fitted the new kettle.
I suspect that the new "improved" length has something to do with health and safety, and is probably equally short for all new kettles.
I use "modern" cordless kettles elsewhere, and while I like the convenience of the "cordlessness" none of the ones I have seen are as comfortable and safe to hold and tilt as this one (I have some hand problems), or as easy to clean, so I hope these keep on being made.
These are crunchy Bite-sized weetabix biscuits with currants, almonds, hazelnuts and peanuts, with a light sugary glaze. They come in a cardboard box, net weight 454g.
I found these in a 99p shop for - wait for it - 99p.
I don't "do" breakfast cereal, but I thought that with tea or coffee, or even eaten dry, these could be great low-fat "snack" biscuits - and I was right, they are brilliant. The box has lasted for ages, even though I tend to eat about eight at a time.
I weighed out 25g - that turned out to be eleven biscuits, so from the nutritional information on the box, I worked out that each "biscuit" has less than ten calories. So my average of eight per snack is less than 80 calories (and they are quite filling).
Some more arithmetic tells me that there are nearly 200 mini-biscuits in the box - 25 satisfying little snacks for 99p.
They really are a great (and cheap) alternative to "snack bars". I will definitely be getting them again.
Nutritional information (from the box)
Carbohydrate: 70.1g (of which sugars:23.3g)
Fat: 4.1g (of which saturates: 0.8g)