13 Cat Essentials for National Kitten Day

Nils Jacobi, iStock / Getty Images Plus
Nils Jacobi, iStock / Getty Images Plus

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a holiday that celebrates our squee-worthy feline friends. Whether you're thinking of adopting a new furry pal or simply pampering your favorite kitty, here are 13 essentials every cat owner needs, from the stain remover strong enough to tackle any hairball to the scratching post that will please even the most finicky of felines.

1. Nature's Miracle Advanced Stain and Odor Eliminator; $10

A red spray bottle of Nature's Miracle stain remover

Cats are messy pets. Even the healthiest felines occasionally hawk up a hairball, and cats with delicate tummies may vomit just about every time you change their food (which will probably be often, because most cats are exceptionally picky). Pet owners swear by Nature's Miracle cleaning products, which will neutralize odors and remove stains from carpets, couches, hardwood floors, and anywhere else your cat has an accident—or decides to express their displeasure.

Buy it: Amazon or Petco

2. Rufus & Coco Wee Kitty Natural Corn Cat Litter; $33

Rufus & Coco Wee Kitty litter
Rufus & Coco, Chewy

Compared to dogs, cats' bathroom habits are incredibly low-maintenance. No need to take them for walks outside; just set up a litter box. But if you've never watched a cat sprint across the room after doing their business the box, you may not realize just how important your choice of litter type is. Even the neatest cats track litter outside their box. This corn-based clumping cat litter is an excellent low-track option that will keep your cat's litter where it belongs—in the litter box. It's dust-free (making it excellent for cats with sensitive noses), can absorb up to four times its own weight, and is biodegradable. It can even be flushed down the toilet, according to Rufus & Coco. One 20-pound bag is designed to last up to 18 weeks. Note: You're going to be buying litter regularly, so go ahead and take advantage of the subscription discount. We also recommend investing in a mat to catch errant litter that finds its way out of the box.

Buy it: Chewy

3. Pretty Litter; $22

Crystal litter is another excellent pick if you're looking to clean up after your cat the easy way. It manages odors well, but it doesn't clump, so you don't have to scoop out piles of pee—just scoop out the poop regularly—meaning that one box-full can last up to a month. Pretty Litter is easy on the paws and is sold on a subscription basis, so you can get a regular shipment delivered to your door each month right before your current batch runs out. Even better, it changes colors if your cat's pee is outside the normal range of acidity or alkalinity, providing you with insights into your furry friend's health.

Buy it: Pretty Litter

4. Go-Cat Da Bird Rod and Feather Cat Toy; $9

A rod and feather cat toy
Go-Cat, Amazon

Indoor cats need plenty of stimulation to keep them from getting bored (and fat). You'll want to provide them with toys and games that mimic the hunting they would do in the wild. Veterinarian Mikel Delgado recommends a wand-style toy like Go-Cat's Da Bird feather rod, which will allow your cat to feel like he's stalking a colorful winged creature across your living room. You'll also want to stock up on replacement feathers, since your little hunter is bound to claw the original to pieces. (You can check out Delgado's other tips for getting a cat to love you here.)

Buy it: Amazon or Petco

5. Petstages Kitty Cuddle Pal Cat Toy; $6

A plush Petstages heated cat toy
Petstages, Amazon

Cats have higher body temperatures than we do (typically between 100.5°F and 102.5°F), so they're suited for warm temperatures. That's great if you live in a hot climate, but more likely than not, your home is a bit cooler than your cat would prefer. That's why cats love to curl up on comforters, in cardboard boxes, or next to the warm bodies of their humans and pet siblings. If you're not around to be a human heating pad, Petstages Kitty Cuddle Pals are a good substitute. The plush toys are microwavable to provide a soothing source of warmth for your cat when you're not available. They're great for older cats with body aches, cats with separation anxiety or angst over vet visits, and more. They're also a must-have for young kittens who can't yet control their body temperature.

Buy it: Amazon

6. Merry Products Hidden Cat Litter Box Enclosure; $61

A cat sits on a couch next to a Merry Products litter box enclosure.
Merry Products, Overstock.com

If your home is lacking in space, you may not want to dedicate a whole corner of a room to your cat's open litter box. Or perhaps you just don't want to look at your cat's poop whenever you pass by. That's where hidden cat box enclosures like this one from Merry Products come in. The easy-to-assemble end table is made to house your cat's litter box, allowing your pet to access its toilet out of sight. It also reduces the amount of litter that sprays out of the box when your cat sprints away after it poops, making for a cleaner experience for everyone. Not to mention the fact that you can use the shelf and top space as a regular end table—or a very convenient place to store trash bags, air freshening spray, and other litter essentials. And the handy bar on the side of the box is a great place to hang a towel or a litter scoop. 

Buy it: Chewy or Overstock.com

7. Petcube Bites Pet Camera; $125

A Petcub pet cam on a table
Petcube, Amazon

While many of us pet owners would gladly spend all day, every day with our cats, sadly, life tends to get in the way. (We have to go to work to pay for all those cat toys, after all.) But you can still check in on your cat—and feed them treats—with a pet cam. The Petcube features 1080-pixel HD video, a 138° wide-angle view, 3x zoom, and night vision to allow you to check in on your cat at home 24/7 via Wi-Fi. It has two-way audio to allow you to talk to your pet and a dispenser that can hold up to 2 pounds of treats at a time. You can see the past four hours of video for free or upgrade to a membership to see your whole video history in the cloud. It also works with Amazon's Alexa.

Buy it: Amazon or Chewy or Petco

8. Go Pet Club 62-Inch Cat Tree; $70

Cats play on a Go Pet Club cat tree
Go Pet Club, Amazon

Cats need to explore both vertically and horizontally. Rather than trying to chase them off counters and shelves, give your cats a high place to watch over their territory in the form of a tall cat tree like this one. The 62-inch-tall feline play space features stairs to climb, hammocks to lounge in, cubbies to hide in, and perches to rest on. It comes in four different colors.

Buy it: Amazon or Petco

9. New Cat Condos Round Multi Scratcher; $52

A cat rubs against a three-post cat scratcher.
New Cat Condos, Amazon

As they are with all things, cats can be pretty particular about the material they like to scratch on. While some love to dig their claws into carpet, others prefer sisal rope or plain wood. For indecisive cats and their owners, this triple cat scratcher is the perfect starter post. It features three different scratching posts—one natural wood, one sisal-covered, and one carpeted—to allow your cat to figure out what it likes best. Considering how expensive scratching posts and cat trees can get, this minimizes the risk of your cat refusing to engage at all with the fancy product you just shelled out for, as our feline friends are wont to do.

Buy it: Amazon or Overstock.com or Walmart

10. PetIsay Couch Guard; $12 for Four

A cat tries to scratch on a couch.
PetISay, Amazon

Even if your cat loves its scratching post, your couch may still provide a tempting place for kitty claws. Dissuade your feline friend from tearing up your upholstery with a sticky couch guard that's a cinch to put on and take off.

Buy it: Amazon

11. True Touch De-Shedding Glove; $12

A True Touch de-shedding glove
True Touch, Amazon

Cats don't always love to be brushed, but de-shedding is a necessary step to prevent both hairballs and dust bunnies. These grooming gloves may look silly, but they're astonishingly effective at removing fur. The soft rubber nubs gently massage your cat and lift away loose hair. Better yet, your cat may find it easier to warm up to the sensation of being petted with gloves than dragged with a harsh metal de-shedding brush.

Buy it: Amazon or Chewy

12. Catit Water Fountain; $24

A cat drinks out of a Catit flower-shaped water fountain.
Catit, Amazon

Cats can be notoriously finicky about their drinking water, and will often turn up their noses at any hydration station that's not up to their particular standards. One of the best ways to tempt your kitty to drink up is with a pet water fountain, which will provide a continuously refreshing stream of water rather than a stagnant bowl that might be coated with cat hair (like everything else in your home) within minutes of you filling it up. This cute fountain has three different settings—flowing, bubbling, and streaming—to please even the pickiest cats.

Buy it: Amazon or Petco

13. Sherpa Pet Carrier; $32

A black mesh pet carrier
Sherpa, Amazon

Though your cat is likely to be a homebody, you'll need to take them out into the world occasionally. To keep your cat safe, secure, and calm during vet visits and travel, invest in a comfortable pet carrier. Sherpa's bags are TSA-friendly with lockable zippers and mesh siding that allows your cat to see its surroundings and feel the fresh air. The original deluxe model is collapsible for easy storage and has a rear pocket for treats, or, if you're going to the vet, that necessary fecal sample. Just make sure to measure your cat to ensure the best fit.

Buy it: Amazon or Petco

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Massive Swarms of Migrating Dragonflies Are So Large They’re Popping Up on Weather Radar

emprised/iStock via Getty Images
emprised/iStock via Getty Images

What do Virginia, Pennsylvania, Indiana, and Ohio all have in common? Epic swarms of dragonflies, among other things.

WSLS-TV reports that this week, weather radar registered what might first appear to be late summer rain showers. Instead, the green blotches turned out to be swarms of dragonflies—possibly green darners, a type of dragonfly that migrates south during the fall.

Norman Johnson, a professor of entomology at The Ohio State University, told CNN that although these swarms happen occasionally, they’re definitely not a regular occurrence. He thinks the dragonflies, which usually prefer to travel alone, may form packs based on certain weather conditions. If that sounds vague, it’s because it is: Johnson said that entomologists haven’t worked out all the details when it comes to dragonfly migration. They do know that the airborne insects cover an average of eight miles per day, while some overachievers can fly as far as 86.

Based on the radar footage shared by the National Weather Service’s Cleveland Office, the dragonfly clouds seem almost menacing. But, while swarms of any insect species aren’t exactly delightful, these creatures are both harmless and surprisingly beautiful, at least up close. Anna Barnett, a resident of Jeromesville, Ohio, even told CNN that witnessing the natural phenomenon was “amazing!”

Amazing as it may be to see, it’s hard to hear news about unpredictable animal behavior without wondering if it’s related in some way to Earth’s rising temperatures. After all, climate change has already affected wasps in Alabama, polar bears in Russia, and no doubt countless other animal species around the world.

[h/t WSLW-TV]

6 Fall Festivals Around the World That Celebrate Animals

Prakash Mathema, AFP/Getty Images
Prakash Mathema, AFP/Getty Images

Where would humans be without animals? Chickens and cows give us eggs and milk, providing nourishment (and also cake). Horses, donkeys, and water buffalo are as hardworking as any person, and thanks to our pets, we always have a source of love and entertainment to come home to. It's time we celebrate animals more often, and to get you started, here are six fall festivals around the world that do just that.

1. Kukur Tihar

Dog in Nepal during a fall festival
Tuayai/iStock via Getty Images

A big part of Tihar, a five-day Hindu festival held in late autumn in Nepal, is giving thanks to other species. Crows, believed to be the messengers of death, are worshipped on the first day. Cows are worshipped on the third, and often oxen on the fourth. The second day, though, is all about man's best friend. Dogs are described favorably in Hindu religious texts, and it’s believed that they can warn people of impending danger and even death. In a ceremony called Kukur Tihar, people place flower garlands around the necks of both pet dogs and stray dogs to show their respect. A red dot (tika) is placed on their foreheads in an act of worship, and naturally, the dogs are spoiled with lots and lots of treats.

2. Transhumance Festival

Hundreds of sheep in the street
Pierre Philippe Marcou, AFP/Getty Images

In Spanish, this festival in Madrid is called Fiesta de la Trashumancia. The word transhumance refers to the act of moving herds of livestock to different grazing grounds depending on the season. In practice, it's quite the spectacle. Thousands of sheep have been led through the streets of Madrid each autumn since the festival was formally established in 1994. Men and women in traditional garb lead the way, singing and dancing along the parade route in celebration of centuries-old shepherding traditions.

3. Monkey Buffet Festival

A monkey eating various kinds of fruit
Saeed Khan, AFP/Getty Images

Visitors to Thailand’s temples are advised not to feed the monkeys (they can get awfully handsy), but the locals of Lopburi make an exception on the last Sunday of November. On this day, towers of fruit and banquet tables containing several tons of food and even cans of Coca-Cola are set up in the ruins of a 13th-century temple. Once a sheet is removed to unveil the spread, it doesn’t take long for Lopburi’s thousands of macaques to arrive. Thailand's reverence for monkeys dates back some 2000 years to legends surrounding the monkey king Hanuman and his heroic feats. Nowadays, the creatures are considered a sign of good luck in the country.

4. Woolly Worm Festival

The woolly worm is to Banner Elk, North Carolina, what the groundhog is to Punxsutawney, Pennsylvania. According to local folklore, the color of this fuzzy caterpillar can be analyzed in autumn to predict how severe the forthcoming winter will be. The 13 segments on its body are thought to correspond to the 13 weeks of winter—more black means colder weather and snow, while more brown means the weather will be fair. To make this prognostication process more official, the Woolly Worm Festival was established on the third weekend of October in 1978. This year, it will be held October 20-21. A worm race is the main event, and the caterpillar that climbs the fastest up three feet of string gets the honor of helping to predict the winter (plus a $1000 cash prize for the worm’s coach). “Patsy Climb” and “Dale Wormhardt” were a couple of past competitors.

5. Pushkar Camel Fair

Decorated camels
Roberto Schmidt, AFP/Getty Images

The Indian state of Rajasthan is a vibrant place. It’s home to the Pink City, Blue City, and Yellow City, and it also hosts a colorful cultural event each November called the Pushkar Camel Fair. Celebrated on a full moon day of the Hindu lunar calendar, it’s one of the largest fairs of its kind in the world. The annual gathering is a chance for traders to show off their camels and livestock, while also celebrating local culture and traditions. Both the people and camels sport brilliant attire, participate in a variety of competitions, and dance to lively music. (Yes, there’s video evidence of a dancing camel, but the word dance is used loosely.)

6. Birds of Chile Festival

Held each fall in Viña del Mar along Chile's Pacific coast, the Festival de Aves de Chile celebrates the beauty and diversity of the country's birds. Festival-goers have the chance to see Chile’s national bird—the wide-winged Andean condor, which happens to be one of the largest flying birds in the world—as well as other feathered friends in their natural environment. A series of excursions and talks featuring bird experts are organized each year.

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