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8 Must-Have Products for Dog and Cat Owners

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Cat and dog lovers will want to put these items on their wish lists (or buy them themselves).

1. ZUS PUPPY-PROOF SUPER-DUTY CHARGING CABLE; $20

When I adopted my cat Pearl three years ago, I was horrified to discover that she was a cord chewer—and that she loved my phone charging cord most of all. If one was dangling and I wasn’t paying close enough attention, she’d get her little teeth into it, and bye-bye, cord. I could have used this 4-foot-long cable. It’s wrapped in Kevlar—the same super-strong material that’s used to make bulletproof vests—which means cats, dogs, and toddlers are no match for this cord. It comes in three versions (Lightning, MicroUSB, and USB-C) and has a lifetime warranty.

Find it: ThinkGeek

2. PETCUBE PLAY; $199

We included the Petcube Play on our gifts for cats list, but it’s also a great gadget for helicopter pet parents like me. Setup was easy, and by logging on to the app, I can check in on my cats no matter where I am, at any time of day, to make sure that they’re fine (and that our apartment isn’t burning down). The camera streams in 1080p HD video, is equipped with night vision, and has a 138-degree wide angle view and a 300x zoom; the app is compatible with iOS and Android phones. You can set up sound and motion alerts and record video to the cloud.

In theory, we could play with the cats using the Petcube’s laser, which you move by dragging your finger across your phone screen, but my cats were only mildly interested in it (you can watch me trying unsuccessfully to engage Pearl with the laser here while Olly watches). They’re more interested when we fire up the two-way speaker, which allows us to talk to them. Dog owners should consider pre-ordering the Petcube Bites, which dispenses treats to waiting puppers when you’re checking in on them or when you schedule it.

Find it: Amazon

3. DIRT DEVIL QUICK FLIP PRO; $59

Keeping an apartment tidy when you have a pet or two feels like a near Sisyphean task: I’ve no sooner swept up stray cat litter than Olly and Pearl are in and out of the box, tracking litter all over the place again. Fur builds up in corners. Pulling out the big vacuum to deal with it every single day is annoying.

Enter the Quick Flip Pro. This cordless, lightweight handheld vac easily sucked stray litter up off of hardwood floors and rugs alike. Its Quick-Flip Crevice Tool allowed us to get stray cat hair out of every nook and cranny, and the upholstery attachment restored the cats’ tower to its previous unfurry glory:

The vacuum has a 16-volt lithium-ion battery, so it charges fast and runs long, and features like XL easy empty dirt cup and a rinsable filter make it a cinch to clean. I’ve never loved a vacuum so much.

Find it: Amazon

4. TURDLEBAG; $18

There’s nothing more awkward than carrying a plastic bag filled with stinky dog poop while you search for a trashcan to toss it in. The Turdlebag helps you keep it classy: It attaches to your leash and holds poop-filled plastic bags in a sealed pouch until you can throw it away. It also has a pouch for storing cash, credit cards, and your phone. You can bet I'll be sending this to all the people whose dogs I pet-sit.

Find it: UncommonGoods

5. NITE IZE DOOHICKEY HAIR & LINT REMOVER; $9

It’s an inevitable truth of being a pet owner then you’ll be covered with your animal’s fur all the time, no matter what you do, even when you’ve lint-rolled yourself before leaving the house. This Nite Ize device is made of rubber—which attracts fur and lint—and has a comb on one side (for use on heavy fabrics) and grooves on the other (for lighter fabrics). It attaches to your keychain, making on-the-go fur removal easy.

Find it: Amazon

6. WHISTLE GPS PET TRACKER; $56

Many pet owners harbor anxiety that their pet will get out of their home or away from them at the park and disappear. The Humane Society estimates that 10 million pets are lost or stolen every year. And while microchips are great (they increase the odds of your dog making it back to you by 238 percent, and your cat by 2000 percent), they’re passive—your pet first has to be found, and then taken to a vet or shelter, to make its way back to you. But with the Whistle GPS collar, you can track your animal’s location in real time via an app (compatible with iOS and Android). Set up a safe zone for your animal, and when your pet leaves that area, you’ll get a notification on the app or via text. The rechargeable, waterproof device attaches to collars and harnesses up to an inch wide and requires a monthly membership, which costs between $7 and $10.

Find it: Brookstone

7. PETSAFE SMART DOOR; $90 TO $235

Pet doors are great, provided it’s only your pet that comes through and not, say, a raccoon. Keep wild animals and strays out of your pad with the Smart Door. The system includes a door and a SmartKey (both battery operated). The key goes on your pet’s collar, and the door and the key communicate using radio frequencies. Set the door to automatic, and it will swing open when it detects your pet’s key (and swing shut when the key is out of range). The doors come in two sizes and are programmable for up to five pets.

Find it: Amazon

8. CURIO LITTER BOX; $199 TO $299

Litter boxes are the bane of a cat owner’s existence. They’re big, ugly eyesores that we try to hide away. (I’ve spent more time than I care to admit looking at hacks of IKEA furniture that conceal litter boxes.) This is not the case with the CURIO, a handcrafted litter box designed by Heather and Damian Fagan. “When we adopted our two cats ... we were surprised by the lack of design-minded litter box options on the market,” Damian told mental_floss earlier this year. “Many were just decorative litter box covers that didn't improve upon the litter management aspect and many were very expensive. We felt there was a real need for a functional and stylish litter box that was more affordable.”

CURIOs come in three designs—Maple, Walnut, and Walnut+Pattern—and have an opening on the side to allow cats to discreetly jump in and out. Inside is a custom-designed litter liner (sold separately) with high sides and handles to make it easy to lift out for cleaning.

I loved the box so much, I bought one—and it’s so well designed that when a friend visiting from out of town saw it, she exclaimed, “this is a nice new piece of furniture! What is this?” Imagine her surprise when I told her it was a litter box. Until you train your cats to use the toilet, this is the most subtle and elegant way for them to use the restroom. (And it’s not a bad hideaway for small pups, either.)

Find it: Etsy

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Big Questions
Why Do We Dive With Sharks But Not Crocodiles?
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Why do we dive with sharks but not crocodiles?

Eli Rosenberg:

The issue is the assumption that sharks' instincts are stronger and more basic.

There are a couple of reasons swimming with sharks is safer:

1. Most sharks do not like the way people taste. They expect their prey to taste a certain way, like fish/seal, and we do not taste like that. Sharks also do not like the sensation of eating people. Bigger sharks like great whites enjoy prey with a high fat-bone ratio like seals. Smaller sharks enjoy eating fish, which they can gobble in one bite. So, while they might bite us, they pretty quickly decide “That’s not for me” and swim away. There is only one shark that doesn’t really care about humans tasting icky: that shark is our good friend the tiger shark. He is one of the most dangerous species because of his nondiscriminatory taste (he’s called the garbage can of the sea)!

2. Sharks are not animals that enjoy a fight. Our big friend the great white enjoys ambushing seals. This sneak attack is why it sometimes mistakes people for seals or sea turtles. Sharks do not need to fight for food. The vast majority of sharks species are not territorial (some are, like the blacktip and bull). The ones that are territorial tend to be the more aggressive species that are more dangerous to dive with.

3. Sharks attacked about 81 people in 2016, according to the University of Florida. Only four were fatal. Most were surfers.

4. Meanwhile, this is the saltwater crocodile. The saltwater crocodile is not a big, fishy friend, like the shark. He is an opportunistic, aggressive, giant beast.


5. Crocodiles attack hundreds to thousands of people every single year. Depending on the species, one-third to one-half are fatal. You have a better chance of survival if you played Russian roulette.

6. The Death Roll. When a crocodile wants to kill something big, the crocodile grabs it and rolls. This drowns and disorients the victim (you). Here is a PG video of the death roll. (There is also a video on YouTube in which a man stuck his arm into an alligator’s mouth and he death rolled. You don’t want to see what happened.)

7. Remember how the shark doesn’t want to eat you or fight you? This primordial beast will eat you and enjoy it. There is a crocodile dubbed Gustave, who has allegedly killed around 300 people. (I personally believe 300 is a hyped number and the true number might be around 100, but yikes, that’s a lot). Gustave has reportedly killed people for funsies. He’s killed them and gone back to his business. So maybe they won’t even eat you.


8. Sharks are mostly predictable. Crocodiles are completely unpredictable.

9. Are you in the water or by the edge of the water? You are fair game to a crocodile.

10. Crocodiles have been known to hang out together. The friend group that murders together eats together. Basks of crocodiles have even murdered hippopotamuses, the murder river horse. Do you think you don't look like an appetizer?

11. Wow, look at this. This blacktip swims among the beautiful coral, surrounded by crystal clear waters and staggering biodiversity. I want to swim there!

Oh wow, such mud. I can’t say I feel the urge to take a dip. (Thanks to all who pointed this out!)

12. This is not swimming with the crocodiles. More like a 3D aquarium.

This post originally appeared on Quora. Click here to view.

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Animals
10 Filling Facts About Turkeys
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Don’t be fooled by their reputation for being thoughtless. These roly-poly birds have a few tricks up their wings.

1. THE BIRDS WERE NAMED AFTER THE COUNTRY.

The turkey is an American bird, so why does it share its name with a country on the other side of the world? Laziness, mostly. Turkish traders had been importing African guinea fowl to Europe for some time when North American explorers started shipping M. gallopavo back to the Old World. The American birds looked kind of like the African “turkey-cocks,” and so Europeans called them “turkeys.” Eventually, the word “turkey” came to describe M. gallopavo exclusively.

2. THEY NEARLY WENT EXTINCT.

By the early 20th century, the combination of overzealous hunting and habitat destruction had dwindled the turkey populations down to 30,000. With the help of conservationists, the turkey made a comeback. The birds are now so numerous that they’ve become a nuisance in some parts of the country.

3. THEY’VE GOT TWO STOMACHS.

Like all birds, turkeys don’t have teeth, so they’ve got to enlist some extra help to break down their food. Each swallowed mouthful goes first into a chamber called a proventriculus, which uses stomach acid to start softening the food. From there, food travels to the gizzard, where specialized muscles smash it into smaller pieces.

4. FEMALE TURKEYS DON’T GOBBLE.

Turkeys of both sexes purr, whistle, cackle, and yelp, but only the males gobble. A gobble is the male turkey’s version of a lion’s roar, announcing his presence to females and warning his rivals to stay away. To maximize the range of their calls, male turkeys often gobble from the treetops.

5. THEY SLEEP IN TREES.

Due to their deliciousness, turkeys have a lot of natural predators. As the sun goes down, the turkeys go up—into the trees. They start by flying onto a low branch, then clumsily hop their way upward, branch by branch, until they reach a safe height.

6. BOTH MALE AND FEMALE TURKEYS HAVE WATTLES.

The wattle is the red dangly bit under the turkey’s chin. The red thing on top of the beak is called a snood. Both sexes have those, too, but they’re more functional in male turkeys. Studies have shown that female turkeys prefer mates with longer snoods, which may indicate health and good genes.

7. THEY HAVE REALLY GOOD VISION.

Turkey eyes are really, really sharp. On top of that, they’ve got terrific peripheral vision. We humans can only see about 180 degrees, but given the placement of their eyes on the sides of their heads, turkeys can see 270 degrees. They’ve also got way better color vision than we do and can see ultraviolet light.

8. THEY’RE FAST ON THE GROUND, TOO.

You wouldn’t guess it by looking at them, but turkeys can really book it when they need to. We already know they’re fast in the air; on land, a running turkey can reach a speed of up to 25 mph—as fast as a charging elephant.

9. THEY’RE SMART … BUT NOT THAT SMART.

Turkeys can recognize each other by sound, and they can visualize a map of their territory. They can also plan ahead and recognize patterns. In other ways, they’re very, very simple animals. Male turkeys will attack anything that looks remotely like a threat, including their own reflections in windows and car doors.

10. IN THE EVENT OF A TURKEY ATTACK, CALL THE POLICE.

They might look silly, but a belligerent turkey is no joke. Male turkeys work very hard to impress other turkeys, and what could be more impressive than attacking a bigger animal? Turkey behavior experts advise those who find themselves in close quarters with the big birds to call the police if things get mean. Until the authorities arrive, they say, your best bet is to make yourself as big and imposing as you possibly can.

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