Lily’s Kitchen Cat Food – New For November 2016

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The tasting panel

Aaah, lucky me!  The lovely people at Lily’s Kitchen have been sending out samples of their new cat food and I have some foil trays in my possession.  My resident tasting panel – Bart, Phoebe and Ringo – are going to sample 4 out of 9 different flavours.  But first, a little background on cat food retail.

There is a hierarchy in the world of cat food.  Amongst the huge array of beautifully marketed trays and pouches, there is an underlying snobbery as cat food manufacturers vy for our well earned pound.  And they all sound so good!!  Time to get wise, as they are not all created equal.

At the bottom of the pile are ‘grocery brands.’  Most of us, including myself have used these as they are often advertised on TV and are readily available at supermarkets and economical.   However,  compared to premium brands, the nutritional content is inferior.  Before we all go on a guilt trip because we have been buying supermarket cat food all along, if your pet loves it and is doing fine, then great!  But its good to know what other food is available for our feline friends, especially if they have changing dietary requirements or are just plain fussy!

At the other end of the scale, we have ‘premium brands’ like Hills and Royal Canin.  These are available from pet retailers are are notably more expensive, but read and compare the ingredients and the nutritional composition and you will see why.  The meat content is higher, therefore more protein, and there is less, or no cereals and fillers.  Some premium brands will also have the addition of ingredients you might find in health food stores, eg antioxidants and herbs, and you are more likely (but not always!) to find organic and ethically sourced meat from a premium brand.

It is easy to get dragged into the which cat food is the best debate.  Personally speaking, I feed a variety of different brands to my cats, because as soon as I find something they like, they change their minds!  I’m sure there are many cat owners out there who have experienced this, judging by the pondering faces in the cat food aisles.

There is also the question of cost to consider too.  I have bought expensive pouches of premium cat food only to find my three going for the gravy and leaving the meat!  At the end of the day, a cat food is only going to be any good if your cat will eat it!

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Are these all for me?

So when Lily’s Kitchen were sending out samples of their new cat food, I was interested in my cats’ reaction.  Lily’s Kitchen is superior to grocery type cat food, but is available at Tesco and Waitrose.  That makes it an ideal step up for owners wanting to feed a better quality cat food without having to shop for it separately.

Lily’s Kitchen was originally developed for dogs.  The founder of the company, Henrietta, had developed recipes for her dog Lily, who was prone to itchy skin.  The food was a success so it was only natural that Lily’s Kitchen should bring out a cat food with the same values – using good quality meat and free from grain, which is often the cause of stomach upsets and allergies.

Well, that’s the background.  Here’s the taste test, starting with the Hunters Hotpot.

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Just to give you all a heads up, the texture of these foods are like a pate, which may not suit all cats.  This one is a coarse pate with some jelly.  Bart and Ringo had a good go at this one but Phoebe was less impressed.  In the end just under half the amount put out was left, so I think we can give that a 6/10.

Phoebe is more of a fish connoisseur, so I had higher hopes for Catch of the Day.

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The texture was a bit smoother but  there is still some jelly present for  the jelly lovers.  All the cats finished their bowls so we are scoring that 9/10.  Why not a 10?  Well, although they ate all the food, they were lacking the gusto I have seen with some other types.  Perhaps it was the texture. Bart and Phoebe in particular are fond of gravy which is lacking in this brand.

Next up was Whisker Lickin Chicken.  This was a very smooth pate food…

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…which wasn’t that popular with my tasting panel I’m afraid!  They all left about a third each.  Or maybe they weren’t hungry.  Cats are odd creatures sometimes so its not always an accurate test.  I’ll opt for a 6/10.

Last one to try for now.  Lovely Lamb Casserole.  Unlike a casserole, there is a distinct lack of gravy.

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The texture is more like a fine mince with a little jelly.  I was disappointed at the appearance (as it didn’t resemble any casserole I’ve seen) but the cats were happy with this one and polished off their portions quickly.  I have marked this 10/10 because of their enthusiasm.

Just for reference, Lily’s Kitchen also do other flavours, plus organic recipes and mature and kitten trays.  There is also dry food and cat treats.  Regarding the food Bart, Phoebe and Ringo had sampled, I would buy certain flavours again and I would try others too, as this is a great brand with a higher meat content than some other well known brands.  Definitely one to try if your cat is fond of pate type cat food.  The foil trays retail at around 80-90p and the organic trays are around 95-99p.  Keep your eyes out for the organic festive turkey dinner variety for Christmas!

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Plastic Rabbit Housing – Ferplast Grand Lodge Plus Review

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I’m a huge fan of plastic pet housing due to ease of cleaning and low maintenance.  Ok, so plastic is not chew proof, but most rabbits find wood more palatable, and plastic has the advantage of being easy to wipe clean and disinfect.  So I was quite intrigued when my sister unveiled her new purchase for lucky rabbits Sage and Onion.  The Ferplast Grand Lodge Plus 120 at £213 from Amazon (at time of writing),  is a two storey plastic rabbit hutch which offers plenty of space for your pets without taking up room in the garden.  In Sage and Onion’s case, their Grand Lodge is indoors most of the time as they are predominantly house rabbits.  Space is even more of a premium when your bunnies live indoors and a plastic house blended into my sister’s semi-detached living room better than a wooden hutch.

Although the hutch is plastic, there are some wooden parts, namely the sleeping area and the ladders – one from the nest area and one leading down to the ground floor.  This hutch is available in bigger sizes too (140 and 160 models) and comes in grey, green or brown detail.  There are also basic versions (without the bottom tray, so can be placed on grass), and optional extras, like a roof insulation kit or PVC covers to protect against wind and rain.

 

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The hutch comes in flat pack so be prepared to do some building!  It is 115cm x 73cm x 117cm for the 120 model, so its a two person job to move it (23.3kg in weight).  There are  some nice features to this hutch, including sloping roof for water drainage which opens up for easy access.  Other openings into the hutch are a handy side door, the door for the nest area and the run opening at the bottom.  The package also includes a water bottle, bowl and hay rack.

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Roof opens for easy access

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Both top and bottom trays slide out for easy cleaning, and unlike wood these can be washed clean and quickly dried.  I particularly like this feature as it works like my own chicken coops, but bear in mind if you use this hutch indoors and your rabbit sprays, you will need  suitable litter trays or some additional protection at the sides.

Any downsides?  Well, my sister would prefer an extra door for the run at the bottom.  My issue is that although plastic is more hygienic, wood is warmer as it insulates and there doesn’t seem to be an insulating cover available for this item.  So if you are buying this item for use outdoors, you will need to keep your rabbits warm by additional means,  so be extra generous with bedding.  There is a roof insulating kit available to buy and clear PVC covers that fit over the wire to protect against driving wind and rain.  You can also move the hutch into an outbuilding during bad weather (not a garage with a car present because of fumes).  For my own plastic chicken coops, I insulate them by covering with an old carpet which I bungee cord in place to stop the wind lifting them off, taking care not to cover the ventilation holes.  This can also work with this hutch although admittedly it doesn’t look great!

This is a great alternative to a wooden hutch with a choice of variations to suit your requirements.  Just make sure you have someone good at DIY nearby if you’re anything like me! 😉

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