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This Smart Litter Box Monitors Your Cat’s Health

Imagine a litter box that monitors your cat’s health and reports issues directly to your cell phone.  A new smart litter box in Japan will do just that.

The Smart Litter Box Technology

Cats are prone to many health issues as they age. Many common feline health conditions can be detected through evaluation of changes in weight and urination.  Unfortunately, cat owners often miss subtle changes in weight and the amount of urine their cat produces over time.  Cats often do not get regular veterinary examinations that could detect problems in the early stages.

A new smart litter box from the Sharp company in Japan will help pet parents monitor their cat’s health.  This box includes detectors and software that will monitor a cat’s weight, the amount she urinates, and the length of time she spends in the litter box.  When the system detects an abnormal change, it notifies the owner’s smart phone directly.

Multiple cats?  No problem.  The box comes with optional sensors that will detect individual cats in a multi-at household.

Why are we excited about this technology?

  1. Cat obesity: Weight gain in cats, just like in people, usually occurs slowly.  Pet parents are notoriously unreliable at recognizing weight gain and obesity in their pets.  This technology will provide consistent and objective evaluation of a cat’s weight over time.  An owner who receives an alert is more likely to take action and have their cat examined by a veterinarian. If the company has thought this through, the box will monitor improvement over time, too. Owners could use this to help evaluate the effectiveness of a diet plan for their cat.
  2. Diabetes: Changes in weight and increased urine volume are indicators of diabetes mellitus.  Cat parents may not recognize increased amounts of urine in the box, unless they are paying careful attention to the litter balls.  A tool to alert owners when their cat is urinating more frequently and with a higher volume could revolutionize the early diagnosis of diabetes in cats.   If diabetes is diagnosed early, cats have a higher chance to go into remission when treated.
  3. Kidney disease:  Kidney disease is common in aging cats.  Increases or decreases in frequency or volume of urination may signal the onset of kidney problems.  Early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to managing the progression of kidney disease.
  4. Urinary blockages: Spending a lot of time in the litter box can signal that a cat is having difficulty urinating.  Bladder infections or blockages due to bladder stones can cause this problem.  Cat parents can easily miss this sign, unless they are carefully monitoring the litter box.
  5. Hyperthyroidism: This common problem in middle-aged to older cats can cause them to drink and urinate more.

These are just the most common problems that this smart litter box could help detect.  Alerts to changes in urination and weight will encourage owners to take their cat to a veterinarian for diagnosis.

How much does the box cost?

The box is rolling out at a cost of about $224 US.  The monitoring app will cost an additional $3.00 US each month.

Will the box be available in the US?

Before you get excited, this smart litter box will be rolled out only in Japan at first.  Hopefully the Sharp company will bring this technology to the US market in the near future.  We hope this box will eventually be used with smart litter to detect things like sugar in the urine (glucosuria), an indicator of diabetes.

Your Pet’s Fitness Is a Matter of Habit

Your pet’s fitness is a matter of habit, and the habit must be yours.  Your pet relies on you to make sure she gets regular exercise and eats properly.  Like any habit, exercising your pet consistently will require commitment from you.  Don’t worry.  We have some tips for making the habit stick.


You may have heard it said that goals should be measurable.  People are more likely to meet goals when they can quantify their progress.  That’s partly because we tend to over or underestimate our efforts, depending on how much we like the activity or choice.  To make monitoring work for your pet’s fitness, you need to quantify how much time you spend exercising your pet, or track your pet’s activity through some other means.

There are several excellent fitness apps and monitors on the market for dogs.  Depending on your budget, there is a monitor that will work for you.  We like Babel Bark, an inexpensive monitor and free app.  You may also log time manually, or record your mileage with your dog.  However you measure your dog’s activity, set a goal to increase it gradually.


It’s a well-known fact that we tend to do what we make time for in a schedule.  If helping keep your pet fit is important, it’s key to schedule some time each day to make this happen.  Whether you are a morning person or a night owl, put exercise time with your pet into your daily agenda.

Get Accountable

Many people are better at sticking to habits when they are held accountable.  Making a goal public or simply having a friend act as an accountability partner can increase your chances for successfully keeping a new habit.  Similarly, being part of a group that meets in person or communicates online can help give you the accountability you need.  You may find it easier to consistently exercise your pet if you make a date with a friend and do it together.

Through the Fit2BPawsome Challenge, you will find tools to help you monitor your dog’s fitness.  You can go public and get accountable by joining the Challenge and participating in the Facebook group discussion.   Schedule daily activities with your pet and make your pet’s fitness a habit now.

Babel Bark is a sponsor of the Fit2BPawsome Challenge.

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Don’t Move to the Suburbs to Please Your Pet. City Dogs May Be Happier.

Millennials are buying suburban houses to please their pets. But does the change in lifestyle really benefit their dogs?  Probably not. Here’s why city dogs may be happier.

According to a recent report in Time, millennials are leaving cities to buy homes in the suburbs because of their dogs.  There’s a perceived benefit to larger homes and big yards. But the benefit may be more about convenience for the humans than happiness for the dogs.  We have kept dogs in rural, suburban, and city environments.  Here are four reasons we think our dogs are happier in the city.

1. The walkies

Walks are the number one reason city dogs may be happier.  As apartment dwellers, we spend more time walking our dogs each day than we ever did in the suburbs.  This means not only more exercise for all of us, but more time spent interacting with our dogs.  Walkies are mandatory, and the dogs allow no procrastination.   In addition to quick trips down to the dog park for sanitary purposes and play, we also make several long walks around the city each week.

Although suburban areas may boast more dedicated walking trails, neighborhoods within cities are often better connected by sidewalks and other pedestrian ways.  From our front door, we can walk for miles in almost any direction and never leave the sidewalk.  Public green spaces and dog parks are concentrated into a smaller area and are more accessible by foot in urban areas.  Unlike the suburbs, cities offer diverse sights and experiences for both pets and people.

Dogs walked in crowded urban spaces often require more training and better leash skills than their suburban counterparts.  Dogs enjoy learning and need to be challenged throughout their lives.  Daily walks provide a time for reinforcing leash training and building a stronger human/dog bond.

2. The dog-friendly spaces

There are more dog-friendly public spaces within walking distance in the city.  City dogs enjoy spending more time with their parents on the patio at local coffee shops, bars, and restaurants.  Most dog-friendly eateries offer fresh water for pets, and many provide treats for their canine patrons, too.

3. The socialization

City dogs get more socialization opportunities than suburban dogs.  Dog parks are increasingly offered as an amenity in rental communities.  We are among the growing number of renters with access to a private dog park.  As a result, our dogs interact with other dogs every day.  And because city dwellers generally have smaller homes and must be more conscious about separation-related behavior issues, city dogs are more likely to go to day care when their parents are away.

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4. The tribe

Most city dogs end up with their own tribe of ardent fans.  Our dog Wesley is a crowd pleaser wherever he goes, and he thrives on the attention.  It’s safe to say that social dogs like Wesley get a lot of pleasure from interacting with a variety of people.  When handled appropriately, the increased exposure to many different people can help shy dogs become more tolerant and confident.

Does a Yard Really Make a Dog Happier?

The biggest downside for the city dweller is not having access to a yard.  Having a yard is undeniably much more convenient for dog parents.  There’s no need to rush outside with the dog in freezing weather or rain, and walks can be scheduled at the parent’s convenience, instead of through necessity.  However, the benefit of a yard to dogs is not as clear.

Having a yard means that a dog can go outside more frequently during the day.  Going outside more frequently doesn’t necessarily mean that a dog will get more beneficial exercise, especially if his owners forego regular walks.   Remember that dogs left to their own devices spend only about five minutes a day running and 68 minutes a day walking.  The majority of your dog’s day is spent sleeping or resting (about 19.4 hours), whether inside or out.

Giving a dog unsupervised access to a yard may lead to some unpleasant surprises.  The dog may dig or bark at passersby.  Even worse, the dog may get out of the yard and wander off.  Although there isn’t good data available, it seems more likely that a dog let out into the yard is more likely to escape than a city dog that is walked on a leash.

Your dog can be happy whether you choose to live in the city or in the suburbs.  It’s a mistake to think that suburban life on its own, will make your dog happier.  What is important is that you spend quality time with your dog every day.

What do you think?  Are you looking to move out of the city?  Are you living in the city and loving it?  Or are you and your dog sitting pretty in a suburban home?  Comment below to share your story.




Events for You and Your Pet in KC This Weekend

It’s great to be a pet in KC this weekend!  Start your holiday celebrations early with three upcoming events. Ugly sweaters, pet expo, rabbits, and more!

Bar K’s First Annual Ugly Sweater Party

Put on your ugly sweater, put on your dog’s ugly sweater, and head out to Bar-K on Saturday, Dec. 2,  for some holiday fun!  Prizes for best dog sweater and best dog/human couple.  Capacity is limited to 50, so be sure to come early.  Flaunt those sweaters!

Education/Adoption Meeting at Wayside Waifs (rabbits)

Do you love rabbits?  Maybe you have considered a pet rabbit but just aren’t sure you are a good fit.  Come down to Wayside Waifs for an education and adoption meeting.  Missouri House Rabbit Society of Kansas City will be on hand to answer your questions about raising a pet rabbit indoors.  You can bring your rabbit for free nail trims.

Great KC Pet Expo

Experience Kansas City’s biggest celebration of pets, pet families, pet stuff, pet services, and pet entertainment.  Dec. 2 through 3rd at the KCI Expo Center.  Tickets are $8.  HIghlights of the event include a stunt-dog show, tips and demonstrations from trainers, contests for your dog, vendors, and more.  Get started on finding the perfect Christmas gift for your pet!  This is a dog-friendly event, but you’ll want to complete the “critter release agreement” to speed up your entry.


Dressing Up: A Brief History of Pets and Costumes

According to the National Retail Federation, Americans spent around $440 million on pet costumes for Halloween this year. Pets in costumes (pumpkins are still the number one choice in 2017) were everywhere during the month of October.  Pets got dressed up and competed for the best costume at fundraisers, private parties, and pet-centered fall festivals.  All this pet masquerading raises an interesting question:  When did dressing pets become so popular?

Collars were the earliest pet costumes

Halloween aside, people have been dressing pets in one way or another since the time of Ancient Egypt.  Tomb findings reveal that some Egyptians outfitted  their dogs with ornate collars bearing the dog’s name.  Dog collars became prominent in Ancient Greece, where hunting or fighting dogs wore spiked collars. In the Middle Ages, royalty and other nobility displayed wealth in the form of decorative collars and leashes.  Often these dog accessories were adorned with gold and jewels. It is said that Louis XV dressed his Cavalier spaniel in a gold collar with diamonds.   During the Renaissance, pet owners had more dispensable income, and leather collars with tags or ornaments became common.  It was also during this time that dog ordinances were instituted. These new laws created a need for special identification or registration tags.  In the 19th century, bells on collars were fashionable.

Clothing and costumes for wealthy pets, 1800-2000

As smaller dog breeds became popular, pet owners began to use warm sweaters to keep their dogs cozy during winter weather.  Fashion houses in Paris began catered to the well-dressed pet during the 1800s.  In 1833, England’s Princess Victoria dressed her spaniel in a scarlet jacket and blue pants.

Dressing pets remained the purview of the well-heeled during the 20th century.  Ordinary pet owners were discouraged from dressing and pampering pets.  In 1915, the naturalist Alpheus Hyatt Verrill warned against “pampering, constant fondling, dressing up in clothing, and other ridiculous practices.”  Even so, vintage photos of animals in clothing from the early 1900s demonstrate that some people continued to clothe their pets.

21st century pets get costumes like their human families

Sometime around the turn of the millenium, something changed.  As pets began to be increasingly viewed as members of the family, they also began to take part in celebrations previously reserved for humans.  It was inevitable, perhaps, that more and more pets would begin to participate in Halloween.

The National Retail Federation of America began tracking US expenditures on Halloween costumes for pets in 2010.  At that time, Americans planned to spend about $210 million on pet costumes.  In 2015, Americans spent about $350 million on pet costumes.  That translates to about $1 for every $3 spent on kids’ costumes that year. The popularity of pet costumes continues to grow.

Learn more: Dog fashion history; History of dog collars