The Pitch: "Grow a healthy, pesticide-free snack for your cat right at home!"
April 2009. Many cats like to eat grass or plants, either for nutrition or to cleanse their digestive tracts, but some greenery can be toxic to felines. Pet owners looking for a way to satisfy their cats (and discourage them from munching the houseplants) have several options, one of the most well known being the Chia Cat Grass Planter, made by the same company that sells the iconic Chia Pet. The Chia Cat Grass Planter has a different formulation than other Chia products: it grows an edible mixture of sweet oats and wheatgrass that's designed to appeal especially to cats. In a few days, the grass grows to height of three or four inches, at which point it's ready to be served to your cat.
The reviews we've found of the Chia Cat Grass Planter are overwhelmingly positive. Users say the setup is easy, the grass grows quickly, and most cats love to eat it. (There's an amusing clip on YouTube showing a fat tabby chowing down on his Chia Grass.) The downside, which Chia doesn't mention on its website, is that cats invariably throw up after eating grass. This doesn't mean the grass is bad for them, but it does entail a little more vigilance on the part of cat owners. On the upside, there's anecdotal evidence that cats will refrain from eating grass or house plants if they have their very own plant to feast on.
This site has the largest number of user reviews for the Chia Cat Grass Planter. The majority of users say they love the design, which features Sylvester the Cat and Tweety Bird, and that the grass is easy to grow. Zootoo.com advertises the Chia Cat Grass Planter as a remedy for hairballs -- presumably because cats tend to vomit after eating the grass, thus clearing their digestive tracts. One user sums this up succinctly, saying the product is great except for the resulting mess you'll likely find. A few pet owners say they couldn't get the grass to grow, or that their cats wouldn't eat it.
Review: Cat care - Chia Cat Grass Planter Hairball Remedy, Contributors to Zootoo.com
This apparently on-the-level review describes the anonymous author's experiences with the Chia Cat Grass Planter, describing in detail the product and growing process. She is quite pleased with the results and recommends the Chia planter: "My female cat took to the Chia Cat Grass immediately, and she would snack on it several times a day. My male cat took more time, and he still prefers his wet cat food and moist treats."
Review: Product Review: Chia Cat Grass Planter, "Autumn Skies", April 9, 2007
3. Stefanie's Stories
This 20-something blogger says her cat loves to eat the grass grown in the Chia Cat Grass Planter; her cat behaves like "a little lawn mower." A few readers chime in with their own experiences and questions, including one who expresses concern that her cat vomits after munching the Cat Grass. Another reader assures her that her cat does the same thing.
Review: Chia Cat Grass, "Stefanie K.", Feb. 18, 2009
There are a handful of similar videos on YouTube like this one, all of them showing cats contentedly munching away at Chia Cat Grass. From the looks of this video and others, it's safe to assume that these well-fed felines love their Cat Grass.
Review: Chia Cat Grass 1, "Radchk1", Mar. 21, 2009
Only a handful of owners post comments here about the Chia Cat Grass Planter, but they all have good things to say. Raves one user, "The grass grows so quickly. I felt like I was watching it sprout up. And the cats love it."
Review: Chia Cat Grass Planter, Contributors to Amazon.com
No problems here. The aim of toilet training your cat is to eliminate the mess, odor, labor and cost associated with using a litter box. The CitiKitty Toilet Training Kit consists of a training seat that's supposed to fit any toilet, plus a training guide, tip card and a cat treat to use as a reward during training.
The training seat has a series of rings in the bottom, designed so the owner can gradually enlarge the waste hole as their cat learns to balance on the toilet. Initially, the training seat lacks any hole at all, so it amounts to a toilet-mounted litter box, requiring the use of flushable kitty litter. Once the cat becomes accustomed to using the litter box, the first ring can be cut away to open a small waste hole in the base. As training progresses, the hole should be enlarged. Several users complain that if the cat regresses, the rings cannot be reattached.
A few owners say the rings are difficult to punch out, but most report no serious issues. "It is a little difficult to punch out, but I don't see why there [are] so many complaints on this," writes one owner at Amazon.com. "I used a pocket knife and it took a whole 2 minutes to punch out the first hole."
Messy learning curve. Reviews say the CitiKitty Toilet Training Kit does work for some cats -- as long as the owner is willing to devote the several days or weeks that training can require. Some cats take to it right away; others don't. One owner sums it up well: "Bottom line, it's not just the product. It's your cat, and your dedication."
It's also important to note that you'll need to use flushable kitty litter during the initial training period, and training is easiest if you can devote a toilet solely to the cat's use – which may be a tall order for people who only have one bathroom. Also worth noting: Most owners say their cats can scatter quite a bit of litter around the toilet during the initial training period.
Unfortunately, it seems to be impossible to predict which cats will succeed with the CitiKitty. We found many reports of cats that will urinate in the toilet, but insist on defecating elsewhere. Based on reviews, the CitiKitty kit looks like a 50-50 bet; only about half of owners seem to be happy with it.
We found the most reviews of the CitiKitty Toilet Training Kit at Amazon.com, where nearly 275 owners comment on their experiences. The far fewer user reviews at Walmart.com echo the same pros and cons. TV station WZZM (Grand Rapids, Mich.) publishes a review that includes a video, and we found even more detail written by a blogger at LittleGreenCat.com.
Mixed reviews. We could not find any guarantee or warranty for the CitiKitty. The official product website states that returns are only accepted for unopened products within 30 days of receipt.
Of the customer reviews we read, only a handful mention seeking customer service or attempting to return the product. Of these, about half received friendly, helpful service, and the rest found customer service unresponsive.
Review Credibility: Very Good The CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit is reviewed by more than 420 owners, receiving an average 3.3 stars out of 5. Many reviewers say it is effective, but some report minor issues. About half of the reviews score it 3 stars or below.
Review: CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of February 2013
2. WZZM (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
Review Credibility: Very Good This local TV news review includes a useful video, discussing one couple's negative experience with the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit. The cat's owners dislike having to share a toilet with their pet, and the feline refuses to use the CitiKitty all the time.
Review: Can You Really Toilet Train Your Cat? Try the CitiKitty, Lauren Stanton, July 21, 2011
3. New York Post
Review Credibility: Very Good This witty article documents, stage by stage, how a couple tries the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit with their cat. Problems include the cat flinging litter around the bathroom and using the toilet kit inconsistently, resulting in some accidents. The couple gives up by the end of the first month.
Review: Taking Care of Business, Amanda Kelly, March 11, 2012
Review Credibility: Good This recent blog article describes the author's attempts to train two cats to use the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit. As with other owners, this reviewer's cat refuses to use the toilet consistently.
Review: The CitiKitty Toilet Diaries: Part One, "PopSugar Beauty", Dec. 6, 2011
Review Credibility: Good This blogger documents her 27-day attempt to train her cat to use the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit. Reviewer Holly Tse eventually gives up, because the cat won't use the toilet consistently. Tse notes that the CitiKitty might work for pet owners if they are willing to devote a lot of time to the training process and to clean the tray every day.
Review: CitiKitty's in the House -- Time to Toilet Train My Cat, Holly Tse, Jan. 21, 2010
Review Credibility: Good This review summarizes one cat owner's experience. The reviewer says that despite training, the cat may not use the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit consistently.
Review: CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Experiences, Editors of KittyToiletTraining.com, Not dated
Review Credibility: Good Only about a dozen owners review the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit, with most quite enthusiastic about it. One owner suggests attaching a child's seat to the toilet, giving small cats an easier place to balance.
Review: CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit, Contributors to Walmart.com, As of February 2013
Review Credibility: Fair This brief comparison review recommends a more expensive competitor, the Litter Kwitter, over the CitiKitty Cat Toilet Training Kit, noting that the Litter Kwitter is both sturdier and designed to be reusable. No actual usage is documented.
Review: Litterbox Methods Review, Michael Gibbs, Sept. 17, 2010
Doggy Steps is a miniature, portable staircase that allows smaller pets and pets with mobility issues to climb from the floor to furniture surfaces. According to the manufacturer, Doggy Steps are the perfect height for pets to reach sofas and beds, or to step into vehicles.
Most consumers who buy Doggy Steps say the product works as advertised. They also say the steps are easy to assemble and their animals have no problem using them. Most people who buy Doggy Steps do so for small pets that can't reach the furniture or for older pets that have mobility issues.
Of the few customer complaints we found, the most common one is about the lightweight plastic that Doggy Steps is made out of. These pet owners say the steps sometimes shift and slide while being used, which causes their animals to become afraid of using the product. The plastic is often too flimsy to support heavier animals, and a few users say the steps are too short and don't reach the top of their furniture.
Pet owners posting at the online community ZooToo.com give Doggy Steps an overall glowing review. Customers on vendor sites Petco.com, Amazon.com and Target.com also give mostly positive reviews, with only a small percentage complaining about the product. A handful of reviewers on InfomercialRatings.com are also primarily positive and find that Doggy Steps work just as advertised.
ZooToo.com is an online community for pet owners to find and share information on all things pet-related. More than 80 members review Doggy Steps, giving it a very good overall rating. They say that Doggy Steps work great for older pets with arthritis or other mobility problems, as well as for smaller pets who have trouble jumping onto furniture. A few say their pets refuse to use the steps, and some animals become scared of the steps because they sometimes shift when in use.
Review: Deluxe Doggy Steps, Contributors to ZooToo.com
Petco.com is a vendor site that sells pet merchandise and allows customers to post reviews of their products. More than 50 customers review Doggy Steps, and the majority says they would recommend it to a friend. Most say the steps are easy to assemble and allow old or small pets to join their owners on furniture. While most consumers are happy with Doggy Steps, a few complain about the steps' construction, saying that they aren't sturdy enough for some animals and have a tendency to slide around when being used.
Review: Deluxe Doggy Steps Customer Ratings and Reviews, Contributors to Petco.com
More than 40 customers review Doggy Steps on Amazon.com, and most echo the consensus that it works easily for most pets. A handful of people who buy Doggy Steps complain that the steps are flimsy and too lightweight, so they have trouble keeping the steps in one location.
Review: Deluxe Doggy Steps, Contributors to Amazon.com
More than 20 customers review Doggy Steps on Target.com, and most are happy with how the steps help their pets reach the furniture. A small percentage of people who buy Doggy Steps complain about how lightweight the steps are, and a few say the product is too short to be of any help to their pets.
Review: Deluxe Doggy Steps, Contributors to Target.com
More than a dozen customers review Doggy Steps on InfomercialRatings.com, and most of the reviews are very positive. Like most other customer reviews, the steps work well for most pets while a few customers are disappointed by the lightweight material.
Review: Doggy Steps Reviews and Ratings, Contributors to InfomercialRatings.com
It's an idea that seems to have merit -- a scratch pad that actually trims your cat's claws. Unlike regular scratch pads made of cardboard or sisal, the Emery Cat has a honeycombed, emery board-like surface that is supposed to safely file down cats' claws, saving you from trimming them. The product has an arched design for stretching and scratching; also included are a feather toy attached to the base and a free bag of catnip.
According to a great many reviews, however, the concept may be too much of a good thing. A large percentage of cat owners posting reviews to Amazon.com and other sites say that the Emery Cat can hurt cats' sensitive paws, and several mention that their cats actually seem to be in pain after scratching on the rough board. Perhaps, some say, this is why their cats walk away from the Emery Cat after using it only once.
Amazon.com users overwhelmingly dislike Emery Cat; out of 120-plus user posts, half give it a 1-star review. Most users say that their cats simply don't like it, and speculate that this may be because it's way too rough for Kitty's paws. Likewise, Grand Rapids, Mich., affiliate station WZZM shows a video where Emery Cat is tested with three cats: two use it once and then never go near it again; the other cat never touches it at all, a scenario mentioned repeatedly in Emery Cat reviews. Reviews on other sites mainly echo those on Amazon.com, with as many low ratings as high ones. In the end, it's a 50/50 bet whether or not your cat will use the Emery Cat.
Another complaint comes from those who've ordered the Emery Cat through its website. Customers say that the Emery Cat web page won't let them review their order total before it goes through. In addition, customers complain that it's too easy to accidentally order multiple sets, for which it is hard to get a refund. These complaints are detailed on sites such as ComplaintsBoard.com and ConsumerAffairs.com.
Out of more than 125 user reviews, the majority of Emery Cat owners aren't happy with the product, saying their cats tried it once and never went back or never tried it at all. Others say they suspect the Emery Cat was painful for their cats to use. Of owners who are mainly happy with it, some credit it with saving their furniture.
Review: EmeryCat Emery Cat Board, Contributors to Amazon.com
There aren't too many reviews here for Emery Cat, but one poster who fosters cats in her home claims that only one cat in 20 would use it. However, users who get their cats to use it claim that the product is a fun way to dull a cat's nails.
Review: Does Emery Cat Really Work?, Contributors to Does-the-Product-Work.com
3. WZZM (Grand Rapids, Mich.)
This local news report features a video where the Emery Cat is tested with three cats: two use it once and then never go near it again, in spite of the fuzzy toy; the other cat never touches it. The report concludes that "felines are finicky" and that there is no way to know if your cat will use it or not. The owner of the tested cats states that she is happy she didn't waste her money, since her cats are still clawing away at her steps.
Review: Try It Before You Buy It - Emery Cat, Matt Campbell, July 1, 2010
This cat-oriented message board features 12 pages of discussion about the Emery Cat. User posts are extremely negative. One poster tried to donate their unused Emery Cat to the local vet, who wouldn't take it after hearing complaints that it pulls out cats' claws.
Review: Emery Cat Forum, Contributors to TheCatSite.com
Posters on this consumer board complain of Emery Cat's confusing ordering process, and claim that they were misled as to what they were ordering and how much it would cost.
Review: Emery Cat Forum, Contributors to ComplaintsBoard.com
About half of the 30 user posts recommend Emery Cat, with users saying that their cats love it and use it often; for some users, however, locating refills is a problem. However, the other half say that their cats won't use it and don't like it; these users speculate that it may be too rough for Kitty's paws.
Review: As Seen on TV Emery Cat Board, Contributors to Walmart.com
Many of the negative posts about Emery Cat have to do with the ordering process, but several posters mention that their cat ate part of the included cat toy and got sick, while others complain that the surface is too rough for their cats' paws.
Review: Emery Cat, Contributors to ConsumerAffairs.com
The pitch: "Bathe your pet in cleansing ions!"
April 2009. The Pet Groom Pro is a battery-powered pet brush that emits ions to clean and deodorize your pet while you brush. According to the manufacturer, negatively charged ions from the brush will bind with and remove positively charged ions in pet hair, dirt and dander -- although reviewers are never quite sure exactly how this is supposed to work, and one veterinarian quoted is skeptical. Testers say that when they turn the Pet Groom Pro brush on, it buzzes quietly, and one reviewer saw a spark-like blue light deep within the brush, but reviews say there is no way to prove that anything is really happening.
Some testers say the Pet Groom Pro ionic cleaning brush works, noting that their pets actually do smell better after being brushed. A few reviewers detect an elusive clean scent coming from the brush, somewhat like bleach or dryer sheets, although there isn't supposed to be any deodorant involved. Some reviewers note that the Pet Groom Pro directions say to brush the pet for five minutes, and they hypothesize that brushing with any brush for five minutes would make for a cleaner, fresher pet.
In tests, most pets like being brushed with the Pet Groom Pro ionic cleaning brush (especially if they like being brushed anyway), but some hate it. One review notes that the buzzing may irritate some pets, and if the pet wears an electric-fence shock collar the brush may set it off. Testers like the Pet Groom Pro's easy-clean feature -- just pop off the faceplate and the accumulated hair comes with it. As for removing loose hair from the pet, reviews are mixed: Some say the Pet Groom Pro pet brush does a good job, while others say their regular brush does better.
We found several TV news stations that tested the Pet Groom Pro ionic cleaning brush. KDKA in Pittsburgh gets a local pet owner to test the brush on both dogs and cats for two weeks, and the website includes the original video segment. Seattle's KOMO doesn't post any video, but its review quotes two pet owners with different opinions about the Pet Groom Pro brush, and it is well written. Other TV reviews are briefer, but still helpful.
1. KDKA (Pittsburgh)
Consumer editor Yvonne Zanos and a local pet owner test the Pet Groom Pro ionic cleaning brush and a competing pet brush on four dogs and two cats over the course of two weeks. The brushes do seem to help with odor, although the testers conclude they won't replace baths.
Review: Do Ionic Pet Brushes Really Work?, Yvonne Zanos, Feb. 21, 2006
2. KOMO-TV (Seattle)
A local pet owner tries the Pet Groom Pro ionic cleaning brush on her two dogs. She says it doesn't remove as much hair as her regular brush, and she thinks the dogs seem cleaner simply because she brushed them for a long time -- not because of the ions. However, another local dog owner comments that she uses the Pet Groom Pro brush to make her pets smell better, and she uses a different brush to get the loose hair.
Review: Does It Work? Pet Groom Pro, Connie Thompson, Feb. 2, 2006
3. KLTV (Tyler, Texas)
Reporter Joe Terrell tests the Pet Groom Pro brush on Hannah, a shelter dog. As in the KDKA test, the brush doesn't bother the dog, and it does make her smell fresher.
Review: Pet Groom Pro: Does It Work?, Joe Terrell, March 14, 2005
4. WVEC (Norfolk, Va.)
A local dog owner tests the Pet Groom Pro ionic cleaning brush on her dog. The brush removes plenty of hair, and the owner likes the brush's easy-clean feature, but she says a regular brush would work just as well.
Review: Does It Work: Pet Groom Pro Ionic Cleaning Brush, Sandra Parker, Aug. 9, 2005
5. WTVC (Chattanooga, Tenn.)
The reviewer tests the Pet Groom Pro pet brush on his own dog, Larry, but he doesn't find it any better than a regular brush. He quotes a skeptical veterinarian who says a wet washcloth will remove dander just as well as the Pet Groom Pro.
Review: Does It Work: Pet Groom Pro, Calvin Sneed, Sept. 1, 2005
The PetVac is a grooming tool designed to remove loose fur and dander. You attach the PetVac's 15-foot hose to your vacuum cleaner, and then groom your pet far from the noisy vac, which tends to disturb most cats and dogs. The pets in the infomercial appear happy, and the results are predictably impressive.
However, the PetVac doesn't fare nearly as well in real-life testing. Reporters at TV stations in San Francisco, Pittsburgh and Erie, Pa., all test the PetVac, either on their own or with the aid of professional dog groomers. The results are unanimous. The PetVac is described as mediocre at best, and the grooming unit doesn't dig deep into fur. Although the PetVac is not supposed to be noisy, all three TV reporters say it's quite loud, which bothers many of the pets used in the reviews.
Even when the unit works, reviewers say the PetVac collects only small amount of pet hair, suggesting that it isn't doing a good job. A professional groomer that tested the PetVac for Pittsburgh's KDKA says, "I think it's a waste of money... a hairbrush would get that much hair out and in quicker time."
1. KGO (San Francisco)
A reporter at KGO tests the PetVac at a San Francisco pet boutique. Most of the dogs seem frightened by the rubber device, and the professional groomers say regular brushes are a better grooming tool.
Review: The PetVac Gets Put to the Test, June 6, 2006
2. KDKA (Pittsburgh)
A pet groomer tries out the PetVac on a cat and dog that are accustomed to professional grooming. She says the vac is noisy and doesn't pick up all that much pet hair. Her verdict: "I think it's a waste of money... a hairbrush would get that much hair out and in quicker time. On a rate of 1 to 10, I would give it a minus 1."
Review: Does It Really Do That? PetVac, Yvonne Zanos
3. WICU (Erie, Pa.)
In its test of the PetVac, a WICU reporter echoes the conclusions of other reviewers: This gizmo is too noisy for nervous pets, and even when it seems like it's doing a good job, a quick check of the attached vacuum shows that it picks up only small amounts of pet hair.
Review: Pet-Vac, Aug. 30, 2007
The Potty Patch is one of many devices designed to make it possible for a dog to do its business indoors. The idea is that it can be useful for housetraining a puppy, or for owners who are away from home all day or live in a high-rise. The commercials also contend that some dogs hate to go outdoors in the rain or snow.
The Potty Patch has three layers: a top layer of artificial turf that's supposed to attract a dog as if it were grass, a screen that keeps the turf in place in the middle, and a tray that holds about a gallon of liquid at the bottom. The Potty Patch comes in two sizes: 17 inches by 27 inches for dogs under 15 pounds (*Est. $40) and a larger 27-by-34-inch size (*Est. $80) for larger dogs. Customers who order from the product's website can get a free upgrade to a deluxe version which uses anti-microbial, odor-resistant turf.
We found very few positive reviews of the Potty Patch. Most dog owners report that their dogs simply ignored it, or tried to use it but found that the turf slid around or made too much noise. If a dog does use the Potty Patch, the tray is odorous and hard to empty, report owners.
If you do want to try the Potty Patch, many users posting comments online suggest buying from a known retailer rather than from the product's website. We found many complaints about backorders, unauthorized charges and poor customer service from PottyPatch.com.
Two TV reviews demonstrate how difficult it can be to persuade dogs to use the Potty Patch. The clip from WOIO (Cleveland) tops our list because the Potty Patch is tested with dogs of different ages and sizes. The test at WGRZ (Buffalo, N.Y.) is also convincing, since the owner (and his dog) tries the Potty Patch for a full week. A detailed review at the blog She Scribes describes a dog owner's efforts to persuade her dog to use it. We also found useful owner-written reviews and ratings at Petco.com and Amazon.com. ConsumerReports.org doesn't test the Potty Patch, but does comment on its design. More customer service complaints can be found on the blog As Seen On TV Fan and at Doggies.com, where other indoor options are described.
1. WOIO (Cleveland)
This TV reporter puts Potty Patch to the test with two large 9-month-old puppies; both refused to do anything but jump over or play with the Potty Patch. Then, to be sure the size of the Potty Patch wasn't an issue, reporter Danielle Serino tests the Potty Patch with a smaller 9.5-pound puppy. This puppy, too, prefers an ordinary floor to the Potty Patch. Serino concludes that the Potty Patch "is a bit of a pooper."
Review: Does It Work: Potty Patch, Danielle Serino, July 21, 2009
2. WGRZ (Buffalo, N.Y.)
This TV clip shows parts of a weeklong test of the Potty Patch by a four-year-old Italian greyhound that basically ignores it. The accompanying article notes that other dogs might use it.
Review: Product Test: Potty Patch, Mary Friona, Jan. 25, 2010
3. She Scribes
This long, detailed review of the Potty Patch describes the blogger's efforts to get her dog to use it. She concludes that though it might work for a puppy being housetrained, it didn't work for her dog at all. Her cats use it for scratching.
Review: Potty Patch -- Can You Teach a Not-so-old Dog New Tricks?, Kimberly, Jan. 10, 2010
A dozen or so owners give the Potty Patch mixed reviews. Some owners of puppies or very small dogs are satisfied with it, but quite a few owners complain that the turf mat is noisy and slides around, or slips off the tray entirely.
Review: Potty Patch -- As Seen on TV, Contributors to Petco.com
The handful of owners reviewing the Potty Patch here give it a thumbs-down; none of them were able to use it with their dogs. Either the dogs refused to use it (often because the "grass" slides around on the tray), or they did -- and a strong odor of urine annoyed the owner.
Review: Potty Patch (Small Green), Contributors to Amazon.com
Usually even a short review by ConsumerReports.org tops our list of sources, but in this case, no testing is reported. Just from observing the design, the author warns that the Potty Patch is likely to spill.
Review: The Potty Patch Seems Well Suited to Super Bowl Couch Potatoes, Steven H. Saltzman, Feb. 1, 2010
7. As Seen On TV Fan
At the time of our report, two people warn of dubious practices by an online retailer of the Potty Patch.
Review: Potty Patch, Contributors to As Seen On TV Fan
Quite a few people weigh in with complaints and concerns about buying the Potty Patch from the product's website rather than from an established retailer. Another article at this site describes 10 alternatives to the Potty Patch, but without testing or ranking them.
Review: Considering Buying a Potty Patch for your Dog? Read this First!, Contributors to Doggies.com
The Shed Vac is a portable vacuum powered by three AA batteries (not included), designed to loosen pet hair and suck it into a built-in canister while gently massaging the cat or dog. Functionally, it's very similar to the PetVac (*Est. $20). The manufacturer claims it's quiet enough not to scare pets, yet powerful enough to pull hair up from the undercoat to solve shedding problems. The removable canister collects the pet hair for emptying later. The Shed Vac can also be used on clothing, furniture or corners where pet hair has collected.
Reviews of the Shed Vac are mixed when it comes to how much pets enjoy the experience: The loud motor scared some pets during testing. Most owners say it lacks suction and is largely ineffective. It's possible to collect some pet hair with it, but reviewers dispute the manufacturer's claim that the Shed Vac removes loose hair from the undercoat. The verdict: Providing your pet doesn't mind the noise, it will remove some hair, but it's not going to eliminate a shedding problem.
We didn't find any objective tests of the Shed Vac on cats, but we did find two involving dogs. Reporters at two TV stations, WXIA (Atlanta) and WPCO (Cincinnati), ask volunteer testers to try the Shed Vac on their dogs, with very mixed results. We found about 30 reviews from cat owners at Does-The-Product-Work.com. Least credible is the review at JennyReviews.com, an apparent affiliate site that doesn't document any testing.
1. WXIA (Atlanta)
Susan Tauber tests the Shed Vac on her two Labrador retrievers, who shed so much that she has to vacuum twice a day. The device is gentle and doesn't bother either dog; they seem to enjoy the vac's massaging action. However, after comparing the Shed Vac with another de-shedding tool called the Furminator, Tauber says the Furmintor picked up a lot of hair that the Shed Vac left behind. She concludes that the Shed Vac doesn't pull enough hair from the undercoat to really solve a shedding problem. "It stirs up the fur but doesn't really do a deep cleaning, which is what causes shedding," Tauber says.
Review: Try It Review: Shed Vac, Oct. 20, 2010
2. WPCO (Cincinnati)
Lance Barry, a volunteer tester, tries the Shed Vac on his Labrador retriever. The loud motor scared the dog, and she kept running away whenever the device was turned on. The Shed Vac does collect some hair, but reporter Suzanne Murray questions its claim to have a calming effect on pets, considering how loud it is.
Review: Try it Out Tuesday: Shed Vac, Suzanne Murray, Sept. 7, 2010
About 30 owners rate and review the Shed Vac here, and most say it's junk. They complain of flimsy construction and inadequate suction, or say it scares their pets. A few say they're happy with the Shed Vac; even satisfied owners say it took a while for their pets to get used to the noise, however.
Review: Shed Vac, Contributors to Does-The-Product-Work.com
Although the Shed Vac earns a perfect 5-star rating, no testing is documented. This seems to be an affiliate site for the products reviewed, not a true testing site.
Review: Shed Vac, Editors of JennyReviews.com
The Snuggie for Dogs is a fleece blanket with sleeves and three Velcro straps, designed to cover a dog's shoulders and most of its back. It comes in either pink or blue, and it's available in four sizes: extra small, small, medium and large. The ads emphasize that it "attaches securely in seconds" -- making it much easier to put on than a regular dog sweater or coat -- and will "keep your pet totally warm" outdoors in cold weather, or extra warm indoors. The Snuggie for Dogs is machine-washable. If you order the Snuggie for Dogs online or by phone, you will get a second one for free. In addition, you'll receive two free talking dog tags, on which you can record a message. (Advertisements suggest recording your contact information in case your dog is lost).
Though the commercials tout how easy it is to put on, people testing the Snuggie for Dogs for TV station KIDK (Idaho Falls, Idaho) find that it's not that easy to get on a wriggling dog. The dog gets used to it, but wearing the Snuggie doesn't induce him to go outside in the cold. On the other hand, testers at another station, KEYE (Austin, Tex.), find the Snuggie for Dogs easy enough to put on, but even easier for the dog to slip out of while running around. Getting the right size seems a bit tricky.
Other reviewers say the Snuggie's Velcro straps are insecure, too long or floppy, and note that the noise that Velcro makes can bother a dog. Other main complaints have to do with the fleece fabric. Tests conducted by Consumer Reports on the human version of the Snuggie -- posted at Consumerist.com -- reveal that machine washing the blanket makes it pill and shed so much lint that it gets very thin. Owners echo this complaint.
Despite these criticisms, some owners say their pets like the Snuggie for Dogs. The loose fit doesn't provide very much coverage for a dog running around outdoors. However, it does serve as a nice blanket for a dog lying down inside. If your dog seems cold indoors, or just needs some extra warmth outdoors, it might be worth trying.
We found quite a number of complaints about overcharges and poor customer service from people who ordered the Snuggie for Dogs online. That said, it makes sense to buy it at a local store with a good return policy.
We found the best video review of the Snuggie for Dogs at KIDK, in which a couple tries it out on their 4-month-old dachshund. A close runner-up is the video review at KEYE, where a lively dog attempts to run around with the Snuggie on. Photos of a dog wearing the Snuggie illustrate critical points in the detailed review at the Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union. A review at Consumerist.com covers objective tests of the fabric used in the human version of the Snuggie (also used for the canine version). We also found useful owner-written reviews at Amazon.com and at Petco.com.
1. KIDK (Idaho Falls, Id.)
This video review shows a couple testing the Snuggie for Dogs on their 4-month-old miniature dachshund, Penny. They initially struggle to get the Snuggie on Penny, but after attempting to wriggle out of it, the dachshund gets used to it. However, the Snuggie for Dogs doesn't make Penny any less reluctant to venture outdoors in cold weather.
Review: Does It Really Work? -- Snuggie for Dogs, Tommy Noel, Nov. 4, 2009
2. KEYE (Austin, Tex.)
In this video review, a pet owner tests a medium-size Snuggie on her dog Candy, whose length and weight should make it a good fit. It's easy to put on the Snuggie, but this dog quickly slips out of it while running around. Reporter Bettie Cross concludes that it might work, but only on a calm dog; either that, or the size recommendations are inaccurate.
Review: Bet on Bettie: Snuggie for Dogs is Put to the Test, Bettie Cross, Oct. 30, 2009
3. Albany (N.Y.) Times-Union
This review is especially useful because it shows two photos of a dog modeling the Snuggie for Dogs, illustrating columnist Michael Huber's point about how the Velcro straps are too thin to fasten very securely and stick up at odd angles. Overall, Huber is lukewarm about the Snuggie for Dogs, noting that it doesn't seem to have any advantages over other dog sweaters and coats. Quite a few readers add comments, including complaints about overcharges and poor customer service when ordering this product online.
Review: Bandit: Snuggie for Dogs Model, Michael Huber, Aug. 4, 2009
This critical review notes that the Snuggie's noisy Velcro material can bother a dog as it walks around. The review includes a link to a video report on tests of the original Snuggie's fabric at Consumer Reports' laboratory. After washing two Snuggies 10 times, Consumer Reports editors notice an excessive amount of pilling, lint and static.
Review: Snuggie For Dogs Strains Human-Canine Relations Nationwide, Nora Northrup, July 31, 2009
About a dozen owners review the Snuggie for Dogs here. Most are unhappy with it, citing poor fit, poor coverage and cheap fabric. The Velcro straps are said to be too slim and too long, preventing it from staying in place.
Review: Snuggie for Dogs in Blue -- As Seen on TV, Contributors to Amazon.com
Of the half-dozen user reviews of the Snuggie for Dogs posted here, about half are enthusiastic. One notes that the coverage is fine even for male dogs; they can pee without getting it wet. Complaints include a Velcro strap that's too long, fabric that tears, too little coverage, and the fact that some dogs just don't take to it.
Review: Snuggie for Dogs in Blue -- As Seen on TV, Contributors to Petco.com