Friday, March 31, 2017

Travelin Jack visits the #OrlandoCatCafé in Clermont, FL

As part of my trip last week, Julie booked a spot for us at a Jodi Ziskin's lecture series at the Orlando Cat Café. This was our first trip to a cat café, as there are none in Maine and the Purr in Boston has yet to open.

Due to regulations with food service, there was no food in the café area. To get to the cat room you had to go into the café and pay your fee at the coffee bar. You then go through a two door entry way - I'm guessing to try to reduce the number of cats that escape if they try to bolt through the door.

The room with the cats reminded me a bit of the rooms that I have seen in cat shelters that have catified. It didn't have a very unified feel, feeling a bit more like a hodgepodge of really cool cat accoutrements.

During Jodi's lecture, I ended up sitting on the floor; I was hoping that I could get a kitty to come and visit. I didn't have to wait long. Kittens can't seem to resist me.

After Jodi's lecture, we spent some time with the kitties and getting more photos. Travelin Jack spent some time getting to know the locals.

All of the kitties are from The Animal League, are up for adoption, and are subject to their adoption rules.. They have adopted over fifty kitties since they opened in September 2016. Cat cafs are wonderful ways to get adoptable cats in front of people who like kitties. So many people avoid shelters because they see them as sad places. A cat café is a happy place and you can go there when you aren't really looking to adopt and you know there won't be that expectation which you might have when you go to a shelter. Anything we can do to get adoptable cats in front of the general public is a good thing, and this is downright adorable.

Thursday, March 30, 2017

Travelin Jack reports from #GlobalPetExpo 2017

Travelin Jack here. The lady brought me to Global and then let me run amok. I am not sure she knew what kind of shenanigans I was going to get into, which is pretty silly since she says she knows cats.

I was quite popular at the show, which is to be expected

I even met my twin! You know they say everyone has one out there.. I never thought I'd ever meet mine.

I then went on to meet a few kitties new to this world. They were confined, I hope they didn't do anything wrong.. oh who am I kidding, of course they didn't, they are kittens they can do no wrong. They must have been in their for their own protection.

There were several trends that were everywhere in the show. First and foremost there was cannabis everywhere. Most of the companies only had products for dogs but some included cats.
I have mixed feelings about the explosion of cannabis in the pet market... mostly because it is not well studied. I admit there is a lot of info out there on humans and what it can do medically, but there is still painfully little research on it because it is so tightly regulated that it is very hard to do so. When my own state made marijuana legal, I looked into the regulations on it and found that you can't ship it across state lines. I am unsure how legal it is to ship cannabis treatment but one of the manufacturers I talked to said it was totally legal. - Connie

There was cat litter EVERYWHERE, but yet no one was willing to let me give it a trial run! There were clay litter and plant based litter, grass litter, paper litter, wheat litter, corn litter and even bamboo litter. One company even thought it was a good idea to make neon litter..

Sustainable was another big trend. Recycled materials, composting litter and poop bags, all working at reducing your impact on the environment. One company even went so far as to make their entire booth out of cardboard. It was so cool. (you do know how we kitties like cardboard)

People who are making pet products are realizing the power of social media and how it can not only drive sales to them with a well placed photo and logo, but they are realizing that people are going into the stores looking for cute things to pose their pets with for their social media feeds.

There was one trend that made the lady really take notice, though; let's see if you can figure out what it is.

There was even a bunch of stands promoting bow ties! Most were marketed to dogs, but fortunately, really small dogs are the size of cats! I seriously think they are missing out not marketing to cats, I mean just look at Skippy!

I also met a few more celebrities, the Catit kittens had so many fans around them.

but the highlight of the trip was meeting Rodney Habib!!

I wish the lady had brought her really good camera, but this will have to do. I know some people got to meet Jackson Galaxy as he was there for a few hours as well, but the lady has had many a discussion with Mr. Habib about the importance of noting the difference between dogs and cats when talking about "pets". We might not agree with everything promoted by Planet Paws, but we are thrilled someone has some traction talking about alternatives to commercial pet foods and western type medicines for pets.

Even being carried around for three days, I was still exhausted. I think I'll join that kitten for a nap.

Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Global Pet Expo - an overview from a first time attendee.

Going into Global, I knew that it was going to be big. I had heard the rumors for years about just how enormous it was, but I don't think anything prepared me for just how massive the expo was. I was very fortunate to have my friend Julie with me, she being a veteran having attended many times since she lives very close by. When I first walked into the convention center I am sure I looked like a hick from the backwaters of Maine, because even the lobby outside the convention center impressed the carp out of me and I ended up taking a photo and texting it to my husband.

To help you get an idea of just how big it was, this is one view from a walkway that goes over the convention center. I had to take three photos of one side to attempt to capture just how big it was. If you want, you can take a look at the floor plan. (Don't do it if you don't have good bandwidth and some serious RAM on your device or it will slow things down)

Facing the other side:

The 2017 expo had 1,130 exhibitors and 3,435 booths of which 223 first-time exhibiting companies! The show was sold out, and despite this, we very rarely felt the impact of so many people. If you wanted to talk to someone at a booth, there was generally someone immediately available or you had to wait for them to finish their conversation. It wasn't like a lot of other expos and shows I have gone to where there are four and five (or more) deep and you either had to wait or come back.
The show featured 13 football fields’ worth of pet products, more than 3,000 product-launches Which made it interesting to figure out which products were currently in the market that we could talk about, and which ones are coming soon.

Julie had the fab idea of taking notes on the business cards we got so she would know what info was obtained about the products. I was not so smart... well I did take some notes, but my chicken scratch really let me down on a couple of occasions. I'm sure when I sit down in front of my computer and look up the companies again and reach out to them it will all become clear. One company, Carlu, I really hope to work with has this super adorable camper. They are an international company, and I found them on the last day of the convention when everyone was a bit glassy-eyed from everything that had just occurred, so I'm not sure they knew what I was asking of them, but if all else fails, I'm sure I can find a place to buy it... eventually

Considering the number of booths, and all the information I gathered, I received very little in way of product from the show. That is okay, though. I found two companies that I was thrilled to make contact with because of previous history. The first was Cat-it and their Magic Blue product. I tried this in the past and I love it. It is designed to go in the litter box, but I use it in the kitten trash to reduce the smell. I wanted to blog about it but I had been having a very hard time getting the refills so I held off. The man I was talking to said they are going to redesign and rename the product - which is probably a good thing because when I just say "Magic Blue" you have no idea what I am talking about; it could be a cleaner or it could be a children's toy..

The other was the company that makes "The PURRfect Cat Toy". As you can see from the photo above, the one I have had for years is in a 'well used' state of being. The kittens all LOVE this toy and it has put up with YEARS of abuse love. Like here, and here and here and here and here and here (at this point I stopped looking because this post was starting to look a little silly) I have kept my eye out for a replacement for years, even coming across one I have hoarded because I feared I would never find another. Now that I know the source, and have a new backup, I think it is time to retire the beloved green toy.

Anyway, back to my experiences. I knew there would be a lot of walking, but I was beyond unprepared for just how much there was. One smart attendee, Christie from Life With Beagle, brought homemade foot soak to give out to other bloggers. Next time I go I am definitely bringing a couple of pairs of shoes. The sneakers I brought were adequate, but walking so much on one pair of shoes was a bit hard on my feet. I think if I had brought a second or even a third pair my feet wouldn't have ached so much from hitting the same part of the shoe over and over.

Despite the ban on rolling carts, several booths gave out boxes on rollers, so I think if I attend again I would buy something that has rollers so not everything has to be carried on my shoulders all the time.

I was not the target audience for most of the exhibitors. A great number of them were there to sell their entire inventory directly to someone there buying it for resale. Despite my ID clearly saying "PRESS" most people immediately dropped into their spiel of how much things cost wholesale and how you could increase the number of times people came into your shop by doing such and such. That was fine; this was a business expo and not a press junket. It would have been helpful to me (and I'm sure others) if there was a designation on booths that were simply distributors looking to sell other people's product vs manufacturers who were happy to talk to us about their products and why they were the next best thing, but it was quickly apparent once you started talking to them, so it wasn't that much of a hardship.

I am not much of a traveler, preferring to stay home with The Crew, so I don't know if I will go again next year, but this is definitely something that would get me out of the house in the future.

Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Where in the world is Travelin Jack now?

Travelin Jack set off recently on a little adventure. Any guesses as to where he went?

He started out by getting on a plane.

He visited with some cuties at the market place and then finally landed at his destination..

Do you recognize those kitties? If not, you totally need to check out Sometimes, Cats Herd You! I was contemplating going to Global Pet Expo and Ashton offered me the use of her couch, which I have to say was beyond generous. She was a very gracious host. She even made sure there were treats.. (although I'm not sure that Newton was told about the fact that treats might be shared)

Since I don't have kittens at the moment I'll take the next few days and talk about my experience at the show, some trends I saw, some interesting and exciting finds, and things I was less than thrilled with. If kittens show up I'll move the posts to the weekends.

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