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Kitty Show Cat DVD Toys in the News

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Make Your Own Homemade Cat Toys

Make Your Own Homemade Cat Toys

Are you creative and crafty? This Do-It-Yourself (DIY) homemade project is intended to clear some unwanted and useless materials from the home and help you with the flat clearance.

It will also enable you to convert these materials in your flat into cat toys.

You will find below some of the best cat toys made with objects from the home.

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Kitty Show Cat DVD Toys in the News

Source: VetCentric
Date: February 15, 2004
Author: Tracy Vogel, Staff Writer

People dream. They dream of walking on the moon, carving the faces of presidents on mountains, flying around the world. R.J. Sorensen had a dream. It didn't seem like a big dream, at first. But it expanded, as dreams tend to do.

He wanted to make a movie. No, not just a movie. THE movie.

Mr. Sorensen held nightly casting calls. Human volunteers, won by the promise of free beer, rounded up moths, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, daddy-long-legs and more using butterfly nets in a floodlight-illuminated field. They brought the up-and-coming stars indoors in coolers.

It would be the ultimate cinematic experience. He could see it. Knew exactly what he wanted. Knew who the stars would be. It would blow away the competition in this genre. They'd never have a chance.

Yes. It could work. It would work. It was brilliant. R.J. Sorensen was going to make the perfect movie--for his cat.

Two years--four if you include research--and half a million dollars later, the vision became reality. It's called The Kitty Show. And it consists of two hours of insects crawling, fluttering and skittering across the surface of the television screen.

If you're a human being, it's like watching your bug zapper, only without the drama and suspense and sudden electric demise. Boring. But if you're a cat ...

We love it, said Jennifer Gagne, executive director of the Hilton Head Humane Association, Hilton Head Island, S.C. Mr. Sorensen donated a video and VCR to the cats. "They'll swat at the screen, run around to the back of the TV to try to look at the bugs. Even the ones in the cages watch."

And if you're Mr. Sorensen, you have a few mixed feelings. On one hand, there's the triumph of having accomplished exactly what he set out to do. On the other hand, making it was--how to put it ... problematic ... difficult ...?

It was a nightmare, he said. "I still have vivid dreams of bugs hitting me."

Before he got into the cat film business, Mr. Sorensen was a paramedic. Then an emergency call to a chemical plant left him with severe emphysema and asthma, and put him out of a job he loved. He got into video, filming for nature and medical documentaries. He'd be gone two or three days at a time. "I'd come home," he recalled. "And my cat would be furious."

Milo would sit, staring into the pit of the fireplace, ignoring him in stony silence, refusing to eat. And it seemed that when she finally got around to warming up to him again, it would be time to go on another shoot.

He brought her one of the cat videos on the market--videos that feature shots of wildlife meant to attract feline attention. She was fine with it until a close-up of a squirrel terrified her. "She likes squirrels, but small ones that she can jump on," Mr. Sorensen said. "She hid under the bed for days."

So the idea was born. A video that only a cat would love. No cuts--it wasn't fair for a cat to fixate on something, only to have it vanish. No close ups. Everything would be the right size.
It would appeal to a cat's vision. Over the course of the 2 ½ years of research, Mr. Sorensen developed something he calls a serpia filter. It screens out the colours cats can't see--the reds and oranges--and intensifies the ones they can--the blues and purples. To human eyes, the video shot with the filter looks black and white, with blue and purple shades.

And most of all, it would work. He did cardiac evaluations on test subjects, and found that their heart rate would increase by as much as 40 beats per minute while they were watching certain bugs.

All that was left was the actual filming.

Mr. Sorensen held nightly casting calls. Human volunteers, won by the promise of free beer, rounded up moths, beetles, crickets, grasshoppers, daddy-long-legs and more using butterfly nets in a floodlight-illuminated field. They brought the up-and-coming stars indoors in coolers. "They'd really get into it," he said. "They'd be like, `We got this cool one here we've never seen before with this huge antennae!' And I'd say, `Well, I can't use that one ...' And they'd say, `All right, then, we'll let them go.'"

The stage was a glass box with a black background, illuminated by 40,000 watts of halogen light. The camera filmed through the serpia filter. The filter was dark, so the lights had to be bright. Air conditioning in the upstairs studio he'd built in his home was not an option, because the sound equipment would have picked up the hum. Escaped bugs were constantly darting about.

And as it turned out, the actors were uncooperative. (Isn't that always the way?) The fiddler crabs spit all over themselves. Every four to five minutes, Mr. Sorensen would suck them out of the box with a Shop Vac, wipe them down with paper towels, and drop them back in. The moths had to be lightly dusted first to remove some of their white powder--which, like the liquid, would show up on the video--and released from the box after about four minutes, in order to keep them from igniting themselves against the lights.

One of the biggest problems was the "no cuts" rule. To be fair to the cat, all the creatures would actually walk off the screen, not just vanish, Mr. Sorensen had decided. "Which is difficult, because bugs just sit there," he said. "They don't take direction."

Bugs, as it turn out, are professional-level sitters. Determined sitters. Dedicated sitters. Mr. Sorensen tried various techniques to get them moving, ranging from the high-tech (ultrasonic vibration against the glass) to the low-tech (hairdryer). Nada. The bugs sat, Zen-like, immovable as the mountains. Except for their unfortunate tendency to shed legs and body parts. "They're always losing things," Mr. Sorensen said in some exasperation. Discarded body segments also tend to show up on film.

When he was done with the filming, animal cruelty issues strongly in mind, he'd free the bugs outside. Where, he says, they were promptly devoured by birds that had figured out he was operating a kind of insect take-out window. "I had my own little ecosystem."

So the filming, from dusk to daybreak, would yield about 15 seconds of film per night.

I'm the type of person, once I start something ... I'll fix it, he said. If someone asks him to repair a device, he does it. And if the person thinks it's taking too much time and asks for his property back, he gets angry.

I was going to figure this thing out, he said. "I really wanted something that would work."

The Kitty Show debuted in 1998, and got high ratings from the Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine's Catnip magazine, which called it the test cats' hands-down, favourite.

To date, The Kitty Show has broken even and then some, with more than 100,000 copies sold. The tapes or DVDs cost $19.80, and come with a money-back guarantee for owners whose cats just won't watch television.

The Kitty Show's success was great enough that Mr. Sorensen just put the finishing touches on his next venture--the ultimate action movie for cats. It's called The Birds.

Elaine Winters of Murfreesboro, Tenn., got one for her cats, Spot, a 4-year-old Persian, and Ted, a 10-year-old shelter cat. She was also one of the pre-market testers for The Kitty Show.

It took about three showings before they warmed up to the film, she said. Now both are interested to varying degrees. Ted watches the tape from the back of the room, but Spot closes in to eight inches from the television screen, she said. "He perks up his ears when the music comes on, so he knows what's coming."

She was impressed enough with the results to order a copy for a friend who was concerned about her cat getting enough playtime.

The Kitty Show's success was great enough that Mr. Sorensen just put the finishing touches on his next venture--the ultimate action movie for cats. It's called The Birds, and it features a number of grackles, blackbirds and cowbirds fighting over territory on a stick as they compete for birdfeed.

The Birds was a breeze compared to The Kitty Show. First, Mr. Sorensen says, he already had all the equipment, making it much less costly. He also had the techniques down, and the stars required less work. The filming only took a month and a half.

The birds were filmed in a cornfield, with seed spread on the ground to attract them, and carefully positioned feeders with more delectable food set up for filming. The same meticulous attention to detail remains, though. The film has only four or five cuts, to prevent the disappearing prey disappointment. The perches give an enticing view of both bird parts--a jutting tail here, a wing there--as well as full on shots of entire birds. Microphones were planted in the perches as well as the feeders to pick up every sound.

And the feeders are positioned just out of sight of the camera. The idea is to make it look like the birds are "eating the television," Mr. Sorensen said. And they do look like they're pecking away the edges of the screen. Since they aren't the most cooperative birds, they spend the rest of their time chasing each other off the perches in a flurry meant to make cats' hearts pound and tails whip.

If The Kitty Show amuses 95 percent of cats, Mr. Sorensen said, The Birds will get another 5 percent of the ones who need more excitement. He's sure of it. He's keeping his next cat flick quiet--trade secrets, after all--but it's called The Squibbies, it's high-tech, and it won't involve wildlife. Which should be something of a relief.

Making the movies gives a feeling of satisfaction not entirely unlike the one he used to get as a paramedic, he said. "They still play like they were kittens," he said. "To see them actually respond to something like this, it's a very warm feeling you get."

After all, today's housecats, which spend their lives mostly indoors, depend entirely on their owners for fun, he said. "We don't have birds, and most people use Orkin or something and it kills all their toys. This is a cool way of giving them toys and giving them company."

He recalled how, when he was a little kid, he would pretend to be a dog or a cat, get down on the ground and see what things would be like from their perspective. He's positive the films appeal to them. "I know my audience very well," he said. "I believe it's exactly what cats dream about. I really do."

Cats watching movie