Kitty Hide and Seek is Good for Cat Health: Neko Pawds Cat Tunnel Review
Do your cats play hide and seek? Does a shrinking violet cat dive under the bed whenever the doorbell rings? Or maybe you have a “pariah cat” that slinks around hoping the other cats won’t pay attention to the virtual KICK ME sign around her neck.
I’ve written about fearful cats in several behavior books, as well in this blog that explains why cats get scared, and offers 7 Tips to Stop Feline Fear including using tunnels and play. February is Responsible Pet Owners Month, so I’m always looking for great tips and products to share with my Sweet Peeps who adore their cats.
So when one of my favorite product manufacturers offered me the opportunity to review their new modular cat tunnels, I pounced at the chance. The UJI Tunnel System from NEKO PAWDZ is a modular system of fabric tunnels that can be mixed and matched into 20 different combination shapes.
I live with Karma-Kat…so checking out the product was a no brainer!
You see, Karma is a bit of a bully and Seren has learned to use tunnels to (literally) run under the radar to reach important spots, like the litter box. One of my top recommendations for boosting shy cat courage is offering safe hidey-holds. Encouraging interactive play also can give the bully cat something more productive to do, and wear out over-enthusiastic pounce-monsters.
Each modular tunnel opening has interlocking zipper fasteners to connect them into interesting configurations. The tunnels arrive collapsed neatly inside of mesh storage bags. There are three tunnel shapes:
- A straight “I” shape, with multi-openings and a “crinkle” sound cats love (retail $55.00)
- A bent “U” shape, with a 3rd opening in the middle (retail $75.00)
- A hooked “J” shape, with its 3rd opening on top (retail $65.00)
Now, for those who say your cats are quite satisfied with a paper bag and empty cardboard boxes–that’s fine. It’s true cats don’t care how much you spend, and there likely are less expensive cat tunnels available. But as with other products from Nekochan, the quality of the fabric and safety (and desires) of the cats is built into each design. These cat tunnels are an investment in emotional health, and are so sturdy and well made, they should last for the lifetime of your current kitties and possibly beyond.
A simple loop-and-button holds the collapsed/stored tunnels together, and when released, the tunnel unfurls. There’s a safety pocket to tuck away the look and button when not in use. Each opening with it’s zipper lining is held in place with Velcro when not connected to another unit. That’s a GOOD thing, because my Karma likes to chew Velcro, for some reason. He didn’t seem to notice its presence in the tunnels.
You can mix and match how you want to connect the tunnels. I was sent three–but you can use a single unit, connect all three, or turn your home into a kitty tunnel paradise. Openings at both ends, and in the middle, offer lots of hide-and-seek (and ambush!) opportunities. The fabric is polyester, easily cleaned and brushed to remove cat hair, and designed to fit in any decor. Of course, the true test is . . . what does the CAT think?
I confined Karma while zippering the tunnels together. It took me just a bit to figure out how to do this (sort of have to hold your mouth right, LOL!) and was afraid the zippers would jam. Actually, the connection worked very smoothly, much better than expected. The stitching and construction has been carefully designed so it doesn’t catch, and now that I’ve connected them once, it’ll be a breeze in future when I re-do the configuration.
Actually, this is a great idea, too, to keep cats interested in something new. While the shy cats may be more than satisfied with set-in-place-and-leave-it-alone, my Karma-Kat relishes new challenges. So rather than having to buy a whole new set up, I can mix it up and change the design for him whenever I want.
In case he was reluctant to explore, I also brought out one of his favorite toys, the Kittenator lure toy, also from NEKOCHAN. But never fear, Karma is a Christopher Columbus of the cat world. As soon as I released him, Karma ran to investigate.
He immediately dove in head first, to explore this new playground. But first, he grabbed the toy and tried to take it inside with him.
The fabric on the hardwood entry slides a bit with exuberant play. I’ll move the tunnels into another carpeted room for a more permanent location. My dog Magic also was very interested in the tunnels. For households with both cats and dogs, this tunnel system would work great to give the cats a safe retreat.
I didn’t really expect Seren to explore the tunnels so quickly. But within minutes of Karma leaving, she scurried inside, too. Of course, then Karma decided to pester her and she left. In fact, here’s a short video of Karma and Seren first look at the tunnels.
The cats’ review was an enthusiastic ALL PAWS UP. As for me, I’m a huge fan of anything that will enrich the lives of our cats. There will be a bit of a learning curve to figure out the best way to put the tunnels together (or maybe not, I’m not great with puzzles myself!).
Environmental enrichment reduces cat stress, and cat stress has a negative impact on kitty health. So the more we can enrich our cat’s lives, enhance their emotional well-being, we’ll reduce health problems (and the cost of vet visits!). Hey, don’t believe me? Even the The American Association of Feline Practitioners promotes the Cat Friendly Practice (CFP) Program to help veterinary professionals reduce the level of stress associated with the clinic visit. They’re celebrating they have 1000 vet clinics now in the program, with a AAFP fun cat photo contest.
I really liked the notion of the tunnels being modular. Single tunnels can be used in different rooms, or a string of tunnels hooked together throughout the house. They’ll accommodate any size room, or any number (or size) cats.
The construction and attention to detail is wonderful, with the button-hiding and Velcro fasteners designed specifically with cat safety in mind. The material feels great, too. And while I anticipated Karma would like the tunnels, it surprised me how eagerly he raced to investigate. My only nit with the product would be the higher price might make pet parents reluctant to invest. Once they do, though, they’ll discover a quality product that will turn on the purrs.
Be sure to watch the video demo below as it will give you an even better idea of how the tunnels fit together and how the cats enjoy them. So, do you have cat tunnels for your cats? How do you enrich the environment for your kitties? Do tell!
This post is sponsored by Nekochan Enterprises (now Rompicatz), and I am being compensated for helping spread the word about UJI Tunnel system. Bling, Bitches & Blood only shares information relevant to our readers. Nekochan is not responsible for the content of this article.
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Amy Shojai, CABC is a certified cat & dog behavior consultant, a consultant to the pet industry, and the award-winning author of 35+ pet-centric books and Thrillers with Bite! Oh, and she loves bling!