The Hippo


May 31, 2020








Casey Jones, the inspiration for his owners’ pet treat business, Casey Jones Bones. Courtesy photo.

Cat fancy

Does it seem like dogs have all the fun? Well, cats can wear clothes too! Among the plethora of dog-specific pampering products out there, we scrounged around and found some fabulous stuff for fancy felines. Here are a few ways to keep your cats healthy and happy.
Vicky Bouchard, who works in animal care at Family Pet & Aquarium in Nashua, said cats can be easy to pamper and please. 
“[Cats] love to play in kitty condos where they can scratch and jump around in them,” she said. “They also love to play with balls that have bells inside them, anything that has feathers, or strings that they can chase. My cat loves shoelaces. ... They also love catnip, so anything that you can put catnip in or on.”
For indoor cats who are itching to get out, Bouchard said, “I would definitely recommend a window seat so they can sit on it and watch the birds outside. There is also cat grass. Cats love to chew on that.”
And, just like dogs, cats love a good treat now and then. Maydene Koppel of Mrs. Beasley’s Gourmet Dog Treats said that despite her focus on dog treats, she has products like dehydrated chicken liver treats for cats too.
“There’s a big following for cat treats and cat products,” Koppel said. “Cats are more finicky — it’s harder to figure out what treats they’ll like — but owners are equally concerned about feeding them natural, healthy diets.”
For cat owners who want to take pampering to the next level, cat clothes do exist. Apparel is not as common for felines as it is for their canine companions, but there’s definitely a need for apparel, said Carla Reiss of Manchester, owner of Meow Wear Custom ( She has been featured on Animal Planet and New Hampshire Chronicle. 
“I actually get feedback from around the world,” Reiss said. 
Much of that feedback is for Reiss’ special needs suits. The suits come in a knit fabric for breathability and stretch and are designed for cats who have had surgery or have obsessive grooming habits (so they don’t have to wear a cone). She also designs suits for cats with medical or elderly problems. 
“I had no idea how many people faced problems where they needed a garment for their pet,” Reiss said. “People call me and sometimes they’re in tears. They’re upset, frustrated, and don’t know what to do.”
Reiss also designs clothing specific to the sphynx breed, or hairless cat. Reiss owns three sphynx cats herself that wear shirts to keep them warm and clean.
So, while she does have some just-for-fun cat costumes, Reiss said most of what she sells is aimed toward cat comfort and health.
“Cat owners are really more interested in what’s necessary,” she said. “As for novelty things, the owners by and large are willing to go with themed collars. Sometimes themed outfits, but it’s more for what I’d call a ‘Kodak moment.’” 

All-natural pet diets
Owners opting for healthy treats

By Kelly Sennott

 You can tell Casey Jones is a healthy dog by his size and enthusiasm: the large golden lab sits by the door of the Casey Jones Bones All Natural Dog Treats operations facility and welcomes the business’s visitors with loud, excited greetings. He’s big, broad-chested and full of energy.

He was the inspiration for his owners’ Hudson-based business, now in its fifth year, and is part of the reason they continue with the dog treat company they called Casey Jones Bones, which is reaching out to pet owners who want to feed their dogs healthier, natural food.
Initially, the effort was for Casey Jones, said Ken Hassen, dog and company co-owner, but it quickly became apparent that other people wanted these healthy pet treats, too.
“The first month into it, we started getting some wholesale orders. It took off from there,” Hassen said in an interview at the Casey Jones Bones Pine Street, Hudson, location. 
On this day, three of the four team members — Hassen, Todd Rodgers and Steve Middlemiss — were blending, molding and baking the Casey Jones Bones pumpkin treats made from brown, rye and oat flour, pumpkin, rolled oats, eggs, cinnamon and real maple syrup from southwestern New Hampshire.
“Casey Jones loves these cookies,” Hassen said. 
His favorites of the 11 different products are the peanut butter banana and the apple cheddar treats.
They planned on making 200 pounds of treats that day, Hassan explained as he transported the bone-shaped cookies into the time machine-like oven out back. Hassen boasted of the all-natural content of Casey Jones Bones dog treats, free of additives and preservatives. The ingredients on each box are labeled with large, thick lettering, which is fine, Hassen pointed out, because there are so few ingredients in each product that it all fits.
“We’ve picked up tremendously in this past year,” Hassen said. “It keeps growing.”
Hassen thinks more people want to feed their dogs all-natural foods because they, too, are seeing the benefits of eating preservative-, additive- and chemical-free food.
“People are becoming more conscious of what they eat, and it’s filtered down to the dogs. They’re being more aware of the food they eat and where it’s coming from. All of the ingredients in Casey Jones Bones are U.S.-sourced, except things that can’t be, like bananas and some spices,” Hassen said. 
The apples, he said, come from Sunnycrest Farm, the maple syrup from Westmoreland and the cranberries from Massachusetts and Maine. The peanut butter comes from Georgia, with no salt, sugar or other oils added.
Casey Jones Bones, while growing, is not unique in this respect. Maydene Koppel, owner of Mrs. Beasleys Dog Treats based in Weare, also makes dog treats from natural, human-grade ingredients, from smokehouse beef jerky and sweet venison treats to lamb liver doggie bites and jumbo lobsta kelp krunchies.
“The venison comes from Bonnie Brae Farm in Plymouth, and whenever it’s in season I get my products locally. I get my apples from Apple Hill Farm in Concord,” Koppel said. 
She began making the all-natural dog treats eight years ago, because her first dog was picky and wouldn’t eat the treats she bought. 
Her pet owner co-workers at the time began requesting the homemade dog treats, too, so she began selling them online ( and at local farmers markets. She still sells at farmers markets year round, in Bedford and in Concord. 
“It’s like feeding a child. You wouldn’t give them anything that’s not good for them. That’s why I’m in business,” Koppel said. 
Stephen Trachtenberg, owner of the all-natural Nashua pet food store Chasing Our Tails, is seeing more and more people looking to transfer natural, healthy diets to animals as well. He said many of his customers also come in because their dogs’ or cats’ current diets are causing problems with their coats, paws and ears, or are making them smell bad.
“Just in the five years I’ve owned this store, I’ve seen that allergies in pets have grown from about one third of our customers to well over 60 percent,” Trachtenberg said. “Pet owners are being forced to do this, to become more educated. … They want to see improvement in the animal’s overall health, and they don’t mind spending the money on a bag of food if it saves them money in vet bills in the end.”
He and his staff offer consultative pet nutrition services in response to the issues the pet owner is seeing and to the current feeding and environment the pet lives with. U.S. pet food recalls, Trachtenberg pointed out, are more prevalent than ever, and so he sells both food that’s manufactured right in the store and pet food that’s received good reviews in The Whole Dog Journal ( and Dog Food Advisor ( 
He recommends that pet owners, too, become regulars on these websites in order to learn about how to best feed their pets. 
As seen in the February 27, 2014 issue of the Hippo.

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