How One Animal Lover Is Helping Anxious Pets One Plush Toy at a Time
Each snuggle toy purchase provides meals for shelter animals.
As young pets transition from the care of their mothers to live with their new families, the experience can be challenging and even a little frightening. When emotions run high, both animals and humans tend to find comfort in similar ways including warmth, touch, and familiarity. These learnings inspired lifelong animal lover and shelter volunteer Crystal McPherson to create a line of adorable snuggle toys called "Calmeroos" to help puppies and kittens ease into their new surroundings.
Calmeroos are plush cats and dogs that are designed to bring comfort anxious pets, especially those going to their forever homes. Each stuffed animal is made with a pouch in its stomach that holds a heart and a heat pack to mimic the heartbeat and warmth of a mother. McPherson says she came up with the idea after spending time at the local humane society with her three children. "I've been an animal lover my whole life, and I wanted to instill that in my kids," explains McPherson, a Winnepeg native. "But every time we'd leave the humane society, I always felt like I wanted to do more," she says. "I wanted to create a product that helps pets and gives back as well."
For each Calmeroo sold, McPherson's company donates the monetary equivalent of two pounds of food to shelters across the United States and Canada. The shelters are chosen by an online community that anyone can be a part of through the Calmeroos website. "The contribution toward food is intentional," McPherson says of the donation, which feeds about five medium-sized dogs and five medium-sized cats each a 1.5-ounce meal. "Once shelters have money for food, they can redirect contributions to other things like emergency surgeries and spaying and neutering." McPherson adds that she also donates her products to shelters.
The Calmeroos founder says pet calming devices are nothing new, but she notes that her product is one of the cutest on the market. Each stuffed animal is 11 inches long, 6.3 inches wide, and weighs 1.4 pounds. The machine-washable plush animals retail for $34.99 each and include one heart and two heatpacks. The heart, which retails for $19.99, is a small plastic device that produces a "heartbeat" with two AAA batteries. It can last up to three weeks with continuous use. The heat packs, which cost $14.99 for a six-pack, are air-activated, disposable packages that last for 36 hours. The care instructions for the plush, heat packs and heart are on the company's website.
Although the toys are intended for puppies and kittens who recently left their littermates and mother, McPherson says some older animals can also benefit from the comfort of the plush—it just depends on the pet. She eventually wants to design a product specifically for adult pets, but Calmeroos are her main focus for now. "I’m one of those people who’s so thankful for rescues because they do incredible work. They're very excited about receiving the money and actual Calmeroos, and I'm excited to give them."