Okay with cats? I have two cats, and would like to purchase this for my son but am afraid that the cats would go crazy and knock over/kill the caterpillars. Anyone own this and one or more cats and have any comments/suggestions?
I've done this kit 3 times with my 3 children, and, coincidentally, I have 3 cats. The caterpillars grow in a sealed vial, so there's no problem there. The mesh habitat for the adult butterflies can counter-stand (we just put it where the cats couldn't really see it) but also has a velcro strap atop if you want to hang it like a chinese lantern out of reach. The two-year old human was a bigger worry for us than the cats - he just wanted to hold the caterpillars and then the butterflies all the time!
The first time we did this, we left our hunting-prone cat alone in the house just as the butterflies were emerging--and came home to find the habitat knocked on the floor and the butterflies killed. We did this again, without a cat in the house, and it was a very fascinating and enjoyable project for all. So your question was well-founded, but if you can keep an eye on the butterfly habitat or out of the reach of cats (you can even hang it up by its handle), you should do fine.
So, our caterpillars have formed their cocoons and have been moved into the net. So far, so good. We kept the caterpillar jar on a bookshelf and then the net is on top of the bookshelf, and the cats have not gone near it. I'll update when they "hatch" into butterflies to let you know if the cats go after the net.
UPDATE: The caterpillars successfully grew into butterflies without being mangled by our cats. The key was as P. Robertson suggested- keep it out of the reach of the cats. Ours stayed on top of a high bookshelf that had no climbing mechanisms around it. Cats would watch the butterflies intently and lick their lips, but could never get up there. Good luck!
You can always put things in another room and close the door. The larvae are enclosed in a sealed container. I hung the house from a chandelier so nothing can reach them. And yes, the larvae will survive extra days of shipping. Their packaging/food delivery during this time is great.