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The Icelandic Christmas Cat

“Oh no! The giant Yule Cat has come for me!”

You may have heard of the Krampus, but have you heard of Iceland’s infamous Yule Cat? A creature with sharp teeth and glaring eyes, the Christmas Cat of Iceland is a fabled holiday monster. But who exactly is this ferocious creature and what makes him so scary?

The legend of the Yule Cat

Definitely not the cuddliest of kitties, legend has it that the Yule Cat prowl’s Iceland’s snowy countryside. The cat is said to devour those who don’t have warm clothing to wear for the winter. As a result, it is a tradition in Iceland for family members to gift each other new clothes for Christmas. According to some, the Yule Cat is the pet of another Icelandic creature, the giantess Gryla, who is said to kidnap, cook, and eat children who misbehave. Gryla’s sons, the Yule Lads are quite mischievous themselves — licking pots and slamming doors. How rude.

The Yule Cat’s origin story

Like most monsters, the Yule Cat is more fiction than fact. The story of the Yule Cat originally came from farmers. They told the tale as an incentive for their workers to finish processing the autumn wool before Christmas. It was said that those who worked hard and finished the job on time would be rewarded with new clothes, while those who failed would face punishment from the Yule Cat.

History of the Yule Cat

Iceland’s Christmas Cat is regarded as an ancient tale, but evidence shows that the earliest written accounts of the creature date back no further than the 19th century. It later became popular through the Icelandic poet, Johannes ur Kotlum, whose epic poem describes the cat’s terrifying features.

Are you thinking of buying some cute outfits for your kitty now? Share photos of them with us on Instagram and Facebook! And if you’re going out of town for the holidays, don’t hesitate to schedule a sitter for days that you’re away.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Alexa’s_Fotos on pixabay

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Why does my cat lick my hair?

One minute, you and the cat are lounging on the couch. The next, he’s grooming your locks! Whether you find it sweet or annoying, rest assured that it’s perfectly normal when the cat licks your hair. But why does he do it, and should you be concerned?

As a sign of affection

Your cat is most likely showing you affection! It’s quite common for cats who share a special bond to groom one another, especially if the cats are related. When your cat licks your hair, they’re extending this same gesture to you. It’s a sign that they are comfortable, happy, and consider you a member of the family.

A word about hair products

Though licking is often a bonding gesture, it’s not uncommon for cats to be attracted to hair products. You might be using a certain shampoo or mousse that your kitty finds yummy. But be wary. This also means that your cat could be ingesting the chemicals found in those products, which is definitely not great for their health.

How to stop the behavior

If you’re worried about the cat ingesting chemicals, or you just find the grooming annoying, you can take action to stop the behavior. When the cat starts licking, don’t talk to them or engage with them. Move away to another chair or part of the room. If you’re in bed, put a pillow between you and cat. When you stop reinforcing the behavior, it should decrease after some time. However, for extra reinforcement, you can use lemon-scented hair products, as cats don’t like the smell of citrus.

Do you have an affectionate cat? Our sitters would love to meet them! Call today to inquire about pet-sitting and to schedule a meet and greet.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by skeeze on Pixabay

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How to keep your cat warm in winter weather

Brrr. Boy did the temperate drop! Your cat may have a nice fur coat, but they still need help staying warm when winter weather strikes. One way to guarantee your cat is cozy is to prepare them a proper place to sleep. Here are a few suggestions for creating a nice winter bed.

Self-warming beds

If you’re concerned about your cat staying warm enough, self-heating beds are commercially available for purchase. Heated beds are especially nice for older cats who suffer from arthritis or stiff joints. When picking out a bed, keep your cat’s sleeping habits in mind. Do they like to spread out or curl up in a ball? If they like to stretch, you might opt for a flatter bed (not unlike a heating pad). If they like to curl up, consider a donut-shaped bed that gives your cat something to lean against.

Cat tents and houses

Does your cat like to hide? A tent or house might make them feel right at home! Tents, houses, and A-frame beds are readily available from pet suppliers. Or, you can even make one yourself from downloadable instructions. Keep in mind any mobility issues your cat might have. A cat who has trouble stepping over heights may need a tent with an entrance that’s level with the ground.

Sunny window spaces

You may have noticed that your cat loves sunny spots by the window. Once you’ve picked out a bed, you can place it in your cat’s favorite spot on the so she can take advantage of the sun’s warmth, or you can even attach a bed right on the windowsill. Window perches are easy to install and will keep your cat from having to sit on a cold, hard sill. If you go this route, be sure to eliminate any drafts that come from the window so your cat doesn’t get cold.

Is your apartment drafty in the winter time? Be sure to let your pet sitter know if there needs to be adjustments to the thermostat. We’ll keep your kitty snug and warm while you’re gone.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Obsidian_Tanto on pixabay

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How to have Thanksgiving with your cat

On Thursday, you might be tempted to spoil your cat with turkey instead of regular cat food. There’s nothing wrong with preparing them a special feast of their own. However, the wrong foods could mean a trip to the vet, or worse! Here’s how to let your cat in on the Thanksgiving fun without compromising their health.

Which foods to avoid

While some human foods are safe, there are certain foods which are guaranteed to make your cat sick. Onions, garlic, green tomatoes, avocados, and chocolate are definite no-no’s, as are sweeteners and cranberries. Even certain “safe foods” should be treated with caution. Your cat might enjoy small pieces of plain cooked chicken. However, bones, fat trimmings, and gravy should be avoided. In regards to the gravy, there could be traces of garlic or spices that aren’t safe. As a rule of thumb, don’t share it with the cat if you’re unsure.

Which foods are okay

The safest way to let your cat enjoy Thanksgiving is to give them an extra special can of cat food. However, if you want to add a few extra fixings, very small quantities of certain meats or veggies are okay. Proteins like skinless, boneless chicken, lean beef, or eggs make for quite the treat! (Remember, always cooked, never raw, and no bones!) Your cat might also enjoy a little bit of cooked sweet potato, plain pumpkin, carrots, or broccoli.

Where to put your cat when company arrives

Even the most social cats might want to eat their Thanksgiving dinner alone. Lots of company could make your cat stressed or scared. Guests could also mishandle the cats or accidentally feed them foods they shouldn’t eat. During dinner prep and festivities, offer the bedroom as a sanctuary so your cat can enjoy the holiday in peace. If they get curious and wish to step out, make sure guests know the protocol for socializing with your cat.

Did your Thanksgiving plans change and now you’re scrambling, trying to find a pet sitter? There’s still time to book with us! Our attentive pet sitters will make sure your cat is happy and well-fed while you’re away.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Gellinger on pixabay

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Why do cats stare at fire?

Have you ever seen your cat gaze lovingly at a flickering candle? Or perhaps your kitty is sitting cozily by the fireplace, captivated by the dancing flames. Today, we have an extra spooky edition of our “Why do cats…” feature for Halloween in which we explore why cats boldly stare into the fiery abyss!

Seeking warmth

Cats have special heat sensors that are concentrated around their face. Since kittens are born deaf and blind, they use these special sensors to locate their mama and littermates. As kitty gets older, these sensors only become more sensitive. Therefore, what appears to be your cat staring into the flame may actually be kitty’s way of zeroing in on the exact source of the heat.

Enjoying the show

Curious little predators by nature, cats are also attracted lights and objects that move quickly. Anyone who has seen a cat chase a laser pointer knows how easily a moving light can capture kitty’s attention. Moving images on a TV screen can catch your cat’s attention, too. So it may just be that they’re enjoying the unpredictable pattern of the light.

Sensing something we cannot

Alas, there are still some things about the way cats work that we simply do not know yet. Cats who stare at “ghosts,” into dark corners, and beyond walls are probably analysing information that’s imperceptible to us. With such incredibly acute hearing, eyesight, sense of smell, and even an ability to sense subtle air movements, cats probably experience the world with a clarity that we just don’t have.

Some mysteries are solvable. If you stay still long enough, you can see a fly flitter through the air, you can shine a flashlight into a dark corner, and you can press a glass to a wall to listen to mice scurry through. Yet, there isn’t much you can do to see a flame through the eyes of a cat!

Safety first!

Just don’t forget to keep your cat safe during these mystical encounters. Close a screen or divider across your fireplace, and keep candles out of kitty’s reach.

Are you worried about it getting too hot or cold while you’re out of town? Then be sure to show the pet sitter how to adjust the temperature in your apartment. Our pet sitters take extra care to make sure your kitty is comfortable while you’re away.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Michell Filion on flickr

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How to keep your cat away from table food

There’s nothing quite like sitting down to eat, only to have your cat hop up on the table and help himself to your meal! If you’re not thrilled with sharing your meal with your furry roommate, here a few simple changes you can make to correct the behavior.

Feed your cat first

You know what it feels like to have someone eat in front of you while you’re empty handed. Even if you weren’t hungry, watching someone else eat can work up an appetite for you. The same is true for your cat. Take a moment to feed your cat first, before you eat. Having a regular feeding schedule and routine will also help your cat feel more secure about mealtime, and less likely to try to grab a bite whenever there’s food around.

Clear leftovers immediately

Some cats develop a taste for table food by scavenging for scraps that are left out after mealtime. If your cat knows that food will be available on the counter, they’re eventually going to become bold enough to hop up at dinner time, too! Be sure put to leftovers in sealed containers in the fridge, clear the table completely, and wipe of your dining surface. You’ll also want to make sure you have a cat-proof kitchen trash can, as it’s another easy target for kitties who like human food.

Don’t give into temptation

It’s so hard to resist those big, round eyes, begging for scraps at dinner time. If your cat sits near you and begs for food while you’re eating, don’t give in! Feeding your cat table scraps after begging is only reinforcing the behavior. The same is true for cats that sit in your lap while you’re eating or jump onto the table. Be consistent and gently escort your cat from the problem area each time. After a while, kitty will get the hint.

Try a puzzle feeder

Some cats are tempted to purloin your meal not by a desire to satisfy their hunger or greed. Instead, they want a bit of a challenge! Cats are natural problem solvers, and they are designed to hunt and outsmart their prey before they eat. Puzzle feeders offer a positive alternative to put those instincts to good use.

Does your cat have a special meal time routine? Be sure to let your sitter know! Our pet sitters take extra care to follow your instructions to the letter.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by yomo 13 on flickr

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Why cats step back out of the litter box to pee or poop

Have you ever seen your cat scratch around in the litter box, only to step back out to poop or pee? Though sometimes a sign of a medical problem, there are actually many reasons your cat might pee or poop outside the litter box.

Dropping hints

Waste outside of the litter box can unfortunately signal that kitty isn’t feeling well. Whether “presents” turn up as pee or poop indicates which organ system might be having problems. For example, stray urine could hint at a urinary tract infection, while poop might be a sign of irritable bowl syndrome or constipation. To rule out health issues, be sure to check in at the vet.

Separating liquids from solids

Because of natural instincts, many cats prefer to urinate separate from where they defecate. If your cat is reserving the box for one type of business, a second litter box for the other type might be in order. Or you may need to change litter more often. Dirty litter means kitty thinks there’s enough clean space to urinate, but not enough to defecate in the same box.

Avoiding anxiety

Your cat might find the litterbox stressful! This is very common in multiple cat households. Tensions between critters results in cats feeling anxious and unable to stay in the box long enough to do business. Try uncovering the box or placing it in an open area, so your cats can see “opponents” and feel like they can easily escape. The wrong type of litter, such as perfumed litter or even dirty litter, can also make cats feel anxious.

Your cat is getting older

Just like humans, everyday functions become more difficult with age. Senior cats with arthritis may not feel physically comfortable enough to perch on their box and defecate. Or, if your cat has been declawed, scratching away at litter could be painful, and so they avoid the box altogether!

Not sure why kitty is peeing or pooping outside the box? Check in with the sitter to see if they’ve noticed any other issues. And of course, our sitters are available to help with any litter cleaning!


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by 游 焰熾 on flickr

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Why do cats purr?

You’re sitting with kitty, scratching their ears, and then all of the sudden, you hear a familiar sound. There’s no mistaking the sound of kitty purring away! But why do cats purr in the first place?

They’re happy

Most cat-owners understand purring as positive behavior. It’s a sign your cat is content! This likely stems from when cats are kittens, and purring serves as vital communication between mom and babies. Kittens purr while they knead and nurse, and purring becomes associated with feeling safe, warm, and happy!

They’re uncomfortable

Unfortunately, your cat’s little motor doesn’t always signal an upbeat mood, but also discomfort. Purrs are to cats as smiles are to humans, and people smile for many reasons beyond happiness. When cats purr, their system releases feel-good endorphins. Because of this, many cats will purr to soothe themselves when they are sick, in pain, or anxious. If kitty is purring but otherwise seems distressed, check to see if they are injured or unwell.

They’re hungry

You’ve probably noticed that purring take one a whole different tone during mealtime. In fact, scientists have found that domesticated cats have a specific purr to indicate hunger. This purr is more urgent, and much harder to ignore. When recorded, scientists actually discovered that these purrs have a frequency similar to that of a crying infant. Hungry purring is your cat’s way of playing to your soft side so that you’ll break out a can of soft food!

Our pet sitters love to get your cat purring, whether during mealtimes or with lots of behind-the-ear-scratches. Call to have a sitter come by and give your cat lots of loving attention!


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Leung Ching Yau Alex on flickr

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How to stop your cat from peeing on the bed in 4 steps

Did your cat pee on the bed…again? Regular accidents on the bed are a stressful and smelly problem. But it’s not hopeless! Learn to tackle those soggy sheets and get the cat back to using her box.

Step 1: Completely clean the urine

First thing’s first. Strip soiled sheets off the bed and do a check to find any and all stains. Use a blacklight to track down spots. To break down the urine, pretreat linens with an enzymatic cleaner such as Nature’s Miracle. You can also use the cleaner to blot or soak stains on the mattress.

Step 2: Take preventive measures

You won’t stop the messes overnight but you can start by taking precautions. To save your sheets, cover your bed with an old or waterproof blanket until the habit has stopped. Next, break the habit with the power of scent. Special sprays that mimic cat pheromones can be applied to the bed to keep kitty away. Similarly, you can encourage your cat to use their box with litters containing herbs that attract cats.

Step 3: Double check the litter boxes

The wrong litter box situation can discourage cats from peeing where they’re supposed to. Is their box too dirty? Are there enough litter boxes? Change the litter regularly, and if you’re unsure of how many boxes to use, a good rule is to have one box for each cat, plus one additional box. Also check to make sure the litter box is in a good spot. Cats prefer areas that are safe, clean, quiet, and open (i.e. not a closet or rooms with lots of foot traffic).

Step 4: Take a trip to the vet

When cats pee in noticeable places, they’re usually trying to tell you something. They might be hinting at a disease or even stress. Cats suffering from bladder problems, for example, will feel too anxious to go in their box and find relief elsewhere. Urine on the bed can also point to tensions with one of your other cats, or even you! Your vet will be able to determine if their distress is medical or psychological.

Concerned about your cat’s recent messes? If you’re thinking the box might be too dirty, our cat sitters are available to regularly clean, no matter how many litter boxes you have. And of course, we always check in to report any of your cat’s accidents.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by Tina Lawson on flickr

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Creating an emergency plan for you and your cat

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma’s pathes of destruction, it’s important to remember that humans are not the only victims of disasters. Cats, dogs, and other pets can get lost in the chaos of an emergency, too. Take a few minutes to create a disaster preparedness plan for your pets before an emergency happens.

Have stickers and proper identification

Your cat should be identifiable at all times in case they are ever separated from you. A tagged collar or microchip will help rescuers track you down as the owner. In case the unthinkable happens while you’re away from home, place stickers on your doors and windows to help emergency responders know that there are pets inside.

Make an emergency kit with pet supplies

Any emergency kit you assemble for yourself should also include supplies to tide kitty over for up to two weeks. This includes food and water, a can opener, litter and litter tray, cleaning supplies for messes, and medications, among other items. Your kit should also have a carrier in case you and kitty need to leave. Write your contact info down on the carrier. Acquaint your cat with the carrier before they need to use it. Keep in mind that you may need to run in a disaster, so any kits you prepare should be light enough that you can carry it on your back.

Establish a safe haven for you and your pet

When seeking out shelter for an emergency, find out if kitty is welcome too. While some shelters take pets, not all do. Contact your local emergency management office to verify if accommodations are offered for cats. If not, check the local animal shelter or boarding facility to see if they provide emergency pet housing. You can also research pet-friendly hotels or stay with family/friends who don’t mind having a furry guest.

Have an emergency contact

An emergency contact is someone who can care for your cat and serve as a trusted caregiver if you are suddenly unable to. Ideally, this person should have met your kitty and is familiar with looking after animals. They should always have a copy of your key — leaving a copy for them at your home is not enough. Talk with them beforehand to establish guidelines and expectations.

Emergency preparedness is all about being ready long before disaster strikes. The ASPCA even has an app so that you can have an emergency checklist and store your pet’s medical records in one place. Have a clear thought out plan, and of course, don’t forget to go over it in detail with your cat sitter.


Candace Elise Hoes is a pet sitter and blogger at Katie’s Kitty. She is a graduate of the MFA Writing Program at California College of the Arts.

photo by kisluvkis on flickr

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