Top Menu

New York City Pet Sitting Services
Cat Sitting and Boarding ~ Cat Sleepovers in your Home ~ Exotic Pet Sitting

212-288-5712


Archive | Pet health

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

Continue Reading

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

Continue Reading

What is whisker fatigue?

In our recent conversations on the blog, you may have seen references to whisker fatigue. Today, let’s take a moment to explore and unpack what whisker fatigue really is.

Why are a cat’s whiskers important?

While many mammals have whiskers (also known as tactile hairs or vibrissae), cats’ whiskers are highly specialized sense organs. At the base of each whisker, a proprioceptor is can detect the slightest movements in air currents to help a cat catch prey. Proprioceptors also help cats determine if they can squeeze through tiny passageways. They even help cats judge shorter distances that they cannot see well because of their farsighted eyes and the blind spot beneath their muzzles.

What causes whisker fatigue?

Whisker fatigue occurs when the proprioceptors are over stimulated, usually due to constantly brushing against the sides of a water dish or food bowl. Think of it like a barrage of sensory information, much like watching a movie with too many loud noises and excessively vibrant colors. Some vets, such as Dr. Neil Marrinan of the Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Connecticut, prefer to think of it as more of whisker “stress” than “fatigue.”

What are the symptoms?

A cat experiencing whisker fatigue may pace around the bowl, remove all of the food before eating it, or refuse to eat at all even if they appear to be hungry. In an article with PetMD, Dr. Marrinan also warns that these could be the symptoms of serious tumors or gastrointestinal problems. When in doubt, you’ll rarely regret taking your cat to the vet!

How can whisker fatigue be prevented?

The simplest solution is to replace your cat’s food dish with a flat, wide plate without a lip on the rim. You should also change out your cat’s standing water bowl for a fountain or another free flowing water source with a wide basin. Most importantly, you should never trim your cat’s whiskers because it would negatively impact your cat’s balance and perception.


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 dano272 on flickr

Continue Reading

Could your cat be jealous?


Have you recently added a new cat to your family? Have you noticed a change in the behavior of your first kitty? If so, your cat may be dealing with a bit of that green eyed monster called envy.

What are the signs?

Hissing, spraying, growling, and fighting are indicators that your cat feels that his or her territory has been trespassed. It’s not just the household, but you come with the territory as well. All those times your cat rubbed against you, he or she was marking you with various scent glands. So when you’re giving another cat attention, don’t be surprised if your kitty starts to exhibit these signs of jealousy.

If you acquiesce to your jealous cat, you wind up confirming that this behavior works.
Instead, find a healthy balance when giving your cats attention, and don’t play favorites.

Careful introductions

Adding another cat to your household requires careful steps to ensure that balance is maintained. A slow, calm introduction should begin by sharing scents. Let your cats sniff each other’s beds and toys before they meet. You can also purchase natural spray that can encourage stress reduction and even produce “feel good” hormones in cats.

Sharing is not caring

A good rule of thumb is to have one litter box per cat in your household, and the same goes for their feeding and watering bowls. Cats don’t want to compete for resources, and if they aren’t given enough resource availability and security, tensions may rise into an all out war. Provide your cat with their own personal space, and that includes vertical territory.

What if it’s something else?

Perhaps your new addition to the family coincided with a new health issue for your cat. For example, you might mistake peeing outside of the box is a territorial behavior, but it could be a symptom of a urinary tract infection. It doesn’t hurt to seek veterinary attention just to be sure there aren’t any underlying health problems causing the new behaviour.

Are you going out of town, and want to be sure your cats get the equal attention they need? Give us a call to meet one of our pet sitters!

Andrea Gores is an actor, playwright, and pet sitter for Katie’s Kitty.

Photo by cäleidosc on Flickr

Continue Reading

Should you toilet-train your cat?


Have you been wondering if toilet training is right for your kitty household? Although a cat using a toilet can be quite the spectacle, there are several things to consider before “taking the plunge.”

What are the advantages?

The biggest advantage of toilet-training your cat is eliminating the need for kitty litter. The cost-conscious pet parent could save $70-$150 a year in cat litter, which can add up quite a bit over a lifetime.

Not to mention, teaching your cat to use the toilet means that you will no longer have to tolerate litter box odor or deal with unsanitary litter flecks scattered around your home or floating through the air.

As an added bonus, pet parents who are concerned with space issues appreciate not having a litter box to take up room, which is a concern for many New Yorkers.

What are the disadvantages?

One of the biggest disadvantages has to do with health monitoring. The volume, consistency, and frequency of urine and feces in the litter box are indicators of your cat’s health. When your kitty uses the toilet, you won’t be able to keep an eye on these factors. A clean bill of health for your kitty is also required to avoid the transmission of toxoplasmosis.

Older cats, cats who would have difficulty balancing on or gripping the slick seat, or cats who don’t like to share could also find the toilet to be troublesome. Additionally, some kitties may develop anxiety from falling in or not being able to satisfy the instinct to dig and cover their waste.

One final consideration is that toilet training requires a lot of patience, and accidents are bound to happen. House guests can also accidentally close the lid, leaving your kitty no choice but to eliminate on the floor.

Other things to try

Are you frustrated with your litter box, but still unsure if toilet training is right for your kitty? Consider trying automatic litter boxes and alternatives to clay cat litter until you strike a balance in the human-convenience-to-feline-happiness ratio.

Whatever method you choose, our pet sitters take extra care in ensuring a clean and happy home while you’re away. Give us a call to meet with one of our friendly pet sitters!


This post is a collaboration between Andrea Gores and Candace Elise Hoes.

Andrea Gores is an actor, playwright, and pet sitter for Katie’s Kitty.

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 minorleo on flickr

Continue Reading

Thanksgiving Safety Tips

13348088923_e3fbb02983_zThanksgiving is a festive opportunity to gather with cherished friends, beloved family members, and plentiful food. One thing to be thankful for this year is the company of your cat companions and their good health. Here are a few ways to help you keep your kitties healthy and happy during Thanksgiving celebrations.

Take care in the kitchen

Many cat parents have stories about the times their kitties rubbed against their legs and sent them stumbling. Now, imagine that happening while you’re holding a hot tray from the oven, a kettle of boiling water, a sharp knife, or even a frozen turkey.

Each year, 86,629 Americans visit the emergency room due to trip over a pet or pet related items. Not to mention, burns, fractures, lacerations, or worse could result from dropping objects on your cat in the kitchen. Therefore, it’s safer to keep kitty in the bedroom while you’re cooking.

Be mindful of your guests

Likewise, if you’re going to be having a lot of company over, you may want to designate the bedroom as a safe space for your cat. Some cats can become fearful and stressed in the company of loud strangers, so it’s important for kitty to have a retreat when he or she is feeling overstimulated.

You’ll also want to make sure your guests know the protocol around your cat to avoid being bitten or scratched. Discourage your guests from giving your cat table food and have cat-specific treats from the pet store handy instead.

Know which foods are harmful

Some human foods are safe for cats to eat in small quantities, such as cooked skinless chicken breast, eggs, broccoli, corn, and pumpkin. Other foods should be avoided, like cooked bones, fat trimmings, onions, garlic, sweeteners, and cranberries. Keep in mind that while the base food could be safe, the herbs and seasonings it was prepared with could be inappropriate. So you might want to think twice about giving kitty a piece of turkey or pumpkin pie.

When in doubt, treat your cat with a special can of pet food instead. Always keep the phone number to poison control handy and the emergency vet handy.

Last but not least, are you going out of town? It’s not too late to book a pet sitter! Give us a call and we’ll make sure that your kitty has company for the holidays.


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 Jenny Downing on flickr

Continue Reading

Best alternatives to declawing your cat

3518056742_b571affaa6_zDoes your kitty tear up your furniture or lash out at you with her claws? Before you consider declawing your cat, learn the facts about what the procedure actually entails. There may be more kinder alternatives than you realize.

What is declawing?

The Humane Society of the United States has this to say about declawing: “Too often, people think that declawing is a simple surgery that removes a cat’s nails—the equivalent of having your fingernails trimmed. Sadly, this is far from the truth. Declawing traditionally involves the amputation of the last bone of each toe. If performed on a human being, it would be like cutting off each finger at the last knuckle.”

What are the side effects?

Declawing can cause more problems than it solves. The procedure can result in chronic pain in the paw caused by bone spurs. It also makes your kitty less likely to use the litter box due to pain when scratching. Since removing the bones causes the paw to meet the ground in an unnatural stance, cats can develop back pain and soreness similar to wearing ill-fitting shoes.

Furthermore, cats without claws are unable to defend themselves, resorting to biting, bunny-kicking, and more violent means of protection when they feel threatened.

Why do cats scratch?

Understanding why your kitty scratches is the first step in correcting it. Scratching is a natural and necessary behavior for cats. It helps them stretch their muscles and remove the dead outer coating of their claws. Contrary to what some may believe, cats do not scratch furniture to be vindictive or seek revenge.

However, scolding your cat for scratching without offering proper alternatives can cause your kitty to crave the negative attention. Often times, what humans view as a destructive behavior can be remedied by a few small changes around the house.

What can you do instead?

Need more advice on how to keep your kitty from scratching? Ask your pet sitter about nail trimming and training aids today!


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 psyberartist Alex on flickr

Continue Reading

5 Quick fixes for a smelly litter box

4877576787_2ca5bb84e9_zHaving a feline companion fills your home with joy, but no one enjoys having a stinky litter box room. Don’t worry, there are plenty of things you can do to cut down on litter box odor.

Evaluate your kitty’s health

First, take your cat to the vet to check for parasites or other health problems. Once your kitty is given a clean bill of health, ask about probiotics that can help cut down litter box odor.

Change your kitty’s food

Foods that are high in carbs and plant materials are not easily digested by cats themselves, which leaves the work to smelly bacteria. Feed a higher quality wet food to avoid this problem.

Change your kitty’s litter

You may be surprised how much more odor fighting ability you’d get for just a few more dollars. Arm and Hammer’s Clump n’ Seal, World’s Best, and Precious Cat #1 Long Haired Cat Litter are all excellent choices, made from clay, corn, and silica respectively.

Remember, it’s a good habit to periodically discard all of the litter in the cat box, wash it, and refill it with fresh litter. Depending the type, how often you should change the litter will vary.

Try odor absorbers

Zeoilite rocks and moso bamboo charcoal are both powerful, natural odor absorbers that do not use artificial fragrances or chemicals. Simply place them in the room with the stinky litter box, and then put them in the sun once a month to recharge their odor absorbing abilities.

Light a candle

You can buy special soy and soy blend candles that are made with enzymes that evaporate and help to break down foul smelling compounds in the air, but even unscented candles break down odors in the air by burning the oxygen to which bad odors are attached. As a bonus, beeswax candles emit negative ions, neutralizing the positive charge that keeps bad odors and allergens afloat.

Are you worried about your litter box becoming unweildly while you’re away? Book a Katie’s Kitty pet sitter for your trip, and you will return home to a happy cat and fresh litter box.


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 Tom Thai on flickr

Continue Reading

10 Tips for “Kitten-proofing” your home

Kittens! by London looks

Kittens are doubly curious, as they are both babies and cats at the same time! When you bring a new kitten into your home, it’s wise to take precautions to remove potential hazards in kitty’s new environment.

1) Install permanent screens on windows. Do not rely on window guards for children, use temporary bug screens, or crack the window slightly, as kittens can wiggle through them.

2) Tie cords for window blinds and curtains well out of your kitten’s reach. They may be tempted to play with the strings, but they could accidentally wrap around your kitten’s neck.

3) Store toys (for both cats and children) in a chest or box that closes securely. This is especially important for toys with strings and small pieces that could be swallowed.

4) Remove dangerous house plants. The ASPCA has a list of plants that are toxic to cats. If you’re not sure what species your plant is, it’s best to give it away or keep it outdoors.

5) Keep all medicines and cleaning products locked away. Even if the container is closed, it can still be chewed through.

6) Secure drawers, cabinets, and closets with child safety locks. Otherwise, cats could easily pull open the doors.

7) Secure the knobs on your stove. While jumping up and exploring, a cat’s paw could accidentally turn on the gas or a heating element.

8) Keep the oven, dryer, and dishwasher doors closed. Cats like to sleep in dark, warm places, so this could lead to disaster. Always perform a “kitten check” before starting up these appliances, and leave notes to remind others to do the same.

9) Close the toilet lid after every use. A kitten could fall in and drown, or the lid may close and hurt a cat playing in the water.

10) Store plastic in a dispenser that is kept in a secured closet or cabinet. Chewing on and swallowing plastic could harm your cat’s digestive track, or kitty could get trapped in the bag.

This is by no means an exhaustive list, but you can read more at the Humane Society, Purina, About Home, and MEOW Cat Rescue.

Are you worried about leaving your kitten alone on vacation? Our pet sitters can come check on your kitty once, twice, or even three times a day to make sure everything is okay! Request a quote for multiple visits for kittens.


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.

“Kittens!” by London looks on flickr

Continue Reading

Why does my cat have itchy ears?

4965357925_0db250a32b_z

Occasional scratching at the ears is a fairly common behavior, but when the skin becomes inflamed or raw-looking, or if the scratching is accompanied by head-shaking or growling, you should suspect a more serious problem. So, why do cats scratch at their ears?

Dirt

Sometimes, a cat will scratch an itch and inadvertently introduce dirt, bacteria, yeast, or fungus from their paws into the ear canal, causing an infection. Regular cleaning by you or a groomer can help prevent this problem.

Your cat could even be suffering from ear mites, which look as though “coffee grounds” are building up in your kitty’s ears. As with all other ailments, you should take your cat to the vet to determine if ear mites could be the cause.

Fleas

The ears are one of the easiest spots for a cat to reach. So, if your kitty is suffering from flea bites, this may be the first place you notice that your cat has been scratching. An itchy cat will also lick or bite troublesome skin, so you may not have noticed your cat having a reaction to flea bites before.

Flea collars and topical flea treatments are available at your vet’s office, and treatments can last for a month or more. Some cats develop flea allergy dermatitis, which is a severe reaction to a flea bite. For these kitties, a vet may prescribe allergy shots or steroids.

Allergies

Sometimes it’s hard to pin down what exactly is giving your kitty trouble, but the easiest allergens to remove from your household come from plastic and food. Just like flea bites, they can make your cat itchy everywhere, but the place you’re most likely to notice is the ears.

To ease this problem, try changing all of your feeding and water dishes to stainless steel or ceramic. If you have a pet fountain, keep in mind that even if the reservoir is steel or ceramic, parts of the water pump may actually be plastic. Switch your pet foods to limited ingredient and grain free versions, but keep in mind that more severe allergies may need a prescription diet. Even then, your cat may still experience an occasional itch. Like any ailment, it’s best to ask your vet.

Are you worried about your itchy cat while you’re away? Our pet sitters can check on your kitty regularly and alert you to an new or worsening symptoms. Give us a call today!


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.

“itchy” by Sandy Schultz on flickr

Continue Reading