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Archive | Pet health

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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Why does my cat have itchy ears?

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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

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The easiest way to pill your cat

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So your vet has prescribed a pill to help improve your kitty’s health, but you’re not sure how to administer it. The good news is that pilling a cat can be even easier than you’d think! Here’s how it’s done.

Prepare well in advance

Some cats will run and hide at the sound of a pill bottle! If this is the case, take out the pills an hour or more before you need them. You can also store the pills in the same drawer as your treats to keep your kitty guessing.

Getting your cat used to being handled will also ease the pilling process. Without giving a pill, regularly hold your cat’s head and practice gently opening his or her jaws. Afterward, give your cat treats, praise, and plenty of petting to help build positive associations.

Disguise the pill in treats or food

With a Greenie’s Pill Pocket®, you can place the pill in the center and then roll the pocket in your hands to completely hide the medicine. For a less expensive option, many Temptations treats come with a soft center. For smaller pills, break the treat in half and hide it in the treat.

If your cat eats wet food on a schedule, you can use this to your advantage. Before the full meal, scoop a little of the wet food into a spoon. Then, place the pill in the middle of the food and let your cat eat from the spoon, pill and all!

Don’t forget to ask your vet first if the pill can be taken with food.

Mix it up!

If you have a crushable pill, use a mortar and pestle to grind it down. Mix the powder with ¼ teaspoon of water, tuna juice, or chicken-only broth. Load the mixture into a needle-less syringe, and then squirt it into the corner of your kitty’s mouth. Do not squirt the liquid into the front of the mouth or too far down the back or else it will gag your cat.

Your vet can also tell you if your cat’s pill can be crushed and mixed with food or water, or if your cat’s gel cap pill can be opened and sprinkled over wet food.

If all else fails

Ask your vet about pharmacies that can specially formulate flavored medicines. The Dechra Academy also has a comprehensive video to help you pill your kitty manually.

Did you know that Katie’s Kitty has pet sitters that can give oral medication to your cat? Give us a call to book an appointment 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 Th_icky on Flickr

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Exercise routines for your cat

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Cats need exercise to maintain strong muscle mass, high functioning organs, and an ideal body weight that will help them live happily and healthfully into old age. What’s more, a cat that does not exercise enough can become bored, destructive, or just plain irritable. So, what are the best ways to keep your cat in shape?

Turn mealtime into playtime

Ever notice that trail of felines behind you when you open a can or pour some fresh kibble? Dr. Karen Becker of Mercola Healthy Pets suggests using this behavior to your advantage. Try leading the furry parade around your house, stopping at intervals to put down small portions of food. “Believe it or not, I can keep my cats moving for 20 minutes this way,” she boasts. You can also make a game out of moving your cat’s dishes between higher and lower surfaces to encourage them to climb and jump.

Choose more stimulating toys

Cats will get the most out of a toy that caters to their hunting instincts. Dr. Rolan Tripp recommends moving toys to mimic prey animals. In a Q&A with WebMD, he says to “take a laser pointer and skitter it across the floor like a bug [or] get a wand toy that looks like a bird and pretend to land and take off.” Remember to let your cat “win” and capture the toy in the end. Dr. Jean Hofve, author of The Complete Guide to Holistic Cat Care: An Illustrated Handbook notes that it’s especially important to follow up playtime with the laser pointer with something the cat can physically catch to avoid fixation and frustration.

Make play the highlight of your day

Even older cats enjoy an invigorating play routine. Get in the habit of playing with your kitty 2-3 times a day, for 10-15 minutes at a time. The best times to play are when you come home from work and right before bedtime to burn off extra energy that could be expressed in unwanted ways.

Whether you have a chaotic kitty or a tubby tabby, our pet sitters know how to keep your cat exercising and entertained. Give us a call to find the perfect playmate for your kitty 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.

Milo” by David DeHetre is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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How do I prevent shedding?

Furminating angusSave for perhaps the owners of Sphynx cats, virtually every pet parent has found their clothes and household fabrics covered in fur. So, what causes shedding?

Natural causes

Outdoor cats grow and shed coats according the seasons. This is usually triggered by changes temperature and the hours of light in a day. For indoor cats, artificial lighting and air conditioning can interfere with these natural signifiers. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to see shedding year-round.

Medical conditions

However, shedding in excess can be caused by allergies, infections, and pests. Stress can also lead to excessive shedding. If you notice that your cat is over grooming one area, biting, scratching, or losing fur in large patches, you should consult your vet.

Once your cat has a clean bill of health, try one of the following to help alleviate the plague of fur around your house.

Add brushing to your routine

In addition to removing dead fur that can cause tangles, studies have shown that spending time brushing or petting your cat can have health benefits for you as well. Some cats enjoy a slicker brush, or Kong’s Zoom Groom may be a good alternative. Deshedding tools like the Furminator are actually blades that can help to remove the dead undercoat before it becomes a larger problem.

Try wipes and washes

Sometimes, older cats in particular need a little help from their pet parents for grooming. You don’t need to douse your kitty with water, though. There are a variety of dry shampoos and gentle wipes available at the pet store that can help you keep your cat’s coat clean and shining.

Feed a balanced diet

You may be surprised the difference a high quality food can make. Look for foods that are high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and are easier for your kitty to digest. Finding a food that’s both healthy and appetizing for your individual cat can take some trial and error, but here is a comprehensive list to set you on the right track.

Think outside the box

Last, but not least — if piles of fur have become a nuisance in your home, you can try adding attractive throws that can be easily washed to your furniture. In the same vein, adding a pet bed may give your kitty a more preferred comfy surface where you don’t mind so much fur.

Shedding is a fact of life for kitties, which is why some of our pet sitters keep a lint roller handy. Just in case.


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.

Furminating Angus” by Paul Joseph is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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