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Three ways to improve your cat’s quality of life

The actions you take today can ripple through your kitty’s entire lifetime. Here are three small changes that you can make to your pet care routine today that will have a lasting impact on your cat for years to come.

Use plates instead of bowls

Whisker fatigue is a common and easily avoidable ailment for older cats. Since cats’ whiskers are highly sensitive, many of the bowls found in the pet store are inappropriate for adult cats. The high and narrow sides on food and water dishes often mean that cats must constantly retract their whiskers in order to keep them from being irritated while eating or drinking. Over time, these muscles weaken from constant use until your older kitty’s whiskers hang down in discomfort. Therefore, it is best to feed your kitty off of a shallow plate.

Feed wet food and add a water fountain

Descended from the wild cats of the desert, cats evolved to draw most of the moisture that they need from their food and rarely drink standing water. When cats are only fed dry food, they may be more likely to develop kidney disease and urinary tract problems due to chronic dehydration. However, a filtered water fountain can encourage your cat to drink more water and stay hydrated. The sound of running water attracts cats, while a good charcoal filter can remove sediment and chemicals in your city’s water supply that may harm your cat’s organs.

Tend to your cat’s fur

Establishing a grooming routine while your cat is young today can help down the line when arthritis or another chronic health condition leaves your kitty’s fur looking lackluster. Not only is an unkempt coat unattractive, but matted fur is itchy and painful for your cat. Furthermore, resorting to shave an unruly coat can lead to other problems for your kitty.

Once you find the comb or brush that works well and your cat enjoys, grooming will eventually become a bonding experience. Likewise, the years of positive associations with grooming would mean that your cat is more patient with you and feels less stressed when their coat is harder to care for in their golden years.

By making these small changes today, you’re taking the best best to ensuring many happy and healthy years with your cat to come.


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 Matt Biddulph on flickr

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What to do if you find stray kittens

It’s the middle of summer and the height of the kitten season. If you have a feral cat colony in your neighborhood, you might stumble across a litter of kittens. Here’s what you should do if you find them outside.

Identify their age

On the one hand, if the kittens are 8 weeks or younger, separating them from their mothers can be detrimental to their health. Therefore, if the mother is present, it’s best to keep them together. On the other hand, if they’re 4 months or older, it may be too difficult to socialize them properly so that they can live indoors. It’d be better to trap, neuter, and release (TNR) them so that they can live our their lives happily within the colony. You can use the Alley Cat Allies’ handy visual guide to help you determine their age at a glance.

Locate the mother

Mama cats always return to feed their kittens every 3 hours like clockwork. If the kittens look clean and healthy, then mama probably isn’t far. However, if the kittens look dirty, sick, or it’s been longer than 3 hours since you’ve seen their mother, they need to be cared for right away.

Contact your local TNR community or cat rescue

Most shelters will tell you that during kitten season, they usually don’t bring in mothers with their litters due to a capacity issue. However, if mama is friendly and you’re interested in caring for the kittens, you should contact your local TNR community or cat rescue. Even if they aren’t able to take on the kittens themselves, they can point you in the right direction for community vet partners and even loan you no-kill traps to help you bring the litter inside.

Newborn feral kittens require a lot of attention, hard work, and socialization in order to grow up to be happy, healthy, friendly and adoptable indoor cats. Before you take on a litter of kittens, really ask yourself if you are able to commit the time and energy that they deserve.

Do you have a new kitten in your home? Check out other articles on our blog for advice on how to kitten proof your home, for more information on kitten season, and for more information about feral cat resources in New York City.


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 Christie D. Mallon on flickr

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How to care for a senior cat’s coat

As cats age, their grooming needs change. Just like in humans, their skin becomes less elastic and more brittle. Some cats may find it difficult to reach every spot that needs to be cleaned. Here are a few tips to help you keep your senior cat’s coat as clean as a junior’s!

Regular brushing

Brushing your cat’s fur helps to remove dead hair that can cause painful mats and an upset stomach due to hairballs. Thankfully, most cats enjoy being brushed. However, if your cat is uncooperative, try to do it once or twice a week in short 15 minute bursts. If your cat continues to protest, it may just be a matter of finding the right brush for his or her type of fur and temperament. Also be on the lookout for uncomfortable matted fur that needs special attention from a licensed groomer.

Taking a bath

Older cats that have trouble grooming themselves may have excessive buildup of naturally occurring oils on their fur. For these kitties, you can dampen a cloth and gently pet your cat with it to help redistribute the oils and remove dust and dandruff. In these cases, you won’t need soap, but you can also use specifically labeled pet wipes. Do not use baby or scented wipes.

A full bath isn’t always necessary, but kitties who have come in contact with oil or a sticky substance may need to be washed in the tub. The ASPCA has step by step instructions for how to bathe your cat in the tub.

Things to look out for

Even before you brush or bathe your cat’s fur, it’s important to run your hands through their coat and skin to check for sore spots, scabs, flea dirt, otherwise irritated skin. Pay special attention to the area under the tail for any feces that need to be trimmed off with scissors. Rice-sized particles under the tail can indicate tapeworms, which need to be treated by a vet.

You should also bring your cat in for a check up if you notice any other skin abnormalities, or if your kitty still has hairballs or an upset stomach despite regular grooming.

Do you have a senior cat with a special coat care regimen? Be sure to let your sitter know! Our friendly pet sitters are happy to follow your cat’s routine while you’re away. Call for a quote 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 Tracie Hall on flickr

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Resources for cats with kidney disease

When cat is diagnosed with chronic renal failure, the news can be devastating. It’s important to keep in mind that kidney disease in cats is not a death sentence! Luckily, there are plenty of resources available to help you understand and manage your cat’s symptoms.

Read up on the subject

One of the best places to start is Tanya’s Comprehensive Guide To Feline Chronic Kidney Disease. There, you will find databases on symptoms, treatments, and foods. With careful monitoring of your cat’s symptoms, you can use the guide as a resource to help you better understand your vet’s advice and treatment options.

Join a support group

Joining a well established support group, such as the Cats with Chronic Renal Failure~Support Group on Facebook, can be beneficial in several ways. For one, there are hundreds of members who have had first hand experiences with CKD first hand. Interacting with individuals who have successfully managed the disease can be more useful than trying to interpret static information on the web. Members can also provide recommendations for vets, pharmacies, and pet product suppliers. Just be sure to take their opinions with a grain of salt, and always consult your vet.

Work with a reliable vet

If you believe that your cat is just a tad more sluggish than usual, you are probably right. After all, you know your cat better than anyone else. Therefore, building a relationship with a good vet who trusts, believes, and respects your opinion is critical to managing your cat’s health over the years. You should also aim to take your cat in for a urinalysis and bloodwork every six months so that you can spot potential complications before they become unmanageable. Don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion if you ever feel that your current vet doesn’t care about your cat as much as you do.

Has your cat recently been diagnosed with kidney disease? At Katie’s Kitty, we have pet sitters with experience in administering oral medications and sub-cutaneous fluids. Schedule an appointment to meet one of our sitters 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 Dan Zen on flickr

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How to tell if your cat has seasonal allergies

As the flowers begin to bloom, you may find yourself reaching for a Claritin or Zyrtek. Did you know that your cat may be suffering from seasonal allergies, too? Here’s how to determine if your cat is as allergic to the springtime as you are.

Respiratory problems

The sneezing and coughing that you might associate with human seasonal allergies are not as common in felines. While excessive amounts of pollen can cause your cat to sneeze or cough, respiratory distress should always be treated as a veterinary emergency.

Don’t wait to take your cat to the vet, because sneezing and coughing could actually be the signs of more serious problems such as infections or organ failure.

Environmental allergies

Allergens such as pollen, mold, and fungus, and even household cleaners can irritate your cat’s skin. You may see biting or scratching at the affected areas, especially around the head. If your cat typically shows these symptoms around the change of seasons, or days when the pollen or mold count are especially high, he or she may be suffering from seasonal allergies.

Your vet may recommend a special shampoo that can help remove allergens from your cat’s fur. Severe allergies may be referred to a dermatologist who can run under-the-skin tests to determine the exact cause of the irritation.

Flea and food allergies

Allergic reactions to fleas and certain ingredients in food could also be the source of your cat’s discomfort. As little as one flea bite can cause a serious reaction in cats that can lead to endless scratching, raw spots, and even loss of fur. Your vet can recommend an appropriate flea treatment and prescribe prednisone or hydrocortisone to alleviate the symptoms.

Food allergies can also manifest as skin irritation. In order to treat them, your vet may prescribe a special hypoallergenic veterinary diet. Certain grain free and limited ingredient diets may also be suitable for your cat, and your veterinarian can help you decide which is right for you.

Do you have a cat with seasonal allergies or other special needs? Our pet sitters can visit, once, twice, and even three times a day to give medication. Give us a call to find out more about our services!


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 Johnny Lai on flickr

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How to calm an overactive cat

Cats are ambush predators. In the wild, they have plenty of opportunities to run, jump, and climb trees. While a playful kitty can be a joy for a pet parent, a cat without an outlet for all of that energy be worrisome and exhausting. Luckily, there are plenty of positive ways to calm down an overactive kitty.

Add more play sessions

Most cats will be satisfied with play sessions of about 15 minutes at a time, at least twice a day. The best toys for interactive play mimic birds or bugs. Rods with strings, toys, or feather on the end provide a fun opportunity for you to be the puppetmaster of your cat’s prey.

Organize your cat’s activity

Toward the of of your playtime, build in a “cool down” period. Stopping playtime too abruptly can make your cat pounce you instead. Building in a cool down will signal to your cat that you’re about to change gears. Get into the habit of feeding your kitty directly after playtime, too. After he or she finishes eating, It will trigger his or her natural instincts to groom and take a nap.

“Catify” your home

Even if you have a small New York apartment, you can build plenty of vertical play space for your cat. Consider getting perches or cat trees that you can set next to a window. Many cats leap at the chance to watch birds and people alike. You can also fill your wall space with custom create fun perches, rope bridges, and play centers from Catastrophic Creations and The Vertical Cat.

Take the stress out of leaving for work

A cat who is left home all day will often become bored and destructive. You can curb this behavior by leaving out ample independent-play toys. Try placing all of your cat’s in an open toy box so that they can have fun taking them out throughout the day. It’s also a good idea to incorporate treat balls and puzzle feeders into your routine on your way out the door.

Ask the vet

Especially for a typically mellow cat, a sudden onset of extra energy may mean that your kitty is trying to tell you something. It could even be the first symptom of a more serious problem like hyperthyroidism. Therefore, it’s a good idea to take your cat in for regular check ups to catch problems before they get worse. Some vets can even recommend treatments to help sooth your kitty’s anxiety.

Are you worried about your cat getting enough attention while you’re away? Send us an email to schedule in home pet sitting visits with one of our friendly sitters.


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 donvix on flickr

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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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Why does my cat drink from the faucet?

Have you been wondering why your kitty likes to drink water right from the faucet? It all comes down to instinct. Fresh, running water is the natural cat preference, and water that flows straight from the faucet imitates the streams, rivers, and brooks that their kitty ancestors used for survival. Not every cat displays faucet drinking behavior, but if your cat does, don’t be alarmed. It’s only natural!

Why not drink from the water bowl?

If you’ve neglected to wash your kitty’s water bowl for a day or two, you’ll notice that the bowl begins to develop biofilm, a slimy substance that develops when bacteria settles and grows on the surface of the bowl. This is understandably unappetizing to your kitty. A cat’s instincts tell him to steer clear of standing water, as it is more likely to be stagnant and therefore contaminated with harmful bacteria.

What is so attractive about that faucet?

It’s not only the fresh running water that attracts your kitty to the faucet, it’s the sound! Your cat’s keen ears pick up the sound of running water, as they would in the wild when seeking a clean water source. The movement of water is also attractive to your kitty’s eye. Running water has lots of kitty advantages; it’s fun to play with, it sounds like a rambling brook, and it tastes better because it is more oxygenated.

What if your cat drinks too much water?

If your cat seeks water from the faucet constantly, and seems like he just can’t get enough water, it might be time for a vet visit. Kidney disease, diabetes, and hyperthyroidism are common ailments of older cats, and a kitty who drinks more water than usual is a tell tale sign that something might be wrong.

What about that water bill?

Instead of running the faucet for your kitty, consider getting a pet fountain. Just remember that you’ll still need to clean it regularly, as pet fountains are just as susceptible to biofilm as any other drinking bowl.

Cats are happiest when they can express their natural instincts. Need someone to come by and refresh the water bowl, and maybe even run the faucet for your feline friend? Give us a call to meet with one of our pet sitters!


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

photo by Teresa Boardman on flickr

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How to encourage your cat to use a scratching post

Perhaps the only thing that’s more frustrating than having your cat claw your furniture is having them refuse the use the scratching post that you bought to remedy the problem. The good news is that training your cat to use the scratching post isn’t an insurmountable task. Here’s how to do it.

Try different kinds of scratching posts

Sometimes finding the right post is a matter of preference. Some cats prefer vertical scratching. A good vertical scratching post is as least as tall as your stretching kitty and doesn’t wobble. Some cats prefer the horizontal scratching boards that are readily available in pet stores and supermarkets. Posts wrapped in carpet can be uncomfortable because they snag the claws, so look for posts made of sisal and cardboard.

Place the post in an ideal location

If your cat has been scratching your couch or mattress, place several posts around each corner where your kitty scratches. You should avoid placing the posts in unappetizing or lonely areas such as by the litter box or in the basement. Cats often scratch when they first wake up, so try placing a post next to their sleeping area. Better yet, opt for a cat condo with boxes for napping and sisal scratching posts built in.

Reward good behavior

Cats need to scratch to stretch their muscles and shed the damaged outer layer of their claws, so discouraging your cat from scratching can be traumatic for them. Not to mention, cats respond better to positive reinforcement than negative reinforcement such as yelling. Positive reinforcement includes rewards like petting, speaking soothing words (“That’s a good kitty!”) and providing treats or catnip. Once your cat begins to use the scratcher, offer rewards as encouragement.

Discourage bad behavior

In some rare cases, your cat may persist to scratch your furniture because they are amused by your reaction to it. If you’re used to yelling or freaking out at the sight of your cat scratching your couch, switch to a neutral response instead. Then, you can proceed with placing your cat by the new scratcher and using the positive reinforcement methods mentioned above.

Make your furniture an undesirable scratching surface

However, one of the strongest deterrents for a cat is an unappealing environment. There are various anti-scratching aids available that can make your furniture less appealing than the scratcher, thus making the switch easier for your cat.

Once your cat has picked up the good habit of using a scratching post, don’t throw it away after it gets worn out. Now that post is great for really digging in deep and is covered in familiar and happy scents. Opt to buy an additional one instead.

Are you worried that your cat might scratch up your furniture while you’re on vacation? Schedule a visit from one of our pet sitters who can keep an eye on 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.

photo by M B on flickr

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Why does my cat drool while purring?

Have you ever wondered why your cat drools when he or she is happy? There are a number of possibilities. Some are benign, and some need medical attention. Here are a few explanations.

A remnant from happier times

Dr. John Bradshaw gained a lot of attention across the web when he suggested in his book, Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet, that cats essentially see their pet parents as big, friendly mama cats. He told the International Science Times in an email interview that “The most likely explanation for their behaviour towards us is that they think of us as part mother substitute, part superior cat.”

Indeed, affectionate behaviors such as kneading and even meowing for food have been linked to actions performed by a kitten for its mom. Franny Syufy of the Spruce then postulates, “It occurs to me that kittens salivate when they are nursing, and they salivate in anticipation of it. Wouldn’t it then be normal for [a cat] to salivate when he is being held and petted by his surrogate mother, as the experience sends his memory back to those blissful days with his feline mother?”

Some cats are just “happy droolers”

In general, scientists don’t have a consensus on why this phenomenon occurs, though. According to Dr. Patty Khuly VMD of VetStreet, “It seems that a small but significant percentage of cats drool in response to positive stimulation, which is typically also accompanied by purring, rolling over submissively or rubbing their faces against the objects of their adoration.” She goes on to write that these kitties are lifelong “happy droolers.”

Some cats are not

However, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t rule out other potentially dangerous medical causes for excessive drooling. Purring isn’t always a happy signal, as some cats purr as a self soothing behavior in response to an illness or injury. Foreign objects lodged in the mouth, ingestion of a toxic plant, kidney disease, feline oral squamous cell carcinoma, and a number of other illnesses can also cause your cat to drool. When in doubt, don’t hesitate to bring your cat to the vet!

Are you planning a big trip? Book one of our pet sitters and rest at ease. We provide photos and updates on your kitty’s health and happiness levels — drool and all!


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 Williams on flickr

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