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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 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 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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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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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

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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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