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The Icelandic Christmas Cat

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

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

The legend of the Yule Cat

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

The Yule Cat’s origin story

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

History of the Yule Cat

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

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


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

photo by Alexa’s_Fotos on pixabay

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How to have Thanksgiving with your cat

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

Which foods to avoid

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

Which foods are okay

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

Where to put your cat when company arrives

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

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


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

photo by Gellinger on pixabay

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Why do cats stare at fire?

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

Seeking warmth

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

Enjoying the show

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

Sensing something we cannot

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

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

Safety first!

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

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


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

photo by Michell Filion on flickr

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How to keep your cat away from table food

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

Feed your cat first

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

Clear leftovers immediately

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

Don’t give into temptation

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

Try a puzzle feeder

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

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


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

photo by yomo 13 on flickr

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

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

Dropping hints

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

Separating liquids from solids

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

Avoiding anxiety

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

Your cat is getting older

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

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


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

photo by 游 焰熾 on flickr

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Why do cats purr?

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

They’re happy

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

They’re uncomfortable

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

They’re hungry

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

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


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

photo by Leung Ching Yau Alex on flickr

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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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Why do cats wiggle before they pounce?

It’s a familiar sight – your kitty hunches low to the ground. Her eyes open wide. She gives her tushy a little shake-shake-shake, and then she springs into action! It’s a wonderfully adorable and terribly effective way to ambush prey, but have you ever wondered why exactly cats shake their booties before they leap?

Warming up

If you stop to think about it, you might notice that many human athletes exhibit a similar behavior as a warm up. Baseball players swing their bat a few times before the pitch, runners do quick drills on the starting line. It’s the same for cats. That adorable butt wiggle is partly a way for cats to loosen up their muscles and practice before the big moment. After all, careful preparation could mean life or death when there’s only one shot to catch a meal.

Gaining solid footing

In order to land just perfectly, cats have several biological mechanisms in place to help them accurately judge distance. One such evolutionary advantage is their vertical slit pupil eyes, but another is, you guessed it, the wiggle! By testing the ground beneath their paws and building up tension in their muscles, they are better able to gauge exactly how high and how far they could jump. You might see a similar behavior to the wiggle before your cat jumps onto a high shelf, for instance, in which they appear to bob up and down while they evaluate their jump.

Do you have a cute GIF or video of your cat getting ready to take a leap? Share it with us on Instagram or Facebook!


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 Parry on flickr

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Can cats see in the dark?

Do you turn out all of the lights before you leave the house? You may be saving energy, but you’re literally plunging your cat into a lonely darkness! Let us “shed some light” on how well and what exactly cats are able to see.

Can cats see in the dark?

Yes and no. While it’s true that cats have better night vision than humans, they cannot see in total darkness. The reason being is that the tapetum lucidum, which is responsible for that otherworldly green glow in your kitty’s pupils, only works by magnifying what visible light is available. That means that cats can see much better than humans in low light, but they cannot see at all in complete darkness. So the next time you think about leaving your kitty in the dark, consider plugging in a little night light.

Is that why cats have slit pupils?

Again, yes and no. Having a slit, vertical pupil means that ambush predators like cats, snakes, and foxes are able to pull their pupils open much larger than creatures with circular or rectangular ones. This does let in more light. However, the slit pupil also maximizes the efficiency of seeing both vertical lines and increasing the blurriness in front of and behind an object. That means their brains are able to more accurately able to gauge the depth of an object without having to move.

How well can cats see?

Cats have many advantages over humans when it comes to vision, such as having more rod cells to help them dectect light. However, cats have fewer cone cells, which mean they see less vivid color. Cats also tend to be more nearsighted than humans, and can’t see under their muzzles at all! That explains why they can never seem to see the treat that you’re pointing at directly under their noses.

Do you leave a light on for your cat when you leave? Don’t forget to show your pet sitter how to turn on the lights in your home to make it a more “illuminating” visit for your sitter and your kitty. Give us a call today to be paired with one of our personable pet 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 Thomas Euler on flickr

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