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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 you need to know about summer buzzcuts

It’s a familiar sight for many cat parents. The more the heat ramps up, the more your kitty spreads out. If you own a longhair cat, you may be especially worried that all of that fur is overheating your kitty. Before you take your cat to the groomer to get it all shaved off, consider the following.

Does long fur actually make your cat hotter?

Once the summer heat rolls around, you may find yourself removing extra layers and tying back your hair to help cool off. However, a cat’s coat is naturally designed to help keep it cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. In fact, as Mark J. Stickney, DVM, explains to WebMD, cats “really get no benefit from being shaved.” They’re fairly small animals with a lot of surface area, so they are much more efficient at dispersing excess heat than human beings.

What’s the best way to care for your cat’s summer coat?

It’s also important to establish a regular grooming routine for your cat. If your kitty is an excessive shedder, then you should try a slicker brush or a silicone brush like the Zoom Groom to help remove the dead undercoat that can cause mats. If your cat needs to go to the groomer for excessive knotting, consider a “sanitary cut” instead of a full shave.

How else can you keep your cat cool?

Cats naturally seek out cool, dark areas when it gets too hot. In most apartments, the coolest place in the house is usually in a tiled bathroom. You can leave a few ice packs wrapped in towels to make the room even cooler. Consider getting a pet fountain to keep your cat hydrated, too. During the summer time, it’s also important to be mindful of heat exhaustion.

Are you prepared for the summer heat? Don’t forget to show your pet sitter where to find the air conditioner, thermostat, and/or any fans. In order to save energy, it’s also a good idea to let your pet sitter know at what temperature you usually switch the AC on.


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 Andrea Parrish – Geyer 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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What you need to know about kitten season

Now that the weather is beginning to ease up a bit, feral cats are finding that it’s the ideal time of year to reproduce. Rescue organizations call this time of the year “kitten season” because their shelters become flooded with baby kitties as the cats give birth.

Here’s what you need to know about kitten season.

What to do if you find kittens

If you find a pregnant cat or a litter of kittens, call your local animal rescue organization. Kittens have a much better chance at survival when they are cared for by humans, and a rescue organization can help place them with a loving home.

How to help during kitten season

Now is the perfect time of year to volunteer at a cat rescue. You could help out onsite at the shelter or sign up to be a foster parent. The Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals offers classes on how to care for kittens if you think you might be up for the important task of fostering them.

Adoption during kitten season

It’s also the perfect time of year to adopt a cat, but be sure to kitten proof your house, first! However, if you have extra love to give, consider following.

Kittens never have a hard time finding a home, but their mothers and other older cats tend to sit in the shelter for much longer. Try to rescue an older cat whenever possible. Not only will it make more space for the shelter to save other cats, but you’ll also save your own cat from sitting there for months, or even years, without a home to call their own.

Have you recently adopted a kitten? Our pet sitters love taking care of the juniors and the seniors! Book your pet sitting visits 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 Jennifer C. 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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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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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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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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