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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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How to keep your cat safe during fireworks

The 4th of July is the quintessential summer holiday. People love to light up the grill during the day and watch the fireworks display at night. However, the louse bangs and flashing lights are no picnic for your cat! Fortunately, there are several steps you can take to keep your cat happy and calm during fireworks.

Create safe spaces in your home

In a quieter area of your house or apartment, make sure that your cat has access to places to hide. This can be under furniture like a bed, or in a cabinet or cubby hole, such as an empty cube in an Ikea bookcase. You can partially cover the area with towels and blankets to help drown out the noise.

Close windows and turn on music

Likewise, turning up music before the fireworks begin can help defuse some of the noise. Some relaxing instrumental music can help sooth your cat. You’ll also want to draw the blinds, close curtains, close any windows and doors. Not only does this keep noise down, but it’ll also help to block flashing lights and prevent your cat from escaping.

Make sure your cat is identifiable

In case your cat does get spooked and escape, make sure your cat is microchipped or wearing ID tags. Take a photo of your cat so that you’ll have the most up to date image to help others recognize them if they get lost.

Don’t try to comfort your cat

If you don’t have anywhere you need to be, plan to be home during the fireworks display. However, if your cat gets nervous, starts pacing around, or howling, do not try to comfort your cat by petting or playing with them. This will make your cat more upset, because you are acknowledging that something is wrong. Instead, praise your cat for calm behavior.

Do not change their diet, and do not give any calming remedies, especially if you’re unsure of how your cat will react to the changes.

Are you going out of town for the last minute? We still have pet sitters available for the 4th of July holiday! Give us a call for fastest service.


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 d_horkey on flickr

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Stealthy litter boxes

It’s no secret that apartments in New York City are small! There’s but so many places you can hide a litter box. If you don’t like the idea of your dinner guests seeing an unsightly cat pan, there are stealthier hidden options for you.

Litter boxes that look like potted plants

Who doesn’t like the look of a potted plant? They add fresh air, and some houseplants have natural deodorizing and toxin-removing capabilities. Now, you can buy a litter box that looks like a potted plant in a variety of attractive shapes. You can use the faux plant that comes with it, or replace it with a real live version of your own!

Build your own litter box holder

If you’re a crafty sort of person who likes to imagine your kitty as a pirate burying treasure, then you might want to build your own litter box concealment system. Or, if you’d prefer a chic look to your hidden litter box, you can convert an upholstered bench, too!

Keep the litter box in the tub or closet

A tried and true method of litter box concealment for a lot of New Yorkers is to just keep it in the tub or closet. If you put it in the tub, litter boxes that prevent litter scatter are best to avoid having gritty sand in the tub when it’s time to wash up. You’ll also want to avoid washing it down the drain, as it can cause a nasty (and costly!) clog. If you stash the box in the closet, consider adding an organizer or shelving to avoid losing space.

Do you have a clever hiding spot for your litter box? Make sure you show your pet sitter where it is! Our sitters pay extra attention to the litter box to make sure they stay clean and fresh. Book a visit 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 S G 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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Natural pet stain removers

Oh no! Your cat has peed on your sofa or rug. Before you reach for the Windex or bleach, consider these other cleaning solutions for a natural remedy without the harsh chemicals.

White vinegar and baking soda

Both white vinegar and baking soda are well known for their cleaning abilities. On it’s own, white vinegar is great for cutting grease and releasing burned on food from pots and pans, whereas baking soda’s absorbent and abrasive properties are great for cleaning bathtubs.

When the two are combined, they create a chemical reaction. The byproducts of the reaction are salt and water, which may not have a lot of cleaning potential on its own. Yet, the magic happens when carbon dioxide is released, bubbling up and breaking apart stains.

To mix up a cleaning solution in a spray bottle, you can follow one of these recipes. Or, you can sprinkle the baking soda on top and spray the vinegar onto it.

Nature’s Miracle

Readily available online, in pet stores, and in some super markets, Nature’s Miracle is a handy go-to enzymatic cleaner. To make their cleaners, Nature’s Miracle cultivates bacteria. These bacteria create enzymes such as urease that naturally break down urine.

However, it takes a great deal of the product to eliminate the stain. So if you’re looking to clean your entire couch or a spot that you didn’t realize had been peed on time and again, you’ll need to purchase the jug size of it. For quick cleanups, though, it can’t be beat!

Homemade citrus cleaner

While it is often mistakenly referred to as an enzymatic cleaner, it is possible to create a homemade citrus cleaner out of orange peels, yeast, and brown sugar. The cleaning power comes from the alcohol produced when the yeast consumes the sugar. The orange peels themselves do have terpenes in them, which also have cleaning abilities.

This cleaner may be useful for pet stains that you would commonly use alcohol to clean, but isn’t recommended for tougher stains like cat pee.

Do you have a favorite cleaner that you use around your home? Be sure to let your pet sitter know! Our pet sitters pay extra attention to keeping your home just as clean as you left it. Email us to schedule a meet and greet with 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 Domenico Salvagnin 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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Does your cat like to watch TV?

They say pets resemble their owners, and it seems to stand true for pet parents and kitties who love to watch TV together. Maybe your cat stares intently at the screen, pops up, or even swats at it! If you’ve ever wondered what’s going through your kitty’s mind, allow us to shed a little light on the situation.

Can cats perceive moving images like us?

It’s a common misconception that pets like cats and dogs are only attracted to the flashing lights on the TV. The truth is, your typical television isn’t displaying moving images at all! It’s actually redrawing still images at a rate fast enough that our brains will interpret the images to be moving, which is at least 60 Hz (cycles per second). Cats’ brains process visual information at about 55 Hz, so they do indeed see the same moving images that we do.

What do cats like to watch?

As it turns out, cats like to watch the same things on TV that they like to watch in real life In one study, shelter cats without access to outside windows were given television screens. The cats in the study responded the most to programs featuring their natural prey such as birds, rodents, and fish. Anecdotal evidence has also shown that cats can be attracted to quickly moving objects such as basketballs and soccer on television.

Is it safe for cats to watch TV?

According to Dr. Jillian Orlando, DVM, a veterinary behavior resident at the North Carolina State University College of Veterinary Medicine, sitting too close to the TV won’t hurt your cat’s eyes. However, she goes on to say, “If your cat is really intent on ‘hunting’ the television, don’t let her watch the TV unsupervised. And if you have a large flat screen, mount it to the wall, in case kitty decides to take the leap.”

What are some alternatives to leaving on the TV?

It’s also easy for your cat to become frustrated with prey that they cannot catch, such as laser lights and images on screens. Whenever possible, provide alternatives such as window perches and plenty of interactive toys to help relieve the tension. If you normally are very noisy while you’re home, leaving on a radio can also help your cat to feel less lonely without the risks of kitty toppling the TV.

Have you found that leaving the TV on while you’re out of town isn’t quite enough to keep your cat company? Nothing can compare to the warmth and love a pet sitter can provide while you’re away from home. Call to request 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 Barbara M 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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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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