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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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How to encourage your cat to use a scratching post

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

Try different kinds of scratching posts

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

Place the post in an ideal location

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

Reward good behavior

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

Discourage bad behavior

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

Make your furniture an undesirable scratching surface

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

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

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

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

photo by M B on flickr

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How to keep your cat off the keyboard

As anyone with a computer and a feline can tell you, cats love to walk on the keyboard. This may be a harmless nuisance in your leisure time, but it can be stressful when you have work to do. Let’s shed a little light on how to keep your cat off of your computer without upsetting you or your kitty.

Offer something more appealing

Cats will interact with objects out of curiosity and a desire to assert their social status. So, if you are wrapped up in your favorite book or spending hours online, your cat will naturally want to see what’s captured your attention, and may even want to take the place of it!

Cat whisperer Jackson Galaxy from the hit TV show, My Cat from Hell, recommends offering a “yes” for every “no.” Meaning, that once you make it clear to your cat that the computer is off limits, show your cat the alternative as a safe space. You can place a box with a comfortable blanket in it right next to your computer and make it extra rewarding by including treats and encouragement. The safe place may even just be your lap.

Make the workstation uninviting

If your cat walks across your keyboard when you aren’t around, you can try some of the same methods used to keep cats off the counter top. Ssscat sensors are canisters of air that make a hissing sound when something comes within range. If one behind your monitor, the sound will be enough to startle the cat and keep him or her away.

Alternatively, you can also place a mat covered with one side covered in double sided tape over your keyboard. Cats dislike sticky surfaces, so the mat discourage your cat from stepping on the keys. You might also want to consider a desk with a slide out drawer for your keyboard so that you can stow it out of kitty’s reach when it’s not in use.

Are there surfaces in your home that you’d like your cat to stay away from? Be sure to let your pet sitter know when you book an appointment. Call us today for a free quote!

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 JImmIe on flickr

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Why does my cat get tired of the same food?

You might have noticed your kitty is a bit of a fussy eater! One day he is happily munching away, the next he barely gives his bowl a sniff. Like people, cats get tired of their food. But what should you do when they refuse to eat?

Check for health

There are number of reasons why cats ignore their food, but one to always keep in mind is potential illness. In short, your kitty might be sick. But don’t panic! If you notice that this is the first time your cat isn’t eating, you may just need to switch their food. But if their fussiness continues, be sure to take them to the vet.

Try different flavors

Cats need variety, just like humans! Similar to your cat, you would get tired of eating the same meal every day. If your cat stops eating, try switching the flavor of her food. If she’s been stuck on tuna flavor, offer chicken flavor. Have they been eating lots of liver? Try salmon. Notice if he or she takes to certain flavors more than others. When buying, be conscious of what flavors you are picking out as well as the ingredients they contain. In general, aim to have at least three different flavors on hand so as to give your cats enough variety.

Try different textures

Cats may enjoy their food more if they’re also given the opportunity to try different textures. If they’ve been eating pate, try something chunkier with a stew-like texture. Alternatively, if you notice that your cat tends to eat around larger pieces of food, a pate may be exactly what they need. You may also want to change out the bowls and try other tricks to help convince your cat to eat.

Are you worried about your kitty’s eating habits while you’re away? Katie’s Kitty pet sitters send nightly updates to give you peace of mind on your vacation. Call us 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 Kevin N. Murphy on flickr

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Thanksgiving Safety Tips

13348088923_e3fbb02983_zThanksgiving is a festive opportunity to gather with cherished friends, beloved family members, and plentiful food. One thing to be thankful for this year is the company of your cat companions and their good health. Here are a few ways to help you keep your kitties healthy and happy during Thanksgiving celebrations.

Take care in the kitchen

Many cat parents have stories about the times their kitties rubbed against their legs and sent them stumbling. Now, imagine that happening while you’re holding a hot tray from the oven, a kettle of boiling water, a sharp knife, or even a frozen turkey.

Each year, 86,629 Americans visit the emergency room due to trip over a pet or pet related items. Not to mention, burns, fractures, lacerations, or worse could result from dropping objects on your cat in the kitchen. Therefore, it’s safer to keep kitty in the bedroom while you’re cooking.

Be mindful of your guests

Likewise, if you’re going to be having a lot of company over, you may want to designate the bedroom as a safe space for your cat. Some cats can become fearful and stressed in the company of loud strangers, so it’s important for kitty to have a retreat when he or she is feeling overstimulated.

You’ll also want to make sure your guests know the protocol around your cat to avoid being bitten or scratched. Discourage your guests from giving your cat table food and have cat-specific treats from the pet store handy instead.

Know which foods are harmful

Some human foods are safe for cats to eat in small quantities, such as cooked skinless chicken breast, eggs, broccoli, corn, and pumpkin. Other foods should be avoided, like cooked bones, fat trimmings, onions, garlic, sweeteners, and cranberries. Keep in mind that while the base food could be safe, the herbs and seasonings it was prepared with could be inappropriate. So you might want to think twice about giving kitty a piece of turkey or pumpkin pie.

When in doubt, treat your cat with a special can of pet food instead. Always keep the phone number to poison control handy and the emergency vet handy.

Last but not least, are you going out of town? It’s not too late to book a pet sitter! Give us a call and we’ll make sure that your kitty has company for the holidays.

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 Jenny Downing on flickr

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Five ways to enrich your cat’s life

Kitties can’t thrive off food and shelter alone. They need play, stimulation, and a cat-friendly environment. To keep your kitty happy and healthy, here are five simple ways to enrich your cat’s life.

Play for a half hour every day

Playing is good exercise and great for bonding. When playing, always use cat toys and not your hands, since hands should be associated with petting only. Excellent cat toys include those with a ball or feather on a string that your cat can chase after. During playtime, be sure to let kitty catch their “prey” every now and then.

Provide access to vertical space

A happy cat is able to survey her domain and territory. Consider giving kitty more access to vertical space. This can include making a spot for them on a bookshelf or clearing off the top of the fridge. Whatever area you choose, make sure it is stable and that your cat can easily reach it. Cat trees are also a great way to help kitty reach higher ground.

Rotate new and old toys

In addition to regularly playing with kitty, provide a variety of toys. Instead of leaving all the toys out, keep just one or two out at a time and then put the rest away. Rotate the toys regularly so as to prevent your cat from getting bored.

Set up a sunny window

Giving your kitty a view of the outside world gives them environmental enrichment. They’ll have a blast gazing at birds, critters, and anything else that passes by. If your window ledges aren’t big enough, consider buying a cat perch. Perches come in a variety of sizes and most you can easily install yourself.

Clean your cat’s dishes

Cats are healthy and at their best when their environment is a clean one. Be sure to clean your cat’s food and water dishes so as to avoid the build-up of any bacteria.

Worried your cat needs enrichment? Our sitters are available for play sessions ranging from fifteen minutes to an entire our – and even overnight! Give us a call to find out more.

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 Hormiguita Viajera mir on flickr

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How to prevent litter scatter

A few clumps here, a few clumps there. In the kitchen, on furniture, on the bed! When your cat tracks litter through the house, it can be icky and downright frustrating. Is your cat leaving a litter trail? Consider these suggestions for keeping the mess at bay.

Try rugs and litter mats

There are a number of products specially designed to catch litter. These include mats that you can place under or next to your cat’s litter box. When your cat leaves their box, the litter clings to the mat instead of being dragged all over the place. As an alternative to buying one of these mats, you can also try using materials you already have in your house. Rubber boot mats or bathroom rugs can be just as effective as a brand new pet product.

Change the type of litter box

The amount of litter your cat tracks around could depend on the type of litter box they are using. Consider trying a different box design, perhaps one specifically made to reduce mess. Some people have found that boxes with high walls or a top entrance are more effective at keeping litter contained.

Change the type of litter

Some types of litter are just more likely to scatter and leave a trail than others. Try switching out your old litter out for a different brand or one made of a different material. You might notice that heavier clay litters clump more and scatter less than looser lightweight ones of wheat or corn. Crystal litters are less likely to stick to longer fur, too. If you start to notice a lingering bad odor coming from the bits that do scatter out of the pan, it might be time to dump out and refresh the entire litter box.

Is your kitty a little messy? Our sitters pay extra attention to cleanliness, and even vacuum around the litter box. Send us an email to find out more.

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 Lottie on flickr

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