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Hyperthyroidism in cats

Hyperthyroidism is a very common disease in older cats. It usually affects cats who are at least 10 years of age, and the average age of diagnosis is 13 years old. Many pet parents are surprised by the diagnosis, since the symptoms can be subtle and gradual. The good news is that hyperthyroidism in cats a highly treatable and manageable disease.

What is hyperthyroidism?

When the thyroid becomes enlarged, usually due to a benign, non-cancerous tumor, it produces excess hormones that can have an adverse and fatal effect on vital body organs, such as the heart. The thyroid is responsible for producing hormones that regulate vital functions, such as body temperature, blood pressure, heart rate, bowel function, and metabolism.

What are the symptoms?

Usually a heart murmur or fast heartbeat is the first clue to hyperthyroidism that your vet may notice. Afterward, your vet may order a blood test that checks for increased levels of thyroid hormone. However, at home, the symptoms can be much more subtle. Since the thyroid regulates so many aspects of a cat’s body, you may notice symptoms that include increased irritability, weight loss despite an increase in appetite, increased activity, increased drinking and urination, vomiting, and diarrhea.

How is it treated?

After diagnosis, your vet may recommend that you give your cat a pill, usually methimazole, two or three times a day. Methimazole in pill form is usually inexpensive and fairly safe, but other methods of administration include liquid suspensions and a gel that can be massaged into the back of your cat’s ear. One of the downsides of methimazole is that it has to be administered for life. It takes a few weeks to reach effectiveness, and ceasing the prescription can lead to a dangerous increase of thyroid hormone.

What are other treatment options?

Another treatment option is a radioactive iodine injection. It’s a more pricey treatment, and it involves hospitalization for several days while it runs its course. Since the thyroid uses dietary iodine to create its hormones, the radioactive iodine absorbs into the thyroid, thereby shrinking it permanently.

Building on the same principal, therapeutic veterinary diets have been recently developed that limit the amount of iodine your cat consumes. Lastly, surgery may be performed to remove your cat’s thyroid glands, so it’s always best to follow the advice of your vet when considering your cat’s unique circumstances.

If your cat has been recently diagnosed with hyperthyroidism, talk to your pet sitter about possible ways to pill your cat. Even the sweetest cats can become difficult when it’s time to take their medicine, so it’s best to schedule a meet and greet with your sitter to show how your cat prefers to be dosed.

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 PROMartin Cathrae on flickr

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Why do cats give “love bites?”

Have you ever loved someone so much you couldn’t stop biting them? If your answer is “no,” then you probably aren’t a cat. However, it’s not uncommon for purring, happy cats to gently chew on their owners’ fingers. This behavior is known as “love-biting.” Let’s explore why love bites happens.

What is a “love bite?”

Love bites occur when your cat is enjoying being petted. It’s an affectionate behavior, and it’s usually not intended to hurt you. Experts believe that this behavior goes back to kittenhood. In their natal litters, kittens will play and bite each other as a way of bonding and practicing for adulthood.

Love-biting may also have to do with restoring dominance. Cats who are related or very friendly with one another will engage in mutual grooming, called allogrooming. Allogrooming is a social activity that not only shows affection, but also reinforces a hierarchy. All of the grooming attention is usually focused around the head and neck, and the “groomee” will usually turn his or her head toward the affection, much like when being petted. The groomer may nip the groomee as a gentle reminder of who’s in charge.

How is it different from other bites?

You can tell the difference between a love bite and other bites because usually your cat is still purring when he or she nips you. The bite may hurt a little, but your cat won’t have any intention clamp down hard or break your skin. Another common bite that can come from petting has to do with over-stimulation. In the blink of an eye, your cat’s emotional level flips from very pleased to highly irritated, and kitty could bite you in an attempt to tell you to stop.

If you attempt to pet a cat and he or she lashes out at you without seeming to have experienced any joy, then that cat might be looking to give you an aggression bite that says, “Go away!” Usually a cat will scratch or hiss first as a warning, but declawed cats and cats in an extremely bad mood may jump straight to biting.

Do you have a bitely kitty? Be sure to tell your pet sitter! During our first meet and greet, we usually ask if your cat may bite. Don’t forget, love-biting is still a form of biting, so it’s good to let your sitter know what to expect.

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 Keith Kissel on flickr

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Don’t leave your cat in the dark!

Turning out the lights when you leave the house can be a good habit to have from an economic standpoint, but leaving your cat in complete darkness can actually be very stressful for them. Here are three reasons why you shouldn’t leave your cat in the dark when you’re gone for the day.

Cat’s can’t see in total darkness

While it’s true that cats can see in the dark, it’s a common misconception that they can see in total darkness. Cats are not nocturnal, but they are crepuscular, which means they are most active at dawn and dusk. Although a cat’s eyes are able to capture and use 50 percent more available light than people, they cannot see at all unless there is some source of light in the room. After all, even the night sky has star shine and moonlight.

Your cat might get lonely

When you’re home during the day, your cat gets used to a certain level of activity. After a while, your cat associates noises and activities with your company, such as having the TV on, listening to music, and using the lights. If once you leave, everything goes dark and silent, your cat may start to feel abandoned.

You could trip

One less obvious reason to leave on a little light when you leave is to avoid tripping over your cat. If your light switch isn’t right by the front door, there may be a chance that you don’t see kitty waiting for you. Various toys scattered around the apartment also pose a tripping hazard that you might not see in the dark.

At the end of the day, switching off the lights reduces your carbon footprint, and your energy bill. If you’re not thrilled about the idea of leaving on all of your lights, consider getting LED nightlights that come on automatically once it’s dark or utilizing a lamp on a timer.

Worried about leaving your cat alone in the dark? Hiring a pet sitter to check on kitty can put your mind at ease, but please don’t forget to show us where your light switches are!

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 Kartlyn Earth & ArtKN on flickr

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Common urinary tract diseases in cats

Just like people, cats can develop urinary tract problems that send them on frequent, painful trips to the “bathroom.” Luckily, a vigilant pet parent can catch and treat these problems quickly with the help of a vet. Here’s what you need to know.

What are common urinary tract ailments?

Feline lower urinary tract disease (FLUTD) is one of the most common reasons that pet parents take their cats to the vet. It’s a general term used to describe disorders that occur lower in the urinary tract, such as in the bladder or urethra. Inflammation of the bladder (called interstitial cystitis), bladder stones and crystals, and urinary tract infections are also common problems.

What are the symptoms?

Since cats are masters at disguising their pain, you might not notice a problem immediately. Watch for clues like inappropriate urination around the house that could occur because your cat associates the pain of urinating with the litter box and tries to avoid it. You may also notice your cat attempting to use the litter box more frequently, but only producing a small amount of urine. The urine itself may be bloody, cloudy, or smell very strong. A leaky bladder and “accidents” while sleeping can also be signs of urinary tract distress.

Some cats will howl or meow frantically because the pain can be very intense. A cat that cannot pass urine is having a medical emergency, and needs to go to the vet immediately. If left untreated, a blockage in the urethra can cause a fatal rupture of the bladder.

What are the treatments?

During a physical examination, your vet may feel your cat’s abdomen to determine the state of your kitty’s bladder. A series of tests such as urinalysis, bloodwork, ultrasounds, or x-rays may be ordered based on the patient’s history and any findings from the exam.

Once the cause has been determined, treatments range from fluid therapy and urine acidifiers to surgery. Sometimes, the severity of the treatment depends on how quickly the problem is diagnosed, so it’s extremely important that you take your cat to the vet as soon as possible.

Can urinary tract problems be prevented?

Unfortunately, some cats, especially males, are predisposed to developing urinary tract diseases. However, the best thing you can do to avoid problems down the line is feed your kitty a high quality wet food diet and provide ample access to fresh drinking water.

Is your kitty on a strict diet due to urinary issues in the past? Don’t forget to tell your pet sitter! Our sitters make every effort to follow your feeding guidelines down 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 MarPockStudios on pixabay

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Why do cats run around at night?

Some pet parents call it the “zoomies,” others call it the “witching hour.” Whatever you call it, it’s no secret that cats seem to be especially cooky in the middle of the night. Let’s “shed some light” on the situation.

Are cats nocturnal?

It’s a common misconception that cats are nocturnal (most active at night), when they’re actually crepuscular (most active at dawn and dusk). This is because one of their favorite prey animals, mice, are also most active when people are less likely to notice them creeping through their food stores.

In fact, cats manage their activity throughout the day in shorter wake and sleep cycles than people do. So, often times it seems that their sleep schedule is at odds with our own. As masters of conserving energy, cats have been known to sleep from 16 to even 24 hours in a day! You can bet that once they’re awake, they’re going to make the most out of it.

Are they keeping you up at night?

While it’s perfectly natural for your cat to fly around at night like a bat out of “you know where,” all of the noise from their prancing around can easily wake you up. Luckily, the best solution to cat behavior problems is to provide an approved outlet for the unwanted behavior.

On the one hand, if your cat likes to rummage through your closet, dig in your laundry basket, or run behind your couch, you might want to leave a few treat puzzle balls or toy mice for kitty to find in there. That way, the satisfying reward will signal the end of their hunt.

On the other hand, if your cat is the kind that zips back and forth through the house, you may want to leave out cat tunnels and boxes to help them spend that extra energy. There are even wall mounted cat play centers available that can channel their scurrying activity into a different room far from your bedroom.

By the way, did you know that we have pet sitters available for nighttime and overnight visits? Having someone spend the evening with your cat while can provide peace of mind 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 Kerri Lee Smith on flickr

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Would your cat like a water fountain?

If you have a cat who hops up for a sip of fresh water from the faucet, or perhaps sneaks a gulp of not-as-fresh water from the commode, chances are good that your kitty is looking for a rapidly replenished source of water. By providing your kitty with a pet fountain, you can offer a cleaner, safer, and more sanitary source of water to quench kitty’s thirst.

Why your cat should drink more water

In the wild, cats rarely drink from a pool of standing water. Sharing the same wisdom of outdoor enthusiasts, cats know that the cleanest water comes from a running source. With the sound of trickling water, pet fountains appeal to your kitty’s wild instincts, enticing them to drink more than they would from a bowl of still water.

Moreover, cats rely on the moisture in food for hydration. Therefore, cats who are at the risk of chronic dehydration dry food diets, bowel trouble, or other ailments such as kidney disease could benefit from the much need encouragement to drink more water.

Choosing the right fountain

The best pet fountains have scratch resistant, non-porous surfaces that are easy to clean. You’ll also want to watch out for parts that have sharp corners that are hard to reach with a sponge. High-fired ceramic and stainless steel basins are both good choices. Most pet fountains come with a filter and a pump that are usually made out of plastic, so that’s something to keep in mind if your cat has a plastic allergy.

Both online and brick and mortar stores stock a variety of fountains, but you can easily make one yourself. That way, you can control the flow rate, filter medium, and the reservoir materials based on your own needs.

Keeping your fountain clean

It’s a common misconception that pet fountains with filters are self-cleaning. As a matter of fact, all water basins are prone to biofilm accumulation, even if the water is constantly moving. Since the filters that come with most pet fountains only offer two stages of filtration and have fairly loose mesh, they aren’t able remove bacteria other contaminants that get dissolved in the water.

That’s why it’s a good idea to set up a subscription for your filter refills, and plan to change them as often as you change the litter. If you have more cats in your household, you’ll probably have to change it more often. Each time, thoroughly wash your fountain in hot, soapy water, and use a bottle brush to clean any narrow spaces.

Do you have a pet fountain in your home? Be sure to show the pet sitter! Our pet sitters are happy to keep the fresh water flowing for your kitty. Give us a call to find out more about our services 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 rihaij on pixabay

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Why don’t some cats cover their poop?

When your kitty enters the litter box, does her business, but doesn’t bury the “evidence,” it can be quite a conundrum. But don’t worry. We have a bit of advice to help you get to the bottom of it.

Why do cats bury poop in the first place?

While many experts disagree, there are several theories as to why cats bury their poop. For one, Dr. Melissa Bain suggests that the behavior has to do with disease and parasite control. Others speculate that, as both predator and prey, cats bury poop to hide their presence. After all, cats who are apex predators such as lions, tigers, and leopards don’t feel the need to bury their poop. Furthermore, Amy Shojai, CABC also alludes to a study that claims to have observed female cats pooping outdoors 58 times, and only covering the poop once!

What are some reasons that a cat would stop burying poop?

First, you should always rule out medical issues. Changes in litter box behavior are often the first sign of a serious health problem. Once your vet rules out any underlying medical issues, he or she can also help you determine if the root of the issue is behavioral in nature. Changes in routine, introducing a new cat to the home, changing food or litter, or not having enough litter boxes can all lead to an unhappy kitty misusing the litter box.

What about cats who have never buried their poop?

Indeed, some behaviors, such as capturing and consuming prey, are passed down from mother cat to her offspring. Kittens will eagerly observe their mother in the litter box as if thinking to themselves, “So that’s how you do it!” If mama didn’t cover her waste, then it’s likely that her kittens won’t do it either. For cats such as these, you may want to find alternative litter boxes and methods of odor management to minimize the impact of a smelly litter box.

Does your cat have any unusual litter box behaviors? Be sure to tell your pet sitter! Our sitters take extra care to ensure that the litter box is clean and smelling fresh at every appointment.

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 Angelo Mazotta on pixabay

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How to keep your cat from chewing on wires

There’s nothing quite like finding out that your mischievous kitten has chewed through your charger wire. What’s worse is that handling the frayed wires can lead to a nasty shock for you and your cat. Here are a few ways you can keep kitty away from your power cords.

Find the root of the issue

Even though it’s perfectly natural for kittens to seek out items to chew on during teething, dangling wires are very tempting and dangerous targets for them. Normally, the teething behavior starts to disappear after two years, when all of the adult teeth have been set.

However, if your adult cat is chewing on wires, he or she may have a health or behavioral problem that need to be addressed. Wire chewing could be a sign of dental problems, PICA, or even boredom. The Spruce offers a comprehensive overview of the HISS (Health, Instinct, Stress, Symptoms) method that can be used to determine the cause of your cat’s behavior. When in doubt, consult your vet.

Apply deterrents

While you’re getting to the bottom of your kitty’s desire to chew, it’s a good idea to start chew-proofing your wires. Josie. F. Turner of AnimalWised suggests rubbing a blend of vaseline, lemon juice, and ground pepper onto the wires as a homemade deterrent. Dr. Dale Rubenstein of A Cat Clinic recommends Irish Spring soap. dish soap, citrus oil, hot sauce, or sports liniment.

Some pet parents have had success with store-bought Bitter Apple spray. If you use the spray method, avoid spraying it on an outlet or power source. You also don’t want your cat to ingest the spray, as it contains potentially harmful herbal extracts. Usually one taste is enough to keep kitty from coming back to it, but if it doesn’t deter your cat after all, wipe off the spray so that kitty doesn’t accidentally consume it.

Remove temptation

Consider making a stop at the home improvement store to pick up cord management covers, zip ties to bundle wires, and/or tape to secure the wires to the floor or wall. You should also hide cords behind furniture whenever possible, and wrap the excess length tightly around a table leg to keep them from dangling. You can place your video game console and charger wires in a drawer or cabinet when not in use, too.

Last, but not least, treat your kitty to some more appropriate chew toys, such as these crocheted cuties from For Paws and Home, or a more chew-resistant string toy, such as the Cat Charmer. Like with all toys, though, be sure to put them out of kitty’s reach when they are unsupervised.

Are you worried about your kitty having too much unsupervised time while you’re away? Hire one of our pet sitters to come check on kitty, once, twice, or even three times a day. We offer boarding, too, so call 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 J Dimas on flickr

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How to fill your New Year with New York Cats!

So you came to the Big Apple for New Year’s Eve. You should come for the celebrations, but stay for the cats! Here’s how to see lots of New York cats during your trip to the city!

Count the cats in every museum

You can also get your fair share of cats at some of New York’s most famous museums. The American Museum of Natural History has diorama displays of big cats. Or, if art and artifacts are more your style, be sure to check out the Metropolitan Museum of Art. The Egyptian section in particular has statues, mummies, and more! My personal favorite is the Old Kingdom relief, whose hieroglyphics read “Lord of Cats’ Town.”

Stock up on cat swag

New York has no shortage of places to find cool cat-themed clothing and accessories. The Brooklyn-based Cat Coven has t-shirts, patches, keychains, and even cat toys. Be sure to check out the seasonal BUST Craftacular, where you can find prints, pins, and more. If you missed the winter holiday show, you can come back and check out the next one in May.

Visit all of the cat cafes

A delightful Japanese concept has started to take root in the United States. New York City in particular has quite a few cat cafes, where you can sip coffee while lounging around cute kitties. The best part? Many feature adoptable cats! So if you fall in love with a special feline, there’s a chance you can take them home. How’s that for a souvenir!

Visit all of the shopkeeper cats

New York’s shops and bodegas are home to many a friendly cat. Serving as unofficial mascots and greeters, these kitties are often quite social and used to the company of people. Need a guide? The book, Shop Cats of New York, will steer you in the right direction. While I personally used to stop in an see Keetah regularly, I’m very sad that both she and Bleecker Street Records belong to the ages. Late at night, I still get to see Allegra in the window at C.O. Bigelow, though!

While you’re out on your big city adventures, feel free to share with us any interesting cats you may find. To keep up with all of the latest cat-happenings in the city, follow us on 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 GK12 on Wikimedia Commons

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The five most memorable cat stories of 2017

Where did the year go… As we prepare to say so-long to 2017, let’s take a look back at the cats who captured our attention the most.

5. Dexter the 20-Year-Old Shelter Cat

Dexter was already 20 years old when he was adopted from a local shelter: that’s practically 100 in human years! Because of his age, Dexter’s new family assumed he would pass away soon. But this senior sweetheart lived on for another two years! Dexter bonded especially well with the family’s young son, receiving lots of cuddles and affection, and reminding us all that it’s never too late for love.

4. Luna the Quinceañera Cat

In Latin American culture, a quinceañera is an elaborate celebration thrown when a girl turns 15. For her birthday, Luna the cat was lucky enough to get her own! Luna’s family went all out with a party, food, balloons, cake, and even a special dress for Luna. Luna took it all in stride, and was especially happy to get her own can of birthday tuna. Believe it or not, Luna’s quinceañera was one of the most viral stories of 2017.

3. BenBen The Saddest Cat

BenBen was a shelter cat just on the brink of being put down. Considered unadoptable, he suffered from a crushed spine, several lacerations, and facial injuries that left his face in a permanent frown. But hope came just in the nick of time! BenBen was adopted by a loving family, whose care and attention put him on the road to recovery. While BenBen still looks sad, he is truly a happy kitty now!

2. Hurricane Harvey Cat

The Hurricane Harvey Cat is an image of defiance and grit! This cat was famously captured while paddling his way through flood waters, a snarl on his face and a glimmer in his eye. The viral image provided some much needed encouragement and humor after Houston’s devastating storm.

1. Bone Bone The Fluffiest Cat From Thailand

Last but not least, wrapping up this list on a positive note, is Bone Bone. Have you ever seen such a fluffy cat? With over 30K followers on Instagram, Bone Bone is a feline megastar. Bone bone lives in Thailand, where his owners love to take him out to the park and to meet fans, all while he wears his signature spiky backpack. What a cutie pie!

Psst! Don’t forget to book a pet sitter for your memorable cat. And with that I bid you cheers, and, if I don’t see you, a happy New Year!

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 ArchaeologistDurmus on pixabay

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