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The Icelandic Christmas Cat

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

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

The legend of the Yule Cat

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

The Yule Cat’s origin story

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

History of the Yule Cat

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

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


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

photo by Alexa’s_Fotos on pixabay

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Why does my cat lick my hair?

One minute, you and the cat are lounging on the couch. The next, he’s grooming your locks! Whether you find it sweet or annoying, rest assured that it’s perfectly normal when the cat licks your hair. But why does he do it, and should you be concerned?

As a sign of affection

Your cat is most likely showing you affection! It’s quite common for cats who share a special bond to groom one another, especially if the cats are related. When your cat licks your hair, they’re extending this same gesture to you. It’s a sign that they are comfortable, happy, and consider you a member of the family.

A word about hair products

Though licking is often a bonding gesture, it’s not uncommon for cats to be attracted to hair products. You might be using a certain shampoo or mousse that your kitty finds yummy. But be wary. This also means that your cat could be ingesting the chemicals found in those products, which is definitely not great for their health.

How to stop the behavior

If you’re worried about the cat ingesting chemicals, or you just find the grooming annoying, you can take action to stop the behavior. When the cat starts licking, don’t talk to them or engage with them. Move away to another chair or part of the room. If you’re in bed, put a pillow between you and cat. When you stop reinforcing the behavior, it should decrease after some time. However, for extra reinforcement, you can use lemon-scented hair products, as cats don’t like the smell of citrus.

Do you have an affectionate cat? Our sitters would love to meet them! Call today to inquire about pet-sitting and to schedule a meet and greet.


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 skeeze on Pixabay

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How to keep your cat warm in winter weather

Brrr. Boy did the temperate drop! Your cat may have a nice fur coat, but they still need help staying warm when winter weather strikes. One way to guarantee your cat is cozy is to prepare them a proper place to sleep. Here are a few suggestions for creating a nice winter bed.

Self-warming beds

If you’re concerned about your cat staying warm enough, self-heating beds are commercially available for purchase. Heated beds are especially nice for older cats who suffer from arthritis or stiff joints. When picking out a bed, keep your cat’s sleeping habits in mind. Do they like to spread out or curl up in a ball? If they like to stretch, you might opt for a flatter bed (not unlike a heating pad). If they like to curl up, consider a donut-shaped bed that gives your cat something to lean against.

Cat tents and houses

Does your cat like to hide? A tent or house might make them feel right at home! Tents, houses, and A-frame beds are readily available from pet suppliers. Or, you can even make one yourself from downloadable instructions. Keep in mind any mobility issues your cat might have. A cat who has trouble stepping over heights may need a tent with an entrance that’s level with the ground.

Sunny window spaces

You may have noticed that your cat loves sunny spots by the window. Once you’ve picked out a bed, you can place it in your cat’s favorite spot on the so she can take advantage of the sun’s warmth, or you can even attach a bed right on the windowsill. Window perches are easy to install and will keep your cat from having to sit on a cold, hard sill. If you go this route, be sure to eliminate any drafts that come from the window so your cat doesn’t get cold.

Is your apartment drafty in the winter time? Be sure to let your pet sitter know if there needs to be adjustments to the thermostat. We’ll keep your kitty snug and warm while you’re gone.


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 Obsidian_Tanto on pixabay

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How to have Thanksgiving with your cat

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

Which foods to avoid

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

Which foods are okay

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

Where to put your cat when company arrives

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

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


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

photo by Gellinger on pixabay

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Why does my cat drop toys in the food or water bowl?

Many cat parents have come home to find the kitty’s favorite toy piled on top of the food dish or “drowned” in the water bowl. While it’s a fairly common behavior, scientists and cat behaviorists are just as baffled as the rest of us as to why cats place their toys in their food or water dishes. Here are a few theories.

A safe place to store leftovers

The domestic cat’s wild relatives such as leopards, bobcats, and wildcats have been known to store their food in a safe location, known as a cache. Since your typical indoor housecat doesn’t often have freshly caught prey leftover to eat for later, the closest substitute may just be a favorite toy. The closest thing kitty has to a safe location in their territory would be the food and water dishes in your home.

However, this caching behavior is not the same as burying food that has been partially consumed. A cat who buries food does not intend to come back to it later.

A gift from kitty to you

Another possible explanation has roots in the relationship between a queen and her kittens. When mama goes out to hunt for food, she’ll often bring back a her prey to show her offspring how to finish off and consume it. If kitty is bringing you her conquered toys (or even leaving you dead mice or birds) your cat may be expressing that she cares for you and wants you to eat well. After all, feeding someone a universal act of love that you show your cat every day.

Speaking of kittens, mama cats will also sometimes bring kittens who have wandered off back to their litter and nest. So it could also be that your cat regards scattered toys as her naughty little children who’ve wandered off again.

Just regular ole playtime

Last but not least, if you’re finding toys in the water dish specifically, it could just be the result of a rousing play session. Cats love fresh, running water not only for drinking, but also at entertainment! Some cats will sit and stare at a fountain or running water, and others may go a step further and dip in their paws to watch the ripples. So when it comes to “drowning” toys, it could be that kitties are combining two of their favorite things.

Does your cat have any weird quirks? Your pet sitter wants to hear about it! These funny variances in your cats’ behaviors is what makes them unique, and we love getting to know your kitties for who they are, quirks 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 milivanily on pixabay

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How to keep your cat from unraveling toilet paper

Because cats are the silly little creatures that they are, we’ve written quite a bit on the blog about the various bathroom behaviors of cats. Yet, perhaps one of the most adorable and diabolical thing kitty can do is sneak into the bathroom and unwind the music roll! Here are a few tricks you can try to discourage your cat from unraveling the toilet paper.

Try the under-hang method

Believe it or not, when the toilet paper roll was first invented, it was intended to be hung with the leading edge facing the user. On the one hand, since kitties tend to pull the paper down toward themselves, hanging the roll with the leading edge against the wall would stop it from coming completely undone. On the other hand, if your kitty just enjoys spinning the roll, it might not be enough to stop him or her from completely shedding the paper in the process.

Change the type of dispenser

As the old adage says, “If you can’t change the behavior, change the environment!” Your toilet paper troubles could just be a quick equipment change away from total relief. For instance, did you know that they make toilet tissues that pops up much like facial tissues? If you don’t like the industrial feel, but like the idea of pop up toilet paper, you could try this canister by OXO that pops up an entire roll like a cool gadget in a spy movie!

Unfortunately it’s been out of stock everywhere for a while, but if you’re crafty, you can probably hack the mundane version with a spring. Or, you know, use it without the pop up feature at all. It’s still quite effective armor for your coveted toilet paper trove. Speaking of armor, some wall mounted dispensers have a cat deflecting shield (also known as a cover).

Or change the orientation

If you feel like don’t need to go to such extremes as buying a suit if armor for your TP, simply turning the roll vertically instead of horizontally may be enough to deter your kitty. This cast iron stretching cat toilet paper holder is a bit of a splurge, but it would make a great gift for a cat lover! Good news, they also have one for dog lovers, giraffe lovers, and dinosaur lovers, too! (But who doesn’t love dinosaurs?)

Hide the toilet paper!

Last but not least, if your cat is particularly cunning, you might just have to put the toilet paper completely away. You could keep it in the cabinet under the sink. For the cabinet-opening variety of cat, try using child proof cabinet locks, or just close the bathroom door to keep kitty out all together.

Do you have a room in your home that your cat isn’t allowed to go in? Don’t forget to let your pet sitter know!


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 Alan Turkus on flickr

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Why do cats stare at fire?

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

Seeking warmth

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

Enjoying the show

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

Sensing something we cannot

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

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

Safety first!

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

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


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

photo by Michell Filion on flickr

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How to keep your cat away from table food

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

Feed your cat first

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

Clear leftovers immediately

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

Don’t give into temptation

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

Try a puzzle feeder

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

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


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

photo by yomo 13 on flickr

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Why does my cat take food out of the bowl?

Does your cat take out kibble from their bowl? Do they hide their food? While you may think they’re just being messy or strange, there are actually a few reasons behind this peculiar behavior.

Dirty dishes

You wouldn’t want dinner served on a crusty dirty plate right? Cats are just like you! They prefer clean dishes. Make mealtime as inviting as possible by keeping the cat’s dish clean. Ideally, you should wash dishes after every use. If you’re unable to clean the dishes on a daily basis, consider investing in a week’s worth of cheaper bowls and rotating them out as necessary.

Hiding leftovers

Your cat’s survival instincts might be kicking in! In the wild, cats bury or hide their leftovers so as to not leave any traces behind for predators. In a domestic household, a swipe or two at their food is your cat’s way of “burying” kibble. In more extreme cases, some cats will even hide food under the rug or kick the bowl away! In this scenario, you can try reducing your cat’s portions to avoid leftovers altogether.

Whisker fatigue

Cat’s whiskers contain sensory receptors known as proprioceptors. When these get overstimulated, it results in a condition known as whisker fatigue. Usually, whiskers get stressed from brushing the sides of a dish or bowl during feeding. To cope, some cats remove their food from the bowl before they eat it. Fortunately, whisker fatigue can easily be remedied by replacing bowls with wide plates or free-flowing water fountains.

Does your cat have any interesting eating habits? Do they scatter or hide food? Let your pet sitter know! We’ll make sure your cat is fed while also helping to avoid any messes.


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 Melissa Wiese on flickr

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

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

Dropping hints

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

Separating liquids from solids

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

Avoiding anxiety

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

Your cat is getting older

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

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


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

photo by 游 焰熾 on flickr

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