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Why do some cats yowl at night?

You might think of it as the “witching hour.” It’s that magical time at night your kitty parades around the house, singing the song of his people at the top of his lungs. Maybe he or she even has a toy in tow. Have you ever wondered what exactly causes cats to howl at night?

Calling for a long lost friend

There are many reasons why cats vocalize. Many times, it’s to communicate with their pet parents that they’re hungry or that they want attention. Some vocalizations are reserved for other cats, though. Night-time howling, or “night calling,” has been observed in cats who used to live in a larger group of cats. Some believe that the kitties are trying to get in touch with someone they used to know.

Health and aging

Howling that happens both day and night can actually be a symptom of cognitive dysfunction and other serious illnesses, especially for older cats. If you senior kitty is a night howler, try to figure out if they also howl during the day. You may only notice it at night if that’s when you’re home. Likewise, if your cat stays outside of your bedroom while you are sleeping because they feel disoriented without you. Having someone check on your kitty during the day can help you solve that mystery.

How to help

After you’ve taken kitty to the vet and you’re sure he or she has a clean bill of health, Dr. Liz Bales suggests looking to nature for ways to solve the night howling conundrum. In an advice column for the Catington Post, Dr. Bales writes, “Cats hunt between 9 and 20 times a day, both day and night. So, it is very normal for your cat to be awake, active and asking for food at all hours of the night.” She goes on to suggest that hiding a portion of your cat’s meal throughout the night can help satisfy that natural instinct to hunt at night.

Have you ever wondered how your cat behaves while you’re away? Hire a Katie’s Kitty pet sitter! Our sitters are available for overnight stays as well as visits throughout the day.


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 The Grim Athiest on flickr

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Creating an emergency plan for you and your cat

In the wake of Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma’s pathes of destruction, it’s important to remember that humans are not the only victims of disasters. Cats, dogs, and other pets can get lost in the chaos of an emergency, too. Take a few minutes to create a disaster preparedness plan for your pets before an emergency happens.

Have stickers and proper identification

Your cat should be identifiable at all times in case they are ever separated from you. A tagged collar or microchip will help rescuers track you down as the owner. In case the unthinkable happens while you’re away from home, place stickers on your doors and windows to help emergency responders know that there are pets inside.

Make an emergency kit with pet supplies

Any emergency kit you assemble for yourself should also include supplies to tide kitty over for up to two weeks. This includes food and water, a can opener, litter and litter tray, cleaning supplies for messes, and medications, among other items. Your kit should also have a carrier in case you and kitty need to leave. Write your contact info down on the carrier. Acquaint your cat with the carrier before they need to use it. Keep in mind that you may need to run in a disaster, so any kits you prepare should be light enough that you can carry it on your back.

Establish a safe haven for you and your pet

When seeking out shelter for an emergency, find out if kitty is welcome too. While some shelters take pets, not all do. Contact your local emergency management office to verify if accommodations are offered for cats. If not, check the local animal shelter or boarding facility to see if they provide emergency pet housing. You can also research pet-friendly hotels or stay with family/friends who don’t mind having a furry guest.

Have an emergency contact

An emergency contact is someone who can care for your cat and serve as a trusted caregiver if you are suddenly unable to. Ideally, this person should have met your kitty and is familiar with looking after animals. They should always have a copy of your key — leaving a copy for them at your home is not enough. Talk with them beforehand to establish guidelines and expectations.

Emergency preparedness is all about being ready long before disaster strikes. The ASPCA even has an app so that you can have an emergency checklist and store your pet’s medical records in one place. Have a clear thought out plan, and of course, don’t forget to go over it in detail with your cat sitter.


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 kisluvkis on flickr

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Should you flush your cat’s litter?

When you’re scooping kitty’s box, it might seem like a no-brainer to flush the waste and soiled cat litter down the toilet. But before you go chucking those clumps, there are few aspects to consider.

What kind of litter can be flushed?

Not all litters are created equal, and so not all can be disposed of in the same way. Litters that can be flushed are specifically marketed as such. They’re usually made out of organic materials such as corn, sawdust, or walnut shells. This includes those made of corn pulp, newspaper, or wood. Clay litters are generally not flushable and will clog your pipes. Litters made from silica aren’t flushable either, but it is okay to remove any solid waste that sits on top and dispose of just that. As a rule, unless the brand specifies, it’s best not to take the risk.

Does it matter if you have old plumbing or a septic system?

When flushing litter, the issue of plumbing is also important. In particular, folks who have septic systems should avoid flushing. Even litters made of biodegradable materials run the risk of overloading the septic tank and blocking pipes. While these litters can eventually break down, they still add to the overall volume of your tank and put pressure on a system meant only for human waste.

What are the environmental impacts?

While some litters are biodegradable, and technically flushable, there are other environmental factors to consider. Much of what we put down the toilet can end up in waterways and oceans, where it comes in contact with wildlife. Cat waste carries a parasite, Toxoplasma, that has been known to kill otters and seals. Even indoor cats can be carriers, and can end up indirectly harming other creates.

While flushing is convenient, it can lead to problems in the long run, and it’s best to consider all factors when cleaning up after your kitty. Need a hand with the mess? Our sitters are happy to come around and do a quick scoop!


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 Steven Saus on flickr

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What is whisker fatigue?

In our recent conversations on the blog, you may have seen references to whisker fatigue. Today, let’s take a moment to explore and unpack what whisker fatigue really is.

Why are a cat’s whiskers important?

While many mammals have whiskers (also known as tactile hairs or vibrissae), cats’ whiskers are highly specialized sense organs. At the base of each whisker, a proprioceptor is can detect the slightest movements in air currents to help a cat catch prey. Proprioceptors also help cats determine if they can squeeze through tiny passageways. They even help cats judge shorter distances that they cannot see well because of their farsighted eyes and the blind spot beneath their muzzles.

What causes whisker fatigue?

Whisker fatigue occurs when the proprioceptors are over stimulated, usually due to constantly brushing against the sides of a water dish or food bowl. Think of it like a barrage of sensory information, much like watching a movie with too many loud noises and excessively vibrant colors. Some vets, such as Dr. Neil Marrinan of the Old Lyme Veterinary Hospital in Connecticut, prefer to think of it as more of whisker “stress” than “fatigue.”

What are the symptoms?

A cat experiencing whisker fatigue may pace around the bowl, remove all of the food before eating it, or refuse to eat at all even if they appear to be hungry. In an article with PetMD, Dr. Marrinan also warns that these could be the symptoms of serious tumors or gastrointestinal problems. When in doubt, you’ll rarely regret taking your cat to the vet!

How can whisker fatigue be prevented?

The simplest solution is to replace your cat’s food dish with a flat, wide plate without a lip on the rim. You should also change out your cat’s standing water bowl for a fountain or another free flowing water source with a wide basin. Most importantly, you should never trim your cat’s whiskers because it would negatively impact your cat’s balance and perception.


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

photo by dano272 on flickr

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What to do if your cat doesn’t like wet food

Many veterinarians recommend feeding your cat a high quality wet food diet in order to maintain healthy kidney and urinary tract function. However, even the priciest and highest quality cat foods are worthless if your cat won’t eat it! Here are a few troubleshooting tips to help you determine why your cat may dislike wet foods.

It could be the texture

Just as humans enjoy crunching on potato chips, some cats simply prefer a little crunch in their food. Moreover, the domestic cat’s wild ancestors would consume their prey whole, bones and all! Therefore, mushy food could be unappealing to your cat’s wild instincts.

You can try sprinkling ⅛ of a cup of your cat’s favorite dry food on top of the wet food to help entice your cat to eat. Likewise, you may find that your cat may prefer morsels in gravy over a finely ground pate, or dryer wet food that holds its form better than one that’s soupy and spreads on the plate when served.

Variety is the spice of life

Many cat parents complain that their cat will lose interest in the food that they seemed to enjoy not long ago. Not to worry, pickiness in cats is only natural. Since in the wild, a cat’s source of nutrition comes from a meat-based diet, seeking a variety of prey is how cats ensure that they get a broad range of nutrients.

It’s okay to buy a variety of flavors within a brand, and you may even have to buy a variety of brands to keep your kitty happy. Some pet food manufacturers offer variety packs, and some pet stores offer discounts for buying bulk amounts of food even if you mix and match.

It’s all about presentation

If your cat is eating well on a dry diet and you’ve taken your cat to the vet to rule out health problems, it may not be the flavor or texture of the food that’s turning kitty away from the wet food. Consider feeding your kitty on a plate or puzzle feeder.

Because cat’s whiskers are highly sensitive, your kitty may not want to eat wet food if they’re suffering from whisker fatigue because their whiskers can be irritated as they drag through the wet food. You can easily remedy this situation by feeding on a plate instead of a bowl. For kitties who are bored with simply being presented their food on a platter, you might want to switch it up and offer a puzzle feeder to reactivate those wild instincts.

Do you have a special feeding routine for your cat? Be sure to tell your pet sitter! Our friendly sitters follow your feeding instructions to the letter. Send us an email to be matched with one of our friendly pet 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 Tomás Fano on flickr

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Three ways to improve your cat’s quality of life

The actions you take today can ripple through your kitty’s entire lifetime. Here are three small changes that you can make to your pet care routine today that will have a lasting impact on your cat for years to come.

Use plates instead of bowls

Whisker fatigue is a common and easily avoidable ailment for older cats. Since cats’ whiskers are highly sensitive, many of the bowls found in the pet store are inappropriate for adult cats. The high and narrow sides on food and water dishes often mean that cats must constantly retract their whiskers in order to keep them from being irritated while eating or drinking. Over time, these muscles weaken from constant use until your older kitty’s whiskers hang down in discomfort. Therefore, it is best to feed your kitty off of a shallow plate.

Feed wet food and add a water fountain

Descended from the wild cats of the desert, cats evolved to draw most of the moisture that they need from their food and rarely drink standing water. When cats are only fed dry food, they may be more likely to develop kidney disease and urinary tract problems due to chronic dehydration. However, a filtered water fountain can encourage your cat to drink more water and stay hydrated. The sound of running water attracts cats, while a good charcoal filter can remove sediment and chemicals in your city’s water supply that may harm your cat’s organs.

Tend to your cat’s fur

Establishing a grooming routine while your cat is young today can help down the line when arthritis or another chronic health condition leaves your kitty’s fur looking lackluster. Not only is an unkempt coat unattractive, but matted fur is itchy and painful for your cat. Furthermore, resorting to shave an unruly coat can lead to other problems for your kitty.

Once you find the comb or brush that works well and your cat enjoys, grooming will eventually become a bonding experience. Likewise, the years of positive associations with grooming would mean that your cat is more patient with you and feels less stressed when their coat is harder to care for in their golden years.

By making these small changes today, you’re taking the best best to ensuring many happy and healthy years with your cat to come.


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

photo by Matt Biddulph on flickr

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Why do cats wiggle before they pounce?

It’s a familiar sight – your kitty hunches low to the ground. Her eyes open wide. She gives her tushy a little shake-shake-shake, and then she springs into action! It’s a wonderfully adorable and terribly effective way to ambush prey, but have you ever wondered why exactly cats shake their booties before they leap?

Warming up

If you stop to think about it, you might notice that many human athletes exhibit a similar behavior as a warm up. Baseball players swing their bat a few times before the pitch, runners do quick drills on the starting line. It’s the same for cats. That adorable butt wiggle is partly a way for cats to loosen up their muscles and practice before the big moment. After all, careful preparation could mean life or death when there’s only one shot to catch a meal.

Gaining solid footing

In order to land just perfectly, cats have several biological mechanisms in place to help them accurately judge distance. One such evolutionary advantage is their vertical slit pupil eyes, but another is, you guessed it, the wiggle! By testing the ground beneath their paws and building up tension in their muscles, they are better able to gauge exactly how high and how far they could jump. You might see a similar behavior to the wiggle before your cat jumps onto a high shelf, for instance, in which they appear to bob up and down while they evaluate their jump.

Do you have a cute GIF or video of your cat getting ready to take a leap? Share it with us on Instagram or 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 Matt Parry on flickr

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How to move with your cat

It’s that time of the year again. College students are returning to the city for school and it’s almost the end of the summer moving season, when the best deals on new apartments are starting to wind down. Once you’ve found the perfect place, you may find yourself wondering how to move with your cat.

Preparation

If your cat isn’t used to being in a carrier, place the carrier where your kitty has access to it two weeks before your move. Gradually start feeding your kitty and placing treats near the carrier until your cat becomes accustomed to it. During the packing process, it’s important to give your cat consistent attention and keep his or her feeding schedule as close to routine as possible. Minimizing changes will help mitigate any stress that could be caused by the moving process.

You’ll also want to have your moving boxes set up a couple of weeks before you need to pack so that your cat can adjust to them, too. If packing makes your cat seem anxious, place him or her in a quiet bedroom.

Moving day

While the movers are loading boxes, place your cat in a room with the door closed, and place a note on the door so that everyone knows not to open it. Have the movers load the items in your bedroom last.

It’s important that your kitty rides in the car with you on moving day, and not in the van. Try to keep your cat as comfortable as possible by keeping treats and water handy, as well as running the air conditioner in the car. This is extremely important for cats who are used to climate controlled environment, as a drastic change in temperature can lead to heat exhaustion.

Your new home

Set up your bedroom furniture first, and place all of your cat’s most familiar items in the room, such as the food, water, and litter box. This will become your cat’s calm room for the rest of the moving process. It’s best to keep your cat in one room until they feel comfortable so that he or she isn’t overwhelmed by the vast, unfamiliar territory. It usually takes an hour or two.

Placing your cat’s most familiar items in the new room, spraying Feliway, and spreading your cat’s scent via Pam Johnson-Benett’s “sock method” are also good ways to help your cat feel comfortable in the new home.

You should do a thorough walkthrough to make sure your new home is cat proofed, too Are all of the screens in place? Any large openings like unsealed dryer vents? Are there any pest traps left behind from exterminators? Once you’re confident that your cat is comfortable and your new home is safe, you can let your cat out to explore.

For more tips on how to make your move go as smoothly as possible, check out the Pet Place’s comprehensive guide.

Are you moving to another borough? Let us know! Katie’s Kitty has pet sitters in all five boroughs of New York City. We also have sitters available in the magical “sixth borough” of Hoboken and Jersey City. Send us an email to get matched up with the perfect pet sitter.


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 Douglas O’Brien on flickr

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Can cats see in the dark?

Do you turn out all of the lights before you leave the house? You may be saving energy, but you’re literally plunging your cat into a lonely darkness! Let us “shed some light” on how well and what exactly cats are able to see.

Can cats see in the dark?

Yes and no. While it’s true that cats have better night vision than humans, they cannot see in total darkness. The reason being is that the tapetum lucidum, which is responsible for that otherworldly green glow in your kitty’s pupils, only works by magnifying what visible light is available. That means that cats can see much better than humans in low light, but they cannot see at all in complete darkness. So the next time you think about leaving your kitty in the dark, consider plugging in a little night light.

Is that why cats have slit pupils?

Again, yes and no. Having a slit, vertical pupil means that ambush predators like cats, snakes, and foxes are able to pull their pupils open much larger than creatures with circular or rectangular ones. This does let in more light. However, the slit pupil also maximizes the efficiency of seeing both vertical lines and increasing the blurriness in front of and behind an object. That means their brains are able to more accurately able to gauge the depth of an object without having to move.

How well can cats see?

Cats have many advantages over humans when it comes to vision, such as having more rod cells to help them dectect light. However, cats have fewer cone cells, which mean they see less vivid color. Cats also tend to be more nearsighted than humans, and can’t see under their muzzles at all! That explains why they can never seem to see the treat that you’re pointing at directly under their noses.

Do you leave a light on for your cat when you leave? Don’t forget to show your pet sitter how to turn on the lights in your home to make it a more “illuminating” visit for your sitter and your kitty. Give us a call today to be paired with one of our personable pet sitters.


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

photo by Thomas Euler on flickr

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What to do if you find stray kittens

It’s the middle of summer and the height of the kitten season. If you have a feral cat colony in your neighborhood, you might stumble across a litter of kittens. Here’s what you should do if you find them outside.

Identify their age

On the one hand, if the kittens are 8 weeks or younger, separating them from their mothers can be detrimental to their health. Therefore, if the mother is present, it’s best to keep them together. On the other hand, if they’re 4 months or older, it may be too difficult to socialize them properly so that they can live indoors. It’d be better to trap, neuter, and release (TNR) them so that they can live our their lives happily within the colony. You can use the Alley Cat Allies’ handy visual guide to help you determine their age at a glance.

Locate the mother

Mama cats always return to feed their kittens every 3 hours like clockwork. If the kittens look clean and healthy, then mama probably isn’t far. However, if the kittens look dirty, sick, or it’s been longer than 3 hours since you’ve seen their mother, they need to be cared for right away.

Contact your local TNR community or cat rescue

Most shelters will tell you that during kitten season, they usually don’t bring in mothers with their litters due to a capacity issue. However, if mama is friendly and you’re interested in caring for the kittens, you should contact your local TNR community or cat rescue. Even if they aren’t able to take on the kittens themselves, they can point you in the right direction for community vet partners and even loan you no-kill traps to help you bring the litter inside.

Newborn feral kittens require a lot of attention, hard work, and socialization in order to grow up to be happy, healthy, friendly and adoptable indoor cats. Before you take on a litter of kittens, really ask yourself if you are able to commit the time and energy that they deserve.

Do you have a new kitten in your home? Check out other articles on our blog for advice on how to kitten proof your home, for more information on kitten season, and for more information about feral cat resources in New York City.


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 Christie D. Mallon on flickr

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