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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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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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Celebrating Candace’s 100 Blog Posts!

Hello there Katie’s Kitty family! This is your friendly Manhattan and Jersey city pet sitter, Candace, taking a moment to say thank you so much for reading our blog. I can hardly believe that this is my 100th post since I joined the Katie’s Kitty team back in 2014.

Over the years, it’s been my pleasure to answer your questions, research and write the “How-to’s” and “Why-do’s,” and deepen our collective well of knowledge on all things feline.

So, in order to commemorate this occasion, I thought it might be nice to take a look back at my 10 most widely shared blog posts. Enjoy!

10. Four tips to keep your cat calm while you’re gone

This is one of the very first articles that I wrote for the blog, and still one of the most frequent questions I get asked.

9. Why do cats stare at fire?

I’ve had a few cats gaze into flames as if summoning a demon, so I thought this would be a fun read for Halloween. Doing the research for this one was a real puzzler, though, as there wasn’t nearly as much information as you’d think on the subject.

8. How to keep your cat away from table food

If your cat is a sneaky table food ninja, you might want to read this one to learn how to keep kitty away.

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

My cat Comet developed kidney disease at age 15, but we successfully treated him for 5 years before I finally lost him. Looking back, his comfortable golden years were likely thanks to detecting the disease so early and seeking the vet’s advice at every little change. And to think, it all began with one simple question: “Why did he just poop in the pan and get back out to pee on the floor?”

6. How clean is your cat’s water dish?

I uncovered this shocking truth after someone once described a pink film that seemed to grow in their cat’s water dish after a few days. Boy, if you thought all that was going into that dish was clean water, think again!

5. How to treat heat exhaustion in cats

Nowadays, with the way the weather patterns ungulate back and forth like a serpent’s tail, a sudden change of temperature can leave a cat reeling from heat exhaustion. I wrote this post to help people recognize the symptoms of heat exhaustion and act quickly and appropriately if it occurs. More importantly, I wrote it so that people could be prepared and prevent it from ever happening.

4. Where to find feline art in New York City

I was very pleasantly surprised to see when researching these posts that this very early piece I had written is still one of readers’ favorite choices. Some of the exhibits are still on display, and I have a few more recommendations slated to be released in the new year.

3. Exercise routines for your cat

It’s no surprise that we all love our tubby tabbies, but we want them to stay healthy as possible. I’ve got a few tips to get your kitty in motion!

2. No-Kill Cat Shelters and Rescues in New York City

Whether it’s to adopt a new companion or safely re-home an old friend, sooner or later, as pet sitters we often get asked about no-kill shelters in New York and Jersey City. When I first compiled this list in 2015, I was appalled at just how hard it was to find a such list of shelters in the city. I’m glad this article is still making the rounds on social media today.

1. Meet five NYC indie store cats

Coming in at number one, the most read post of all time was one of the earliest, when I introduced our readership to five of my favorite independent shopkeeper cats. Keep in mind, this was written years before the book Shop Cats of New York was released, but I probably wasn’t the only one writing about them at the time. I know I’m not the only one who passes by a friendly kitty in a store window and stops to say hello!

And there you have it! I’m looking forward to sharing more of what I’ve learned along the way for years to come.

Just remember, if you have a question of about cats that you’d like me to answer, leave us a comment or send us a note on Facebook. We’re also active on Instagram and Twitter.

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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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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