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What is “raw” cat food?

You may have heard about the “raw diet” for humans, but did you also know that there is also a raw diet for cats? The guiding principle behind raw food for cats is that it more closely resembles the diet that your kitty would eat in the wild. However, like all cat foods, it has its advantages and disadvantages. Here’s what you need to know about raw cat food.

How is it different from other cat foods?

Traditionally, the ingredients in canned and kibble foods for cats have been cooked. This causes some loss of nutrients, which are then added back in order to meet AAFCO standards. Any cat food that doesn’t meet these standards is usually labeled for supplemental feeding only.

Therefore, the largest difference is that the ingredients are kept in their raw state. However, since most of these foods must be processed frozen, freeze-dried, or ground, they also suffer from nutrient degradation. Just like other wet and dry foods, they must be supplemented with certain nutrients in order to be a complete and healthful meal for your cat.

What is raw cat food made out of?

There are a large variety of raw cat foods. The kind of you see in the pet store are usually kept in the refrigerator to stay frozen. The main ingredients in these foods are typically the same as you’d see in other cat food, such as chicken, duck, turkey, pork, beef, venison, and fish. Similar raw foods come freeze-dried to keep them shelf stable.

Additionally, the term “raw cat food” can be used to describe feeding your cat whole meats. Under supervision, cats can eat certain raw meaty bones, such as chicken backs and goose necks. This is because in their uncooked form, small bones are edible for cats and are quite nutritious. Some pet parents also give their cats whole prey food, such as whole day old chicks and mice. Likewise, specialty shops and butchers can sell hearts, gizzards, livers, and heads that cats can eat.

What are the risks?

One of the biggests risks of feeding a raw diet to your cat is nutritional imbalance. While the raw cat food that is available at the pet store is usually supplemented to be a balanced diet, some pet parents choose to make their raw cat food at home. The appeal is that it can be made from meats that you don’t usually see in commercial cat foods, such as mouse, pheasant, bison, goat, and alpaca. The drawback is that these foods must be supplemented by the pet parent. Sometimes, the information available on how to do this is rather unclear, inconsistent, or difficult to find.

The second biggest drawback comes from improper food handling. Just like raw meat for humans, raw cat food carries the risk of certain pathogens that can make cats and people sick. As predators, cats have evolved with a digestive system that can handle most of the bacteria in their raw prey, but food that hasn’t been stored or handled properly can carry an increased risk for immune deficient cats and people. Safe food handling practices are a must for raw cat food.

What are the benefits?

Unfortunately, the jury is still out on whether or not raw cat foods are better than traditional wet or dry foods. That’s because there have been no peer reviewed, long term studies published on that subject. However, anecdotal evidence from pet parents claim overall improvements in their cats health, particularly oral and gastrointestinal health. According to the American College of Veterinary Nutrition, “Typically raw meats (but not other uncooked foods like grains or starches) are slightly more digestible than cooked meat.” When in doubt, always speak with your vet about the best diet for your cat.

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 alsen on Pixabay.

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Do you have enough scratching posts?

Cats scratch for a number of reasons, but most of them have to do with health and well being. If your multi-cat household is full of tension and fuzzy-cornered furniture, the good news is that you may only be a few scratching posts away from relief!

Why do cats scratch?

In the wild a cat would scratch against a rough object, like the bark of a tree. It helps to shed the outer layer of the claw, allowing for new growth. Especially for domestic cats, scratching is also a much needed way to stretch the tendons in their paws that don’t get much use otherwise.

Scratching behaviors in cats are also a way to relieve stress. Since it leaves both a visual and scent marking on the object, scratching can make a cat feel more at ease because he or she feels like they are in the boundaries of his or her territory. Cats may also scratch to redirect aggression, so you’ll want to have multiple scratching posts handy or else the closest object on which to vent frustration could be your leg!

How many posts should you have?

You can never have enough scratching posts, so you should use the same golden rule as use to determine how many litter boxes you need. That would be one per cat, plus one per floor, and one more for good measure. Especially for multi-cat households, you’ll also want to provide a variety of textures and formats to give your kitties many options.

What kinds of scratching posts work well?

Cat trees are a great choice because they add more vertical territory to your home, and the support posts double as scratching posts when they are either wrapped in sisal or left as bare wood. Horizontal scratch boards made from cardboard are also a good option. Don’t throw them away if they start to look raggedy, though, because they are the best for deep claw extension and carry strongest scent marks from repeated use.

Where should scratching posts be placed?

A good place to start is by placing a scratching post directly in front of an object that your cat may have already been scratching inappropriately. Usually the arms of couches, corners of walls, the sides of doors, and box springs are all tempting targets to a kitty without a proper scratching post. You’ll also want to have at least one per room, so that your kitty can use it to stake a claim in his or her territory.

Another good clue should come from observing your cats. Do they like to scratch after playtime? After using the litter box? After waking up? After someone rang the doorbell? Once you’ve discovered the pattern, you can place your scratching posts accordingly.

Do your cats like to scratch in places that they shouldn’t? Be sure to let your sitter know! Our cat sitters keep a sharp eye out for any behaviors that need to be corrected during our in home pet sitting visits.

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 Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.

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Do cats have sweat glands?

Wow! Just in time for Independence Day, we got slammed with a heat wave in New York City. You probably already have the air conditioner running for you and your feline friend, but have you ever wondered how cats keep cool on their own?

Where are a cat’s sweat glands?

Believe it or not, cats do sweat. Unlike humans, whose sweat glands are located all over their bodies, cats can only sweat from their paw pads. This is due to the thick layer of fur that covers everywhere but their toe beans. If your cat is sweating, you may see wet paw prints as he or she walks across the floor.

Other means of cooling down

The primary function of sweating is to cool the body down by allowing water to evaporate, thus taking the heat with it. Even though cats don’t have sweat glands beneath their fur, they are able to achieve the same effect by licking their fur instead. The thin coat of saliva then wicks the heat away from your kitty as it dries.

Being the descendants of desert-dwelling wildcats, domestic cats make every effort to conserve moisture. You’re more likely to see your cat stretch out in a dark or cool place, which offers a cooling sensation without dehydrating your kitty. Cats that are extremely heat stressed may pant, but this is not a common occurrence.

Overheating and heat stroke

If your cat is panting, you should assume that he or she is overheated. Sometimes, during bouts of stress or strenuous play, a cat may pant with his or her mouth open. If the panting continues for more than a few moments, you should take action to help your cat cool down. Overheating can lead to heat stroke, which is potentially fatal.

In addition to your kitty’s natural defenses, the best way to help your cat stay cool this summer is to make sure your home is climate controlled. Do not shave your cat, because you will actually make him or her hotter.

When you’re going out of town during the hot summer, consider having someone come regularly to check on your kitty, such as one of our experienced 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 Counselling on Pixabay.

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What determines the appearance of a cat’s coat? Part Three – Genes

Welcome back! Last week on the blog, we took a look at cat coat patterns, and the week before, we explored colors. This week, we’ll discover how patterns and color combine to give you the unique feline friend that you know and love today. It’s all thanks to a symphony of genes working behind the scenes.

What are genes?

Genes are made up of DNA, and have within them coded instructions for how to create variations within a certain trait. They are located on chromosomes, which are long bundles of DNA. You may have heard of chromosomes before, in that the X chromosome is found in males and females and the Y chromosome is only found in males. Typically, females have two X chromosomes, and males have an X and a Y.

Each cat inherits two sets of genes from its parents. Some genes can override others. A dominant trait of a certain gene (signified with a capital letter) only needs to have one copy to be expressed, whereas a recessive trait (written in lowercase) needs two copies. Sometimes, a dominant gene will override a completely different gene, too, as seen below.

Pigmentation genes

An orange tabby. Photo by Alexas_Fotos on Pixabay.

The dense versus dilute color gene, “D” will determine whether or not the cat will have a rich, pronounced color, like red, or a pastel version of it, such as cream. Dense colors are dominant over dilute colors. According to Wikipedia, “The Dense pigment gene, D/d, codes for melanophilin, a protein involved in the transportation and deposition of pigment into a growing hair.”

A black cat. Photo by suetot on Pixabay.

The black versus non-black gene, “B,” controls the production of the pigment eumelanin. Black fur is the dominant trait, and recessive traits result in chocolate or cinnamon.

A calico cat. Photo by Erica Zabowski on Flickr.

The orange versus non-orange gene, “O,” is interesting because it will cover up any other gene. Therefore, if the cat inherits a dominant O gene, it will override the black color trait that comes from the B gene. The O gene produces the red pigment phaeomelanin instead of the black pigment eumelanin.

The O gene is also sex-linked, because it appears on the X chromosome. Males only have one X, so they can only be either orange or non-orange. However, females have two X’s, so depending on which X chromosome is active in a particular spot, they can be orange, non-orange, or a combination of both as seen in tortoiseshells and calicos,

Pattern genes

Two Abyssinian cats with ticked coats. Photo by tsapenkodg on Pixabay.

The agouti versus non-agouti gene, “A,” is what results in a ticked coat. The dominant trait here is the striped shaft of fur, whereas the recessive trait is a solid color. The agouti gene is named after the animal with the same name.

A classic tabby cat. Photo by Tom Thai on Flickr.

The tabby versus non-tabby gene, “T,” controls what kind of tabby will be produced. The dominant traits here can produce a mackerel tabby or all-agouti tabby such as an Abyssinian, but the recessive trait creates a classic tabby.

White and spotting genes

A red and black calico. Photo by Pitsch on Pixabay.

The spots versus no spots gene, which is known as “S” or “KIT,” creates white fur in cats. The spots of color become islands in the sea of their white coats. A cat with a solid white coat can actually be a cat with one giant white spot. The dominant trait is to be spotted, whereas the recessive trait is non-spotted.

A white cat with green eyes. Photo by ibjennyjenny on Pixabay.

The white versus non-white gene, “W,” is a lot like the orange O gene in that the dominant trait will override any other gene, making the cat completely white. The recessive trait allows all of the other genes to express themselves.

A cat that is white due to the spotting S gene will have green or yellow eyes, whereas a cat that is white due to the white W gene will have blue or orange eyes.

Interestingly enough, a cat with white fur and blue eyes is likely to be deaf, which is thought to be a result of insufficient melanoblast stem cells. These cells later develop into not only pigment-producing cells, but also neurological cells. Kittens also have blue eyes at birth which change color as their eyes develop with age.

White spots also develop in many other domestic animals. Darwin’s theory of “domestication syndrome,” which includes white spots, floppy ears, short muzzles, and friendlier animals, may have something to do with neural crest stem cells and how they develop.

Other genes

A Norwegian Forest Cat. Photo by JennyJohansson on Pixabay.

The long fur or short fur gene, “L,” will produce longhair or shorthair cats. The dominant trait creates short hair, and the recessive one creates long hair. For cats that grow long hair, the period of growth for hair lasts longer due to the recessive trait.

We’re just scratching the surface! There are more genes and combinations than we have space to go here. If you want to delve a little deeper, this Wikipedia article and this coat color and pattern chart break it all down for you.

We hope that you enjoyed our three-part series on what factors determine the appearance of a cat’s coat! Did you know that this series, and many of the other topics covered on the blog are written in response to our client’s questions?

If there’s something you’ve always wanted to know about cats, feel free to drop us a comment below, or write to us on Facebook. Be sure to check back on the blog next week for more cat facts!

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.

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What determines the appearance of a cat’s coat? Part Two – Patterns

Last week in the blog, we started our three-part exploration of the elements contribute to the appearance of a cat’s coat, starting with color. This week, we’ll take a look at coat patterns.


An orange tabby kitten. Photo by rihaij on Pixabay.

Tabby, or striped, fur is the most common coat pattern found in cats. There are four types of tabby coat patterns, but all tabbies have an M marking on their forehead, pigmented paws and lips, and a black or white “eyeliner” effect around their eyes.

A brown and black classic tabby. Photo by aruggeri on Pixabay.

Classic tabbies have a swirled, marble cake pattern appearance.

A European wildcat with a mackerel tabby pattern. Photo by Lviatour on Wikimedia Commons.

Mackerel tabbies have unbroken, parallel stripes. The domestic cats wild ancestors, the wildcat, also displays this coat pattern.

A blue spotted tabby cat. Photo by Cdhowe on Wikimedia Commons.

Spotted tabbies have a consistent, defined pattern of spots on their sides. They can be large or small, and sometimes appear as rosettes. The rosette pattern seen in Bangals is actually the result of crossing domestic cats with Asian leopard cats.

A ticked tabby and white cat with a mask and mantle. Photo by Hisashi on Wikimedia Commons.

A ticked tabby’s striping occurs at individual hair level, where each strand has a band on it. The overall effect looks like the color is radiating with energy, much like the coat of a mountain lion or wolf. Abyssinian cats are well known for their ticked coats.

Solid and bicolor cats

A solid white kitten. Photo by Pexels on Pixabay.

Solid color cats are also known as self-colored. They appear to display only one color without any striping or spots.

A blue and white cat. Photo by Quinn Dombrowski on Flickr.

Bicolor cats, as their name suggest, display two coat colors. These cats have patches of a variant of either red or black pigmentation with white. They can be spotted, striped, or show any number of variations of how much or little white is present in their pattern.

Two tuxedo cats. Photo by Perkons on Pixabay.

Tuxedo cats are an example of a bicolor cat. They are mostly black with white markings on their paws and chests that make them look like they are wearing a sport jacket and vest.

A black and white bicolor cat with a mask and mantle. Photo by dcallen10 on Pixabay.

A little more white on the belly and legs and you would have a cat with a mask and mantle.

A black and white bicolor kitten with a cap and saddle. Photo by agamaszota on Pixabay

When there is a white band around the shoulders, it’s referred to as a cap and saddle.

A red and white van. Photo by pschemp on Wikimedia Commons

Bicolor cats with markings on their tails and heads only are called vans.

Calico, tortoiseshell, and other sex-linked coat patterns

A diluted calico. Photo by Am9489 on Wikimedia Commons.

Calico cats, also known as tricolor, display the colors black, red, and white, or a dilution of the three. Calico cats are almost exclusively female, but about 1 in 3000 calicos is a male.

A caliby. Photo by paki74 on Pixabay.

A calico cat with tabby stripes is called a caliby.

A tortie. Photo by luckywhitegirl on Flickr.

Tortoiseshell cats are also known as “torties.” Much like calicos, they are usually female. They are a mix of black and red pigmentation. Diluted tortieshell cats are often called lavender torties.

A blue and cream torbie. Photo by SweetMewsic on Pixabay.

If a tortoiseshell cat also displays tabby stripes, then she is referred to as a torbie.”

Color point cats

A Siamese cat with seal point fur. Photo by Webandi on Pixabay.

Color point cats, such as Ragdolls and Himalayans, are primarily white with patches of color on their faces, ears, paws, and tails. The genes that create color pointed patterns are responding to the coldest areas of a cat’s body, but we’ll get more into that next week.

This is the second post in a three-part series about the various factors that influence the appearance of a cat’s coat. Don’t forget to brush up on cat coat color terminology, which we covered last week. Be sure to check back next week, too, when we bring it all together and find out how gene expression influences both color and pattern.

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.

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What determines the appearance of a cat’s coat? Part One – Color

There is more to a cat’s coat than meets the eye. Even most black cats have striped fur if you look closely enough. The complexity of your cat’s coat pattern is the result of Mother Nature rolling the dice, and the resulting combinations are seemingly endless.

This week, we’ll explore cat coat colors

A cat’s coat can be one main or more main colors, with or without white. They can either be dense, meaning a rich and full color, or dilute (maltese), which is a softer pastel version. Diluted versions come from a less intense expression of the pigment that makes them.

A blue cat. Photo by Benita5 on Pixabay.

Black coats are created by the pigment called “eumelanin,” and the diluted version of black is known as “blue” to breeders, but most people would refer to it as “gray.”

  • Silver cats can be the result of a special mutation seen in cats with “chinchilla” colored coats, such as Persians. The silver color is actually the result of the shaft of hair having a shaded tip, whereas the rest is white. A fever coat is also silver, and is the result of the queen having a fever while being pregnant with her kittens. Silver fever coats eventually fade over time.

A Havana Brown cat. Photo by Dave Scelfo on Wikimedia Commons.

Brown is less commonly seen unless in purebred cats, such as the Havana Brown. It is also created by eumelanin, and the diluted version is referred to as “lavender” or “lilac.” When seen on a color-pointed coat, it is referred to as “frost.”

  • Lavender and lilac have a hint of pink. It is different from the gray that is referred to as “blue,” as mentioned above. Lavender torties, which have diluted tortoiseshell coat colors, are a bit of a misnomer. The lavender in their name refers to the dilution. They can also display the gray color that is referred to as “blue.”

A fawn-colored Abyssinian cat. Photo by Joachim Berger-Uelsberg and Dr. med. Gabriele Uelsberg on Wikimedia Commons.

Cinnamon cats are the lightest shade of eumelanin pigmented cats, and their diluted version is referred to as “fawn.” In an Abyssinian cat, the cinnamon color is referred to as “sorrel.”

A red and white cat. Photo by Werner100359 on Wikimedia Commons.

Red cats are what most people would refer to as orange, yellow, or marmalade. The red pigmentation comes from phaeomelanin, and it’s diluted version is known as “cream.” A color point cat with red markings is referred to as a “flame point.”

This is the first post in a three-part series about the various factors that influence a cat’s coat. Be sure to check back next week, when we’ll take a look at the various coat patterns!

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.

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How to switch your cat to a new food

Perhaps you received a special prescription diet from your vet, your cat’s favorite food is always out of stock, or kitty has just grown tired of the same old thing. No matter the reason, transitioning your cat to a new food needs to be done carefully in order to avoid a trip to the vet for an upset tummy. Here’s how it’s done.

Compare the quality of the food

Even though all commercially available cat foods must meet a certain standard, not all cat foods are alike. Richness, flavor, and consistency are probably the main differences that you and your cat will notice as soon as you open the can. You can compare ingredients between your old and new foods by reading the labels, but it can be hard to understand what the terms mean unless you’re already familiar with them.

Websites such as and have analyzed every ingredient for you. Therefore, when you look up your cat’s brand of food and flavor, you can get a better understanding of what is in your cat food and where it came from. This can be particularly useful if you’re trying to avoid certain allergens in your cat’s diet. You should aim to switch your cat to a food that is of the same quality or better.

Slowly taper off the old food

The first time you introduce the new food to your cat, you should start with a well blended mixture of three quarters to half of the old food and one quarter to half of the new food. This can help ease the transition, especially if you were feeding a palatable food before and your cat is hesitant to try something new.

More importantly, cats who have been eating the same food for a long time need to slowly build up the proper balance of gut bacteria and enzymes in order to digest the new food. Most pet food manufacturers recommend gradually reducing ratio of the old food over the course of a week.

During that time, keep an eye on your cat’s behavior and litter box usage. If you notice loose or foul smelling stool, spread out the transition process over a longer period of time. If your cat starts to seem irritable or stops eating the food, your cat likely has an uncomfortable and upset stomach. Talk to your vet and/or switch back to the old food.

Add a probiotic

Supplementing your cat’s food with a probiotic can help ease the upset stomach than can come from switching to a new food. Probiotics encourage the growth of healthy bacteria in your cat’s intestine. They are available from purchase at your vet’s office, or you can consult with your vet about the probiotics that are available in pet food stores and online.

Does your kitty have special feeding considerations? Be sure to let your pet sitter know! Our sitters are happy to specially mix your kitty’s favorite meal as per your instructions. Contact us to find out more about what our sitters can do for you.

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 SchweitzerKarl on pixabay

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Should you leave the air conditioner on for your cat?

Memorial Day is just around the corner, which means the unofficial start to summer is almost here! Even though the weather rainy weather lately feels a bit more like fall, hotter days are headed our way.

With the weather being so unpredictable, have you ever asked yourself whether or not you should leave the air conditioner running for your cat?

When is it a good idea to leave the AC on?

Some cats benefit from being in a climate controlled environment. For instance, elderly cats just like elderly people, have a hard time adjusting to a sudden temperature fluctuation. Cats who have moved to a hotter region from a cooler region may also find themselves overwhelmed once summer rolls around. Likewise, cats recently adopted from climate controlled shelters could have a hard time adjusting to the summer heat.

Overheating for a cat is a serious matter. Once heat exhaustion, which is also known as heat stroke, set in, it can damage your cat’s internal organs if left untreated. However, the best thing you can do to prevent heat exhaustion is to ensure that your home is a consistent, even temperature.

Can you just crack a window instead?

On the one hand, if you’ve spent a few summers in your apartment and you know it doesn’t get too hot, then simply opening a window may work just fine. On the other hand, if you just moved into your apartment and you’re not sure how hot the summer will be, it’s better to not take a chance. However, if your unit was freezing in the wintertime, it’s a good indication that it isn’t well insulated. It’ll probably be very hot in the summertime, too.

Before you open your window, make sure that you have a screen installed. Many cats have fallen victim to high rise syndrome, in which they unwittingly leap out of windows because they do not realize how high up they are. Furthermore, besides keeping your cat inside, screens also keep other animals outside. Bats and birds, which can carry diseases and pests, can easily find their way into an unscreened window.

What are some alternatives?

Leaving the air conditioner running can waste energy and run up the electric bill. There are ways to provide passive heat management in your home without making major alterations. For instance, thermal curtains both block heat in the summer and keep out the cold in the winter. You can also apply temporary or permanent heat reflecting window films. They don’t reduce visual light like curtains would, but they block the UV energy that is responsible for baking your apartment.

Are you unsure whether or not you need the AC on while you’re out of town? Hire a pet sitter to come check on your kitty. Even if your air conditioner has a programmable thermostat, a reliable pet sitter can check on your cat and home to ensure that everything is functioning the way it should.

Call us today! We still have availability for Memorial Day weekend.

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 kroszk@ on flickr

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Hypertension in cats

Hypertension, or high blood pressure, can occur in cats just as it does in people. If you’ve ever had a bout of high blood pressure yourself, then you know that the symptoms can be subtle but significant. Here’s what you need to know about hypertension in cats.

What causes hypertension?

Most commonly, hypertension in cats is seen as a secondary system dysfunction as a result of hyperthyroidism and chronic renal failure (CRF). According to PetMD, 65 percent of cats with CRF and 87 percent of cats with hyperthyroidism develop high blood pressure.

Senior cats are more likely to experience hypertension, as they are more likely to have CRF and hyperthyroidism, but high blood pressure has been observed in cats as young as four years old. If left untreated, the high blood pressure can damage delicate blood vessels and organs that receive a significant blood supply, such as the brain, heart, kidneys, and eyes.

What are the symptoms?

Unfortunately, sudden blindness may be the first and most severe symptom of hypertension that pet parents notice. Over time, high blood pressure can cause the retinas to detach from the eyes.

Other symptoms include lethargy and keeping a distance, circling, seizures, and weakness. Since hypertension often occurs secondary to hyperthyroidism and CRF, some of the symptoms of these diseases are actually symptoms of high blood pressure, too.

How is it diagnosed?

If your vet suspects hypertension may be present, first they will examine the pupils for an appropriate response to light and for any bleeding, which can be seen without special equipment. Next, your vet will measure blood pressure in the same way that it would be measured in humans, with a machine that uses an inflatable cuff.

The measurement can be taken at the base of the tail or on the paw, but about 5-7 measurements will be taken. The first measurement is usually inaccurate due to the stress of the visit, colloquially known as “white coat syndrome.” The remaining measurements will be used to discard any other outliers and determine an average.

How is it treated?

Amlodipine is the most common prescription for lowering blood pressure in cats. Over time, the symptoms should subside, and you should notice your cat returning to their baseline behaviors.

Are you worried about your kitty with a special medical condition while you’re out of town? Hiring an experienced pet sitter can help put your mind at ease while you’re away. Our sitters are extra vigilant, providing updates to keep you apprised of your kitty’s health and happiness every 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 manfredrichter on pixabay

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How many litter boxes are best?

Having the correct number of litter boxes for your home with cats is as important as deciding on what kind of litter to use or selecting the right kind of litter box. Too few litter boxes can lead to anxiety and behavior problems, while too many can make it feel like you’ll be scooping poop for all of eternity.

The rule of thumb for litter boxes

The rule of thumb (or “formula,” if you will) for determining how many litter boxes to supply, is one litter box per cat, plus one extra, and an additional box per level. So, a one cat household would ideally have two boxes. If you have a two cat household, you would need three boxes.

If you have a three cat household and two floors, you would need five, as evenly divided between floors as possible. This is a special consideration for juniors and seniors who have trouble with stairs.

Litter box placement

Aim to have the litter boxes evenly distributed throughout your house. Place the boxes in a low-traffic area where your cats can feel privacy, ideally where another kitty can’t sneak up on them while they are doing their business.

Since cats are territorial creatures, ensuring that each room in your house has the proper resources is the best way to reduce conflict between cats. You’ll also want to keep the litter box far away from other resources, like food, water, and toys.


Once you’re sure that you have the correct number of litter boxes, but your cats still don’t seem happy with the arrangement, watch their behavior closely and make adjustments. If your cats are urinating on your furniture, first clean the area, treat it with a deterrent, and protect it with a waterproof cover. Then, place a litter box closer to where the accident has occurred.

Do your cats seem to be endlessly scratching outside of the tray? They probably need a larger litter box. Are they scratching at the hood? You might want to try a high-sided pan that stops litter scatter and odor, but gives them more overhead space. Are they soiling in front of the box? Try to clean it more often, or add another litter box to provide more access to fresher litter.

Not sure if you have the right number of litter boxes in your home? Ask your pet sitter’s opinion. Our sitters pay special attention to the litter box on each visit, so we can definitely let you know how the litter box usage is going!

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 Roang_zero1 on flickr

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