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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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Don’t leave your cat in the dark!

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

Cat’s can’t see in total darkness

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

Your cat might get lonely

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

You could trip

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

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

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

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

photo by Kartlyn Earth & ArtKN on flickr

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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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How to fill your New Year with New York Cats!

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

Count the cats in every museum

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

Stock up on cat swag

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

Visit all of the cat cafes

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

Visit all of the shopkeeper cats

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

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

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

photo by GK12 on Wikimedia Commons

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The five most memorable cat stories of 2017

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

5. Dexter the 20-Year-Old Shelter Cat

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

4. Luna the Quinceañera Cat

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

3. BenBen The Saddest Cat

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

2. Hurricane Harvey Cat

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

1. Bone Bone The Fluffiest Cat From Thailand

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

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

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

photo by ArchaeologistDurmus on pixabay

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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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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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