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How Often Should I Bathe My Guinea Pig?

You probably love to pet and snuggle your guinea pig. But while you’re stroking its soft little hairs you might wonder how often, if at all, you should give those locks a cleaning.  

Keep Bathing to a Minimum   

Overall, it’s best not bathe your guinea pig more than once a month, and most short-haired breeds only require it once or twice a year. Like cats, guinea pigs are excellent self-cleaners and it’s rare for them to need bathing. Baths can even pose a risk if done improperly, making your cavy susceptible to colds and dry skin. Guinea pigs also find bath time stressful! Keep bathing to a minimum, and instead, make sure your guinea pig’s habitat is as clean as possible.

When to Bathe Your Guinea Pig  

So if baths aren’t usually unnecessary, how can you tell when your piggie does need one?  

A gentle bath is okay if your pig has gotten particularly stinky or its hair is greasy and soiled. Long-haired guinea pigs are especially prone to getting dirt and waste stuck in their locks and might need bathing. However, if your piggie is mainly dirty in just one spot, like on its bum, wiping it clean with a towel might suffice.  

The other reason to bathe your guinea pig is if they have a parasitic or fungal infection. In this instance, a bath should only come at the recommendation of your exotic vet, who will give you detailed instructions for bathing.  

When Not to Bathe Your Guinea Pig 

There are certain times when you should refrain from bathing entirely. Pregnant guinea pigs and those under six months old should never get a bath. Baths are also a big no-no if your guinea pig has a cold or respiratory infection.

Tips for Bathing Your Guinea Pig 

For those rare occasions your guinea pig needs a wash, you can get the job done using a shallow bowl or pan, a few towels, and special guinea pig shampoo. Before starting, spend time holding your guinea pig, as this will help calm them. Always bathe your pigs in a warm room and use warm, shallow water. When bathing, be sure to keep your guinea pig’s nose and mouth out of the water.

Concerned about your guinea pig’s hygiene? Hire one of our pet sitters to help you keep their cages fresh and clean, which will reduce any need for extra baths. 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.

Image by Pezibear from Pixabay 

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How do I know if my gecko is happy?

Cats purr and dogs wag their tails. But how exactly do you know if your gecko is happy? While geckos might not display the same telltale signs of contentment as other pets, there are a few small hints that your gecko is doing a-okay!

It’s Sleeping Regularly 

New gecko owners might be concerned if their gecko spends lots of time hiding and sleeping. But it’s perfectly normal for a happy gecko to snooze all day. That’s because geckos are crepuscular reptiles, which means they’re inactive during the day. Geckos who are new to your home are especially prone to hiding out for large chunks of time as they adjust to their environment.

If your gecko spends the day in shut-eye, rest assured it’s doing just fine. Only be concerned if your gecko stays hidden for up to 24 hours or if they don’t emerge from hiding at all.

It’s Physically Active  

Though geckos like to sleep, that doesn’t make them total couch potatoes! A happy gecko is an active gecko and likes to explore once twilight hits. At night, check to see if your gecko is moving around or climbing any rocks or branches in its habitat. Ideally, he should appear curious, yet calm. Happy geckos also love to hunt, and will readily go after any live crickets you feed them.

It Flicks its Tongue

Geckos have a Jacobson’s organ that allows them to use their tongues to “smell” and “taste” the environment around them. Flicking their tongues is how they familiarize themselves with their surroundings and explore new objects. If you notice your gecko flicking her tongue, take it as a positive sign! It means she’s healthy and curious.

It Looks Healthy 

A happy gecko has a certain appearance. Your gecko should have bright, clear eyes, a slightly plump (though not distended) stomach, and a fat tail. When awake, they should seem alert and responsive. Take note if your gecko looks otherwise: eye discharge, a shrunken tail, sores, skin discoloration, and lethargy are all signs that your gecko may be in poor health.

Not sure if your gecko is content? Our exotic pet sitters are familiar with normal, healthy gecko behaviors and can assure you if your gecko looks happy.

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.

Image by Anrita1705 from Pixabay

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What is Over-Grooming in Cats?

Anyone with a cat knows how much they love to groom. In fact, cats spend between 30% and 50% cleaning and combing their hair! But sometimes, cats end up grooming too much and the behavior becomes excessive, a phenomenon known as over-grooming. Read on to learn what over-grooming looks like and how you can help kitty cut back on all that licking.

Signs of Over-Grooming

Because cats already spend so much time grooming, it’s easy for over-grooming to go unnoticed at first. The most telltale signs are bald patches or areas of short stubble on their skin. Patches can crop up anywhere, but common places include your cat’s foreleg, an inner thigh, or belly. The patches might display redness or open sores.   

Common Causes of Over-Grooming  

A common cause of over-grooming is stress. When a cat licks itself, it’s body releases endorphins, a phenomenon that allows him to groom and soothe himself if he’s feeling particularly anxious. In other words, the more stress, the more grooming! Your cat might be stressed for a variety of reasons, including a new pet in the house, a change in her routine, or a recent move.

However, cats also over-groom due to medical problems. Itchiness from a skin infection, allergy, or parasite might cause your cat to groom to relieve irritation. Cats also tend to lick areas of pain or discomfort. For example, cats suffering from urinary tract infections will lick their genital region more often.   

How to Help Your Cat Stop Over-Grooming 

If you notice bald patches on your cat, the first step is to take your kitty to the vet to rule out or address any potential medical problems. You might also consider any changes in diet or environment that might be giving them allergies.

If your cat’s behavior stems from stress, it’s important to figure out the source. Doing so and addressing it is sometimes enough to stop the behavior. But if you’re stumped on what’s causing stress, remember that play is a great stress reliever, as is creating a vertical resting spot (such as a cat tree) where your cat can retreat and feel comfortable. If your cat is still having problems, pheromone-scented collars and sprays can help calm them.

Is your cat stressed and over-grooming? Our cat sitters can help you create a calming, stable routine for your cat, equipped with regular feeding times, fresh litter and lots of play time. 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.

Image by Buenosia Carol from Pexels

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Why Has My Cat Lost Weight?


You haven’t changed her food, but suddenly your kitty feels a bit lighter and bonier. What’s going on?

While some people might mistakenly perceive weight loss as a sign of good health, sudden or unexplained weight loss in your kitty usually indicates a problem. Read on to learn more.

How to Tell If Your Cat is Losing Weight

Weight loss is a problem, but it’s not always obvious, especially if it’s gradual. If your cat has long or puffy hair, that could also conceal potential weight loss.

The best way to determine if your cat is losing weight is to pay attention before it happens. Make a habit of running your hands along your cat’s body each week. You should be able to feel his ribs, but ideally, they’ll be insulated with a thin layer of fat. If his ribs are prominent or sticking out, he might be underweight. A knobby, prominent spine could also indicate he’s underweight.

Common Reasons Cats Lose Weight

There are several medical problems that prompt weight loss. Diabetes, Gastrointestinal problems such as parasites or pancreatitis, cancer, and dental issues can all be potential reasons. In older cats, weight loss is often due to conditions like hyperthyroidism, diabetes, or kidney disease. If kitty is looking slimmer, pay attention to see if it comes with any other symptoms, such as diarrhea, frequent urination, poor appetite, and lethargy. Your cat might also stop eating due to stress or anxiety.

What to Do About Weight Loss in Your Cat

Take your cat to the vet as soon as you notice a problem. They’ll be able to confirm any weight loss and do a blood test or ultrasound to determine a potential cause. Based on the results, your vet might prescribe medication, surgery, or a special diet.

If the cause is non-medical, a reassessment of your cat’s feeding routine might be in order. Be sure her bowl is clean and accessible. Notice other pets as well, as they might be stealing her food or crowding her bowl. Also, consider any new or sudden changes in the environment that might be making her anxious.

With a little care and mindfulness, you can get to the bottom of your cat’s weight loss.

Our cat sitters pay close attention to your kitty, serving as an extra pair of eyes to look out for any sudden appetite or bodily changes. 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.

Image by Alexas_Fotos, from Pixabay

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Is a rotation diet right for your cat?

Could you imagine if your parents fed you the same thing, day in and day out, for the rest of your life? It seems like an unlikely scenario for humans, but many pet parents unwittingly give their cat the same food every day.

Even though commercial pet food is formulated to be a complete and balanced meal, not having enough variety in your cat’s diet can lead to problems down the road. You may want to look into the rotation diet for your cat.

What is a rotation diet?

Variety is the spice of life. The rotation diet, which is also referred to as rotation feeding, builds on this concept. You give your cat a variety of brands, flavors, and textures on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.

By changing up which foods you feed your cat on a regular basis, you’re also one step closer to mimicking the diet of your cat’s wild ancestors. Even feral cats know that the secret to getting as many nutrients as possible is to eat a varied diet. That is why house cats that used to live on the street are thought to be more picky about eating the same food everyday.

What are the benefits of a rotation diet?

Moreover, having your cat accustomed to eating several brands of food can help you avoid having to do a sudden pivot if one of the varieties is recalled or out of stock, which could upset your cat’s stomach if done incorrectly. The rotation diet can also help your cat avoid developing food allergies, intolerances, and deficiencies that can develop after a lifetime of eating only one kind of food.

What are the drawbacks?

Not every cat takes to trying a new food very well. Mild stomach upset can occur, so talk to your vet about an appropriate probiotic to give your cat to support the transition. You may also want to mix the new food and the old food until your cat is able to eat the new food on its own. If you find that your kitty isn’t thrilled about certain flavors during your trial period, don’t get discouraged. This process is about learning about what your cat likes and doesn’t like.

How do you begin a rotation diet?

The best time to begin a rotation diet is to start when your kitty is young, but you can begin a rotation diet at any time in their life. Just be sure to check in with your vet if your cat is on a prescription diet or has any illnesses. Rotation diets can still be done with different prescription flavors, textures, and brands, but it’s better to do so under the advice of your vet.

For healthy kitties, you can begin by researching the best cat foods, keeping in mind if your cat has any allergies or flavor preferences. You can buy individual cans from the pet store or write to companies for free samples. Then, make a chart and keep notes of which brands, flavors, and textures your cat seems to enjoy. Once you’ve established a good spread of foods to choose from, you can either devise a schedule, create a pattern, or just choose cans at random. Your cat will be thrilled to find out what’s next at each meal time!

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 meineresterampe on Pixabay.

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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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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 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 needs 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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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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