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How do I prevent shedding?

Furminating angusSave for perhaps the owners of Sphynx cats, virtually every pet parent has found their clothes and household fabrics covered in fur. So, what causes shedding?

Natural causes

Outdoor cats grow and shed coats according the seasons. This is usually triggered by changes temperature and the hours of light in a day. For indoor cats, artificial lighting and air conditioning can interfere with these natural signifiers. Therefore, it’s not uncommon to see shedding year-round.

Medical conditions

However, shedding in excess can be caused by allergies, infections, and pests. Stress can also lead to excessive shedding. If you notice that your cat is over grooming one area, biting, scratching, or losing fur in large patches, you should consult your vet.

Once your cat has a clean bill of health, try one of the following to help alleviate the plague of fur around your house.

Add brushing to your routine

In addition to removing dead fur that can cause tangles, studies have shown that spending time brushing or petting your cat can have health benefits for you as well. Some cats enjoy a slicker brush, or Kong’s Zoom Groom may be a good alternative. Deshedding tools like the Furminator are actually blades that can help to remove the dead undercoat before it becomes a larger problem.

Try wipes and washes

Sometimes, older cats in particular need a little help from their pet parents for grooming. You don’t need to douse your kitty with water, though. There are a variety of dry shampoos and gentle wipes available at the pet store that can help you keep your cat’s coat clean and shining.

Feed a balanced diet

You may be surprised the difference a high quality food can make. Look for foods that are high in Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids and are easier for your kitty to digest. Finding a food that’s both healthy and appetizing for your individual cat can take some trial and error, but here is a comprehensive list to set you on the right track.

Think outside the box

Last, but not least — if piles of fur have become a nuisance in your home, you can try adding attractive throws that can be easily washed to your furniture. In the same vein, adding a pet bed may give your kitty a more preferred comfy surface where you don’t mind so much fur.

Shedding is a fact of life for kitties, which is why some of our pet sitters keep a lint roller handy. Just in case.


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.

Furminating Angus” by Paul Joseph is licensed under CC BY 2.0.

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

"Cat sleeping on her back" by Ian BarbourDoes your kitty cry as soon as you leave for the day? Does he or she get nervous at the sight of your suitcase, or shred your things while you’re away at work? Here are 4 tips that can help you keep your cat’s separation anxiety in check.

1 – Play classical music

Time and again, studies show the benefits for classical music in both people and animals. Julie, one of our Midtown Manhattan pet sitters and the master at soothing even the toughest customers, recommends playing music for your kitty while you’re away. She brings a radio to appointments, having heard that, “In London, all the shelters have them and it’s been proven to calm the animals.”

Leaving the TV on to a channel with birds and putting a cat tree by a window can also help your cat feel a little less alone.

2 – Add Feliway

Jenn, who manages our pet sitters in Queens, recommends using Feliway. Available at most online and physical pet stores, “Feliway has the “feel good” cat pheromones in it that cats naturally release when they rub their faces on corners and do putty-paws into blankets and cat beds,” Jenn explains.

It comes in both spray bottles and diffusers, which she says are both “helpful during other stressful events, too, such as moving and trips to the vet, and introducing new cats to one another.

3 – Practice coming and going

Pam Johnson-Bennett, one of the leading experts in feline behavior, suggests making coming and going as undramatic as possible. She writes, “Don’t make a big production about leaving.” Prolonged goodbyes can broadcast upsetting feelings to your cat.

Additionally, items like suitcases, purses, coats, and keys can be triggers for cats with separation anxiety. “If your cat starts to get tense whenever he hears you pick up your keys or if he sees you reach for your purse or coat, then practice doing those things several times a day without actually leaving.”

4 – Have someone visit your cat

Last, but not least, be sure to have someone come by to check on your kitty while you’re out of town. Whether it’s a pet sitter or a close friend or relative, it’s important to have someone who can play with your cat and keep them company. Be sure to leave out your kitty’s favorite toys and brushes to help remind your kitty of the good memories of you until you return.

Your pet sitter can set up puzzles that can be set after he or she leaves, such as balls filled with treats, paper bags full of catnip, or timed feeders that pop open later in the day to keep kitty entertained even after they’re gone. Give us a call to learn more about what our sitters can do for you and your kitty companions.


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.

Cat sleeping on her back” by Ian Barbour is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0.

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How to treat heat exhaustion in cats

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Summertime is in full swing in New York City. In the hotter weeks ahead of us, elderly and obese cats can find themselves at greater risk for heat exhaustion. Even youthful felines can get into trouble during the hot months, especially if your kitty is used to living in air conditioning. Here’s what you can do to prevent and treat heat exhaustion.

Prevention

In your home, make sure your cat has access to cool, shaded areas and a large supply of water. If you need to take your cat to vet, do not use public transportation. Buses and trains may be air conditioned, but platforms are not. If you call for a taxi or car, be sure to have the driver turn on the air conditioning. Never leave your cat by itself in a car, not even with the air conditioner on.

Signs and symptoms

In the early stages of heat exhaustion, you may notice your cat becomes more restless as he or she is looking for a cooler place. Your cat may also begin excessive grooming to try to cool down. If your cat displays any of these symptoms, you need to intervene immediately:

  • Panting/open mouth breathing
  • Cherry red tongue and gums
  • Sweaty paws
  • Drooling
  • Vomiting
  • Lethargy
  • Stumbling, staggering
  • Rectal temperature over 105 F

Treatment

If your cat is conscious, get your cat into a cooler environment immediately. Soak a hand towel in cool water and drape it over your cat’s side. Treat the ears and pawpads by dabbing them with room temperature water. Try to coax your cat to drink with a clean dropper full of water in the corner of your cat’s mouth. After your cat recovers, be sure to take your cat to the vet. Your vet will check for organ damage and replenish fluids.

If you came home to find your cat unconscious in a hot environment, PetMD recommends soaking your cat with cool (not cold) water, and placing a bag of ice or frozen vegetables between your cat’s legs. Rush your cat to the vet.

Remember, never use cold water to treat heat exhaustion as it can shock your cat.

If you’ll be out of town for a few days during the summer, consider having a pet sitter come by to check on your kitty. Even if your cat is usually fine alone, a pet sitter can ensure that your home a comfortable temperature, and that your cat has access to plenty of fresh water.


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 Koen Photos is licensed under CC BY-ND 2.0

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How to prepare for a visit from your pet sitter

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As a courtesy, our pet sitters like to schedule a meet and greet in order to get to know you, your kitties, and your household before you go away on a trip. Here are a few pointers for a helpful and thorough introduction between your pet sitter and your cat.

Feeding supplies

If at all possible, have your pet sitter come around the time of day when you usually feed your cat. That way, in addition to simply showing the sitter where the food is, you can also demonstrate how to prepare it.

Cat waste disposal

For a sitter, knowing the location of the garbage chute or trash room is every bit as important as knowing the location of the litter box. You’ll also want to point out where you store your any cleaning supplies in case kitty makes a mess while you’re gone.

Health and Wellness

If your kitty has a history of making hairballs or has missed the litter box in the past, please tell your sitter. Unusual furballs or litter box behavior is how pet sitters know if your cat is feeling ill. Of course, if you kitty needs any medication, it’s a good idea to show your sitter how to dose your cat.

Toys, toys, toys!

An active cat is a happy cat. When we come to visit, our sitters will give your cats as much attention as they like. So, if your cat has a favorite brush, laser pointer, jingly ball, or feather on a stick, feel free to show your sitter where they are and how to use them. Scratching posts help to keep your cat entertained while you’re gone, but if you aren’t able to get one before you leave, please remember to trim your cat’s nails. Long claws can be uncomfortable for your kitty and dangerous for your sitter.

Favorite spots

Showing your sitter where you like to sit to pet your cat can go a long way to helping older cats or more mellow kitties feel well loved while you’re away from home. If your cat is shy and has any preferred hiding locations, let us know as well.

Katie’s Kitty pet sitters are very knowledgeable and friendly, so feel free to bring up any questions or concerns you may have on your mind. Remember, we love hearing about how your cats are doing after your visit. So be sure to send us photos on Instagram or find 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.

New Toy!” by R∂lf Κλενγελ is licensed under CC BY 2.0

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How should I introduce new cats to one another?

Burmese Cats Cuddle

Congratulations on adding a new cat or kitten to your home! More often than not, introducing a new cat to a multicat household can be a little rocky in the beginning. If your kitties are having a rough time adjusting, our Queens pet sitter manager, Jenn, has a few pointers.

Try natural remedies

Like many animals, cats are very sensitive to pheromones and fragrances. You can use this to your advantage to literally lower the stress levels in the air. Jenn recommends a product called Rescue Remedy, which is a supplement that can be added to water bowls. Another product she uses is Feliway, which comes in both electrical outlet diffusers and in a spray. “The spray version you would spray into different areas of your home, on cat beds and blankets, and in carriers,” she explains. “Feliway has the ‘feel good’ phermones that cats naturally release when they do things like rub their faces on corners of tables or do putty-paws into blankets, cat beds, and sometimes their people!”

Share their scents

More importantly, cats need time to adjust to one another’s scents. An easy way to do this is to let them smell each others beds, blankets, and toys before they are formally introduced face to face. Jenn recommends brushing the new kitties with the same brush. “This helps them get used to each other’s smells in a non-threatening and less stressful way.”

Expect a little hissing

On a final note, don’t be too alarmed if the cats hiss at each other at first. Some people recommend waiting 1-2 weeks before introducing new cats. According to Jenn, you needn’t wait nearly so long. “You can judge it by how your older cat (who technically ‘owns’ the home by cat standards) is behaving and responding.” Just keep an eye on them.

Do you have questions about your cat? Our pet sitters have years of experience taking care of all sorts of animals. Feel free to send us an email or write to us on Facebook. We’d love to hear from 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.

Burmese Cats Cuddle” by Sue Tupling is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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Four tips for great cat photos

"Wonder" by Holly Zade

Who doesn’t love a photogenic feline? Pet photography can be fun and rewarding, but not everyone has a cat as willing to pose for the camera as Shironeko. You don’t need to have years of photography experience to take great cat photos. Simply follow these 4 steps, and you’ll be on your way to a great photoshoot in no time.

1 – Keep your camera ready

Whether you’re walking down the street or having a quiet moment with your kitty, you never know when the next photo op is right around the corner. If you’re using your cell phone to take pictures, you can take quicker photos by enabling the camera from your unlock screen. Read how to do it on your Android, iOS, or Windows phone.

2 – Turn the flash off

Cats have lightning fast reflexes, and a sudden flash of light could startle them out of that perfect pose. Not to mention, flashes often cast an unnatural light that distort the colors of your image. Instead, adjust the brightness and contrast on your camera.

Use natural light whenever possible. Zoran Milutinovic, an expert pet photographer, suggests shooting when the sun is lower in the sky. “Then you’ll have that warm, soft light, without shadows on a cat’s face and fur,” he writes along with other advanced tips on the 500 ISO blog.

3 – Turn on multishot

When you set your camera to take several photos within a few seconds, chances are greater that one of your photos is going to be perfect. This is especially useful when your kitty is moving fast, like when she’s playing with a toy, or if you have shaky hands and tend to blur photos. Most smartphones and digital cameras have a multishot function.

4 – Play to the cat’s curiosity

Walter Chandoha, a master pet photographer for over 60 years, recommends interacting with your cat in order to get the best facial expressions. You can likewise make noises or use toys to get your cat to look at the camera. Chandoha shares more about his inspiring life of pet photography in this endearing video by the New York Times.

However, if you want to photograph shy or wild cats, staring at your subjects long enough to snap a good photo may make them nervous or cause them to run away. For these kitties, you may want to pretend to be doing something else, like reading a book, and then snap the photo over your shoulder.

So how’d you do? We want to see your pictures! Tag Katie’s Kitty on Instagram (@KatiesKittyNYC) in your cat photos, and check out some of the great uploads our pet sitters have posted 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.

“Wonder” by Holly Zade is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

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