Why you should always use a cat sitter

How important is a professional cat sitter?

Have you ever gone away for the weekend and left your cats home alone with extra food and water dishes? Do you do this often enough and think how lucky you are to have low-maintenance pets? Many will answer yes to this! Leaving your healthy and young cat for one-night alone is often fine and for many, safe and uneventful. So, why not leave your cats alone for multiple days at a time?

Firstly, the litter box should be reason enough not to leave town without a cat sitter. Your feline appreciates using a clean litter box just as much as we appreciate using a flushed toilet. Not being home to scoop litter once or, even better, twice daily can often cause stress in a cat. The dirtier it gets, the more likely they are to find other spots around the house to eliminate on. Coming home to cat pee on your bed or clothes is no fun and can be extremely frustrating. Remember, it is not your cats fault so please do not reprimand them for doing so. Chances are they used the litter box as much as possible before seeking out an alternative place to eliminate.

Loneliness! Yes, cats do get lonely when their guardians go away for extended periods of time. Having daily interaction can make all the difference in your cat’s mood and overall comfort while you are gone. Felines dislike change and any hiccup in their routine can be very stressful. Destructive behavior like chewing blinds, eating plants, tearing up furniture and knocking over breakable items are just a few ways cats can show their displeasure. Some kitties will even go on hunger strikes and stop eating completely. Vomiting and not eating will be a quick way for your cat to fall ill and end up in the hospital. Some cats are social eaters and will only eat when they have company. Some cats are picky eaters and only like fresh food at each meal. Some are scarfers and if piles of food are left out unmonitored, your kitty could easily devour too much too quickly and make herself sick.

Emergencies. As a veterinary nurse I have seen and heard a great deal of horror stories from owners and clients. To give you an idea of what can happen, I’m going to share just a few with you.

A client once told me she had asked a friend to stop in every few days to check on her cat.  When she returned home, her cat appeared to be starving, anxious, and very lethargic. Not only was the water dish completely empty, but so was the food bowl, and the litterbox looked as if it had never been cleaned. The friend had only stopped by once and forgotten to keep returning. The owner had to take her poor cat to the vet to make sure no serious damage had been done. It also took her cat weeks to recover from that stressful event.

Another upsetting story was a woman who had left her cat alone for three nights (with extra food and water) so she could go away for the weekend. When she came back from her trip, her young kitty was strangely not at the front door to great her upon arrival. After searching the home, she discovered a large fold up table that had been leaning against a wall for months had fallen over on top of her cat! The poor kitty had been pinned under it for days, unable to move or eat. The woman rushed her cat to emergency and her cat was treated for a broken pelvis, dehydration and some mild elevations of the liver.

The benefits of hiring a professional cat sitter far outweigh any reasons not to. Being able to leave your cat in the comforts of their own home, knowing your cat is safe and being well taken care of, knowing if any emergencies arise someone is there to take the proper steps in ensuring the wellness of your cat, getting updates on how your pet is doing while you are gone, not having to worry, knowing your cat is getting love and attention, knowing any diet or exercise routines will stay uninterrupted, coming home to a happy and stress-free feline are just a few obvious benefits.

When planning a get-away or vacation try to factor in the cost of a cat sitter as part of your trip’s necessary expense. Look to friends or family for recommendations or call your local veterinary clinic for a few suggestions. Often public bulletin boards, local coffee shops, and neighborhood pet stores are great places to look for flyers and business cards for pet sitters. Go to their website for client reviews or meet them before hand to see if they are the right fit.

Your cats should not suffer just because you want to take a fun vacation or have an emergency trip to attend. They will appreciate the care while you are away and reward you (usually) by not peeing on your bed or having to go the emergency clinic.

 

 

 

 

PURRRR It's cold out there!

Yikes! I am feeling this recent temperature drop, especially with the added snowflakes outside this morning. I, of course, am now worrying about all of the outdoor kitties and how they can be helped.

If you have an indoor/outdoor cat, please bring them in when the weather is cold and wet. If you have an outdoor only cat, or are feeding ferals/strays, please consider providing a make-shift shelter for them. This could be as simple as a box with blankets or towels on your covered porch. Do you have a garage that you could set up a warm and dry place for them? Can you invest in a heated outdoor cat house like this one from Amazon? (cat house).

Another thought: I recently volunteered at the Feral Cat Coalition building shelters for outdoor kitties. They were very simple to make, you just needed the right supplies. I’m wondering if I could reach out to the cat community and possibly have some supplies donated to me so that I could make cat shelters of my own. These would be distributed to those who have cats around their neighborhood, cats hanging out on their porch, outdoor cat colonies and even those who just see outdoor felines wandering the neighborhoods.

The supplies I would need are as follows: 18-32+ gallon plastic storage bins, bubble foil insulation or foam rubber, straw, duct tape. Optional additions: emergency blanket and jab saw/dremmel tool to cut the entrance hole in the plastic bin.

With enough sharing and re-posting, is it possible to reach out to the cat lovers and make this happen?

Another idea I have is making a live video tutorial to teach others how to make their own shelters at home. This could then be shared and passed around in hopes of inspiring others to build their own DIY cat shelters and place them outside in a safe space.

This is more of an interactive post, so please share and comment! I’m looking forward to hearing from my fellow feline advocates.

Thank you! <3  

Play time!

Cats need a certain amount of exercise on a regular basis to keep their mind and body in great shape. There are physical, emotional and mental benefits for cats who receive daily play time with their guardian. Felines have an innate and natural prey-drive, therefore playing with your cat can satisfy that important need. Interactive play also helps reduce stress, fight depression and build confidence in your kitty!

Did you know there is a wrong way to play with your cat? Do NOT dangle or shove the toy in front of your cat’s face. This will put them in a defensive position and often times they will back away or end up being pushed to sit up right- neither of these is natural for a cat. Also, do NOT wave the toy wildly around in the air continuously as this prevents your cat from having the satisfaction of catching its prey (a very important need). Also, overly exerting your cat can leave them exhausted and panting from chasing, jumping, and twisting about.

The important point to remember with interactive play is that you want your cat to use their brain just as much as their body (which would happen if they were out hunting in the wild).

You can help simulate the hunt and feast aspects of the cat cycle by treating each toy as the prey it should embody. For example, “air hunting” toys (i.e. Da Bird) usually look like fishing pole types, often with feathers on the end. Play time can start with soft sounds of the toy moving around on the floor which should perk up your kitty and get them interested in the start of the hunt. Alternate between having the prey (toy) fly through the air and walk along the ground. You can make the toy hide behind pieces of furniture and peek out which will cause your cat to pounce!  Subtle “quivering” will put your cat’s eyes and ears on high alert which will cause them to inch up and plan an attack.

Wire toys (i.e The Cat Dancer or Dragon Fly) usually mimic an insect in the air and with gentle flicking or twitching of the toy its erratic movements cause unpredictable motion- just like a buzzing fly or jumping cricket. Make it dart out of a bag, speed behind the leg of a chair or dash underneath your sofa.

Snake type toys (i.e. The Cat Charmer) can slither slowly behind boxes or furniture as well as slink around a corner and out of sight.

Make sure your cat has successful “captures” throughout play time. Try not to make it too hard as then it will not be beneficial or fun for them. If your kitty captures the toy and walks away, allow your grip to relax and let it go so they can enjoy the capture for a few moments. Often times, your kitty will drop the toy or allow some slack once they realize the prey is not moving anymore. This is your chance to bring it alive again.

When you are ready to end play time, try not to do so abruptly. You want your feline to be relaxed and satisfied at the finish. Slowly wind down the movements of the toy as if the prey is injured or tired. As the toy gets slower and lower, your cat will be left feeling like they had an accomplished hunt.

Play time is important in creating a strong bond between guardian and cat as well keeping with the natural part of a feline’s daily life. I recommend interactive play two times a day for 15 minute increments. Taking 30 minutes out of your day to provide this rewarding activity for your cat consistently will prove to be very beneficial and you will notice positive changes in your cat (especially if you are dealing with annoying behavioral issues.) Playing with your cat right before you go to bed immediately followed by giving them treats or a small snack will often times help your kitty sleep through the night and diminish those middle of the night wake up calls.

Remember, routine and schedules are very important for your furry kids as well as consistent stimulation and activity.

 

Stayed tuned for my next blog about tips for the indoor feline’s home environment!

Keepin' your kitties cool

Boy is it sunny and hot here in Portland this weekend! Please make sure to be overly cautious of your pets and do not leave them locked in boiling cars or other spaces!

With these high temperatures please leave out plenty of cold, fresh water that is accessible to your furry kids. Having shade, shelter and fans available is important too. I like to wipe down my cats with a cold, wet washcloth and place ice cubes in their water bowls to help them stay cool.

Did you know fur can keep cat’s warm in colder months but it also works as an insulator to keep the heat out as well? You do not always need to shave your cat during the summer as they can actually overheat without their coat (not to mention get sun burnt)! For furr-less kitties, keep them out of direct sun or put animal-safe sun screen on them.

If you cannot find your cat(s) this weekend, make sure to check in your bathroom sink or tub and other cold surfaced places they may be hiding out in. Also, do not be alarmed if they are spending more time sleeping or eating a little less.

Happy Caturday friends!

Daily Routines

Did you know cats are creatures of habit and love having a daily routine? You've probably noticed that your furry friend(s) will ask for food at the same times during the day, or stalk the automatic food dispenser as it gets close to its scheduled delivery time.  Have you left an article of clothing in a strange place and your cat seem frightened or curious of it and jumped at its presence?

It is important to provide routine and comfort for your felines as many changes or inconsistency in their lives can actually cause them stress whether they show it or not. 

One of my favorite things is having interactive play every evening for my two cats, Marmalade and Ziggy. This includes throwing small toys across the room and having each chase them back and forth or playing with feathers or mice on a string and watching them jump and pounce! Scheduling 20-30 minutes of play time into your day is beneficial to both of you. Not only is this a great way to blow off some energy and help cats sleep better throughout the night, it also creates a stronger bond between you and your companion. 

What are some of your daily routines you try to provide for your feline friend?