cat life, Cat Nip

Cat Sitting Questions and Answers

CatQ&ABlog

Whether you are new to cat sitting or just interested in learning more, I’m glad you are here. When it comes to cat sitting, no two businesses are alike. And with technology and apps adding a new layer of convenience to the equation, it also adds to the level of confusion on the best fit for your needs.

Recently I sifted through some of the most popular questions I get asked. Here they are with my answers. Hope this alleviates a little anxiety and sheds light on your best choice.

Are you a cat sitter or a pet sitter? What is the difference?

Great question! I am a cat sitter. I specialize in the comfort and care of cats. This way my time is solely focused on really understanding them, and I customize my service to their individual needs. While this sounds simple and self evident, one of the interesting things about cats is that — like kids — they all have little idiosyncrasies that require special attention. For example, Mike, a flame point Siamese is a real people lover and craves a lot of attention, while my own cat Weezy is very shy and prefers to be left alone. This is important because while you (their owners) know of these personality traits and how best to cater to them, the same holds true for whomever you trust with their care. Only I have come to find that most sitters still don’t make this a priority like I do, so your cat is left without some of the one on one time it really needs! It is my intent to be consistent with the care you give and that means how much (or little) attention to give, or whatever other little ways I can make them happy.

The majority of folks in this business are pet sitters. They primarily take care of dogs, but also will take care of cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and other pets. Because they care for a variety of animals, the services tend to focus on the basics: feeding, watering,  walking, removing waste. Because I spend all of my time with cats, the basics are only a small part of what I do. I also don’t carry the scent of dogs other animals when I visit my cat clients which I can tell they really appreciate!

Do you bring the cats to your house? Where do you care for them?

No. First of all, I have three of my own at home but more importantly cats are territorial and prefer the comfort of their home, so that’s where I care for them. Not only is this more convenient for you (no dropping off / picking up) but it is safer. When you think about just how nice it is that your cat will be able to sleep in his own bed while you are away, it really doesn’t make sense to move them and have them confused about where they are not to mention having to deal with you not being there.

Let’s say I am thinking about hiring you to care for my cat. How can I be sure my cat will be getting the care I want it to?

Wait till you get home and see how happy he is!  ; )  Honestly, I love this question because I seriously felt this way when I was looking for help with my own cats. I totally get that a lot of businesses don’t practice what they preach, so I invite you to include Alexa, Siri or whatever recording device will verify that everything is being tended to.

The whole point of my work is to mimic the environment and care your cat is used to and familiar with, down to the tiniest detail. Before I even get started, I always meet with each new client so you can get to know me. I want you to be comfortable, and it is also a great way for me to meet your cat and make sure he / she is comfortable, too!  During this time, we will review what is most important in caring for your cat, along with the details of how they are fed, who their veterinarian is and general things about your home. I take very thorough notes and can provide references from happy cat clients. I am also always asking for feedback so I know you are 1000% satisfied! I love doing what I do but it only works if you and your cat are happy.

Some of my friends use pet sitter apps and swear by how easy and convenient they are. Are you going to have an app?

The pet sitter apps are convenient — I, too have friends that use them. Most of them have dogs and the app lets them know where the dog is being walked and when it does its ‘business’. The apps work much like Uber: once a pet owner needs the service, they notify the app, which in turn notifies random, available pet sitters in the area. The pet owner leaves a house key in a key box on their front door. The pet sitter picks up the pet / walks it and drops back off, communicating exclusively through the app. This is where, for me at least, the convenience is not worth it because most often the pet owner and pet sitter never meet. Although the pet sitters are vetted, I think we have all heard of stories where the sitter didn’t properly care for the pet / snooped through the house / invited a friend over & so forth. Either way, I need to know who is caring for my pet, that they are bonded & insured and are capable and trustworthy.

I meet every one of my clients often more than once. After the initial meeting, I have never run into a situation where it has been inconvenient for someone to get a hold of me even on short notice. Clients email / call / text and it works just as effortlessly, so I don’t see a reason to have an app at this time.

Aside from just care for cats, what else makes you different from other pet sitters?

I value each relationship I have with both client & cat, so I work to make the experience as effortless and rewarding as possible. With that in mind, I don’t tack on fees for our initial meeting and things like dropping off and picking up keys. I feel charges for things like that are awkward, and an inconvenience. I also offer a variety of ways I can pamper your cat (more on that in a minute) and often spend extra time if needed.

In addition to care for cats, I work really hard to provide my clients with an engaging and interactive community experience so they can learn and share everything cat. I feature a ‘kitto blog’ on my website, and you can find me on Facebook and Instagram.

Finally, I am very keen on noticing changes in cat behavior. Cats can be very tricky when it comes to hiding their own troubles, but for someone who spends as much time around cats as I do, they can’t easily hide things from me!

So how do you pamper cats?

I start by getting as much information as I can from their moms & dads. Anything and everything the cat loves is important in providing the best possible experience. Often, younger cats like lots of playtime whether with paper balls, toys or games and older cats like to be brushed or cuddled in a lap and petted. So, brushing, reading stories, special treats, rubbing bellies and cuddling are all ways to spoil a cat.

I really would love your help. What is the best way to get started?

Fantastic! Fill out the form on my ‘Let’s Talk’ page on my website, or email me with your name, phone number and some detailed information about your needs at catsitter@mycatcompanion.com.

Thank you!

 

 

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International Cat Day 08•08•19

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Move over rabbits. Step aside dogs. Today we celebrate lovable felines everywhere! As we all know, we live in a cat’s world, which means everyday is cat day, and that is how it should be.  ; ) Tomorrow they will be just as ready for undivided attention and adoration because, why not? That in mind, here are 8 cool cat things that represent the multifaceted feline and our obsession with all things cat.

1). Cat Day(s). It’s great to have a day to celebrate cats – whether to raise awareness or just remind people how wonderful cats are. Or should I say days? Actually there are three – February 22 (Cat Day), August 8 (International Cat Day) and October 29 (National Cat Day). For the record, International Dog Day is Monday, August 26th. But go ahead and celebrate cats that day, too. They wouldn’t have it any other way! ; )

2). Cat People. Omg if we don’t give huge recognition to the folks who are selflessly dedicated to finding these cute fur balls furever homes, then we are missing the point. Let’s start with a round of applause for Cat Welfare and Cozy Cat Cottage, two really great rescue organizations that make such a huge difference in the lives of so many cats. Thank you isn’t really enough, so how about we dig in our pockets and find some extra coin to help them keep doing what they do. Volunteering also helps, as does adoption. We also appreciate all of the vet techs who’s often thankless efforts keep our kittos safe and healthy!

3). Cat Memes. Cat person or not, we can all agree that cat memes are some of the best out there. And they’re universal – everyone gets the joke and appreciates the humor. They will catch you every time on Facebook or Instagram as it’s constantly entertaining to scroll through, especially when you need a little pick me up. In fact, here is a list of the 100 funniest cat memes ever. Have fun.

4). Cat Food. Ok everyone, stop multitasking and listen up – this is something you need in your cats life. We all want our cats to be healthy and happy, right? Well, even though we try to do the best with their diets, sometimes even name brand, grain free pet foods miss the mark. Remember how some of these trusted products have been causing health issues recently? Great news — there’s a better option! Pet Wants Powell is a pet food company dedicated to “small batch, slow cooked, all natural pet food.” Yes, you did hear me right. And they deliver!! We have Shawn and Rebecca Moore to thank for this cat life saver, so give it a try and drop me a note on your results. I honestly just found out about it myself, so I will be reporting back as well.

5). Cat Beds. Most every cat has at least one – the quintessential spot they covet for comfort and surveying their surroundings — but do they have this one? Call me crazy but ever since it showed up in an Insta Ad I’ve been mesmerized! It’s the Marshmallow Cat Bed — have you seen it, too? Oh my goodness it looks soooo cozy – almost hypnotic. I find myself getting sleepy every time I see it! Anyway, I normally wouldn’t promote something sight unseen, but Butters the Bean seemed really happy in this YouTube video, so I think it’s worth a try. That said, if you are looking for a way to pamper your own cat or need a great gift idea for the cat person who has everything, I would say done and done!

6). Cat Cafe. If I told you that say, on your lunch hour you could enjoy a lovely coffee, some Pattycake baked goods and an adorable assortment of affectionate and playful cats for a mere $10 fee, how long would it take you to make a reservation with Eat Purr Love Cat Cafe? I know, right? Having a bad day? Not anymore. It is a proven fact that petting and playing with cats lowers stress, reduces blood pressure and releases endorphins. So go. Oh and did I mention they have Yogatos (Yoga + Cats), too? See you there!

7). Cat Clothes. And accessories. Cat lovers wear their hearts on their sleeves – literally. You can spot a cat person a mile away because they often keep several cat fashion items in their wardrobe, and love those most. While this applies to women more than men, there’s a plethora of options from blouses, to jewelry and even cute handbags. How adorable is this cardigan from Modcloth? Of course, we can also tell each other apart by the random cat fur that becomes part of our attire, but more often than not it doesn’t matter how many pairs of cat socks we have because there is no such thing as too many!

8). Cat Sitter. That’s me, of course!! I’m not above a little shameless self promotion because I really do work hard trying to increase the quality of cat lives, one cat at a time. Here’s the thing: as I have learned about cats through all the wonderful ones I have met, I really appreciate their uniqueness. But one thing that they all have in common is a love of comfort, and that is where I come in. Finding the ‘sweet spot’ in the thing that makes one cat happy from the next is really my jam, and sometimes keeps me up at night (in a good way!). Happy to tell you alllll about it, but set aside some time if you don’t mind ; )

So there you have it. This is really just the tip of the iceberg – I know there are so many more cat related things that I haven’t covered. Which is why it is so good that we still have one more day this year – National Cat Day on October 29th – to profess our love. And of course, there’s tomorrow, Saturday…..

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The Scoop on Catnip & Organic Catnip Pillows!

catoncatnipNow that June is winding down, I thought I would end the month on a playful note: Catnip. All cats in favor, raise your paws!  Here are some fun facts, along with a great local resource for some organic goodies!

Catnip1You probably have seen catnip and not even realized it! A very pretty perennial with gray / green foliage and lavender flowers (Yessss – that one!) it’s ancestry traces to the Mint family – which is why you have most likely also heard it referred to as ‘catmint’.

Cats enjoy catnip by either ‘smelling’ (stuffed in a toy) or eating, which will provide two completely different reactions.

When cats play with catnip filled toys, the organic compound nepetalactone binds with their olfactory receptors and in turn stimulates sensory neurons (in other words, the smell drives them crazy), creating the urge to rub their faces against the toy, roll around and salivate. This usually lasts about 10-15 minutes. However, eating catnip actually has a calming effect, which is why it is sometimes used as an anti-anxiety aid for vet visits or travel by placing a little bit in their food.

Only cats who carry the gene will react to it, and even then cat sensitivity is not developed until your cats are at least six months old, so catnip has no effect on kittens.

It is really important to think of catnip as a special treat, and provide it in small doses infrequently. Too much can make a cat ill, and overexposure can lessen the response in cats. In fact, once the stimulating sensory experience fades, he / she won’t be able to enjoy it again until at least another 30+ minutes pass.

Finally, did you know that not all toys that contain catnip are good for cats? In fact, some add a poly fill or stuffing along with the catnip which can be dangerous if the toy is ripped open and it is ingested. Be sure to carefully inspect the toys and supervise playtime. Ideally, fresh catnip is best, but for sure hard to find and it is doubtful most toys use it.

However, if you live around Columbus, Ohio, I have a great resource for you! Janet Courtright, aka ‘Silly Grandma’, hand sews organically grown catnip into cute little pillows that your cats will love! I met Janet recently through a client who gifted me with a few of her pillows. Not only is Janet passionate about cats, her enthusiasm is contagious, which is why I am so excited to introduce you!

Each pillow sells for $2.50 (a bargain!), and comes in a variety of patterns and colors. To make sure they stand up to hours of playtime – Sharps – Janet’s sweet, 18 lb. part Main Coon is her product tester and CEO!

CatnipPillowsYou can find the pillows at The Vet Clinic in Worthington (if you are lucky – they are popular and sell out quickly so call ahead). Or better yet, meet her at one of the following Farmer’s Markets (look for the Golden Harvest Honey tent):

Upper Arlington – Wednesdays 4:00 – 7:00  •  2850 Tremont Road / in the Northram Park parking lot

  • Reynoldsburg – Thursdays 4:00 – 7:00  •  1520 Davidson Drive / Huber Park
  • Canal Winchester – Saturdays 9:00 – 12:00  •  36 S. High Street / The square with the fountains.

Her patterns vary, and she makes special, limited edition holiday pillows along with some really fun Ohio State designs. Super cute, they also make great gifts so be sure to stock up for all of the cat lovers in your life!

 

JCUAMarketHope you get a chance to meet her and try her pillows, and learned a thing or two about catnip. You just never know when this info may come in handy! (Full disclosure: I was not aware that catnip acted as a sedative when cats eat it, so this enlightened me, and provided some ideas for future use ; )

Do you have a catnip story / tip / fact? Do tell! Drop a comment below or on Facebook, and please share this post so more cats can enjoy the fruits of Janet’s labor of love!

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Thoughts on Keeping Cats Indoors

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It seems cat owners fall into two camps when it comes to what type of lifestyle is best for their cats: Indoor or Outdoor.

Although I currently fall into the ‘indoor’ category, there was a time growing up when we had a couple cats that we let hit the streets and they were totally fine. In fact, the thought of fresh air, exercise and letting a cat experience all of the things they were born for – hunting, socializing, playing – is great reason to let them roam outdoors.

So lets be clear that I am not here to debate the subject or try to convince you outdoor folks your way is wrong. As it is with most things, there are several ways to….well, approach this. I know of several folks with happy and healthy outdoor kittos, and I think it is great!

In trying to make the best decision with our situation, several things came into play that are big factors in what we felt was best, and here are a few.

catflea1Fleas / Ticks. Do a quick Google search for cat fleas, and several great sources of information will keep you busy. For simplicities sake, I chose one of the first. PetMD pretty much spelled it out in the first sentence: “Cat fleas are by far the most common, abundant and widespread flea on the planet”. (This I never knew before!) It goes on to talk about the number of diseases that can be harmful to both cats and humans. Eeeshhh. For sure there are a multitude of treatments and preventions to keep the problem at bay, but for me that means something else to manage and budget for. And there is something about that picture — the skeletal, hairy image of the flea that always gets me. Anyone?

coyote1Coyotes. Now you would think that just by mentioning this as a potential threat, I live in a very rural area. In fact, my house is in a popular suburb on the west side of the city. And honestly, were it not for the helpful website Nextdoor, I wouldn’t have even considered that coyotes hang out in my neighborhood. Nextdoor is a great web resource that is neighborhood specific and provides up-to-date information from members on everything from a loose dog to potential criminal activity. Thanks to the posts from neighbors, it turns out there have been several coyote sightings on different times in various places nearby. I’m guessing these coyotes are just passing through, but I doubt one of my cats would be able to take them. In fact, I don’t even really want to entertain the thought.

catfoodoutside1Someone else feeding my cat. It never occurred to me until recently that there are lots of reasons for people to leave food out for cats: They are trying to keep strays from starving /  their cat got out and they are hoping the food lures them home / they ‘trap and release’ feral cats, or maybe it is just how they feed their own. It is so refreshing to know that there are so many really good hearted animal lovers who look out for the needy. But sometimes a good deed can have dire consequences. For the non-feral cats, they now have a new food source. How do you keep an eye on your cats’ diet if you don’t know what he / she is eating? There are also other, more tragic repercussions. Through Nextdoor, I heard about a neighborhood that was having trouble with rats. They contacted the city, to no avail. Someone’s solution? To put out food with rat poison, so the rats would eat it and be exterminated. I’m sure you can see where this is going, and it is totally devastating to say the least especially when an innocent cat falls prey.

CatInFlowers1To keep them from using flower beds as litter boxes.  Now, before this ruffles feathers, I am not saying that every outdoor cat is a bad cat because it does it’s business the way nature intended. In fact, there are many animals that are a threat to flower beds and gardens everywhere, so of course cats sometimes get a bad rap undeservedly. But I do know of many people who spend hours tending to outdoor nature and would appreciate help in keeping it nice. That’s all.

Finally, and maybe what it all boils down to is that I have three. So for every reason above (and others not mentioned), it applies three times. Managing fleas x 3, worrying about other predators x 3, and so on. It is not to say we couldn’t do it, but at least if we need to find them, feed them or otherwise figure out what may be wrong, we have a pretty good starting point.

What are your thoughts on keeping cats indoors or letting them roam? Tell me your stories, or post on Facebook.

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Why Hire a Cat Sitter? Here’s Why.

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This week — March 3rd through 9th — celebrates the 25th Annual Professional Pet Sitters week. According to Patti J. Moran, founder of Pet Sitters International, “This week provides the opportunity to celebrate the value of professional pet sitters who work year around to offer the highest quality pet care…”

For sure we are all familiar with the general idea of pet sitters. But if you have been on the fence wondering if it is really worth it, let me help. Professional Pet Sitting is much more than just feeding your pet and cleaning her litter box. Often there are several aspects of what goes into the overall service that most fail to notice, so let’s take a closer look at the real benefits of what you are getting.

Reliability. Everyone has a story about their ‘great’ neighbor that will check on the cats, but in all honesty, neighbors are unreliable. Just ask my sister, Karen. She was in Italy on vacation with her husband when she got a call from Wendy, her good friend and neighbor across the street. Wendy knew of Karen’s vacation plans and couldn’t understand why she hadn’t seen anyone coming to take care of Karen’s three cats. Basically, she was alerting Karen to the fact that no one had been to her house and wondered if she should check on things. Turns out, another neighbor, who agreed to help with cat duty got the dates mixed up.

Imagine getting a call like that — sure, it sounds like the exception to the rule but is that really something you want to gamble with? Even if neighbors mean well — and I’m sure they do — do you really think they are as vested in taking care of all the needs of your kittos? What happens if they get hurt while on your property? Or move away? None of this is out of the realm of possibility, and although using a neighbor seems convenient and cheap you may be paying a much higher price in the long run.

Expertise. And lots of extras. It’s more than just feeding and cleaning boxes – much more. First of all, you are getting help from someone who spends all their time around cats. That alone is invaluable when you consider how cat behavior is so unreliable. Someone who knows this will be able to connect with yours much more easily. In addition to general cat care, I make sure my clients get video and text updates. When you can’t be with your kitto, to know that your cat is having fun and is well taken care of let’s you have fun, too. I also keep your trash pickup on schedule, retrieve mail and take care of basic home needs. The daily visit simulates someone at home and prevents vandalism and burglary. Alarm systems or not, potential threats are much less likely. I also keep daily notes for when you return so you get a full picture of how everything went. And finally, let’s not forget about this blog and social media, which lets you connect to valuable information. Great, convenient resources for now or later.

Attention. Playtime. Interaction. Your cat misses you! The longer you are away, the harder it becomes for them – they need their human to manage!  : )  There is a misconception about cats being less needy than dogs, but trust me on this one — they are not less needy they just express it differently. When it comes to your cats, playtime is a priority, and the one thing I wanted to make sure each of my services included.  Keeping your cats engaged and active also means they will keep up with routines such as eating properly and litter box usage. It is usually around day 2 or 3 of an owner being gone — or a disruption to their usual routine — when they can start to become despondent and reclusive. The one on one interaction is important to preventing this, and because I keep notes on all daily activities any change in behavior won’t go unnoticed or unattended to.

Help when you need it. Things can go wrong. Cats get sick. Air conditioners stop working. Furnaces go out. Storms can cause power outages. Sure, there are apps, Alexa and gadgets to notify us of interruptions to service and ways to get help. But is that reliable enough?

When we first meet, I gather information about your cats such as their eating habits, playtime preferences and personality traits. I also note their vet, an emergency contact and anything about the house that may be significant: doors that don’t close properly, places the cats aren’t allowed and where the thermostat and mechanicals are located. Nobody – nobody – wants to come home to a major problem. An app may be able to alert you to a power outage, but I can make sure your kittos are safe during the interim. And by the way — ever get stuck trying to get home from a trip? If your travel plans are delayed I will continue to care for your cats until your safe return.

Peace of mind. Let’s face it, once you have a routine established with quality care, there is next to nothing you have to concern yourself with. If something pops up and you need help on short notice, I will make every effort to accommodate that. When you plan being away, you know everything will be tended to. Cat sitting is not just reliable, as you can see it is logical.  At the very least, give it a try. From some of the testimonials of my clients, it is evident that others were a little hesitant at first but are very, very thankful now. It’s seamless, I promise. And one less thing you have to worry about when you are in, say, Italy.  ;  )