Kitto Blog

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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.  ;  )

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Grooming Goodies!

Charity Bake Sale

Good Morning Cat Luvers! Today will be fun because I have been curating a great collection of all things cats, and have some really cool grooming gadgets that I can’t wait to share!

We all want our kittos to look and feel special, but sometimes it is a little too easy to just rely on them to take care of their own grooming. I feel you. Here are a few great tools to add to your repertoire to make your cat’s life a whole lot prettier! Are you a big fan of a specific cat gizmo? Please let me know. Anything that can make things easier / more fun / less stressful I am all about.

nailclippersNail Clippers. No more rock / paper / scissors to decide who get’s to trim Sasha’s nails. Meet the Safety Pet Nail Clipper from The Grommet. With over 220 positive reviews it is a perfectly sized (and smartly designed) pet nail clipper that makes the whole thing effortless. Your cat will not even realize what’s up. Not only are these supposed to hold up for life and come with a cushioned non-slip handle, but because they are size specific to the pet it pretty much guarantees not messing up. The best mani / pedi tool I have seen. Get these – you can thank me later!

brushglovesBrushing Gloves. With shedding season just around the corner, we all know (and dread) the all day, every day event brushing becomes. Even the kittos get a little impatient and start to scatter when they see the brushes come out! Here’s an idea: put on these gloves, pull your cat on your lap, get Netflix going and rub a dub dub. You will be happy, your cat will be happy — problem solved! Although I’m sure most of you are familiar with this version, the Kitty Tongue is a little less abrasive which is perfect for short hair cats and cats who dislike traditional brushing. Either way, I think having a few pairs stashed around the house is also helpful, because I do the same with portable vacuums to keep the fur tumble weeds at bay and it works like a charm!

catwipes1Cat Wipes. Let’s face it, most cats don’t like baths. For those of you who have managed to get your cat comfortable with the whole thing, I applaud you. But for the rest of us, there are cat wipes. Honestly, once I stumbled upon these Earthbath All Natural Cat Wipes the whole bathing thing has been a breeze. Often after brushing I will grab one of these and give a quick cleaning, and especially in drier months they really seem to appreciate the way it makes their skin feel. These are thicker than most, have Aloe Vera, Vitamin E and keep dander at bay. Honestly I know there are several varieties of wipes out there, so whatever works for you is great but it’s certainly something that really helps keep their coats soft and shiny, and they smell pretty, too!

catbrushSelf Groomer Cat Brush. Omg I can’t tell you how long this was on the bucket list! I kept seeing it around, but was kind of second guessing whether it would really get used. But c’mon — for $5? Hard to pass up and I’m glad I didn’t. I like this Catit Senses version because it is a nice, durable plastic and fits corners perfectly. In fact, I have heard of folks using them on desk legs or other furniture pieces as well. Most important is that my cats love scratching their little cheeks and whiskers on it. Just like scratching posts, it is great to have an accessory to take care of their cute faces and that they can use on their own. It comes with catnip, which is supposed to lure your cat and get it accustomed to using it, but honestly I don’t even use the catnip and think it’s just fine without it, and so do the girls!

So, just a few of my favs here but look for more cool stuff soon. Please let me know how these work out for you if you give them a try. Oh yeah – this is not a sponsored post, simply legit from personal use info. Happy National Cat Health Month! Hope your kittos are all happier and healthier than ever.

 

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The Importance of Your Cat’s Pearly Whites (Dental Hygiene)

catbrushingteeth

“Who cleans their cat’s teeth?”

This was one of my first thoughts as I listened to my sister, Karen, describe her cat Dottie’s recent visit to the dentist – er, vet back in September. Little did I know about a week later I would be answering my own question with “I do.”

(I wrote all about Dottie’s dental visit – you can find it by scrolling a few posts back).

Here’s the thing: just as we all know what consequences await if we neglect our own dental care, Periodontal disease in cats is very real and can result in some very debilitating health issues.

As February is Pet Dental Health Month it creates the perfect opportunity to really start – or improve upon – a plan with your own kittos.

Whether you are new to cat dental hygiene or just looking for a better solution, I have some great links that helped me at the end of this post. There are several options, and usually a vet can guide you but once you read through them usually it is easy to tell what will be the best fit for you and your cat.

If you know what approach to take but struggle with making sure it gets done, here are a few suggestions that may help:

  • Don’t overthink it. Of course, when it comes to the health of our kittos we all want the best, but just as important is to keep it simple. My vet gave me some gauze and a little dental paste for cats (never use regular toothpaste!). It was the perfect way for me to get started, easy to manage and didn’t freak out the cats.
  • Work it into another routine, like feeding or brushing. It will help with consistency and won’t be as weird for your cats. Follow up with a treat or reward and eventually they may even look forward to it!
  • Solicit the help of other family members. Honestly, everyone should be comfortable with most responsibilities in taking care of your cat so the care is consistent and not dependent on only one person. Especially when it comes to dental hygiene, simply reviewing the correct procedure with each family member creates a partnership in making sure Charley’s pearly whites are healthy.
  • Keep track with a visual reference. A nice sized dry erase calendar in a place it will be noticed is a great way to keep track. It also helps everyone be individually responsible – if some family members are having trouble with ‘dental duty’ because of busy schedules, another can step in – and vice versa.
  • Try incorporating dental treats into your cat’s diet. Keep in mind some of these are probably not as ‘tasty’ as the regular treats so you may have to give a few different brands a try, but every little bit helps!

And maybe I should add that posting a pic or two of a cat’s red, swollen gums when it has dental disease (as I did with Dottie) may also provide motivation to stay on track!

Anyway, I wish you success. Here are those links I mentioned earlier. I’d love to hear about what works / doesn’t as I’m sure there is so much more to this story.

What you should know about cat’s tooth brushing

DentaLife Tasty Dental Treats for Cats

Home Care for Cats (American Veterinary Dental College)