It’s only late October, but my bookings are already half full for nearly every day of the latter half of December. Today’s #tiptuesday is about making sure you get the cat sitter you want during your winter holidays and peace of mind knowing your fur babies will be well looked after while you’re gone.
In 2015 and 2016, I underwent treatment for stage 3a breast cancer. While I didn’t have any pets during that time, I have thought about what precautions I would take in looking after our cat, Tom, if I have a cancer recurrence.
As a dedicated, professional cat sitter, I’m interested in learning as much as I can about cats, their behaviour and psychology, and best practices in caring for them. There are many courses out there, including some free ones, that will help you learn more about cats, and I’m going to share my favourite ones thus far with you.
A little while ago, a friend of Cat Mom Calgary wrote to me late at night: they had found three abandoned kittens outside who were too young to have been weaned; what did they need to do to look after the kittens?
Cats need to have their claws trimmed about once every 10 to 14 days. Make sure you’re only getting the tip, and not the pinkish part called the quick.
I recommend only using a pair of nail clippers designed for cats.
To make trimming claws easier, you can use the kitty burrito method. This involves wrapping your cat gently in a towel with their head sticking out and bringing out each paw in its turn for nail trimming.
As a cat sitter, it’s important to me that all cats in my care feel comfortable with me. Also, I’m visiting their territory: it’s incumbent upon me to be a good guest. For today’s #TipTuesday, I want to share what I do to show a cat I’m just meeting that I’m friendly and non-threatening.
In Calgary, it’s nearly summer, and for cat parents, that means having some strategies at the ready to prevent our kitties from becoming overheated.
1. Ice cubes in your cat’s water
Some cats love having ice cubes in their water for a cool treat on a hot day and/or batting around ice cubes. Make sure your cat has plenty of fresh, cool water at all times.
2. Damp towels and fans
On hot days, my old cat Sabrina absolutely loved having a damp towel rubbed down her entire body and then sitting/napping in front of a fan. If your cat will let you, also dampen their paw pads because cats sweat through their pads.
3. Brush out loose fur.
This is particularly important for long-haired kitties. Not having as much loose fur on their coat will help your cat stay cool.
4. Make your home cool for your kitty.
Draw curtains and lower blinds to block out the sun. Have windows open to bring in a breeze and fresh air. Turn on fans and/or air conditioning as needed. Have cool, shaded kitty hiding spots in your home.
5. Don’t leave your cat in a hot car!
Just as with small children and dogs, never leave your cat in a hot car or a car that could become hot. Cats are susceptible to heatstroke and death from extreme heat. Make sure any pet carrier you use provides shade and allows for fresh air.
6. Know the signs of heatstroke in cats.
Heatstroke is a being’s inability to regulate body temperature when exposed to too much sunlight and heat.
According to Walks’ N’ Wags, heatstroke signs are as follows in increasing order of severity:
- panting and brick-red gums
- increased heart rate
- increased temperature
- pinpoint bruising
If heatstroke isn’t caught with the above, the signs progress to
- difficultly breathing
- blue gums and tongue
- pulse weakens
- respiration ceases
This is a medical emergency that requires you to take immediate action to lower your cat’s temperature. According to Walk ‘N’ Wags, you should
- place the cat in a cool, shaded area
- spray the cat with water from a hose
- use a fan to encourage the cooling process, but ensure the cat doesn’t become too cold
- encourage the cat to drink to replace lost body fluids
- stop cooling when the cat’s temperature reaches about 39.5 Celsius or 103.1 Fahrenheit because you don’t want to induce hypothermia
- dry the cat when the cooling process is done
- don’t use ice packs or anything extremely cold on the skin; this can cause damage/shock
The above treatment also applies to dogs.
I would highly recommend contacting your vet or animal urgent care centre if your cat has heatstroke and after you’ve treated them per the above protocol.
7. If you walk your cat or let them outside, only do so in the early morning or late evening.
This will allow your cat exercise outside but won’t expose them to the hottest parts of the day.
8. Cats can get sunburns!
Just as with humans, exposed skin on cats can get sunburned and increase their risk of skin cancer. The nose, lips, and ears are particularly at risk for sunburn in cats. Human sunscreen is not safe for cats, so if you feel your cat could use sunscreen, discuss it with your vet.
For today’s #TipTuesday, I’m going to share the story of a curious kitten named Thor and what happened when he got into some lilies. Thor is fine now, but this was a dire medical emergency because lilies are fatally toxic to cats.
Amanda, Thor’s Mom, has given Cat Mom Calgary permission to share the following images from her personal Facebook page.
Poinsettias, contrary to popular myth, are only mildly toxic to cats and dogs, though it’s still a good idea to keep poinsettias away from our pets. As we can see from Thor’s story, lilies are life threatening to our cats. So what is a cat parent who wants plants in their home to do?
Before bringing any plants into your home, I recommend checking out the Pet Poison Helpline’s comprehensive database to find out if a plant or other substance is harmful to cats. The ASPCA has a list of both toxic and safe plants for cats. Some cat parents opt for artificial plants or plants for cats like cat grass or catnip. With these tips, we can keep our cats safe so, hopefully, fewer cats will need medical intervention from ingesting a poison.
Cats are obligate carnivores, which means that they are required to consume other animals to meet nutritional needs. To the best of my knowledge, there are no vegan and vegetarian cat foods available that can fully meet a cat’s needs.
I am a vegetarian, so I understand how giving cats animal protein could present ethical angst for some vegans and vegetarians. This is my personal take on it: 1) I can consume a healthful diet as a vegetarian; cats cannot, and 2) I have chosen to have family members and a business caring for beings who are obligate carnivores, so it’s my ethical responsibility to make sure that any cats I care for are well cared for. As with anything regarding your cat’s specific health needs, including diet, I recommend consulting your cat’s veterinarian.
Fun bonus fact about cats and diet: cats don’t require outside sources of vitamin C because their bodies make it. This, along with their innate hunting skills, are why they were popular companions on board ships back when scurvy was a major issue for sailors.
Welcome to the Cat Mom Calgary blog! On #TipTuesdays, I’ll share my thoughts on a variety of cat-related topics.
Cats are naturally territorial and prefer to stay in what they see as their own space. If you’re going away for the holidays, having a pet sitter come to your home once or twice daily to care for and check up on your kitties is a good idea. Your cats will still miss you, of course, but they’ll thrive better being in their territory with their resources.
You’re going away and have decided to book a cat sitter, but how do you pick the right one? The first step is determining your cat’s needs. Does your cat have special needs such as medication? Does your cat need a human to cuddle with? How frequently do they need to be fed? The second is to know what your budget is.
When you find someone you think would be great, contact them with your cat sitting needs and schedule. I encourage clients to ask questions about my cat sitting services when booking me. The questions people tend to ask me the most are the following:
1) Length of visits? It depends on the cat’s needs. I stay for a minimum of half an hour. For kitties who need more human social interaction, I will increase that time. I care about what’s best for your cat and do not have rigid rules around my time. This is also why I book a maximum of four cat sitting jobs per day.
2) Time of day? I do my best to accommodate cat parent preferences if they have any. When I have multiple cat clients I’m looking after, I first organize by cats who need medication and then slot other clients in around those appointments by location. I try to keep the timing of visits each day consistent. For example, if I arrange to visit your cat midmorning on the first day, I will make sure that all subsequent visits are midmorning unless you request otherwise.
3) How long have you had cats? 23 years in total!
4) How long have you been with Pawshake? Since August 2018.
5) Are you comfortable administering medication? Absolutely! I have a lot of experience administering medication to cats. I wash my hands before and after touching any medication. I do ask my clients for a demonstration, if needed, for what works best for giving their cats medication so I can see what clients prefer and what the cat is used to.
6) Do you have pet first aid training? Yes, I do! I completed a course in January with Walks ‘N’ Wags. My pet first aid certificate is below.
You’ve decided to adopt a cat or kitten into your family. Congratulations! Before you bring your new feline family member home, though, you need to make sure you have some basic supplies to help your cat feel like their new home is home.
Announcing Cat Mom Calgary becoming an official Friend of Tree Canada and how I’m honouring the cats I care for with the National Greening Program.
During initial conversations and meet and greets, clients will often share with me why they’ve chosen to book me as a professional to come look after their cat(s). I get asked about this sometimes when people find out what I do for a living, so I wanted to share what I’ve heard generally with you.