Archives for May 2015

Are Air Fresheners And Plug-Ins Safe?

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A lot of pet owners are concerned about pet odor, litter box odor in particular. They use plug-ins and spray air fresheners to hep mask the smell. But are they really safe?

According to the Natural Resource Defense Council the answer is no. The NRDC recently tested 14 air fresheners and found that 12 of them contained phthalates chemicals that can cause hormonal abnormalities, birth defects and reproductive problems. Some of the products were labeled all natural and unscented. According to Scientific American, air fresheners also contain  benzene and formaldehyde, which can cause cancer. Another common ingredient is volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which can cause headaches, nausea and can aggrevate asthma. If these products are  harmful to humans, I can only imagine what they are doing to our pets.

So what can we do about pet odor? First, we can open our windows and air everything out. Get a fan going to circulate the air. Mix four teaspoons baking soda to four cups of water and put in a spray bottle to use as an odor neutralizer. One part vinegar to four parts water is not only an excellent cleaner but it gets rid of odors as well. Simmering cinnamon and cloves in water on a stove will make the whole house smell wonderful.

To learn more about the study on air fresheners click here.

 

(2015) Toxic Air Fresheners? http://www.nrdc.org/living/healthreports/hidden-hazards-air-fresheners.asp

(2012)  http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/nontoxic-air-fresheners/

Let’s Talk About Litter Boxes

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If our cats could talk they would tell us that we are doing it all wrong with the litter box. Most litter boxes are designed to appeal to the owner, not the cat. There’s a popular one I see a lot where the cat needs to jump into a hole in the top and into the litter box. For a confident cat or an only cat this might be fine. For a timid cat or one that is in a multiple cat household, the kitty has no idea what is going on outside of the box and that can be quite terrifying for them. Lids are something else your cat would probably tell you to do away with. The cat is always worrying about an exit strategy. This can be a real problem in multi-cat households. A cat that is constantly worried about how to safely exit the litter box might start going to the bathroom outside the box altogether.

Round boxes and fancy domed boxes with stairs are too small for a cat to move around in. It is much better to have a low sided large pan, especially for older and overweight cats. For the younger cats, a Rubbermaid tote without a lid can make a great litter pan. When looking for a place to put the box, again remember a cat’s exit strategy. Place the litter box where kitty can see from all angles. This will make your cat feel safe to use the box.

When choosing litter, most cats prefer clumping litter. Don’t go too crazy with scented litters and powders to reduce odor. Simply scooping every day will get the job done. Some cats are sensitive to strong scents and might stop using the box if they find the scent unpleasant. My favorite litter is Target brand Unscented Scoopable. It clumps great and doesn’t have a strong smell.

If you are having problems with your cat not using the litter box, it’s always best to check with your vet first to make sure your cat is not having health issues. If she gets a clean bill of health, try some of these tips and see if it helps.

Need someone to scoop the litter box and feed the kitty while you are away? Give us a call at 267-981-4929.catbigeyes

 

10 Reasons Why I Understand My Clients

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I spend a lot of time keeping up with the pet sitting industry. The term “ideal client” comes up quite a bit. I was thinking about who my ideal client is and I realized it is actually someone just like me. Here are 10 reasons why:

  1. My pets are my children. Seriously. I know people say that a lot but just ask my grown kids and they will tell you that growing up in my house, the pets were given as much consideration as any family member.
  2. I worry about my pets. Like all the time. I need a pet sitter who understands I feel guilty about leaving my pets.
  3. I need to check up on my pets. If I am away, I need pictures and updates.
  4. Some of my pets are special needs. I need a sitter who can give medication to them as needed.
  5. Some of my pets are seniors. I need someone who has experience handling the older guys and the patience to care for them.
  6. I talk to my pets. Every day. I want a sitter who isn’t afraid to belt out a song or two while spending time with my babies.
  7. My pets aren’t perfect. Most of my guys are rescues. They come with baggage. Sometimes they don’t want to get off the sofa to go potty. I need a sitter who can motivate with love and kindness.
  8. I need someone who understands birds. My parrot is high maintenance and a little neurotic at times. I need a sitter who understands that the silver bowl really does need to be on the left. It matters to him.
  9. Little things mean a lot. My cats enjoy looking out the window. I need a sitter who will remember to open and close the curtains each day.
  10. My cats eat at their own stations. I need a sitter who will understand the importance of my cat’s personal space at meal time.

If any of this sounds like you, please give us a call to schedule a meet and greet! 267-981-4929ozgrape

Why We Don’t Do Every Other Day Visits For Cats

 

cat-636172_640When a new cat client calls, sometimes they request every other day visits for their cats. I have even received requests for visits once every three days.  We understand that some cats only eat dry food and aren’t very social, but we do more than play with your cat, change the litter and feed them. We make sure your kitty is safe and healthy.

I entered a home recently where a cat had managed to lock herself in the bathroom. If this had been an every other day visit, the cat would have been very hungry and would have made quite a mess. Cats are infamous for locking themselves in rooms.

Another concern is illness. Male cats can develop urinary blockages and become gravely ill very quickly. There are several other illnesses that can happen over the course of a day and need quick veterinary attention.

I have arrived at homes where cats have knocked over lamps, broke glasses and knick knacks.  Once a  kitty knocked over an electric candle that was hot enough to burn a hole in the rug. I have even heard stories where cats managed to turn on a stove.

The bottom line is cats can get into trouble when left alone for long periods of time!

Need a cat sitter? Give us a call at 267-981-4929.

 

A Word About Invisible Fences

dog-559853_1280We have quite a few clients with invisible fence systems. I would say about 40 percent of them have had success with them.  If you are considering having an invisible fence installed, please weigh the pros and cons first. I am not a fan of them because of the following reasons:

 

If your dog sees something he wants on the other side, or becomes frightened enough to jump the barrier, he is essentially locked out. He has already endured a shock to escape. It is unlikely he will return to get shocked again.

An electric fence can frighten your dog. I have clients whose dogs never returned to their yard again after being shocked.

It is painful. The shock needs to be severe enough to stop them from going past the boundary. I have spoken with people who needed to call the installers to come back and turn up the shock so their dog wouldn’t try to escape. This is punishment, rather than positive reinforcement. Most dog trainers recommend positive reinforcement to train a dog.

Other options include fencing in a smaller area of your yard or of course walking your dog on a leash. There are also dog training classes that teach off leash training, but I would never recommend leaving your dog unattended without a fence.

 

To All The Pet Moms

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To the dog mom who slept on the floor every night next to her best friend until he was able to get up and around again.

To the cat mom who saw her girl wasn’t acting quite right and rushed her to the ER vet at 3 am.

To the parrot mom who eats ramen but makes sure her bird only gets organic fruit and veggies.

To all the moms.

They buy sixteen cat food flavors knowing fifteen will get turned down.

They follow their dog around in the yard because he doesn’t like to poop alone.

They cancel their trip if one of their pets isn’t eating before they leave.

They cover their dog with an umbrella while they get soaked.

And they love us for it.

Happy Mother’s Day!catpaw

 

Winning The War On Fleas

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Veterinarians now say that flea protection should be applied year round.

It is much easier to prevent fleas than to get rid of them. Talk to your vet to find out what treatment he recommends. Personally, I like Advantage. I use it on my dogs and cats and have had great success with it.

Even if you have indoor only cats, they can still get fleas. Fleas often travel through our homes on field mice. If there our cats in the home they can easily take up residence. Heat and humidity make a great breeding ground for these parasites, so summer is their peak season. Even if you are using a monthly prevention, it’s good to check your pets fur for anything that looks like black specks, called flea dirt. If you do find fleas, make sure you find out from your vet what they recommend for home treatment. Many products  sold in stores are not safe for cats. Be wary of products labeled natural. Just because it’s natural, doesn’t always make it non- toxic. Avoid flea collars and flea shampoos as well. They are not effective and can cause severe allergic reactions especially on cats.

If you do buy Advantage, shop around for the best price. Online is often cheaper than in pet stores.

You can win the war on fleas, just remember the best defense is a good offense.

Help! I Found A Baby Bunny!

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It’s that time of year again! Baby bunny nests are popping up in everyone’s backyard. Here in Levittown, we all have rabbits in our yards.

So what do you do if your dog finds a nest of bunnies? If they are not injured, cover them back up with the fur and and other materials mom used to cover the nest. Bunnies leave the nest at three weeks old. If they already have fur, you probably only need to worry about this for a few more days. You can cover the nest or fence it off, just make sure you uncover it again so mom can come back later. She feeds them twice a day around dawn and dusk. The rest of the day she stays away so no one will know where the nest is. If you need to put them back in, you can touch them, mom will still come back.

If you find a baby bunny hopping around your yard, he has left the nest already. If you are concerned your dog might catch him, you can relocate the bunny to a safer area. Just make sure to release him under a bush or shrub so he has a place to hide.

Should you find an injured bunny call your local wildlife rehabber  and they can decide if the bunny needs medical assitance.

As tempting as it might be, do not try to keep one as a pet! These are wild rabbits and they cannot be domesticated. If you are looking to adopt a domestic rabbit, visit your local SPCA where they always have bunnies in need of homes.

 

Do you have a pet rabbit that needs care while you are on vacation? Give us a call! 267-981-4929

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