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Feline Enrichment Series Part 4

Feline Enrichment Series Part 4
Feline Enrichment Series Part 4
Feline Enrichment Series Part 4

Feline Enrichment MATTERS – Feeding enrichment & prey drive

We here at Waggs 2 Whiskers have been BUSY CATS during this pandemic!  We have been taking advantage of as many trainings as we can push into our brains.  One in particular REALLY put us over the edge about Feline Behaviors & Enrichment.  It was an amazing webinar put on by our wonderful Pet Sitters International (PSI).  They are awesome providing many opportunities for continuing education for their members.  

This is a 4 part blog series (YES….it was THAT GOOD).  The webinar was graciously put on by Dr. Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions.  We are going to break down what we learned into 4 parts for this series:

1 – Cat’s Basic Nature 

2 – Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits

3 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 1.5 – toy suggestions/the five senses

4 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 2 + prey drive

We have now released Part 1 on Cat’s Basic Nature, Part 2 on Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits of making sure your kitty cat have both available to them & also Part 3 – Cognitive and Sensory Enrichment.    

If you missed any of them, go to our website at this link:  https://www.waggs2whiskers.com/blog/

NOW, it’s time for Part 4 – Feline Enrichment MATTERS – Feeding enrichment & prey drive.  Also, how as a pet sitter we can HELP provide this enrichment during our visits with your kitty. 

First, let’s talk Feeding Enrichment:

If your kitty cat seems to be less interested in their food than normal, before thinking something may be wrong, try some of these ideas to make sure she isn’t just bored.

  • Ration their daily food by hiding it throughout the home to give them a chance to search and use their prey drive to find their food. As we learned in Part 1 of this series, cats have an excellent sense of smell and they will search out for food.  Just keep an eye on your hiding spots to be sure they are actually finding and eating it.  Then, you will know if it’s boredom or if they are losing their appetite for some other reason. 
  • Put their dry kibble and/or treats in a container of some sort or even a paper towel roll or TP roll and let them reach in and get it out. It’s not only fun for them but us as well.  Nothing better than watching a cat jump and roll around, better than TV anyday.
  • Food puzzles – You can find these in your local pet store but you can also make them! Try googling some homemade cat puzzles, lots of great ideas from things you have around the house and maybe some duct tape.
  • Snuffle mats – These are really cool and if you don’t know what they are, go to this site – these are handmade by an amazing small business – http://www.beansnbones.com/product/snuffle-mat/ These are normally made for dogs but are great for cats as well since their food is small and treats as well.  They will love it!
  • Frozen chicken broth or milk – consult your veterinarian before offering the milk, some veterinarians may suggest against it. But, if you freeze chicken broth in an ice cube tray and then put one on a plate for your kitty to lick on, this also offers enrichment to their day.
  • Slow Feeders – they have some mats, some are called lucky mats, that you can put wet food on to offer the kitty enrichment during eating rather than them just gulping it down in one sitting.

Think SIMPLE, you may think it’s really not going to make a difference but it truly does to your kitty, it’s kind of like a human having the same thing to eat day after day and never changing up what we eat or how we eat it.  Think about it, it would be very, very boring!

Cat Prey Drive:

A cat has a natural prey sequence:

1 – Stare

2 – Stalk & Chase

3 – Pounce & Grab

4 – Kill Bite and Bunny kick

A feline’s natural prey are rodents, insects, reptiles and birds.  When looking for toys for them to play with think of these preys. 

  • Try some kicker toys, battery operated interactive toys.
  • Interactive wand toys that you can play with them like one called Da Bird. You can get a 3’ or 6’ wand with a string that you can change the attachments on – there are feather attachments, birds, mice, rats, items made of deer fur, insect lures, cat charmer and worm teasers. How cool is that?  You can just switch out the toys for playtime. 
  • For shy, slow or senior cats – Try a cat charmer fleece wand, cat dancer cardboard, wire toy with long peacock feather or fuzzy worms.
Martini the cat and our owner Kelly

Cat sitting at Martini’s house is so fun

How WE can help as a pet sitter:

One thing about cats that most of us know is that they get stressed when their routine changes.  It’s sometimes hard to see this stress but knowing your cat, even the slightest change can bring the stressers out.  Which is where we as kitty sitters can swoop in and help!  The social interaction is the most important piece.  Social kitties are usually first to meet us at the door and we love that.  We talk to them and pet and scratch them, we can also provide brushing.  

Some kitties aren’t interested in making new friends.  From what we have found, we can develop a relationship over time with them if they want to accept us.  And, we are happy to try anything. 

We suggest leaving their toys out, allowing us to play with them, we can provide enrichment in all of the ways we have spoken of in this blog series.  And, we are happy to provide this service as part of our cat sits.  Sometimes, if your kitty is shy and just wants to observe us, we are happy to talk to them and even read a children’s book to them to allow them to get used to our voice and our mannerisms.  We allow them to get to know us at their pace. 

But, if they want to play, we just ask our clients to let us know where the toys are, we love to play.  We can also set up some tents for them to play in while we are away.  We can also provide feeding enrichment for them after playtime to give them something to do while we are not visiting.  We always put away and toys that aren’t suggested to be left out with kitties unsupervised such as wand toys or bags that have handles that they could get caught up in while at home alone.  Safety first is very important to us.

Just to sum up our series, in two words…Enrichment Matters!  Feline Enrichment allows for expression of natural behaviors and helps to reduce stress.  Providing enrichment for your kitty can build a lasting and positive relationship and help to avoid any negative behaviors. 

There are so many great ideas here to offer your indoor kitty cat.  Just pick a few and see what they think.  Providing enrichment for them is a gift.  As we all know, staying in the house a lot can make us want to climb the walls.  So, if your cat is doing that or using destructive behavior or are just bored, it’s time to provide them with some enrichment to spice up their lives!

Thanks so much for tuning in to our Feline Enrichment series!  I have truly enjoyed providing this series to you.  Please let me know what you think and if you have any questions!

Kelly Catlett

PROUD owner of Waggs 2 Whiskers

Medicine Hat
Ferragamo getting his belly brushed

Feline Enrichment Series Part 3

Turbo the cat

Cognitive & Sensory Enrichment

 

We here at Waggs 2 Whiskers have been BUSY CATS during this pandemic!  We have been taking advantage of as many trainings as we can push into our brains.  One in particular REALLY put us over the edge about Feline Behaviors & Enrichment.  It was an amazing webinar put on by our wonderful Pet Sitters International (PSI).  They are awesome providing many opportunities for continuing education for their members.  

This is a 4 part blog series (YES….it was THAT GOOD).  The webinar was graciously put on by Dr. Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions.  We are going to break down what we learned into 4 parts for this series:

1 – Cat’s Basic Nature 

2 – Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits

3 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 1.5 – toy suggestions/the five senses

4 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 2 + prey drive

We have now released Part 1 on Cat’s Basic Nature & Part 2 on Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits of making sure your kitty cat have both available to them.  

If you missed them, go to our website at this link:  https://www.waggs2whiskers.com/feline-enrichment-series-part-1/

NOW, it’s time for Part 3 – Cognitive & Sensory Enrichment – let’s talk TOYS!!! 

Let’s get real, MOST people may think that toys are just for dogs.  NOT true!  Cats need this enrichment, possibly MORE than dogs.  Remember in our talk about cat’s basic nature & their adaptations in Part 1 of this series?  SO mportant for kitty cats!  If you didn’t see this, go back and take a look now and then read on!  Now, Part 3.

Cognitive Enrichment in cats allows them to think and problem solve.  There are many items out there to purchase for your kitty cats but you can also make things at home and offer simple tasks for cats that can help them with this type of enrichment in their daily lives.  Here are some great ideas to use:

1 – Agility courses – YES, you can provide this for your cat!  Get creative!

2 – Commands – Cats CAN learn how to sit, spin and fist bump with training just like a dog!

3 – Puzzles – provide food in puzzles and interactive toys.  You can even put treats in a paper towel roll and let them try to get it out, it’s THAT easy!

4 – Clicker training – cats can learn through clicker training!  Check out this book – Clicker Training for Clever Cats by Martina Braun.  You can also look up ‘clicker training’ on Youtube to see some ways to try it with your cat.

5 – Innovative game – when you want your cat to try something, encourage them and then reward them with a treat like a dog.  They do learn in this way as well.

Here are some play session tips for you to use:

  • First of all, limit your play sessions to 2 per day at about 15 minutes each, one before bedtime is always good if you are looking for ways to get them to rest when you do.
  • Always play before feeding – cat’s normal behavior is in order – hunt, eat, groom, sleep
  • Rotate toys and lures and you can use catnip spray to renew them. But, switching them in and out during play sessions is a great idea to keep them interested.
  • Move lures like real prey items and wind them down at the end to indicate the “death” of the toy, don’t stop in the middle of a wild play time
  • Play with one cat at a time if possible, this gives them the chance to focus on the toy on their own
  • Shy cats may want a slower or smaller toy
  • Don’t forget the older cats, try new things to find what they like to play with
  • Don’t give up during playtime if the cat seems to have lost interest. Some cats may “reset” to the staring phase, it doesn’t mean playtime is over.  And, remember, it may take them a little time to figure out what they like
  • An interesting fact to go with this play session – house cats spend 25% of their day hunting while feral cats spend 50% of their day hunting. Increasing that 25% of house cats closer to the 50% of feral cats will mean you will have a happier, more content cat at home

Sensory Enrichment will offer your kitty cat stimulated senses.  Here is how you can help them to stimulate those 5 senses.

When offering new stimulants for your cat, be sure to BE SAFE and supervise them when in use and put them away when you aren’t there so they won’t get consumed, over stimulated or tangled.  Also, providing those stimulants while you are home can also let you have that one on one time with your cat that they absolutely adore.

Try some of these ideas to help to bring those 5 senses alive in your cat:

  • Other animals on TV or video
  • Laser pointer or flashlight
  • Catnip bubbles
  • Herbs & spices – mint, chamomile, dill, catnip – check to be sure any you use are safe for use with your kitty cat
  • Scents from other animals on a clean rag – if you have outside animals like farm animals – cows, sheep, horses – rub the rag on them and bring it in the house for your kitty to check out.
  • Pine cones, leaves, shells, branches from outside
  • Water, ice cube play
  • Packing paper from your shipments – boxes too!
  • Feathers, antlers
  • Whole veggies or fruits
  • Indoor cat garden – google this, so many great ideas
  • Nori seaweed
  • Music, wind chimes

There are so many great ideas here to offer your indoor kitty cat.  Just pick a few and see what they think.  Providing enrichment for them is a gift.  As we all know, staying in the house a lot can make us want to climb the walls.  So, if your cat is doing that or using destructive behavior or are just bored, it’s time to provide them with some enrichment to spice up their lives!

Thanks so much for tuning in to our Feline Enrichment series!  Next week, we will have Part 4 of our series – Feeding Enrichment!  Come on back and see us then!

Kelly Catlett

PROUD owner of Waggs 2 Whiskers

Martini
Ferragamo
Lily the beauty

Feline Enrichment Series Part 2

Our kitty client Burt getting some TLC from his pet sitter
Our kitty client Burt getting some TLC from his pet sitter

Part 2 – Feline Behaviors & Enrichment:

We here at Waggs 2 Whiskers have been BUSY CATS during this pandemic!  We have been taking advantage of as many trainings as we can push into our brains.  One in particular REALLY put us over the edge about Feline Behaviors & Enrichment.  It was an amazing webinar put on by our wonderful Pet Sitters International (PSI).  They are awesome providing many opportunities for continuing education for their members.

This is a 4 part blog series (YES….it was THAT GOOD).  The webinar was graciously put on by Dr. Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions.  We are going to break down what we learned into 4 parts for this series:

1 – Cat’s Basic Nature

2 – Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits

3 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 1.5

4 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 2 + prey drive/toy suggestions

Last week, we released Part 1 – Cat’s Basic Nature – if you missed it, go back and take a READ!  Here is the link:

Feline Enrichment Series Part 1

It was very interesting AS IS Part 2 that we are sharing with you today!  Part 2 is all about Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits of making sure your kitty cat have both available to them.

Let’s get started!

Part 2 – Feline Behaviors & Enrichment:

Feline Environment, Enrichment & the Benefits of BOTH

First, cats adapt to surviving in a large range of environments.  Their most challenging is an indoor environment…surprised?  So was I especially if a kitty is raised from a kitten indoors.  But, keep reading, you will be as amazed as I on how you can enrich that environment and see your kitty come to LIFE!

A Healthy Feline Environment should include:

1 – A safe place including good health and well being

2 – Multiple and SEPARATED food & water

3 – Multiple litter boxes

4 – Places to scratch – posts, scratching boards, there are many on the market now.

5 – Places to play and places to rest

6 – Opportunity for play and to use their predatory behavior

7 – Positive consistent and predictable human/cat social interaction

Feline Enrichment:

Now that we have their space and items ready to go, lets talk Feline Enrichment, it has MANY benefits.  First and I think most important is it brings out their natural behaviors, decreases problem behaviors and stimulates their senses (we learned about those last week in Part 1).  Taking the time to find enriching activities for your kitties will significantly reduce boredom and stress in kitty cats.  Boredom is the worst for felines.  They are predatory, carnivorous beasties and they are not adapted to sitting around.  Although most of us really think that’s what they like!  Boredom can lead to stress which may lead to behavior issues such as destructive behaviors to their environment (our house or furniture), vocalizations when we don’t appreciate it (at night when we sleep), aggression to people or other pets, urinary issues, yes, stress can cause urinary issues in cats. Also, lack of enrichment can cause health issues that are related to obesity.

So, let’s get GOING, lets help our kitties be happier and healthier in our homes!

Check it out…The Four C’s of Enrichment:

1 – Challenge – Problem solving – including puzzles and learning toys

2 – Choice – increases confidence & gives them empowerment

3 – Change – reduces boredom & related stress

4 – Control – lets them have positive outcomes over their environment

We will go through a few of the Enrichment CATegories in this blog and continue next week in Part 3 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines continued.

The first CATegory is Social Enrichment:

This includes time with people (theirs and others) and other animals.  If you have a kitten and have the chance to START NOW, you should expose them to a large variety of people, animals and places when they are brand new to your home.  Invite people over, have a kitty shower!  Let people bring your new family member a new toy or kitty game that you can play with them.  It will be fun and be so good for your kitties’ social skills.  (See Part 4 for some toy suggestions, you can even create a Wish List for your friends!)

If you have a grown cat and she is shy with strangers, you probably didn’t socialize her when she was young or maybe she’s a rescue that didn’t get the chance to be socialized.  Either way, it’s NEVER too late.  Start slow, have one cat loving person come in several times, once a day if possible, let your cat get used to the sound of their voice, their footsteps, their movements(which should be slow and precise at first).  If your cat is one to hide under the bed, have your person go in and sit down on the floor and read your kitty cat a children’s book. Yes, they LOVE IT.  I have done this for kitty clients that weren’t sure of me at first.  Then, we were friends forever!  They can also give your kitty some yummy treats that you can provide that she likes but just for special occasions – like tuna or chicken.

Continuous socialization is important for cats and tends to go by the wayside since cats are not necessarily the most social types of animals.  I think maybe we think that if they’re shy, that is just their personality but that’s not always necessarily true.  Give them lots of cuddles, continue to offer your lap, go to them if they are in their special place in the house, talk to them in a calming voice, pet them and love on them.

When exposing cats to other cats in the household or other pets, do so gradually.  Start with a door in-between your cat and the other pet.  They can sniff under the door and get used to each other’s scents.  Then, move slowly towards having them meeting face to face.  Remember to protect your kitty if it is a dog you are introducing it to.  Especially if you don’t know if the dog is cat friendly.  Never take for granted they are going to get along.  Tread lightly and slowly as possible.  Gates are the best next step if it is a dog you are introducing.  Let the kitty rule when she is ready to meet the dog.  Some are fine with it, some are not.  Let her decide.

When preparing for a new baby, offer gradual exposure.  Allowing them to sniff and be involved in your prep work will also help them to understand it’s their new family member too.

You can also walk your kitty on a leash or harness outside to get more social time, get a kitty stroller (they are so cool, one of our client’s has one).  You can also take them for car rides if they like it – just be sure you have a soft crate or carrier to put them in when the doors are opened so they don’t make a mad dash.

The Second CATegory is Physical Environment Enrichment 

Changing your kitty’s environment for more enrichment can be VERY simple.

First thing that most cats LOVE is vertical space – like a cat tree or shelves up high where they can see out the windows or just sit.  Clear them a spot on a shelf possibly near a window or not and see if they use it.  Test a few different areas, easy peasy way to give your cat a new spot to watch everything that is going on in your house.  You can also find or make perches and viewing platforms for them to see out windows, so many cool options out there.

Cat tunnels

Found this homemade cat fort on Facebook, how cool is this?

Give them hiding spots like cat caves (you can buy these or make your own with blankets over other items in your house).  Use a box and cut a hole in the side and put a blanket over the box OR just use the box by itself.

If you have windows facing out to your yard and can put up a squirrel feeder or a bird feeder, that could be fun for them AND you!  The joy they get out of just watching is amazing.  And, as a pet sitter, we will happily keep them filled while you are away to continue the excitement and enrichment.

Napping spots – be sure they have clean kitty beds in different parts of the house – try some different types, they will let you know what they like.  A nice soft fleece blanket might be just what they love.

Blanket FORTS – Do you remember these when you were a kid?  Well, time to make one for your kitty cat!  Just drape a blanket over a chair or a few chairs to make a fort/tent for your kitty to hide under.  This is easy and can be done before you leave for work to give them something to do while you are away.

Ok, that is enough to keep you VERY busy this week trying a few things for your kitty to add enrichment to their lives!  Next week, we will talk about more types of enrichment to try such as cognitive enrichment to see what your kitty can learn – YES you can train your CAT!  Also, some ideas for sensory enrichment to simulate their five senses.

Please comment and let us know what you have tried and what is working for YOU and YOUR kitty cat!  We would love to hear some feedback!

Until then, we will be back next Monday for Part 3 – The Four C’s of Enrichment continued

Thanks for learning Feline Enrichment with us,

Take care and be safe!

Kelly – Proud Owner

Waggs 2 Whiskers, LLC

Evie has the most gorgeous green eyes, another sweet kitty client of ours.
Evie has the most gorgeous green eyes, another sweet kitty client of ours.
Doc Watson soaking some sun and giving lovey eyes to his pet sitter
Doc Watson soaking some sun and giving lovey eyes to his pet sitter

Feline Enrichment Series Part 1

Kitties sunning

Cat's Basic Nature

 

We here at Waggs 2 Whiskers have been BUSY CATS during this pandemic!  We have been taking advantage of as many trainings as we can push into our brains.  One in particular REALLY put us over the edge about Feline Behaviors & Enrichment.  It was an amazing webinar put on by our wonderful Pet Sitters International (PSI).  They are awesome providing many opportunities for continuing education for their members. 

This is going to be a 4 part blog series (YES….it was THAT GOOD).  The webinar was graciously put on by Dr. Marci Koski of Feline Behavior Solutions.  We are going to break down what we learned into 4 parts for this series:

1 – Cat’s Basic Nature

2 – Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits

3 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 1

4 – The Four C’s of Enrichment for felines – part 2 + prey drive/toy suggestions

So, lets get started!

Cat’s Basic Nature –

First, did YOU know that cat’s domestication with humans has been only 10,000 years VS. 30,000 years of canine domestication with humans?  Wow, right?  That just blew our mind.  No WONDER dogs are naturally more personal with their owners than most cats.  I know there definitely are those cuddly, lovey exceptions to this general rule.  Why do you think this is?  Well, for one, most of the feline relationships with humans in the beginning of their domestication was hands off.  Felines were used for rodent control in food stores and also on ships. 

Cats are very similar to their wild ancestors as they are both predator and prey, they are programmed for survival.  In the wild, cats hunt & eat, eliminate waste, avoid being eaten, sleep, secure their territory, mate, raise young, play & learn.

How do they do this you ask?  Check out the photo below of a feline’s pheromone distribution areas.

cat pheromone areas

1 – Weaponry – Their teeth are made for gripping and shredding meat, not to grind like humans.  Their claws retract for running, climbing & capturing prey. 

2 – Excellent sense of smell – Cats have 200 million scent receptors compared to dogs at 300 million and humans at a mere 6 million. 

3 – Paw Pads – Felines leave scent from their glands on their paw pads through scratching to mark their territory.  They leave visual marks as well.

4 – Feline hearing – Cats have 55 Hz (Hertz) -77,000  kHz (kilohertz) of frequency, which is a very broad width of frequencies.  Humans have 31-19000 Hz, Dogs are 64-44,000 Hz, Rabbits hear between 96-49000 Hz, Mice are from 900-79000 kHz, Bats are 10,300-115,000 kHz.  As an FYI since I had to look it up to understand this frequency system via Wikipedia & techtarget.com:

The hertz (symbol: Hz, definition: 1/s) is a unit derived from time which measures frequency in the International System of Units (SI). Frequency is how often something happens. A frequency of 1 hertz means that something happens once a second.

The kilohertz, abbreviated kHz or KHz*, is a unit of alternating current (AC) or electromagnetic (EM) wave frequency equal to one thousand hertz (1,000 Hz). The unit is also used in measurements or statements of signal bandwidth. An AC signal having a frequency of 1 kHz is within the range of human hearing.

5 – Vision – Humans have 10-12 times more cones than cats which allows us the ability to detect color.  Cats can’t see red nor can they see well in bright light.  Hence the reason for our nighttime kitty cats that like to prowl at night.  For cats, blue, yellow & green items are best if you are choosing toys for them.  Black & white also work well for them.  Cats have 6-8 times more rods than humans.  This gives them the excellent vision at night which allows them to be more active at dawn & dusk.  Cats have a wider field of vision than humans but don’t see that well 8-10” from their face.  At long range – about 20’ – cats don’t see very well either. 

Another FYI – Rods are responsible for vision at low light levels (scotopic vision). They do not mediate color vision, and have a low spatial acuity. Cones are active at higher light levels (photopic vision), are capable of color vision and are responsible for high spatial acuity.  – via https://www.cis.rit.edu/

This is all GREAT info if you have a cat, either indoor or outdoor.  It helps us to look at our feline friends in a more understanding way!  Next week on our blog, we will be continuing this conversation by expanding on our cat’s environments and enrichment tools to help them co-exist in our homes with us as a predator and prey animal.  We have a lot of exciting ideas to keep your kitty cats from getting bored – especially if they are strictly indoor kitties.  Check back next Monday when we post our next blog in this Feline series – Feline Environment, Enrichment & the benefits.   Thanks for learning with us!    

Kelly Catlett

PROUD owner of Waggs 2 Whiskers, LLC

Doc Watson the cat

Unprecedented times

bulldog

What really does that mean?  The dictionary says; without previous instance; never before known or experienced; in examples or unparalleled.  There’s a lot of truth in that definition.  I can’t remember a time in my life except for when I was a teenager and grounded to the house that I was told I couldn’t go anywhere, couldn’t visit friends or family, couldn’t go to work or couldn’t go shopping even if it was to window shop.  Sheltering in place is really like being grounded.  You get agitated cause although you have a pile of books to read, lots of TV to watch, movies to choose from, social media (didn’t have that when I was a kid), homework to do, cleaning, the list goes on, you just can’t seem to focus on any of it. Why?  Because what is going on in our world is unfreakingbelievable.  That’s my word, well one I heard somewhere and took as my own.  So, instead of reading the books, watching the tv or doing the homework, I have been praying for the heroes in scrubs, the people I don’t even know that have the Coronavirus and those that are making sure we have food and toilet paper.  Why?  Because THEY are being extremely inconvenienced, THEY leaving their family behind to help those in need.  THEY aren’t complaining about their kids being home learning virtually or that they can’t go shopping, they aren’t complaining to all of their friends on Facebook about how hard they have it right now.  They are just doing what they never signed up for, putting their lives in danger to save others.  

As I write down these thoughts that have been going through my head for several weeks now, it makes me realize even more than I did before I started that it can always be worse.  I try to live my life in appreciation for those around me and for the life I have been given.  Like many of you, I went to the thoughts of how the COVID-19 is going to affect me.  As humans, we are made to think of survival first.  It’s just natural.  Don’t beat yourself up if you went out and hoarded all of the toilet paper, paper towels and kleenex you could get in the first few days of this pandemic.  But, do share with others that may need it now.  As a small business owner, my dream come true shuddered for a few weeks.  As the cancelations flooded in, understandably so, the tears flooded out of me.  The survival human in me kicked in and panic set in my guts.  Compiled on top of that came too much time on my hands, not normal for a busy entrepreneur, which gave for more time to think and worry.  Time to think about how I got to where I was in my entrepreneurial journey of 7 years, 9 months.  The sweat, tears, long hours, joy and love that got me to where I am today.  Add in the news, people complaining on Facebook about how rough their lives are now and the financial impact, both mine and the world.  

Where did this all take me?  Back to where I started pretty much.  3:28 am and not changing a thing.  And, that’s ok.  Life has changed.  And, I’m blessed.  If you are reading this right now, so are you.  Because you have time to read it.  Maybe you’re working at home now for your job and took a break.  Maybe you’re helping your kids learn virtually and got a little break while they do some work on their own.  And, maybe you are in the same spot I am, all of the sudden, you have a ton of time on your hands.  No matter what, you are blessed.  Thinking of my blessings every day has always nurtured me.  That doesn’t mean every day is rainbows and daisies.  It’s a work in progress.  One day at a time is how I got to my life today.  Is it perfect even when everything is going great?  Nope.  But, showing up every day for me is number one.  Then, I can give to others which is my favorite thing to do.  

One of the many reasons that I am in the business of providing service is because that is what I’m good at.  I absolutely love making people and their pets happy.  It’s a win-win for me.  I have a special connection with furry animals, one that is really hard to explain in words.  I have had many clients share with me that their pet has never liked a person when first meeting them as much as they seem to like me.  It’s music to my ears. Fuel to my happy fire.  Which brings me to the connection with pet parents, providing them peace of mind, sharing that special bond they have with their furry family, caring and loving their fur babies while they are away.  It’s a gift that I am thankful for daily.  Even today when I am not seeing many of them, I am grateful.  

Reflecting they say is a way to see what you may not see when you are in the trenches, doing the work and being what you set out to be.  It’s good for the soul and  mind, especially now.  So, if you are struggling to get through your days, however much or little they have changed, take time to count your blessings.  Think back, through the hard times and the good times.  If you pray, spend a few moments praying for those that are less fortunate than you.  Those that are putting their lives in danger to keep you and your family safe.  Or, maybe those on their last square of TP.  :). Just remember that it could always be worse.  You are not alone.  We are all in this together and we will get through this together – paraphrased from our Governor Andy Beshear who is rocking our worlds here in Kentucky.  We are blessed.  We are sheltered in place, there is help for whatever we may need right now, reach out if you need something.  Be safe and be well.  

 

How to Introduce your Dog to a Cat

 

A dog and a cat, is it possible?

Sebastian the dog and Liberty the cat love each other.

Dogs and cats… each makes a terrific companion for you, but they don’t always live in harmony together. You’ve probably heard the expression “fighting like cats and dogs” before, right? While that can certainly be true, there are steps you can take – starting with the first introduction between the animals – to foster a loving relationship.

 

Body Language

Before you schedule the first meet and greet between your two pets, learn their body language cues.

Happy cats will purr and rest with their feet tucked under their bodies, maybe with their eyes half closed. They’ll rub up against you and act with an overall calm demeanor. Cats who are agitated will pin their ears back or puff up their tails. They may growl or shriek, or roll onto their back or side so that they’re ready for an attack, bearing their teeth and claws.

Happy dogs will be loose in their body and tail, maybe with a tongue hanging out. They may be playful, but will alternate between a chase and be chased posture. Dogs who are displeased may stiffen their body or tail, fixate on the other animal, and stare. Dogs may also bark and whine if they’re upset.

While these are standard body language cues, your pet may have a unique signal for you to watch out for, so be sure to know what the warning signs are before you schedule an introduction.

 

Making the Introduction

 

When it comes time to make the introduction between your animals, there are a few different options to consider.

 

Cats really do love dogs most of the time

Liberty will even stand on his head for Sebastian.

Desensitizing Your Dog

In some cases, your dog will be so fixed on the cat that you’ll need to desensitize them so that you can make a controlled introduction. This usually starts with sequestering the cat in a room so that the dog can get used to the cat being in the house, while creating a bit of separation. Set the cat up in a bathroom or spare bedroom with all of their needed supplies (water, food, litter, toys, blankets). Feed the dog right outside the door, so they begin to associate positive rewards with the smell of the cat. After a couple of days, swap the blankets of each animal with the other animal’s bedding so that they can continue to get used to the smell of the other animal. Slowly start to let the dog see the cat without getting to the point of overstimulation, so that by the time they are both allowed to be free in the same room, the dog is disinterested or otherwise not excited by the new animal.

 

Face-to-Face Introduction

If your dog has a naturally calmer demeanor, you can try a face-to-face introduction right away. Keep the dog on a leash and let the cat walk around the dog, getting acclimated. If the cat’s body language stays calm (see body language above) and the dog is able to remain controlled, responding well to commands and direction from you, perhaps even lying down, then the dog should be rewarded for ignoring the cat. Ultimately, the goal is for the cat to be close to the dog, sniffing it even, without eliciting a reaction from the dog. If the dog lunges, this method likely will not work right away and you should try desensitizing it before making another introduction.

 

Professional Training

If after desensitization and a face-to-face introduction, the dog is still unable to remain calm around the cat, it’s best to consult a professional, certified trainer to discuss a more structured training regimen for your dog. This doesn’t mean that the two animals will never be able to live in harmony together, but you will need to keep them separated until you know they’ll be safe when left alone together.

 

Pet Sitting for dogs and cats is fun

Sebastian and Liberty are buds, it makes Sebastian SMILE when he sees Liberty

 

Sources: https://www.americanhumane.org/fact-sheet/introducing-dogs-to-cats/, https://www.petmd.com/cat/slideshows/15-signs-your-cat-happy, https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/cat-care/common-cat-behavior-issues/aggression-cats

 

Happy 6th Birthday Waggs 2 Whiskers!

Banny is a love bug momma's boy that makes do when we come and care for him when she's away

June 4, 2018 – Happy 6th Birthday Waggs!

 

I never thought that living a life doing what I love would ever happen. I was in a job for 19 years in an office, I loved it at first, I liked some of the people I worked with but after about 10 years, it started to become a toxic environment – so I found out later. I decided to start volunteering at our local animal shelter in 2007. I sometimes say it was by pure luck that I met my new friend Sabrina who was taking pictures of the dogs there for Petfinder. She was pregnant with twins and needed someone to fill in until after the babies were born. So I decided to try it out. I loved animals and always had from the time I was a toddler! I got to spend time with most of the animals and take their pics and write their bios on Petfinder. 

 

Five years later, at my kitchen table, Waggs 2 Whiskers was born! Some people thought I was crazy! I knew exactly what I was doing and where it would take me. The thought of spending my days with the dogs and other furry pets was so exciting! I wasn’t sure how long it would take me to build my business enough to be able to run it full time. Four years later I was at that spot. Was it an easy decision? NO! But it was the perfect time for ME! I cannot believe I have now been running my business 2 years full time! 

 

Waggs 2 Whiskers is a dream come true!  I feel I am making a difference in pet parent’s lives! And their pets!!  That is so important to me! I love making people and pets happy! The past 6 years have been amazing! I’m looking forward to the next 6!

 

Thank you so much for letting me live my dream!  I owe it to all of you reading this RIGHT NOW!!

Kelly Catlett

Proud Owner of Waggs 2 Whiskers, LLC 

People Foods that are Toxic to Animals

As pet owners, we treat our four-legged friends like children – they’re members of the family! And when they hit us with those cute pouty eyes, it can be tempting to sneak them a table scrap or a bite of our snack – but be careful! Some foods that are fine for people to eat can be toxic to our furry sidekicks.

Below, we’re recapping a list of the top 10 foods that you should NOT feed your pets.

  1.  Chocolate – This is probably one we’ve all heard before, but we’re including it here as a reminder… no chocolate kisses, only human kisses.
  2. Fruit stems, leaves, peels, and seeds – While the fruit itself will likely only cause a bit of stomach upset, the citric acid in these other parts of the fruit can cause more serious issues if ingested.
  3. Grapes and raisins – The actual toxic substance found in these foods is unknown, but they have the potential to cause kidney failure if eaten.
  4. Onions – All forms of onions can be toxic for your pet, including dehydrated onions, raw onions, cooked onions and table scraps containing cooked onions.
  5. Milk and dairy products – By nature, pets don’t have enough lactase enzymes in their systems to effectively break down the lactose in dairy products, so it’s best to avoid them altogether.
  6. Undercooked meat and eggs – Our pets are just as susceptible to foodborne illnesses (such as Salmonella and E. coli) as we are.
  7. Bones – Raw bones pose a choking hazard for domestic animals, and severe injury could occur if a bone splintered and was swallowed.
  8. Raw potatoes – A plain baked potato (in moderation) is fine, but raw potatoes and potato plants from the garden could lead to issues.
  9. Xylitol – This sweetener, found in candies, baked goods, and more, can cause life-threatening toxicosis in animals.
  10. Yeast dough – As tempting as it is to hand over your pizza crust to your pup, yeast products can build up in our pets’ stomachs and cause serious issues.

If you do want to share a treat with your pet, keep this in mind:
The treat should be small. Lean meats make great treats as long as they’re trimmed of visible fats and not heavily seasoned. Fruits (see #2 above) or veggies like carrot sticks or green beans are also great options.

If you think your pet might have ingested one of these foods, call your veterinarian immediately, or contact the ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center at (888) 426-4435.

Sources:
https://www.aspca.org/pet-care/animal-poison-control/people-foods-avoid-feeding-your-pets
https://pets.webmd.com/dogs/ss/slideshow-foods-your-dog-should-never-eat

Teddy was on a mission

Teddy getting ready to roll

Teddy looks slick in his bow tie!

Recently, I got a call from Casey Dumaine, director of memory care at Masonic Home in Shelbyville. Unlike one of my normal pet sitting phone calls, it was what my son would call a “random” phone call. Sometimes, those random acts can truly change lives. Casey asked if I would be willing to bring a pet to the nursing home for Love your Pet Day on February 20th. I instantly thought of one of the dogs I walk weekly named Teddy. I told her about him and we were both excited of the thought of him coming to visit the residents. I told her I would get back to her after I asked his owner’s permission and we would set up a good time.

 That phone call truly has changed my life, Teddy’s owner Donna’s life and Teddy’s life as well. I went to Feeders Supply and picked up Teddy a cute bow tie, I thought he would love it, it was black with yellow smiley faces on it. The day we were to go visit, I put Teddy’s tie on him and he posed for pictures before we left his home. We had one issue, Teddy wasn’t sure he wanted to get into my car. You see, he is the protector for his momma Donna, he loves her so much and it shows. I had to lift that big boy into my back seat and tell him over and over we would be coming back to his momma in a few hours. I could see the concern in his eyes. This boy wears his heart on his sleeve. When we arrived at the Masonic Home, we got out and Teddy roamed around looking for a good place to go potty and mark his spot. He was his normal happy go lucky sniffy self. Then, we walked into the front doors of the building. He went right into the first office and looked at the sweet girl that greeted us as if to say…is this my office? It was so cute. He was definitely announcing his arrival to her and looking at her with his wrinkled forehead as if he was asking for directions to those in need.

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Pet Sitters and Pet Loss

Farm Sitting is available in Shelby County Kentucky

If you have had pets, you most likely have experienced the loss of a pet.  It’s excruciating pain for most that is much like losing a close friend or family member, most likely the latter.  I think the hardest part is our pets are ALWAYS there with us during our daily lives.  Whether it is when we come home from work and they come running or when we are sitting relaxing and they are cuddling with us or maybe they are on the floor on their comfy bed snoring…no matter where we are in our home, they are somehow, in their own way, with us.

Being a pet sitter, I connect with pets much like my own, especially those that I see on a regular basis.  But, not necessarily.  I can see a pet once every 6 months and we might have an instant connection 90% of the time.  For instance, a client of mine right now has a cat that is a “stray” cat, that can mean many things to many people, to me, that usually means it is someone’s cat but they didn’t pay enough attention to him or her so it wandered to the next best person they could find – a neighbor or anywhere there might be food and shelter.  This cat (still not sure if it’s a boy or girl but I call him a boy) has connected to my heart so fast and I just love him.  Today, I actually got him into the sunroom for some MUCH NEEDED love and attention.  He was on my lap and getting belly rubs.  My clients haven’t been able to get this close to him yet and he’s been coming around for a month or so.  It’s a connection with animals that I’m proud of and I’m happy that I have.  It makes my heart skip a beat. 

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