From the Life of a Cat Sitter

Besides being a cat behaviourist I work as a cat sitter as well.

People ask me whether I just feed and clean litter trays all day. Well, yes and no. I mean I do feed cats and clean litter trays, but there’s much more to it.
In the series of posts I’ll share some anecdotes from my life as a cat sitter. I promise these stories are all true, though the cat’s names have sometimes been changed to protect their identity 😉

Today, I’d like to share some stories about other animals visiting (or living in) the house of a client. And I’m not talking about the dead, half dead, or remains of mice the cats have brought home…

Although I actually did once encounter a mouse inside the home that was very much alive. The cat was initially very curious about a certain corner in the room, but then sat down next to me. Imagine my surprise when a mouse appeared and started walking along the wall towards the door! I decided to leave the cat to open the door so the mouse could escape. On my way back to the sofa I had to walk past the mouse, by then it had made decent progress towards the door. The terrified mouse squealed and my heart sank. I was certain the cat would come running. Actually, she stayed on the sofa and the mouse made it out the door 🙂

Cats with outdoor access are sure to bring home a surprise every now and then, but not usually while I am there. However, once Isla came walking through the cat flap carrying a bird she’d just caught!
She was so proud and made noises to announce she was on her way with prey (you’ll know what I’m talking about if your cat has ever brought home prey). And she was quick too: she’d only left the house a few minutes prior!
Now, you should know that Isla is not an only cat… Even if her brother is not a voracious hunter, he was obviously very interested in this possibly very happy meal.
As Isla came in she let go of the bird. Well, what ensued were a few minutes of craziness. Cats running, jumping and chattering, the bird flying around trying to get away and I stood in the middle of it all. Things calmed down when the bird sat down on a high shelf. I somehow managed to distract the cats and get them out of the house. I let the bird calm down for a bit and made sure the cats had left before opening the door so it could fly away and find a safer home!

Sometimes clients adopt another cat and there is no time for me to meet the new addition before my visits start. That is all right. If I already know the house and the other cat(s) then the new cat often quickly adjusts to having me around. I was once scheduled to visit two cats I’d known for some time. The owner told me she’d recently adopted a third one, a male cat. He’d spend most of his time outdoors, but would come in for meals and to sit on the sofa. She said she’d leave a picture of him on the table so I knew what he looked like. Great!
As soon as I walked in I saw the new cat on the sofa. He lifted his head and then went back to snoozing. I was surprised that this cat was a boy, because it looked more like a girl, but then, I hadn’t seen the backside 😉
I started reading the note the client left behind and turned the page to look at the picture. Needless to say that this new cat looked nothing like the picture! Yes, it was an uninvited guest making themselves at home. As it turns out she (yes indeed) was a neighbour’s cat but she often frequented other people’s house looking for food…

To prevent unwanted cats coming into your home, get a microchip operated catflap 😉

From the Life of a Cat Sitter

Besides being a cat behaviourist I work as a cat sitter as well.

People ask me whether I just feed and clean litter trays all day. Well, yes and no. I mean I do feed cats and clean litter trays, but there’s much more to it.
In the series of posts I’ll share some anecdotes from my life as a cat sitter. I promise these stories are all true, though the cat’s names have sometimes been changed to protect their identity 😉

On a nice, sunny day many cats enjoy spending time outdoors. When cats have outdoor access via a cat flap they may decide to stay out rather than have cuddles with the cat sitter. This is England, after all. It might well rain again the following day!

However, when cats do not have outdoor access they usually come and greet us. Sometimes they are snoozing somewhere nice and cosy, but at least we see them. Although….

Some cats seem to enjoy a game of hide-and-seek. I know they are inside because they did not leave when I opened the door, but where are they??? I’m not talking about hiding under the bed, sofa, or on dining chairs, all well-known hiding spots. Some of my clients’ cats have hiding places that I still don’t know about! One meows to attract my attention and is quiet when I walk through the room looking for him. However, as soon as I leave the room he meows again. He must be having fun watching me trying to find him 😉

Another cat likes to sit inside cupboards. A telltale sign is of course an open cupboard door. Except when he opens it slightly, squeezes through and then the door closes behind them. It’s a good thing hisowtold me that’s what he does or it would have taken me ages to find him!

Some cats are so nervous around strangers that they rarely show themselves. I always feel for those cats. Luckily this is very unusual, but it does happen sometimes. Most owners know when their cats are nervous around visitors so they will warn the cat sitter before visits. All I can do is wait patiently and hope they decide to come out and this has worked – eventually – on several occasions.

Another favourite hiding place: on top of the kitchen cupboards.

From the Life of a Cat Sitter

Besides being a cat behaviourist I work as a cat sitter as well.

People ask me whether I just feed and clean litter trays all day. Well, yes and no. I mean I do feed cats and clean litter trays, but there’s much more to it.
In the series of posts I’ll share some anecdotes from my life as a cat sitter. I promise these stories are all true, though the cat’s names have sometimes been changed to protect their identity 😉

I see a lot of litter trays and types of litter in my work as a cat behaviourist and as a cat sitter. Some cats are extremely fussy and don’t use a tray twice: it has to be clean or else they won’t use it. In multi-cat households you always need multiple trays, although I did once visit 5 cats that all used the same tray…

What type of litter you use depends on both you and the cat. No matter how much you like a certain type of litter (for example one they are not as likely to traipse around the house) if your cat does not like it they will not use it. Most cats prefer a sandlike litter as they can dig around properly. You can get various types of litter trays or put down a mat in front of the tray, but in all honesty I have yet to find the perfect solution to prevent cats spreading litter through the house.

You can also use a wood pellet type of litter. These are not as likely to stick to your cat’s feet, though not all cats like these. This is especially the case for older cats.

Two other popular types of litter are silica crystals and non-clumping granules. These are known to absorb urine and last longer so you don’t have to scoop litter trays as often (just scoop poo). While this is true, please remember that cat’s have a far more sensitive sense of smell than we do. You can’t wait until you smell the urine to clean it as your cat will be able to smell it long before you do. If your cat is a bit fussy then they may well decide to do their business elsewhere…. I know some unlucky owners who have found pee inside shoes and poo just beind the front door.

Some cats pee or poo on their owner’s bed when they are left home alone. Although it sounds disgusting, some cats feel happier when they mix their scent with yours. That it why they may pee (or poo) on your bed or laundry when you are away.
If your cat is like this, then let your cat sitter know. It may be best to restrict access to the bedroom while you are away. Also consider getting a herbal or pheromone diffuser to help your cat feel calmer while you are away.

If your cats have strange toileting habits then always let your cat sitter know. As far as strange habits go, peeing or pooping in the bath, shower or on a tiled floor are not too bad as these can easily be cleaned. Sofas or beds are a different story… If your cat refuses to use a litter tray then get in touch. Together we can figure out why your cat is doing its business elsewhere and how to tackle it.

Most cats prefer some privacy when they go to the toilet, though some, like my own, are quite happy to have an audience….

From the Life of a Cat Sitter

Besides being a cat behaviourist I work as a cat sitter as well.

People ask me whether I just feed and clean litter trays all day. Well, yes and no. I mean I do feed cats and clean litter trays, but there’s much more to it.
In the series of posts I’ll share some anecdotes from my life as a cat sitter. I promise these stories are all true, though the cat’s names have sometimes been changed to protect their identity 😉

Today: a few ‘golden oldies’

Older cats often have special needs. Many of them suffer from arhtritis but they can have a history of other illnesses too, most notably kidney disease. Some of them have dementia: they forget why they walked into a room, they forget they already ate their food, they forget where you are or what time it is and meow loudly in the middle of the night. It can help to buy a timed feeder so your cat gets more smaller meals a day rather than 2 main meals (don’t forget the night feed or they will still wake you). It also helps to give them multiple warm places to sleep. And don’t forget to play with them: cats remain playful throughout their life. You may want to change the type of games and forego jumping games, but they still like playing with laser pointers or chase or kick toys. Don’t play for too long, short and frequent is better for them.

And if you think older cats are never mischievous then think again…. Thom is a perfect example! He’s a gorgeous 13 year old boy with a history of liver problems. I’ve been visiting him for a few days now and he always comes inside as soon as he hears me. Either that or he is already home and asleep on the sofa.

Billy
When I come I notice something strange lying on the kitchen floor. ‘What on earth has the cat dragged in?’ is going through my mind. I walk closer and somehow it looks like raw chicken?? Did he go through any of the neighbours’ bins? Well… no…. Thom has found a way to open the freezer and made a hole in the bag with chicken thighs. He’s eaten the skin and left the rest. He’s sitting in the kitchen grooming himself and looking rather pleased with himself…

 

My next cat is 20180819_183835a lovely old boy named Mr. Biscuits. He was 11 years old when his owners adopted him. Rehoming an older cat is very rewarding. Older cats are often overlooked in shelters and have more medical needs than younger cats. Mr. Biscuits is no exception: he has hyperthyroidism and chronic kidney disease and needs medication twice a day.
He loves the company and sitting with me. But he’s not ready to just sit behind the window: his owners take him ‘walkies’ in the park!
If you’re thinking of getting an older cat or already have one and would like more information, please click here.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the Life of a Cat Sitter

Besides being a cat behaviourist I work as a cat sitter as well.

People ask me whether I just feed and clean litter trays all day. Well, yes and no. I mean I do feed cats and clean litter trays, but there’s much more to it.
In the series of posts I’ll share some anecdotes from my life as a cat sitter. I promise these stories are all true, though the cat’s names have sometimes been changed to protect their identity 😉

Today: multi-cat households

Quite a few people have two cats. Often siblings but sometimes completely unrelated. Some of them get along very well; others try and spend as little time together as possible. If the cats in the latter group live in a large enough house or have outdoor access then there usually aren’t too many problems. Each cat will have its own territory and a shared space for mealtimes, for example.
Today a few couples who luckily get along quite well.

First up the best mother-daughter duo I know: Lyra & Sooty. Lyra tends to eat her daughter’s food if they are not kept separated during mealtimes… But then, if Sooty is not yet finished that means more TLC for Lyra (who absolutely loves attention).

Lyra&Sooty

After all necessities (food, water, litter trays) it is time for their favourite game! These guys have various things to play with: boxes, activity feeders, kicking toys, balls, a laser pen, a play circuit, but none of these is quite as good as….. a proper riding whip! They love jumping up to get it, chasing it across the floor or chasing it underneath the rustling papers. They love it so much that they both want to play with the whip at the same time… Refereeing skills are essential here 🙂

20190610_120425
Next couple are brother and sister Zeus & Belle. These two genuinely love each other.
Need more proof?

These two are so sweet! They take turns sitting in my lap. They generally want to play with the fishing rod toys or laser pointer. It’s best to have two toys and use both hands because they don’t share toys!
These two are normally in the same room during the day, but when I stay overnight Belle likes to sleep next to me whereas Zeus prefers his own bed. In the morning Belle will walk up to my face and paw at the duvet while Zeus will be meowing loudly downstairs: no need for an alarm clock 😉

Next time a few ‘golden oldies’