From the Life of a Cat Sitter

As you may have read before, I also work as a cat sitter.

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: kittens! Who doesn’t love kittens?! But they come with challenges too. They need far more entertainment to keep them happy and kittenproofing the home is not easy. After all, what was impossible for the kitten yesterday is suddenly possible. Jumping on kitchen worktops for example. Sometimes what was possible yesterday is suddenly no longer possible, such as crawling underneath the sofa without getting stuck.

Kittens are curious and they will try almost everything. Knocking over plants, chewing plants, eating rubber bands or plastic or even their litter, cotton buds are great toys / chews as well, your sofa is the ideal scratching post, the list goes on and on. So yes, raising a kitten is hard work. Good thing it is a lot of fun too 🙂

How to take care of cats with kidney disease

* Originally written by me for citikiti.co.uk

From the ICatCare Conference

Chronic kidney disease is a common disease that affects over 30-40% of cats over 10 years old. This percentage is even higher in cats that are 15 years or older. Although the average lifespan of cats is roughly 12-14 years, more and more cats are now living beyond the age of 15 years (which roughly equates to a human age of 76).

My own cat is approximately 14 years old now – he is a rescue cat so we don’t know his exact age. As our cats enter into the senior stage of their life they are more prone to many diseases, chronic kidney disease being one of the most prevalent examples.

There is no cure for chronic kidney disease, but we can slow down the progression of the disease and cats with chronic kidney disease can still have a good quality of life.

Before discussing how we can help cats with kidney disease, let’s first briefly look at the most common symptoms of kidney disease: increased drinking and urination, reduced appetite, weight loss and lethargy. You may also notice vomiting or a bad breath.
Chronic kidney disease is diagnosed through an analysis of blood and urine samples. The earlier the diagnosis, the better the prospects are of preventing further kidney injury, managing the complications and slowing the progression of the disease.

If your cat has kidney disease then your vet will discuss a plan of action with you. This will depend on the stage of progression of the disease and your cat’s specific complications. Treatment of chronic kidney disease will mainly focus on feeding your cat a specific type of diet as this is the only type of treatment we currently have that prolongs life in cats with chronic kidney disease.
What else can we do at home to make sure our cats are comfortable?

Make sure your cat is drinking plenty of water. Find out what your cat prefers. This could be drinking from a running tap or the shower, a water fountain or providing a different type of water bowl (most cats like drinking from a wide brimmed ceramic bowl. If your cat goes outside, put a ceramic bowl in the garden: quite a few cats prefer rainwater over tap water.

As cats with chronic kidney disease tend to urinate more often it is good to make sure you have multiple litter trays in various quiet places around the house. Some cats refuse to use a litter tray that isn’t clean. If you have multiple trays then your cat has multiple appropriate options when you’re at work.

And last, but not least: make sure their lives are as happy & stress-free as possible. Give your cat warm, comfortable places to hide & rest and engage with them: play with them, groom them, stroke them, etc. Remember though, you ill cat is still a cat and wants to be in charge of his life as much as possible: let him initiate the quantity and quality of your interaction and don’t overwhelm them with love

For more information about kidney disease in cats see International Cat Care’s website.

Benefits of raised water and food bowls

* Adapted from katzenworld.co.uk

It is becoming increasingly popular to elevate cat bowls. But is there any real benefit to doing so? Does elevating a cat‘s water bowl or food bowl make sense? The answer is yes!

Of course, some cat owners choose elevated bowls just for aesthetics, but vets now recommend them to help prevent indigestion, vomiting, and strain on your cat’s back and neck.

Raised bowls are especially beneficial for cats with swallowing issues, older cats or cats with arthritis. They find it much more difficult to bend down to the food or water bowl.

Check out some great ones in the Katzenworld shop!

Slow blinking to bond with your cat

Reasearch by Humphrey et al (2020) has confirmed what many cat owners already suspected: narrowing your eyes is the best way to build a rapport with cats.

Their study found that “cats respond to a human giving a slow blink stimulus by producing eye narrowing movements of their own”.

“Firstly, cats deliver more eye narrowing movements when their owners slow blink at them than when the owner is present in the room but not delivering this stimulus.”

“Secondly, when an unfamiliar experimenter gives the slow blink stimulus compared to adopting a neutral face, cats respond with a higher frequency of eye narrowing movements themselves.”

Their study also found that cats were more likely to approach people after slow blinking as opposed to having a neutral face.

“From the current study, the slow blink sequence appears to be an indicator of positive emotion in cats.”

Cats are also known to initiate a sequence of slow blinking with humans. The slow blinking behaviour may well be innate behaviour but could also be a result of domestication.

“It could be argued that cats have developed slow blink behaviours because humans appear to perceive slow blinking as positive and cats may have previously been reinforced by their owners for responding to slow blink sequences.”

“It is also possible that slow-blinking in cats originated as a mechanism to interrupt an unbroken stare, which is potentially threatening in social interactions; this could then have been elaborated by a combination of selection and learning in the domestic environment.”

“Socio-cognitive abilities of cats are an under-studied area, and future research on cat behaviours, such as slow blinking, could enhance our understanding of interspecific communication and the ways in which domestication has shaped the social behaviour of an ancestrally solitary species.”

And you thought your cat loved boxes…

Today I found this exchange on Facebook which made me laugh. So I wanted to share it with you, just for fun.

* By Jessica Gerson-Neeves in a Facebook post

Dear Vitamix,

I feel like I should preface this by telling you that what follows is probably going to be the weirdest contact you’ve ever received, and it’s definitely the weirdest contact I’ve ever sent. I apologize in advance for literally everything I’m about to tell you.

My name is Jessica Gerson-Neeves, and my wife Nikii Gerson-Neeves and I have coveted a Vitamix for several years now, as I have a chronic disease that makes fiber very difficult for me to digest and my wife is an avowed lover of smoothies. Black Friday sales offered us the opportunity we hadn’t found earlier, and we finally ordered a Vitamix from Amazon the day after Thanksgiving. We were quite delighted when it arrived on our doorstep several weeks ago, and immediately brought it inside and absently set it down on the kitchen floor “just for a quick second.” That was our first mistake, and this is where things get weird.

We are the devoted servants of a trio of cats who go by the names of Max; George, Destroyer of Worlds; and Lando Calrissian. Mere seconds after setting down the Vitamix box, in the moments before we would’ve opened it and happily put our exciting new blender to use, Max (also known as the sentient soccer ball) spotted the box and, assuming it was for him, hopped right up on top.

And that was the beginning of the end.

That moment was two and a half weeks ago, and since then, the Vitamix box has been occupied by at least one and sometimes two cats at all times. With three cats and only two humans in the household, the humans are outnumbered and (being giant suckers), both frightened of and unwilling to forcibly relocate the offending cats.

Yes, we realize we’re absolute madwomen, and yes, we are both ashamed and sorry.

Long before we realized what this would turn into, I snapped a picture of Max atop the Vitamix that first day and posted it to a cat group on Facebook that goes by the name of THIS CAT IS C H O N K Y. The group boasts nearly a million members, and the post immediately took off. Since then, I have been faithfully documenting the whole sordid saga each day with photographs and accompanying prose. I am attaching to this email a curated selection of these posts and the pictures that accompany them so that you can get a sense of how the situation, now known widely as The Great Vitamix Incident of 2021 and/or Appliancegate, has developed.

Incidentally, I should mention here that of the five-to-ten thousand people following the saga, we are aware of at least a few who have now ordered their own Vitamixes, and hundreds of them are now seeing targeted ads for Vitamixes (Vitamices? We’re not quite sure of the appropriate pluralization). You’re welcome for the deeply strange free publicity?

We write to you because it has become clear at this point that without herculean intervention, we’re never going to get to use the new blender we’ve been longing for for years. Despite what many people have suggested, we aren’t writing to request additional Vitamixes—that would be ridiculous, and while we’re definitely ridiculous, we’re not quite that ridiculous.

No, we’re writing with a stranger but far less expensive request.
Is there—I cannot believe I am honestly asking this—any possibility at all that y’all would be willing to send us three (the number is very important, as there are three cats and we need there to be one extra so we can hopefully get the actual blender out of the box) empty Vitamix boxes? Other cardboard boxes seem to lack the appeal of the Vitamix box, and since, much like your wonderful blenders, this stand-off seems to be Built To Last, we’re afraid that this may be our only way out of the situation in which we find ourselves.

In case you are wondering, yes, I am ashamed of both writing and posting this letter. I both dread and look forward to hearing your response, and encourage you (as I’m sure you are finding yourself with the urge to do so) to spread it to your colleagues as widely as you would like in order to laugh at the absolutely bonkers middle-aged lesbians who are losing a stand-off with their cats.

Yes, we are a stereotype.

If by some miracle you are actually willing to fulfill the weirdest request ever, please let us know and I will be happy to send along our mailing address. And if, by some miracle, you have the urge to use any of the pictures, (which I have censored, I apologize for my foul mouth) posts in your marketing, at least let us know in advance, so we’re aware that more of the world is going to witness our shame.

With desperation and many, many apologies,

Jessica Gerson-Neeves


Vitamix reply:

Thank you for reaching out. This issue is not one to be handled lightly. We’ve assessed your predicament and have come to the following conclusion.

Firstly, we’re firm believers that you cannot move a cat from its post. Doing so results in penultimate despair.

Secondly, our great engineers designed these boxes for ultimate protection of the Vitamix unit. Little did they know, the possibility of a chonkier unit atop the unopened box would pose a problem. We’ll chat with them later. 😉

Thirdly, we’ve contacted our support team to stop what they’re doing and #SENDTHEBOXES. 🌈

Send us a private message when you get a chance so we can get your contact information over to our team.