Tag: cat behavior

Independence Day Pet Safety

4th of July is upon us and with it comes loud noises our dogs aren’t used to hearing. Here are some ways to keep your dog sane and safe during 4th of July:

Staying home for Independence Day?  Here are some stay at home tips:

  • Don’t leave alcoholic beverages out where your dogs can get to it. Alcoholic beverages have the ability to poison your pets.  It can cause your pet to become weak, severely depressed or could go into acoma.

  • Don’t apply insect repellent to your pet that isn’t labeled as pet safe.  The misuse of insect repellent containing DEET can lead to neurological problems.

  • Always keep matches and lighter fluid out of your pets reach. Chlorates found in matches can damage blood cells and result in difficulty breathing.  Lighter fluid can be irritating to skin and if ingested can cause gastrointestinal irritation.

Going out to see a fireworks display? Here are some tips for leaving your dog at home:

  • Be sure to leave your dog inside.  Keeping your dog inside, away from the noise, will help them stay calmer.  They should be kept in a quiet, escape-proof area of your home.  If you have a doggy door, keep it closed so they don’t have access to the backyard where they could dig out, jump the fence or obnoxiously bark at the loud noises.

  • Although it is tempting to bring your dog with you…Loud, crowded fireworks displays are no fun for your dog.

  • ID or Microchip.  When dogs get scared they react with fight or flight.  Loud noises could send your dog running for the hills.  Make sure you properly ID or microchip your dog to be sure you get him back if he runs away.

Don’t forget about the kitties.  Same rules apply.  Keep them inside where they are safe.  

A Professional Pet Sitter’s Perspective on How Many Litter Boxes You Should Have

As a pet sitter in Mesa AZ I find that generally people do not have the proper number of litter boxes in their home.  The number of litter boxes is determined by how many cats you have.  You should have 2 litter boxes for each cat.  YES!  TWO per cat.  Why?

When you have multiple cats in a household they may argue over who has the right to potty in the litter box.  If you only have one litter box for 2 cats, one cat may mark the box as theirs, leaving the other cat no where to eliminate other than your floor.  This means, if you have 6 cats you NEED 12 litter boxes.  I know cats are adorable, but you need to keep in mind how many litter boxes you need and if there is room in your home for all those boxes.  If there isn’t room in your home for another litter box, there may not be room in your home for another kitty.

Too many cats, not enough litter boxes. Cats will eliminate outside the litter box if it’s too dirty.

Cats like to have options.  So even if you only have 1 cat, you will want your cat to be able to go to the bathroom where they feel the most comfortable.

I’ll share a story with you:

A client, who is to remain nameless, has 4 cats in their household.  They have 3 litter boxes.  They have come up a little short on providing their cats with an adequate number of toilets for their cats.  Based off the estimation above, how many litter boxes should they have?  If you said 8, you are right!  So they were short by 5 litter boxes!

What was happening was, one cat would “claim” a fresh litter box as his own.  By claiming, he would urinate in the box and lay in it, making sure the other cats KNEW that box was his.  This left 2 litter boxes for 3 cats.  I’m sure you can imagine how quickly those litter boxes got dirty.  After pet sitting for a day I realized that the cats were urinating in other parts of the house because their boxes got dirty very quickly.  I lifted a litter box up to empty it and found a puddle of urine UNDER the litter box. There wasn’t a hole in the box, the cat had pee’d just outside the box.  I also found urine under a chair and coffee table.  I felt horrible that I was not able to keep up with the litter box mess.  But I was set up for failure, as the parents are also setting themselves up for failure.

Cat claiming litter box from house mates.

If they had the proper amount of litter boxes, even if a cat was claiming a box as their own, there would be plenty more for the other cats to choose from.  This would definitely stop them from urinating throughout the house.

How many cats do you have?  Do you have an adequate number of litter boxes?

Pet Sitter’s Perspective on Why Daily Cat Sitting is a MUST

As a pet sitter in Mesa, AZ I get calls from prospective cat sitting clients that mention their cat is self reliant and doesn’t require a lot of attention.  They would prefer a visit every other day rather than daily.  To this I say NO WAY!

Your cat may seem aloof at times and not want a lot of attention from you, but you would be surprised at how much attention we get from the seemingly aloof cats while cat sitting.  They miss their family too.  Although they seem aloof most of the time, they are used to you being home and around.  So when you are gone for extended periods they will crave the attention of their cat sitter when you are gone.



A feral kitty who LOVES to play!

Not only do they crave the attention, they are masters at hiding their ailments.  Cats will often hide their illnesses, even from mom and dad, until they just can’t hide it any longer.  Many times, once you start noticing they are acting funny or aren’t feeling well, they require a vet visit ASAP.  The illness has most likely been ailing them for quite some time.  When cats get sick, they get sick quick and deteriorate fast.

Cats also enjoy having their toilet (litter box) cleaned out frequently.  A daily visit to have a clean toilet will often save cleaning expenses later.

We know you will take this into consideration when looking for your next cat sitter. Your cat will love you for it!

Mesa Pet Sitter Transports Pets

Guest Blogger – Starla Clark – Pet Sitter Extraordinaire 

Ever struggle with getting your cat into a carrier and out the door?  As your professional Mesa pet sitters we are often asked to transport pets to vet appointments, groomers and day care.

Most anyone who is owned by a cat knows the secret telepathy that a cat possesses in regards to that scheduled appointment to the veterinarian, groomer or other time specific date. Many a cat is nowhere to be found when it comes time to load up into the car or if found, refuses to cooperate with the plan. 

Cats are often not seen by a Veterinarian because the pet parents don’t know HOW to get that darn cat in their carrier.  Starla has offered a few tips to help with transporting your furry friend.

  • Be certain to have a sturdy carrier in which to transport your pet. Plastic carriers are generally the safest, but a cardboard style carrier can also work fine for a normal weight, non-escapee variety of cat. If using cardboard, check to be sure it has been correctly assembled. You don’t want to lift kitty only to have him fall out of the bottom. 

  • Always confine your cat in something for the ride, even a pillowcase will work in a pinch. The most docile cat can exhibit super cat strength and escape your hold when being transported to an unfamiliar place.

  • When attempting to collect your cat to put into the appropriate carrier, be sure to have the cat contained first before bringing out the carrier. Many cats are very effective hiders when they spot that carrier first.

I am often asked how to get the cat into the carrier when they refuse to do so willingly. My answer is if they will not go willingly head first, most cats will allow you to place them in backwards. For the cat that is truly unwilling, stand the carrier on end and lower the cat by the scruff of the neck, backwards into the crate. 

A nice soft towel placed in the bottom will cushion the ride and absorb anything that might need absorbing.

And for all you dog owners… remember the leash, and a collar your pet cannot back out of when being asked to walk through that scary door to the animal hospital, kennel or groomer. Remember too that just because Fido loves cats, the cat Fido wants to look at in the waiting room may be deathly afraid of dogs.

The amazing part of this journey is how easily the cat returns to the carrier when leaving and how quickly the dog heads out the door. Always a miracle!

Don’t want all the drama? Remember Playtime Pet Care offers a Pet Taxi service to help you avoid all this work!

Starla Clark has been a team member with Play Time Pet Care since 2011.  Starla has over 30 years of veterinary experience.

Why does my cat do that?

Cats are mysterious creatures.  Does your cat do strange things? Want to get to the bottom of their odd behavior? Kitty behaviorist?  WHAT?


Ok.  So you feel like cats are self sufficient and don’t need much attention (other than when they want it of course).  It’s time to shift your idea of cats and what they really need.

I’ve recently met with a cat behavior consultant and she has blown my mind with the similarities in training cats and dogs.  Jane Ehrlich, with Cattitude Feline Behavior, is amazing.  Just in following her Facebook page I’ve learned that cat marking is similar to dog marking.  They are telling a story through their urine, so if you have a multi cat household and one cat is “marking” it’s likely others with follow suite so their “story” is on top.  Also, cleaning a urine spot with an enzymatic cleanser won’t STOP the problem, it may just MOVE the problem to another area.  Food also plays a big part in how a cat behaves…much like dogs.

WOW!  Cats aren’t as easy as we all think they are.  Even if you don’t currently have cats, her Facebook page is very informative and offers a small peek into the psyche of the ever elusive kitty.

Have questions about your cats behavior?  Jane can help with aggression, soiling, clawing and spraying. It’s time to help our feline friends live a more relaxed life rather than assume it’s just their personality.

Introducing a New Dog

Ready for another addition to your dog family?  Not sure how to introduce a new dog?  Here are some great tips on how to have a positive introduction experience.

So you’re thinking about getting a new dog but aren’t sure how to make the introduction successful.  If you are planning on adopting a new dog (which I hope you are) there are many things to consider.  How is the resident dog going to react to the new dog?  How was the adopted dog treated by it’s previous owners?  Was the new dog in a foster home or kennel for long periods of time?  All of these factors can play a big part of how the new dog introduction can go.

We are pet sitters, not dog trainers, so we enlist the help of our favorite positive reinforcement trainer to provide advice and guidance.

Here are some tips from our dog obedience consultant…my favorite…Kathrine Breeden:

The following techniques use the dog’s most powerful tool…it’s nose.  Following these steps in the very beginning will make life easier in the long run and keep you from having to go through these steps after there has been an altercation.


If you can get scent samples of the new dog before bringing it home that would be ideal. Simply take a couple ripped up t-shirts, towels etc and rub them all over the new dog to get it’s scent.  Immediately place the samples in ziplock bags and freeze them to save the scent. Once you are home, take a sample and tie it around your dogs collar, rub one all over your dogs body and place one where your dog sleeps.  This will allow your dog time to get to know the new dogs scent ahead of time.

Stage 1

When the new dog arrives home it is very important that the new dog and resident dog DO NOT MAKE EYE CONTACT.  They will get to know each other through scent first.

Both dogs need a secure area:  A kennel, crate, bedroom with a baby gate or door closed.

Place scented articles from each dog in the other dog’s safe area.  Scent articles can be ripped up t-shirts, towels, blankets, toys or dog beds.

The switching of these articles will allow the dogs a deeper relationship.  We are communicating with the dogs in a way they understand…through their noses!

Stage 2

Your resident dog should be out of site and in their safe area while the new dog is exploring it’s new house.

Let the new dog roam and get accustomed to it’s new surroundings.  You may notice the new dog rubbing against furniture or walls, subtly placing his scent through out the house.  Don’t let them do this too long, get them outside where they can begin marking the outdoor area.

Once the new dog has had an opportunity to explore and get it’s scent throughout the house and yard, place the new dog in it’s safe area and take the scent articles out of the new dogs area and place them in the resident dog’s safe place.

Stage 3

Allow your resident dog to roam about the house.  Take the scent articles from the resident dog’s safe area and place them in the new dog’s safe area.  Your resident dog will most likely be very excited and running through the house smelling the areas the new dog has placed it’s scent.  Once the resident dog has determined the intruder has escaped, it will most likely need some comforting from you.  Allowing it to sit in your lap, next to you or playing a fun game of fetch will help ease any stress the resident dog is feeling.

Repeat steps 2 & 3 many times daily.  Remember to switch scent articles each time.

You will be watching the dog’s body language to determine when the time is right for them to meet face to face.  Once the resident dog stops running around chasing the scent of the new dog, it has given it’s permission to meet face to face.  Be patient.  This process can take minutes, hours or weeks.  When no dog is showing interest in the other’s scent, this is the best time to introduce them face to face.

Stage 4

When introducing dogs face to face it should be done off the property.  Find a safe, fenced in area and allow the new dog to run and play, leaving it’s scent.  Then place the new dog out of sight and allow the resident dog to run and play.  The resident dog will likely notice the new dog’s scent and react much like it did at home.  Switch them out and put the resident dog out of sight and allow the new dog to once again run and play and explore the resident dog’s scent.

If you’re in a safe, fenced in place allow both dogs to meet.  They will likely run up to each other and posture and smell, but will have no inclination of fighting since they already “know” each other through scent.

If you don’t have a safe, fenced in area, then taking them for a walk on a leash can substitute. Walk parallel to one another on opposite sides of the street and gradually work your way closer to each other.  If one dog is showing excessive interest in the other then don’t bring them closer. If one dog is more calm and stable than the other, you can walk that dog in front and the other behind allowing it to do a quick butt sniff then walk away.  Continue until both dogs are calm, then do the reverse.

When introducing face to face, don’t stand around and stare at the dogs wondering what is going to happen.  Keep it upbeat, but not crazy excited…walking around and distracting the dogs if you see tension.  This will help keep the meeting relaxed and successful.

Preparing for an unsuccessful introduction:

If you are in a backyard for the introduction:

Keep both dogs on leashes, but don’t hold the leashes.  Just have them on in case you need to grab something, you don’t want it to be the collar.

Have a hose with the water gun attachment set to jet ready.

Best case scenario would be to have several people there chatting and walking around to keep it relaxed.

This outlined routine has demonstrated a stress free and safe way to introduce new dogs.  A dog’s sense of smell is considered by many as its primary sense.  Therefore, this training is based entirely upon the scent.  

If you have a dog that you know is dog aggressive, it’s best to consult with a professional.  Be patient…this doesn’t mean they can’t live together, it may just take much longer for this process to be successful.

Thank you Kathrine Breeden for sharing this information with us!  If you’d like more FREE training information from Kathrine, check out her Facebook Group.