Do you really need a cat sitter?


This week marks the beginning of the 2018 holiday season and with the holidays comes travel for celebrations with family and friends. Grandma may not have your cat on the holiday guest list, and other cats are just homebodies. With all the smart devices available to cat lovers, is a cat sitter really necessary when your cat is not traveling with you?

Remote Feeders
One of my very tech oriented millennial clients stopped by for new food and medication for his cat. We discussed the exact amount of the new food she should eat. After we settled on one quarter of a cup three times daily, he simply sat in the chair in my office and used his cat’s smart feeder app on his phone to dispense the exact amount of food from the feeder’s dry food reservoir. Get a water fountain at your local pet emporium and you don’t even have to worry about refilling the water bowl.

Robotic Litterboxes
For those that hate scooping poop, a self-cleaning litter box eliminates that chore. These litter boxes also allow you to leave your cat home unattended but maintain their litter box in pristine condition, at least until the waste drawer is full. Robotic litter boxes require a power source and are bigger than traditional boxes, so you will need the right space to take advantage of their convenience. Cats must weigh over a certain amount (>5 pounds) to trigger the automatic scoop function, so this might not be a good choice for petite cats.

Treat Cams
Smart technology using cameras and microphones will allow you to check in on your cats and talk with them via Bluetooth as long as you have a Wi-Fi connection. Some smart cams have additional functionality and can dispense treats, spritz aromatherapy, and stream video from the internet. With all this connectivity, will your cat even miss you?

Who’s in charge while you’re away?
While smart technology will allow you to provide food, water, a clean litter box, and some remote human interaction, some glitches could thwart your best laid plans for a sitter-free holiday. If your cat needs medication, smart technology may not be able to ensure your favorite feline isn’t spitting out the pills just out of camera range. Since all these devices depend on internet service and electricity, a winter storm that knocks out the power could leave your cat hungry and thirsty and in the dark. All your smart devices will make the cat owner’s life easier, however nothing can replace what your cat craves most, you. So give your cat a special holiday gift, her very own cat sitter!

Pet Holiday Gifts 2016

wellnesspetmat-a6fe1837Every holiday season for the past several years, I have amalgamated a list of interesting gift ideas with pets and their families in mind. Given the Animal Medical Center’s focus on pet health, this list always has a decidedly health-related slant. Most of the gifts help address healthcare issues AMC veterinarians see on a daily basis. And a big thanks to my friend and petrendologist Charlotte Reed for alerting me to some of these products.

Environmental enrichment is the buzzword for cats these days. Too often indoor cats have nothing to do; they become bored, destructive and overweight. Here are four gift ideas to entertain and exercise your favorite feline.

Using a feeding toy exploits your cat’s predatory desires. Slowing the rate of dinner consumption promotes early satiety and decreases your cat’s begging behaviors, assisting in your efforts to slim down your tubby tabby. The TRIXIE Fun Board Strategy Game is the ultimate feeding toy with five different modules to entertain your cat, and it is dishwasher safe!

Although this paper cat tunnel is low tech, your cat will love it. The Dezi & Roo Hide and Sneak Tunnel gives your cat a hiding place and promotes exercise by giving her a race track for the nighttime cat crazies.

The Jackson Galaxy Space Station for cats looks a like a whole bowl full of fun for your favorite feline. The space station provides a hiding place that will send your cat over the moon. The space station floor features a replaceable scratching mat and a ball in a track for hours of intergalactic games!

KATRIS Lynks creates modular components from which you create a custom cat play area that meets your cat’s needs and your sense of style. Because the components are produced from paper, they also satisfy your cat’s primal urge to scratch and mark her territory.

Safely transporting your cat to the veterinarian’s office or to grandma’s for the weekend requires a study cat carrier, but getting your cat into the dark crevices of her cat carrier can be a challenge. The U-pet line of cat and small dog carriers will meet this need while allowing your cat to see the world go by through the half dome shaped window, which can be swapped out for mesh screen on a hot day. A pleasant experience in their carrier will help to decrease the stress cats experience during travel.

Veterinarians frequently recommend increasing your cat’s water intake as part of the treatment of urinary and bladder disorders. But, getting your cat to drink more water can be challenging. One trick is to provide your cat with a source of cool water, using the Magisso ceramic cat bowl. By running the bowl under the cold water tap for 60 seconds before filling it with fresh water, it keeps the water cool for hours, encouraging your cat to follow doctor’s orders and drink more.

Magisso products appear in both the cat and dog gift lists, but for different reasons. The stylish slow feed bowl looks great in your kitchen, but for dogs who gulp their food down, causing gastrointestinal distress, this bowl is a must have.  Many veterinarians recommend a slow feed bowl to promote satiety as part of a weight loss plan or in dogs with a history of bloat.

When I felt the comfy foam used in Wellness PetMats, I wanted to lay down and take a nap myself. These 1 inch thick, recyclable mats resist odors and come in multiple sizes and colors. They would be great for an older, arthritic dog in need of a soft resting surface to prevent elbow hygromas and pressure sores.

If you and your dog are the outdoor, sporty type, the Insect Shield line of products makes great holiday gifts. Impregnated with an insecticide that repels fleas, ticks, mosquitos and flies, Insect Shield vests, blankets and exercise pens provide an added barrier against the agents that transmit Lyme disease, heartworm disease, and cause annoyance from other biting insects.

Recovering from a surgical procedure is tough, but what may really make your dog feel bad is your veterinarian’s prescription for an Elizabethan collar.  Wearing an E-collar may cause your dog to refuse his daily walk  or favorite treat. When wearing the collar, many dogs crash into walls and nick your furniture with the sharp edges of the collar. Enter the Comfurt Collar, a pillow-like collar which, for many surgical procedures, will protect the incision more comfortably than a traditional hard plastic Elizabethan collar. These collars come in fashionable designs to match your pet’s personality.

Animal Lovers
Need some gift ideas for animal lovers who may or may not have a pet?

For the bird enthusiast, enroll them in a better birding course at the online birding academy at Cornell University’s renowned Laboratory of Ornithology.

Give a pet lover exactly what they want – a pet crate or harness for the car certified by the Center for Pet Safety using dog crash test dummies. Who wouldn’t delight in a gift meant to protect their favorite fur baby.

One of my personal favorites on this year’s list is the Surefit pet sofa cover. The cover is sturdy, comfy, and comes in multiple colors. The cover is easy to wash and when it is dry, you just flip is back on the sofa where it protects your upholstery from muddy paws.

Everyone loves a clean, fluffy dog, but no one likes the mess and fur clogging their bathtub drain. Check and see if there is an Evolution Do-It-Yourself Dog Wash in the neighborhood and give dog wash gift cards to all your dog-owning friends.

If you rent an apartment, installing a pet door to the yard, terrace or porch may not be allowable. But with the Balcony Pets Apartment Pet Door, your pet can go in and out easily when you install this portable, no tools required pet door into your existing sliding glass door.  Better and more frequent access to an outdoor space increases your pet’s exercise, helping to keep them in an ideal body condition.

View our complete Holiday Gift Guide.

Holiday Gifts for the Naughty and Nice Pets on Your List

A room with a view
What kitten wouldn't want to find a bunk bed and playroom under the tree with her name on it? The top bunk is perfect for a perching cat or a cat nap, and the bottom bunk for a game of hide-and-seek with a catnip mouse or jingle ball.

Put some socks in his stocking
Do you have a nice, but mobility-impaired older dog? Put Woodrow Wear Power Paws on all four feet and watch these gripper slippers give traction on slippery tile or wood floors. These stylish dog socks come in a rainbow of colors and holiday designs.

Cat walking vest
Going to Grandma’s for the holiday? In addition to checking to be sure Fluffy’s microchip information is current in the registry, consider a SturdiPet™ walking vest from Sturdi Products. It is attractive and snug fitting and unlike many harnesses for cats, this one really stays on and keeps your cat comfortably restrained while you travel in the car or on the airplane to your holiday destination.

Waist watching
The peek-a-boo pet latch is a gift for your naughty dog. Using this latch on the door of the room where you keep the cat litter box will keep your dog from “snacking” in the cat box. The other use for this clever product is to keep an overweight pet out of the food bowl of a more slender pet.

Holiday hairdo
Everyone, your pet included, wants to look their best and smell nice to ring in 2014. What better way to have a coat that shines like the Times Square ball than to have a gift of dog toiletries under the tree for Sparky. Burt’s Bees, the folks with the beeswax based lip balm, now have a new line of natural pet products. Additionally, Wahl, the sponsors of America’s Dirtiest Dog contest, has cleaned up shelter dogs and can clean up your dog as well!

Rest and relaxation
After all the holiday activities, you and your pet will need some rest. Body Glove Pet will introduce a neoprene mat for use in crates or on hard floors, just after the first of the year. Neoprene is the material in wetsuits, so this product will be sturdy, washable and comfortable for a long winter’s rest.

And something for you too!
Need a calendar for 2014 and want to support a good animal cause? Here are just a few listings of calendars from a variety of animal organizations, including The Animal Medical Center!

Holiday Hazards 2012

The holidays can be fun times for everyone in the family—pets included—but they can also pose dangers to dogs and cats. Here are a few of the holiday-related cases we’ve seen at The Animal Medical Center’s Emergency Service this week.

Tarquin, Gracie and Yoggy snacked from the naughty list

Tarquin, a 5-year-old Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, took advantage of chocolate left within her reach. After consuming most of the bag’s contents while her owners were out, her family returned to find her nauseous and vomiting. A trip to The Animal Medical Center ER resulted in an overnight stay because of a rapid heart rate induced by theobromine, a caffeine-like component of chocolate.

Gracie the Maltese barely tips the scale at 3 pounds. Despite her small stature, she managed to wolf down five dark chocolate truffles. This naughty list indulgence landed her in the hospital getting a treatment of activated charcoal to help bind up any chocolate toxins remaining in her intestinal tract. The darker the chocolate, the higher the concentration of theobromine, and baking chocolate contains the highest concentration. In a dainty dog like Gracie, a few bites of stolen baking chocolate could be fatal.

Yoggy, a young Yorkshire terrier, also ate dark chocolate. His owners discovered him racing around their apartment like a mad man in a chocolate-induced hyperactive state. The ER staff found his blood pressure was elevated too. Yoggy got intravenous fluids and a mild sedative. Lucky for Yoggy, he recovered quickly and was discharged from The AMC the following day.

Other foods on the naughty list include raisins, grapes, onions, and fatty foods. For a yet unknown reason, raisins and grapes cause kidney failure in dogs consuming even just a few. Onions and their relative, garlic, damage the red blood cells of both dogs and cats, resulting in anemia. Fatty foods can induce severe stomach upset or inflammation of the pancreas, so a purloined pork loin should be off your dog’s holiday menu.

Oliver does a mistleno-no

Oliver, a 2-year-old cat, used up one of his nine lives this holiday season when he decided to have a Japanese snow lily salad. These beautiful flowers grace many holiday floral arrangements, but should be avoided in a home with a cat. Ingestion of poinsettia, mistletoe, holly, and cyclamen’s tuberous roots will cause gastrointestinal upset. Some varieties of lilies and amaryllis will cause kidney failure if eaten by your favorite feline. Best to avoid using these in your holiday decorating or you might be spending the holiday with your favorite veterinarian and not with your family!