Thursday, November 6, 2008

The Best Gift For Your Pet This Holiday Season


The Best Gift For Your Pet This Holiday Season

It’s the holiday season again, and everyone knows what that means: colorful decorations, family gatherings, out-of-town trips, baked goodies, succulent holiday meals and presents, presents, presents. But what you may not know is that the benign-seeming trappings of holiday celebration can be dangerous, and even deadly, to your pet.

As reported by local veterinarians, of the holiday ailments pets sustain, the most frequent are stomach problems, brought on by overeating or consuming things not on the regular menu. Sure, it may seem harmless to slip the dog a few scraps from the Thanksgiving table or treat the cat to a bit of gravy sprinkled on her food, but in truth these seemingly innocuous treats can cause digestive upset. While not especially hazardous, this condition can be uncomfortable and upsetting for both the pet and owner. And watch those open alcoholic drinks, as some breeds of parrot have been known to sneak a drink from an untended glass. Variations in diet can also give your pet pancreatis. Fortunately, these pitfalls are easy to avoid. Keep food out of reach, and stick to your pet’s usual diet. If you have guests over, politely remind them to avoid give your pet that “harmless” extra snack. And be sure to maintain a regular exercise regimen. People aren’t the only ones susceptible to packing on a few additional pounds over the holidays.

Holiday decorations, on the other hand, can prove to be a more serious threat. While decorations constructed from edible materials (such as candy canes and gingerbread houses) have their obvious attractions, an inquisitive pet may make an impromptu snack from low-hanging Christmas tree ornaments. The broken edges of glass and plastic can cause serious internal injury, and the chemicals used in creating decorative products such as flocking, angel hair, and tinsel may be toxic if consumed. Even if the item isn’t overtly dangerous, it can cause gastrointestinal blockage, another injury commonly reported by local veterinarians.

The electrical chords associated with Christmas lights and other decorations that require power can be a deadly hazard. Exotic pets such as rabbits, ferrets and chinchillas can be aggressive chewer, as well as some breeds of dogs, and the chord may be too inviting a temptation to resist. Even if this is not the case, loose or unsecured chords still pose a threat; animals may incur broken or dislocated limbs, burns, or even strangulation should they become entangled. Keep your Christmas lights secured properly, and make sure electrical chords are kept out of the way, taped to the walls or covered with plastic tubing. If your pet is a chewer, your veterinarian or pet supply store can provide you with a chew deterrent that can be used to coat the chords. And for extra safety, turn off or unplug any items requiring electricity when not in use.

The Christmas tree itself can be troublesome for your pet. Imagine how a cat would feel: stuck indoors all day long, and suddenly there’s this fresh, fun tree in the house to climb. Except of course, there’s no root structure holding the tree into the ground, and the sudden addition of weight sends it toppling over, posing a danger not only to the cat, but anything else that might be in the way. Keep your tree firmly secured. Use a wide-legged stand, and if possible, anchor the tree to the wall or ceiling.

A rule of thumb: don’t water your tree with anything you wouldn’t use to water your pet. Your pet may steal a drink from the tree stand when you’re not looking, so when keeping your tree green, remember to only use the same clean, safe water you’d give your pet...or yourself, for that matter.

You may chose to forgo the live Christmas tree in favor of an artificial one. It has it’s upsides: no need to water, no dead pine needles littering the floor, and at the end of the season you can just pack it up and put it away for next year. But please remember that artificial trees pose their own hazards. The plastics and aluminum used their construction may be harmless to the touch, but if swallowed can lead to intestinal blockage, internal bleeding and irritation of the mouth. When assembling your tree check it carefully for any loose bits, and keep a sharp eye out for anything that may have subsequently broken off.

As a pet owner, you should be aware that the various plants used in holiday decorations can be toxic to your pet if eaten. While the exact level of danger posed by the stems and leaves of poinsettia is still a matter of debate, the plant does possess a level of toxicity, and can in the very least cause your pet serious gastrointestinal discomfort. Mistletoe, on the other hand, is highly toxic. If you chose to hang it, be sure and do so securely. Only a minimal amount can prove fatal to your pet.

Other decorations can be dangerous to your animals as well. It only takes one tipped-over candle to burn a house down. Factor in a curious cat or mischievous ferret, and your odds of having a candle tip increase astronomically. Remember that a domesticated pet will not necessarily recognize fire as a threat, and may find the soft glowing warmth of a candle interesting. Keep that lit wreath or menorah up out of reach of pets, and be sure and extinguish the flames when no one is around to supervise. And bear in mind that while the candle flames may not pose a threat, certain species of pets are vulnerable to smoke inhalation; most breeds of domesticated birds are especially susceptible. Keep cages away from any source of flame, including the kitchen, as the fumes given off by on-stick cookware and self-cleaning ovens haven proven deadly to birds.

Like people, animals are vulnerable to ailments caused by stress. If you have pets in the house and are planning a large get together this holiday season, keep your pet firmly in mind. Your animal companion is accustomed to the home you have provided; the sudden changes in that environment a gathering can bring, such as unfamiliar people, smells or loud noises, can provoke negative or antisocial behavior in an otherwise docile animal. Depending on your pet’s individual temperament, it may be wise to designate a separate part of the house as a “pet-friendly” zone, setting it up with the toys, bedding and other items that signal “home.” Here your animal can be gradually socialized with any visitors, yet still maintain a zone of comfort. Be sure and spend time with your pet during this period, as it is very important your animal companion receive reassurance it is still part of the family.

If your pet is socially agreeable with crowds, you should still be conscious of their well being. An animal running around underfoot at a gathering is an animal at risk of being stepped on. And sadly, a high percentage of pets go missing during this time of the year. As people come and go, the door is constantly opening, providing ample opportunity for your pet to go exploring outdoors. Make sure your pet is wearing its tags at all times. After all, won’t your other guests be dressing up?

And speaking of “dressing up,” it can be tempting to dress your pet up in one of the novelty costumes routinely sold by stores during the holiday period. Please, think twice before doing so. As the California Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA) advises, “don’t dress up your dog or cat unless you know it likes to be dressed up. If you decide to do so, make sure the costume isn’t annoying or unsafe, and doesn’t restrict movement. Avoid costumes with small or dangling accessories.”

Though it may seem generous and loving to give a pet as a gift, please don’t. The chaos of the holiday season makes it a terrible time to attempt to bond with a new companion, especially if the intended recipient is an inexperienced pet owner. Statistics have shown that a higher percentage of animals given as gifts during the holidays wind up at rescue shelters than during other parts of the year.

If you decide to travel, you should still be conscious of the stress your pet incurs. Crate your animal properly and comfortably, and if at all possible avoid flying your pet in the cargo area. Most airlines provide specific accommodations for traveling pets. Ask your ticket seller or agent when making your holiday traveling plans.

Given the difficulties in bringing a pet on a long trip, it is understandable if you chose to leave yours at home during your holiday travels. If you do so, a boarding service or pet sitter can prove to be an invaluable asset. A pet left alone in the house for substantial periods can be endangered by its own sense of boredom. Seeking to entertain itself, a pet may act out or engage in destructive behavior. A bored, lonely dog, for instance, may howl and cry, or tear up the furniture. And though cats may be more self-sufficient than dogs, when isolated for long periods of time they will also turn the furniture into an impromptu scratching post, not too mention finding new and interesting locations to designate as the litter box. Deprived of the contact to which they’re accustomed, birds will often excessively pluck their feathers, leaving ugly bald patches. And as well-intentioned as they may be, your neighbor or family volunteer just might not have the time to give your pet the love and attention it needs. “Don’t rely on a neighbor,” the Bonita Pet Hospital recommends. “Use a pet sitter or home sitter.” Their opinion is seconded by the Spring Valley Veterinary Clinic, who warn that whatever your plans, you “use a pet sitter or trusted friend at least once a day, [keeping] TV or music on as it helps with anxiety.” A sitter or service will dedicate full-time attention to your pet’s well being, leaving you free to enjoy your trip without worry.

Another rule of thumb: when selecting a pet sitter or boarding service, apply the same criteria you would when selecting a sitter for your child. Be sure to check their credentials and references. If your first choice doesn’t fit your needs, simply select another. It’s important that both you and your pet feel comfortable with your chosen service provider. Remember, though, that, as a pet owner, it is your responsibility to keep your sitter or boarding service informed as to your pet’s needs and proclivities. Like their owners, each pet is a unique individual with a unique personality, and more information you give your sitter, the better off all around the relationship between the three of you will be. Your pet gives you unconditional love year-round. This holiday season, return the favor. Keep them safe.

For more information about the pet sitting industry please visit Pet Sitters International at: For more information on using a professional pet sitter and the benefits for your pets in San Diego County, please contact Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat at - Where pets and home are the priority!

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Text and Copy services by M.B. CopyWrites.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Celebrate Take Your Dog To Work Day


June 16, 2008

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat Invites You To Participate in Pet Sitters International’s Take Your Dog To Work Day Celebration on Friday, June 20, 2008


WHAT: Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat invites all San Diego County pet owners, businesses and residents to celebrate Take Your Dog To Work Day® by taking your pup to work with you and supporting local awareness of pet adoptions at local animal shelters and rescues.

WHEN: Friday, June 20, 2008 (Duration: all day)

WHO: Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat in support of Pet Sitters International’s Take Your Dog To Work Day

Please visit these Web sites for additional information:

Take Your Dog To Work Day® and Take Your Pet To Work WeekTM are trademarks of Pet Sitters International, Inc. 2008 All rights reserved.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Summer Is Disaster Preparedness Season: REVIEW YOUR PLANS AND DON’T FORGET YOUR PETS


Summer Is Disaster Preparedness Season: REVIEW YOUR PLANS AND DON’T FORGET YOUR PETS

SAN DIEGO, CA, June 18, 2008 – Having persevered through two firestorms in the last few years, San Diegans are all too familiar with how quickly evacuation decisions must be made. Unfortunately, due to adverse weather and environment conditions, the odds are high that a fire (or other disasters) will happen again. During this disaster preparedness month, as you review your evacuation plans, don’t forget your pets’ needs too. Even though your pet may escape the disaster, if its unique needs are not met, the chances for survival are severely reduced.

HSUS recommends that all pet owners assemble an emergency supply kit custom tailored for each of your pets, as you would for your other family members. Kits should include:
·A three-day supply of food and water in easy-to-carry containers. (A month’s supply is even better!) Don’t forget bowls or other feeding apparatus as well as dog waste bags and cat litter.
·Up-to-date photos, vaccination records and descriptions of your pets.
·Pet tags: Your pet’s tag should have an additional phone number of someone out of the area in the event it becomes separated from you or lost. Microchipping is also recommended.
·Extra supplies of required pet meds – ensure these meds are not out-of-date. Also have a pet first-aid kit for your pets.
·Leashes, harnesses and carriers.
·A list of local emergency shelters with pet friendly policies in the area. This should include a list of local animal shelters and your veterinarian.
·Create a list of people who can take your pet in or services that can board your pet in an emergency.

Designated Care Givers and Pet Sitters

A professional pet sitter or boarder can provide a temporary home for your pet in the event you become separated or are unable to otherwise reach them in the event of an unexpected disaster. If, as a result of the disaster, you are unable to care for your pets, a designated care giver can even help you find a permanent, loving home for them. Remember, your care giver or pet sitter is the person to whom you are entrusting the care of your pet in the event something should happen to; in effect, they become foster parent to your child. But a word of caution to those who have someone visit their homes during emergencies, the Pet Services & Products Association of San Diego reported that, “Many of the folks evacuated (during Firestorm 2007) were professional pet sitters...who were caring not only for their own homes but five to ten other households.” Because many of these individuals did not necessarily live in the neighborhoods where they were caring for pets, police were unable to verify the authenticity of their claims and could not allow them to enter evacuated districts to check on the animals in their charge. One way to avoid this is to make sure anyone caring for your pets has the same emergency information about your pets and home, and provide them with permission to enter your property. Another is to bring your pet to someone who can board them in an emergency.

For local information on pet sitting in San Diego County, contact Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat on the web at For further information on finding a professional pet sitter, please visit Pet Sitters International (PSI) at

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Sunday, March 2, 2008




Date: March 2, 2008

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat invites pet owners and pet lovers alike to observe Professional Pet Sitters Week, March 2-8, 2008. This international celebration is designed to educate pet owners about the advantages of in-home pet care, as well as to encourage pet-loving entrepreneurs to explore professional pet sitting as a viable and rewarding career opportunity. Professional Pet Sitters Week was introduced by Pet Sitters International in 1995. PSI is the world’s largest educational association for professional pet sitters. When asked why PSI celebrates such an event, Patti Moran, president of PSI, explained, “Professional pet sitting has become an important service industry in the past 13 years. Many professional pet sitters put in long hours – seven days a week, 365 days a year – so they can provide personal in-home care for pets of all kinds. Their dedicated service affords their clients the ability to leave home for business or vacation with the knowledge that their beloved pets are in the capable hands of caring professionals. The tireless efforts of these small business owners and their staffs truly deserve recognition.”
According to PSI, its members serve more than one million homes annually. With more than 63 percent of U.S. households owning some kind of pet, it can easily be seen why PPSW has become a global event. For pet owners, at-home pet sitting provides a unique alternative to boarding facilities or having to rely on family and neighbors to check in on their pets. Pet sitters come to the home daily, enabling their furry, finned, scaly or feathered charges to maintain regular routines, including feedings, walks, potty breaks, and more. Regardless the tasks, pets always receive one-on-one care and attention from a pet-sitting professional. PSI points out that most pets experience less stress and adjust better to their owners’ absences when they remain in their normal environment or routine. This reduction in stress can create a positive impact on a pet’s overall health and well-being.

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat is one of PSI’s 7,900 international members, 157 of which are based in San Diego County. This year, Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat plans on making the most of PPSW by wishing other sitters a “Happy PPSW!”, letting the community know about pet sitting and PPSW, giving all new clients in March a discount on all services and sending a letter to our state governor requesting official observance of PPSW just as North Carolina already has. “I am really excited about being part of this year’s Professional Pet Sitters Week. It’s refreshing to see the industry I love recognized on such a global scale and for all the sitters out there to finally be recognized for what they love to do – taking care of people’s pets. Pet care service is such a rewarding, yet grueling and challenging, job especially with the prejudices against professional sitters comparing them to the average Joe down the street. All sitters deserve recognition for all the hard work and tender loving care they add to another animal’s life and for the amount of time, expense and devotion they put into improving the report the Pet Care Industry has built over the past 25 years, “ Kat adds.

Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat invites anyone interested in learning more about the advantages of hiring a professional pet sitter to visit their Web site, To learn more about PPSW and how you can participate, visit the PSI Web site at

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All media requests should be directed to Kat. For further information concerning the professional pet-sitting industry, please visit Pet Sitters International at or contact John Long, Public Relations Manager, at

Friday, February 1, 2008

San Diegans Celebrate “Leave Your Cat At Home Day” on February 29th, 2008


San Diegans Celebrate “Leave Your Cat At Home Day” on February 29th, 2008

Once a year, working parents enjoy Bring Your Kids To Work Day, in which they can demonstrate to their children how they earn their bread and butter. Likewise, dog owners get to share their affection for their canine companions with Take Your Dog To Work Day. But what about cat owners? How are they to recognize and appreciate the mercurial, uniquely individual creatures they hold dear? According to Grace Jaeger, owner and operator of Cat Watchers in Bloomington, MN, the answer is simple: Leave Your Cat At Home Day, to be celebrated this year on February 29th.

Upon first reading, an individual might be inclined to think that the proposal is something of a no-brainer. After all, one doesn’t usually leash up the cat and take it for a stroll at the local cat park, and spoiled Hollywood starlets haven’t turned the cat into the latest fashion accessory–at least, not yet. So what, then, is the deal? What is the goal of Leave Your Cat At Home Day (or LYCAHD as it will be referred to hereafter)?

“LYCAHD is designated to revere cats, and the way they have arranged the world so everyone else goes to work and they get to stay home,” says Jaeger. “Since everyone knows that cats don’t work and because they have humans to do it for them, I thought celebrating them in their favorite place–home–would be appropriate and fun.” The first LYCAHD was commemorated on February 25, 2005, and since then has been annually observed on the last Friday in February.

Since it’s been established that domestic cats traditionally spend their time at home anyways, how then should they celebrate a day off? What can we, their human owners, do to distinguish this day from all the others? A relaxing day off for an owner might involve sleeping in, taking a luxurious bath, and treating oneself to a favorite meal, but most cats already spend the bulk of their time sleeping, bathing, and eating. The trick to celebrating LYCAHD is to cater to your cat’s indulgences, says Jaeger. “Does your cat have a certain treat that is really special? This is the day for it! Does your cat really love catnip? Shower them with it! Does your cat have a special place to nap? This is the day to plump up those pillows, fluff that laundry, or just open the sock drawer, and leave it they way your cat likes it...above all, this is the day to pamper your cat and let them know that you know who’s the boss.”

As any owner can attest, cats are highly individualistic creatures, each possessed of a unique personality. They can be friendly, demanding, imperious, standoffish, cuddly, or aggressive. The may treat you as an intimate companion, or merely regard you as The One Who Brings Food, a menial role at best–after all, cats come fully equipped to provide their own meals. Indeed, the only thing cat owners can agree on is that cat’s sole universal characteristic is their individualism. They are independent, self-contained machines, genetically programmed to create a territorial space for themselves.

But is a cat’s sense of independence simply a biological holdover from the wild days of their ancestors, or is it something more? Laura Lluellyn-Lassiter, an Animal Communicator and Behaviorist, seems to believe so. “Cats have a reputation of being independence,” she says, “ and most are less demanding of attention compared to dogs...[but] they do like attention and will seek out their pleasures by meowing, following us everywhere and staring at us. They are creatures who like routines and generally adapt to their person’s schedule. They like their own space to sleep and guard from other creatures. Territory is of the utmost importance.” “Cats are independent because it is a survival technique,” concurs Carmen Linda Conklin of CW Shelter, though she offers an additional corollary: “Regardless, each cat is unique, and there are some who are more dependant upon human contact than others.”

Tracie, a Telepathic Animal Communicator from New York, suggests that this perception of cat behavior may say more about the owners than the animals. “I think it’s really just us humans who like to classify cats as being one of the more common domestic animals that don’t lean on or depend so much emotionally on being part of a group, and who don’t lean on us as much as we’d like them to.” “Cats relate to people who are ‘animal friendly,’” says Conklin, “and often shun those they do not trust when they first meet them. [But] They know our feelings as well, and relate to us in many ways.”

Since the personalities of domesticated house cats integrated so much with their owners and the people around them, what about wild cats? Do they share any of the idiosyncracies of their housebound relatives, or are they a breed of their own? For the sake of clarification, “wild cat” in this context means just that: the undomesticated species of little and big cat, not specimens of domesticated cats commonly considered “feral” or “stray,” living wild in human neighborhoods and surrounding districts. General consensus is that, since these animals have never been domesticated, it is best to simply leave them alone. In the past, efforts to overlap human society with their environment has proven disastrous; while local bobcats or cougars might enjoy celebrating LYCAHD, attempting to pamper them will undoubtedly prove hazardous for anyone who tries. If you would like to treat a wild cat to something special this LYCAHD, it is recommended that you make a donation to your local zoo or wildlife organization.

In turning to feral cats, it is important to recognize that there are several different gradations. The first are former pets who have escaped or been abandoned by their owners. They tend to stick close to the shelter of human habitats, and may “adopt” a neighborhood as their own, and in turn are adopted by humans who will put food out for them. Though living on the streets has made them wary, hesitant to approach people, with a lot of patience and love these cats can be rehabilitated and reintroduced into caring homes.

The second kind of feral cat is one who was born outside of a human home, and has spent its entire life living on the streets or in the local environment. Though they may appear cute as a normal house cat, or while their sometimes scraggly, unkempt manner may stir the heart, it is important to remember that these animals have never been domesticated, and many will shun humans or responded aggressively to attempts to handle them. They are much more vulnerable to disease, and can pose a health hazard, both to the public and the local flora and fauna. Due to their wild nature, it can be extremely difficult to domesticate them, but it is still important to help them. Efforts are underway in many cites to humanely trap these animals for the purposes of spaying/neutering, treating with antibiotics, and releasing into safer environments.

Though they may live different–and, some would argue, more exciting–lives than domesticated cats, they share many of the same characteristics. Feral cats display their moods through they same signs: purring, ears laid back, hissing, etc. Despite being a generation or two removed from domesticity, it is still embedded in their genes, and though wary or frightened by people, most of these cats still instinctually equate the presence of humans as “shelter” or “food.” Though they may have a larger “territory” than house cats, feral cats still spend the bulk of their time sleeping, preferably in a safe, warm place. But unlike domestic cats, who turn their hunting instincts into play, feral cats must actually find and stalk their own meals. Though plenty of house cats would like to assure their owners that they’re more than capable of doing so as well.

One of the other original concepts behind the creation of LYCAHD is Grace Jaeger’s desire to assuage the behavioral concerns owners may have with their cats. While every cat owners knows that, with a cat in the house, no piece of furniture is sacred, unhappy or unfulfilled cats act out more. Poorly maintained litter boxes or urinary tract infections can lead to waste disposal problems, and a lack of proper stimulation or exercise will often generate restless, “mischievous” behavior. Above all, it is a cat’s mood that shapes its behavior, so it’s important that a pet cat be given plenty of playtime. “Playing and mischief making are very much related,’ says Jaeger. “Playing provides stimulation to keep a cat mentally alert and healthy. The more time a human spends playing with a cat, the less a cat will need to get into mischief.” Still, sometimes the problem is medical, and Animal Behaviorist Faye Lapp advocates that owners “talk with a Cat Behaviorist, veterinarian or shelter person who has knowledge and can help retrain your cat’s unacceptable behaviors.” And of course, owners should use LYCAHD to show their cats that, despite problems with their behavior, they are still loved and adored.

Though LYCAHD is still in somewhat of a grassroots infancy, celebration of it is growing. Every year Jaeger’s website hosts a photo contest, and each year she receives more and more entries. She has begun offering official LYCAHD merchandise, the proceeds of which are donated to the Home For Life® animal sanctuary. Even if you’re not a cat owner, you can still celebrate. Make a purchase for a friend, or just come over and spend some free time playing with the cat.

Whether you’re a cat owner or not, hiring the services of a professional pet sitter can be a wonderful gift. Even if you have to go to work, and thus leave your cat at home, someone can still be there to provide all of LYCAHD’s requisite pampering. “Your cat gets to stay home in their own bed,” says Jaeger, “and can get lots of personal attention if they choose. And they can continue to be the boss!” And what better treat, then providing your cat a whole new human to be the boss of?

If you would like more information on Leave Your Cat At Home Day, visit or contact Grace Jaeger directly at For further information on finding a professional pet sitter, please visit Pet Sitters International (PSI) at For local information on pet sitting in San Diego County, contact Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Services by Kat on the web at

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Text and copy services by Matthew Baldwin