Love Cats: Pet Sitting in and Around Cambridge, MA

 

run, walk, pounce or mew!

October 1st, 2014

CRA-GS Road Race Poster_17x11_2014-09-04-

LoveCats is super excited to sponsor the first-ever Meow Mile 5K Road Rally, which benefits the Gifford Cat Shelter and Charles River Alleycats!

The event will wind through Somerville on Oct. 12. Our wonderful office manager/kitty sitter Amy is heading up the LoveCats team and will run the 5K. We hope you’ll consider:

* Making a financial donation to these awesome charities by supporting Team LoveCats via Amy’s fundraising page

* Running, walking or pouncing the 5K with Amy

You can sign up for either option here: https://www.firstgiving.com/fundraiser/AmyWhitford/meow-mile-5k-road-rally. To participate in the 5K as part of Team LoveCats, click the “Join Team” button on Amy’s page.

summer already?

July 6th, 2014

Every day that it’s 80+ degrees and humid, I try to remember to be grateful it’s not snowing!

Personally, I prefer being too hot to being too cold. Not that I enjoy being sweaty, but I have one of those circulations that’s easier to cool down than warm up.

Kitties too love the warmth. How they can lie prone in the sun on these super hot days is beyond me. And they seemingly go out of their way to avoid being in the wind direction of a fan or AC blower.

That said, they need to stay hydrated. And for the most part, they understand that. But we have to make it a little easier for them to find water. In multiple places.

I’ve written here before that many cats do not like their water to be near their food. You say they like drinking out of the faucet or shower or your water glass? To me that means they don’t like seeing their bowl next to their food. Put a small bowl or glass or coffee cup of water on your coffee table, in the corner of a room, next to the bathtub, on the kitchen counter or bath sink — wherever you think the little furball might find it interesting to come across. Make it at least 2 bowls or glasses. Ceramic or glass will keep the water slightly cooler.

And be sure to clean the containers! Just like us, kitties produce saliva when they eat and drink — and it falls into those containers, creating a gunky bottom.

Ok, enough learning for today. Time for a refreshing drink!

cat cafes

May 6th, 2014

Ever wanted to visit a cat cafe? A very lucky LoveCats client recently got the chance! Susan and her husband Sheldon were traveling in Tokyo when they spotted a cafe while walking in the Shinjuku district.

She says: “We couldn’t resist taking a closer look inside. It’s a very interesting setup: $10 per person for each hour, and you can order drinks, as well as chicken snacks to feed the cats. There were some cats with short front legs which were called ‘Munchkins’ and they were unbelievably adorable! It was a neat experience.”

Susan was kind enough to share her photos:

Here in Boston, we may have to wait a while for a cat cafe. The permitting process, as you can imagine, is pretty stringent. That said, a dedicated woman going by the moniker of Miaou Boston is working hard to make it happen. Check her out and show some support!

Meanwhile, if you’re traveling to the West Coast, there are three cafes in the works, and the first two listed here hope to open this year: San Francisco’s KitTea, San Diego’s The Cat Cafe, and Catfe in Los Angeles.

stay calm and carry on

May 4th, 2014

I like to say that cats are like children, in that they have a limited understanding of our world and fully depend on us for all their needs. When their routines change — for example, when you go out of town — they sometimes get a little stressed out.

At LoveCats, we’ve seen various forms and resulting behaviors of stress. Some munchkins get hairballs or throw up their food more frequently than usual. Some go on food strike, or the opposite: they eat as much as possible for fear the next food drop may be days away! We’ve seen furballs become less active, or more aggressive with other cats in the house or with us. And of course, there’s the “I’ll get you” attitude: poop or pee outside the box, or get a case of the runs (and yes, I mean diarrhea).

So, what can you do? Well, first be assured that LoveCats looks for these symptoms of stress during our visits. We’re careful to not be flippant; consistent unusual behaviors in your absence could simply be stress-related, or they could be a sign of a health issue. We take note of the actions and if the situation warrants it, we will call your vet to check in and get their thoughts.

And if we think it’s frustration over your taking a vacation without them, we’ll try to provide some distractions: extra water bowls in new places; turn on the radio or tv; move a piece of your clothing to a place they might catnap; open a blind or in warm weather, a window, so they can look outside.

These are all things you can do in advance, too. In addition, if possible while you’re away, don’t close off rooms to your cat. If you need to protect valuables, put them in a closet, or cover scratch-inducing items. Get a bird feeder (some LoveCats clients have ones that attach to windows) or set lights on timers to “surprise” the furball with new motion.

Another great idea is to have a friend, neighbor or family member pop in for a visit here and there (in addition, of course, to having LoveCats visit on a regular basis!). This person doesn’t have to interact with your cat (although it would be really good if they did!). His or her presence while watching tv, reading a book, or playing a game on their smartphone would soothe some of your kitty’s anxiety.

For more information about cat stress, try this article and these suggestions.

welcome Amy!

March 31st, 2014

We have officially become the “A Team” as Amy Whitford joins Anne and Adriene at LoveCats!

Amy found LoveCats in September 2012 while looking for someone to give the TLC that her orange furball, Stringer Bell, desperately needed during times that she and her husband, Lee, traveled. She started working as a kitty helper in October 2013 to help cover busy weekends. And now, Amy has permanently joined the LoveCats team, working as a part-time office manager and sitter.

Amy grew up on the South Shore of Massachusetts. After living in Vermont and Colorado, she decided that her heart belonged to Boston and she settled here in the late 90s.

Amy’s first pet was a dog named Matilda. But when she passed away, a mysterious cat showed up on the front seat of the family car when someone left the windows down. Cosby joined the family and it has been all cats, all the time ever since!

Amy brings several years of experience helping keep small businesses organized. Most recently she worked for Taza Chocolate in Somerville. And, before that, Curly Girl Design in Belmont.

“I can’t believe I get to spend my days playing with cats,” she says. “I feel so good about giving people the same peace of mind that I feel when I go out of town and LoveCats takes care of Stringer Bell.”

emergency preparedness

February 20th, 2014

I’ve been meaning to write about this article I read back in October. It’s about a bill that is currently working its way through the Massachusetts State Legislature that would require towns and cities to devise emergency evacuation and shelter plans for animals.

From the little I can glean, it sounds like this particular piece of legislation focuses on what to do in cases of natural disasters — which is great! We have been pretty lucky here in the Boston area to have few devastating storms in the past decade. We may moan and groan about all the snow or rain, but we should have nothing to complain about compared with those affected by Hurricane Katrina, the Moore, Okla. tornado disaster, or Hurricane Sandy.

So, good on Sen. Karen Spilka who is lobbying for this bill.

While we wait for its outcome, let’s take action ourselves. Do you have an emergency plan in place? Not many of us do. My husband and I haven’t talked about how to communicate if we lost cell phone and Internet communications.

Outside of our human considerations, we have our little furry friends to think about. As you ask yourself the questions below, add “what happens to my cat(s)” in each of the points:

* What if you were at work or traveling when a major storm wiped out power or damaged your home? Also consider what happens if that storm affects your neighbors and your whole town.

* What if a fire started at your home while you were at work or traveling?

* What if a natural disaster affected the city in which you’re vacationing — preventing you from getting home for days or weeks?

Here’s a great resource to help with the answers to some of these questions, as well as tips for what to have on hand in cases of emergency: ASPCA Disaster Preparedness at www.aspca.org/pet-care/disaster-preparedness.

Yes, this can be emotional thinking time, and yet it’s practical. Hopefully, we’ll never need the plans we put in place!

putting food on automatic

January 8th, 2014

There are many good reasons to buy a feeder. Some cats, just like humans (me included!), don’t have the “I’m full” mechanism when it comes to food, and they keep eating if there’s kibble out for them to indulge. A feeder helps control portions and it creates a schedule. Just like children, cats benefit from being kept to a routine.

Even if your fluffster is a grazer, an automatic dispenser is often better than a bowl overfilled with dry kibble that will go stale after days of being left out.

On a side note, I have a bit of a pet peeve about “topping up” dry food bowls. Broken and stale bits are not attractive to felines, who will often pick around them. Also, keep in mind that cats’ salivary glands work as they’re eating. When you clean your munchkin’s food bowl, you’ve probably noticed a layer of gunk at the bottom — that’s a mix of saliva and food oils. That’s why it’s important to wash the food containers and water bowls.

Back to auto feeders, they come in many varieties and at a wide range of price points. So how do you decide? I came across a wonderful review site for food dispensers. The main page offers summary points, as well as the types of cat best suited to each feeder.

simplifying catification

December 20th, 2013

My last blog post (so long ago!) referenced a local LoveCats family member who has catified her home, enabling her munchkins to safely traverse the outdoors.

It seems “catification” has become a booming trend. Just the other day, the New York Times wrote about Kate Benjamin in Phoenix, who has made a business out of her blog, offering ways people can make their homes more comfortable for their cats.

I love the concept, and I think if you’ve got the time and money to take on these projects, they certainly bring a peaceful, comfortable existence for indoor cats.

That said, catification can be as simple as letting your cat rule the roost. And if there’s a place you don’t want them to go (e.g., bedroom, kitchen counters), do a swap and give them their own spot, ideally a place they can climb up to (top of the fridge, a high bookcase shelf). It may mean creating levels for them to make that climb. For example, allow them a portion of the kitchen counter to make the leap to top of the fridge. Or provide “steps” from the coffee table to the back of the couch to a bookcase.

The reason for height comes down to control. Just like humans, cats need to feel secure in their environments. They’re small things and we’re big things, so giving them a place higher up makes them feel safer, a bit out of reach. Just like us, they need peaceful time, or when feeling a bit afraid, an escape hatch.

If your munchkins can’t climb, give them hideaway places behind furniture — for example, a nice soft blanket or an old sweatshirt inside a cardboard box.

I know you’ll find ways that suit your home and your cat. And I hope you’ll share them with me when you do!

cambridge catification

November 8th, 2013

Jackson Galaxy, the now famous cat behaviorist from Animal Planet’s “My Cat From Hell” tv show, always talks about the catification of your home. In his words, it means “creating feline-friendly environments that cater to a cat’s natural instincts to climb, perch, rest, play, and own their space.”

I recently came across an awesome example right here in Cambridge. Leif and Darwin’s mom built this very cool outdoor cat run for the boys. By slipping through a cat door out the window, they can walk down the side of the house to the patio. From there they can extend over to a large play cage, including a sweet hammock and some benches where they can rest under the trees — getting close, but not too close, to the birds.

Leif and Darwin are nearly 10 years old, but if you were around them, you’d think they were much younger. They are frisky as kittens, leaping for Da Bird, jumping on huge swaths of packing paper, taking walks on the cat run. I do believe that their home, being an active, engaging environment, is keeping them healthy and fresh.

OK, so theirs is an extreme example of catification, yet I hope you find it inspirational. Explore Jackson’s website for other ideas.

welcome Adriene!

November 5th, 2013

LoveCats is very excited to announce that Adriene Tilton has officially joined the staff!

Adriene grew up in Western Massachusetts, where she followed a passion for dance, participating in two local dance companies. She has spent nearly 30 years as a childcare provider and more recently, has worked as a home healthcare provider. Her concern for the well-being of others has carried over into her volunteer efforts for HIV/AIDS and suicide awareness and prevention charities.

Speaking to her feline side, Adriene fell in love with a neighbor’s cats when she was 10 years old. They kindly let her visit as often as she liked. Thanks to that experience and her own family’s subsequent rescue of two kitten brothers, Adriene has been crazy about cats for more than 30 years. She has channeled that passion into trying to understand how cats work, and how to make their relationships with humans as comfortable and engaging as possible.

Adriene found her way to LoveCats as a client for her munchkins Henry (who passed away in February 2013), Caddy and Obi (six-year-old, orange tabby sisters). She answered a call for kitty helpers in August 2012 and has been assisting on busy weekends and holidays since then. Adriene officially joined the LoveCats staff in October 2013, working as a part-time sitter.

“I am excited to meet and help care for many more cats with LoveCats,” says Adriene, “and it’s a great opportunity to keep learning what makes cats tick!”