Exercise and your cat – the basics

Cat Play

Exercise and your cat – the basics

Who doesn’t love a fat cat? Seriously. They are big bowls of fluff and jiggle. Everyone loves a fat cat. However, overweight or obese cats can develop health issues and have shortened life spans. Diabetes, joint issues and heart problems are just some of the problems your rotund feline can face.

So if your cat is already on a diet, what now? Let’s talk about exercise. Yes, many cats have to be tricked into it, that is true. As pet sitters we spend most of our feline visits in play mode. But when you are home, they may not be getting focused playtime each day.

Here are some tips and tricks!

  • Cats are by nature big hunters, even domesticated cats. Try a round of engaged play where cats can hunt, chase and catch. Think outside the box. Try incorporating different heights, over and around furniture and under tissue paper. Feather toys like “Da Bird” are wonderful at engaging their hunting instinct.
  • Play hide and seek! A few treats a day, you don’t want to overload them. Hide the treats and make a game of it! Maybe under the bed, on the arm of a chair. Make them work for it!
  • “Busy” toys are not just for dogs! You can put their food or treats in a toy and they figure out how to knock it over and get it out. I love the “Egg Cersizer“!
  • Got a flight of stairs in your house? Use them to your advantage! Put the cats food on one level and the litter box or cat tree on another level.
  • Speaking of cat trees – do you have one? Cats love different heights, so the cat tree serves the purpose of getting them to jump and climb as well as a place to scratch.
  • Experience the great outdoors (safely!). Now this is hit or miss, but some cats will enjoy a harness and leash and to explore outdoors. A harness is crucial as many cat collars are breakaway. We have even walked cats as part of our jobs! 
Pico de Gato wants his dinner right meow!

Pico de Gato wants his dinner right meow!

Do you have a fun game for your feline? Share it in the comments!

What is a Professional Pet Sitter?

PSY 2011I am new to this blogging thing.  So I figured I would start off with an easy one.  What is a Professional Pet Sitter?  What distinguishes us from the rest?

Professional Pet Sitting isn’t just a hobby.  It is a passion.  It takes hard work, dedication, sometimes blood, lots of sweat and many, many tears.  

I started this business in 2006 and since then it has grown considerably.  I started with the basics.  I got a membership to Pet Sitters International (PSI).  I got a business licence.  I obtained liability insurance and bonding.  I was a professional now, right?  Oh, there was so much more.

Suddenly, I had to know my state’s tax laws!  I had to know accounting!  I had to come up with contracts and forms for my clients!  I had to be aware of liability and the fact that I was in and out of people’s homes caring for their furry children!  It suddenly took on a whole new level of responsibility.  

It was so much more than just playing with dogs and cats all day!  Thankfully I had back up.  I have used the resources at the Small Business Development Center.  I reached out, if only online, to PSI to help guide me through and took advantage of their internet forums.  I spoke to local pet sitters who became great friends.  We talk all the time.   We are each other’s sounding boards, emergency backup and a shoulder to cry on.

Now, I have a background with animals, as I am sure every pet sitter does.  But it reached much further than growing up with pets.  Thankfully, I also have a background working in the veterinary field.  I was comfortable and confident in giving medications to pets.  I can give insulin injections.  I knew the signs and symptoms to look for in a cat diagnosed with IBD, or the tricks to get pets to eat.  But there was still more to learn.

I read everything I could get my hands on about pets.  I took webinars and kept up to speed with local trainers classes (for us humans).  I volunteered with rescue organizations and understood why pets can go “shelter crazy”.

Then in 2010, I attended my first pet sitting conference.  Level up.  PSI has an educational conference each year.  It was 4 days of pure awesomeness.  I met with pet sitters from around the country.  I am not exaggerating when I say I met friends for life.  I got to talk to prominent people in the pet industry, our celebrities if you will.  Published authors and worldwide speakers.  I got to pick their brains and listen as they taught seminars and panels.  My brain was on overload.  I got to meet and learn from people in my profession whose businesses I admire and aspire to.  But we were all there to learn from each other.

This is not an easy job.  It is not for someone with a weak stomach.  It takes an incredible amount of passion and drive to make it successful.  I have had days where I worked so long there were blisters on my feet, my hair was matted with slobber, and I had eaten from the drive through all day because that’s all the time there was.  I have cleaned up more messes than you can even imagine.  Ones where I’m not kidding the dog exploded.  I have been pushed to my limits, yelled at, bruised and beaten by overzealous pets.  I have had emergencies and rushed pets to the Emergency Vet on Sunday because these things never happen during business hours.  I have cried and cried as pets pass, and I have held clients hands as their pets cross the Rainbow Bridge.

And yet I wake up every day thankful for what I do and how I get to spend my days.  I would do it all over again in a heartbeat.

That, my friends, is what makes me a Professional Pet Sitter.