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DID YOU KNOW? 5 Tips for Purrfect Cat Sitting Visits

DID YOU KNOW? 5 Tips for Purrfect Cat Sitting Visits

You want to get out for a full day or even a few nights away from home, but your kitty is happier at home. Learn what a professional pet sitter does for your feline friend.

  1. Hire a Crockett’s Critter Care professional pet sitter. We know the right questions to ask and information to gather before we confirm and approve your request. We will ask where your cat’s hiding places are, how they react to strangers, how they cope with your absence, what they like to eat, and what games and toys they enjoy. We will gather a health history and contact you if we suspect a medical emergency. We are trained in Pet First Aid/CPR and can provide immediate care and assessment to determine if a vet visit is warranted.
  2. Insist on daily visits. Too many things can happen that, if gone unnoticed, can result in a serious medical outcome. A urinary tract infection, getting caught in the window blinds, getting stuck in a tight place, or chewing an electrical cord are just a few of things that pet sitters have discovered just in time to save a cat’s life. A daily observance of your cat will ensure that it receives the care and attention it needs.
  3. Your cat’s daily routine can be noticed which includes maintaining the litter box, monitoring input and output of food and water, washing food bowls and providing fresh food at each meal on a clean plate. We can cat proof your house to make sure dangerous plants are out of the way and that the temperature is comfortable.
  4. Your mail, packages, and newspapers will be brought in giving your house an occupied vibe. We will notice if something looks wrong and help solve little problems before they turn into big ones.
  5. Cats love attention, and we love cats. You want to be able to breathe easier on your trip and come home to a happy cat’s contented meows. We will play with them, talk to them, and hang out with them while you are gone so they will miss you just a little bit less.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!


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DID YOU KNOW? -How to keep your pet happy, fit, and healthy for a lifetime

DID YOU KNOW? -How to keep your pet happy, fit, and healthy for a lifetime

Here are 7 simple things you can do to ensure your pet’s health and happiness.

Happy Dog
  1. Feed them a good diet. This promotes a shiny coat, healthy skin, and bright eyes. It also strengthens your pet’s immune system, helps maintain their intestinal health, increases their mental acuity, keep their joints and muscles healthy, and good nutrition means a happy pet.
  2. Keep your pet lean. Obesity is a huge problem today and can shorten a dog or cat’s life span by as much as two years. Being overweight or obese puts your pet at risk for joint disease, heart disease and diabetes. Since you can control what your pet eats, it is up to you to count their calories.
  3. Take your pet to the veterinarian regularly. Pets that are getting older should see the vet twice a year. In many cases, an early diagnosis improves the chances of successful treatment of minor problems before they become serious and costly health issues.
  4. Keep your pet’s mouth clean. Yes, brush your pet’s teeth! You can also provide dental chews and drops in their water. Untreated dental issues can contribute to heart and kidney disease. It’s best to introduce this to cats when they are kittens.
  5. Supervise their outdoor activities. Roaming pets are subject to car accidents, predation, exposure to contagious diseases, exposure to poisons, and other dangers. Protect them by not allowing them to wander without you.
  6. Exercise your pet. It’s good for the mind and body. It lowers stress, increases endorphins, and balances their mind. It helps maintain a healthy weight and muscle mass.
  7. Provide positive attention. Give them affection with petting, grooming, kind words, and enriching activities. Our loving companions deserve to be appreciated and well-cared for.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!


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DID YOU KNOW? – Cats are Complex Creatures

DID YOU KNOW? – Cats are Complex Creatures

Cats have always been mysterious and even mystical as well as the first defense against rodents. Here are some cat facts to help you understand your feline companion.

It’s in the genes! You know a lot about your cat except, for many cat owners, you don’t know what type of cat you have. Basepaws, an animal health company specializing in genetics, can analyze your cat’s DNA for breed type, health markers, and its wild heritage. (You may have a cute kitten that is descended from a lynx!)

How it works: you purchase their kit, send them a cheek swab, and wait for your cat’s genetic report. You’ll discover what breeds and breed groups your cat descended from and what health issues can affect your cat’s life.

Personality
Is your cat social, confident, and easy going or timid, shy and unfriendly? Studies have confirmed that not only is personality inherited from the mother, but that friendliness specifically is, in part, inherited from the father. The best time to begin gently handling a cat is before 8 weeks old. Feral cats may become adjusted to humans who regularly feed them, but they generally don’t like to be handled.

Foraging
Cats in the wild eat numerous small meals each day and spend a lot of time hunting. This is why food puzzles instead of food bowls are so enriching. They mimic the cat’s natural choice.

Senses, habits, and interesting facts:

  • Each cat has its own signature scent. They spread their scent over their fur through grooming. Friendly cats rub up against each other to transfer their scent. This friendly behavior is called allorubbing.
  • Cat’s ears can be rotated at 180 degrees. The average cat’s hearing is at least five times keener than a humans.
  • Domestic cats spend about 70% of the day sleeping and 15% grooming.
  • Most cats don’t have eyelashes.
  • Cats can jump up to six times their length.
  • Cats use their whiskers to feel the world around them and to determine if they can fit into small spaces. A malady called whisker fatigue is caused by too much stimulation. For this reason many cat owners prefer to feed their cat on a plate instead of a small bowl.
  • Cats were first brought to America during Colonial Times to hunt rats.
  • Two hundred feral cats prowl the park at Disneyland on rat patrol.
  • Cats have also contributed to the extinction of 33 different species. Placing bird feeders in safe areas will save a lot of feathered beings.
  • Kittens often seek warmth in car engines. Always thump on your hood before starting your car to scare them off to a safer space.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!


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Happy Pets = Happy Home

Happy Pets = Happy Home

Are you dogs and cats happy? Here are some great ways to keep your pet’s mind and body occupied this winter and reduce his stress levels.

Keep That Tail wagging!

If you have a puppy or adult dog with lots of energy, you know how much work it is to keep your pet entertained. The colder weather and COVID has kept a lot of us indoors which adds another challenge.
Lack of exercise and mental stimulation can raise the frustration and stress level for both pet and their people. You’ve probably noticed how your dog’s stress level—and yours—goes up when he’s not getting enough exercise. High-energy dogs can develop behavior problems if they don’t get enough exercise and stimulation. Here’s how to keep your canine happy:

  • Play dates. If your dog likes the company of other dogs, invite one or more of his furry friends and their owners to join you in a group walk. Be certain that the canine companions know each other and have proven that they get along. Double check that your equipment fits properly. There are many local parks in New Bern to enjoy.
  • Hidden Treats. Gather a handful of treats and show them to your dog. Place your dog in a sit/stay (or have someone hold him on a leash) and let him watch you hide the treats in front of him in safe places like under a pillow or behind a door.
  • Let him go and encourage him to search. When he discovers a treat, praise him. After a few of these sessions, he will get the idea. You can then start hiding treats in other rooms, and he will stay busy hunting them down. We call this the “Find It” game at my house. Your can graduate from treats to toys or even hiding yourself and calling your dog to search for you.
  • Winter walks. Be on the lookout for a break in the cold and seize the moment. Even a short walk can give your pet some exercise and mental stimulation. A good ten-minute “sniffari” is fun and fulling for your pet. Or add some novelty to your dog’s walks by discovering a new place or adding some games to the outing.
  • Puzzle toys. Invest in a puzzle toy or two to keep your dog’s mind occupied and provide an opportunity to challenge your dog’s problem-solving skills. The toy rewards the dog with a treat when he figures out the puzzle. There are a lot of choices. One of my favorites are the puzzles that replace the food bowl. This gives your dog a chance to hunt for his meals on a daily basis. I also use a snuffle mat with dry treats or kibble tucked inside or a licky mat smeared with peanut butter to engage my dog’s culinary senses.
  • Kong toy. This is a long-time favorite at my house and is great for keeping dogs from being bored or for encouraging them to settle in their crate or on their “go to” place. This tough rubber concoction can be filled with peanut butter, soft cheese or Kong Stuff’N, and keeps dogs busy as they work on removing the food with their tongue. I put a few treats inside a peanut-butter filled the Kong that I let freeze in the fridge. This keeps my pets busy longer.
  • Tug and ball. These are good indoor or outdoor games. If you have some space, you can toss the ball down a long hallway or down a staircase for a game of fetch. If your dog likes to tug, get him a new tug toy and play with him until he gets tired. I like to keep some tugs and balls just for indoor use.
  • Trick training. This is something my dogs, Davy and Ginger, had fun with during the pandemic. I printed out the AKC Trick Dog List and started crossing new tricks off as we learned them. We added roll-over, crawl, and give me your paw to our repertoire. Now we are working on closing open drawers. There is a long list of fun activities to learn.

Make Your Cat Purr!

There are a lot of things that you can do to support your cat’s mental and physical well-being while keeping him safely inside.  Cats love to climb, play, eat, observe, explore, hide, perch, scratch, groom, and hang out with their favorite human.  Here are activities that fulfill these needs. 

  • Environmental Enrichment. Provide cat trees, window perches, and hiding places from a simple paper bag, empty box, or tunnel to shelving, walkways and catios. Scratching posts give cats an acceptable place to scratch and trim their nails. There are many varieties of scratching posts, but the best ones are sturdy and steady. Keep in mind that cats like to extend their full body for a good scratch.
  • Social Interactions. Cats are social animals and like to interact with you when they are in the right mood. Don’t push yourself on them, but do be ready when they are asking for your attention. They prefer to be touched around the cheeks and head and most enjoy being brushed on a regular basis. We find some cats love to be read to or given a gentle massage, and quality lap time.
  • Visual Enrichment. An interesting view of the yard enhanced with a bird feeder can keep them entertained all year. Laser pointers, blowing bubbles, pinwheels, and interactive toys are great boredom busters.
  • Auditory Enrichment through calming music. – Yes, there is music especially for cats that will reduce stress, boost moods, and improve physical and emotional well-being. Through a Cat’s Ear is an example of cat specific music that is popular with veterinary practices and pet sitters. The tones of cat-specific music are best played softly as cats hear much better than we do. The pet cube that I use for my pet sitting clients play sounds in a lower register (matches a cat’s resting pulse rate) and are slower (not great to hum along to, but cats like it!).
  • Pheromone Spray. If you have a cat that is nervous or anxious, you can add Feliway pheromone to help them calm down. It comes in sprays, collars, and plug-ins. I particularly like the sprays on bedding for car travel or veterinary visits. The spray lasts about four hours. Plug-ins are great for the house used in the room where the cat spends most of its time.
  • Food Foraging. There are interactive toys that you can stuff with kibble giving your cat an opportunity to hunt. Place or hide these toys around your house. Many behaviorists are suggesting we stop feeding our pets out of food bowls.
  • Training your Cat. Yes, cats can learn many tricks – fetch, high-five, rollover. They are very smart… after all, they train us! To teach the tricks have some good treats handy, a clicker for training, and have fun with your feline.

Our pets have preferences too. Get to know your pet and find out what they like or don’t like. It’s a great way to build the bond you have between you and add to the quality of their lives. After all, don’t we all want our pets to be happy?


For Fear Free professional pet sitting and dog walking, contact Jeanne Crockett, owner of Crockett’s Critter Care.

Happy Pet! Happy Home!

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Meet KitKat by James Mallory

Meet KitKat by James Mallory

~ Submitted to Crockett’s Critter Care by James Mallory.

KitKat, our Ginger boy, came to us unexpectedly about seven years ago.  While we were visiting family out of state, a little kitten ran into their garage and wouldn’t leave. He was all alone and only about four weeks old.  We waited to see if his mother or siblings would join him – but no one did.  That weekend we opened our heart and home to a new furry companion. 

He has remained an indoor kitty but still retains his outdoor instincts which we indulge by taking him for a lot of rides in his outdoor kitty carriage.  A great way to keep him safe and secure while still enjoying the outdoors. 

KitKat loves to play and his orange tunnel with his spinning ball is his favorite toy.  When he is not keeping us company, he likes to hang out in “his” sunroom where he can keep an eye on the backyard birds. 

His small circle of friends outside of family includes our pet sitter – his loyal caretaker since we brought him home. 

What is your proud pet story? Contact us so we can all hear it.

TRUE TALES: Consult with a Cat Behaviorist

TRUE TALES: Consult with a Cat Behaviorist

I was a lucky winner of a raffle drawing at the Pet Sitters International Conference this year.  My prize was a forty-five-minute consult with Marci Kosti, PHD, a well-known cat behaviorist.  I prepared ahead and asked my Facebook friends and colleagues what their most pressing cat concerns were.  Some of the concerns went beyond the scope of an introductory consult but other issues fit easily into a Q & A format.

Here is a summary of the answers to my questions with Dr. Marci:

  1. When pet owners consult with you, what are the topics they want to discuss most often?
    The top concern is from pet owners who have cats that are not getting along and are looking for ways to create cat harmony in their household. The second most frequent topic is house soiling.
  2. How important is early interaction between kittens and humans regarding their friendliness toward their owner and other people throughout their lifetime?
    The sensitive socialization period for kittens is 2 to 8 weeks. Studies have shown that kittens that have been gently handled (even just 15 minutes a day) are more likely to be friendly, more willing to explore, and more able to handle stress as they develop. Exposure to more than one person, other pets, environments, and situations provide kittens with positive associations that will last a lifetime.
  3. As a pet sitter, we often administer medications to cats. What are some of the best methods that you have found for cats to accept this process?
    Less handling is better when giving medicine to a cat. For pilling, the best treat that Dr. Kosti has found is whipped cream cheese because it is sticky and yummy. Place a pea size portion with the medicine tucked inside on the very end of a knife or spoon. When the cat goes to lick it, it sort of sticks to the cat’s tongue and then goes into the mouth to be swallowed. To get the cat to accept this, start with a few portions of the cheese without the pill and then the one with the pill followed by one more lick without the pill. This way the cat doesn’t suspect the medicine each time. Some other good choices are Churu’s, Albacore tuna, marsh mellows, Easy Cheese cheddar and bacon, canned salmon, baby shrimp, Bonita fish flakes, anchovy paste, and Fancy Feast foil packets of any flavor. We also talked about adding medicine to a liquid paste in a syringe and letting the cat lick it off the tip of the syringe. Both of these methods can be completed without any hand holds so the cats aren’t stressed and look forward to medicine time. Dr. Kosti shared a great video by Feline Fundamentals that shows positive ways to medicate your cat which I thoroughly enjoyed watching. You can view it on Youtube.
  4. What are the best ways to deter a cat from scratching the furniture?
    Scratching posts placed near the furniture that the cat is scratching. Make sure it is the right size and is sturdy. If the cat is reaching up then the post should be one that matches the cat’s height preference. The same applies for cats that scratch the carpet. These cats prefer scratchers that lie on the floor. There is a variety of scratchers to chose from. Consider buying several. Initially, you can sprinkle cat nip on the scratcher to get the cat’s attention.
  5. What are your thoughts about cats exploring outdoors in a stroller?
    Dr. Kosti loves it and has tried it with all of her cats. However, only one of them took to it after training. It needs to be properly introduced with gentle training. If a cat doesn’t like it and growls, hisses, trembles, freezes, snaps or swats – then stop. This is not going to be a pleasant experience for that cat.
  6. Feeding stations vary a lot from one house to another. Sometimes food bowls are close together near the litter box and other times they are spread out. What do you advise your clients to do?
    Cats are very fussy about this. They don’t like their food bowl near the water or the litter box. They also don’t have a drive for thirst even though they need water. I have found that the best feeding station is one that has the food apart from the litter box and away from the water bowl. It’s also a good idea to have several water bowls in areas that the cat is near because they may drink more water that way. This is especially important for senior cats.
Dr. Marci Koski with white cat
Dr. Marci Koski

Litter box issues are complex issues that can’t be addressed in this format. Dr. Kosti gave a ninety-minute presentation which I found valuable on litter box issues and house soiling at the Pet Sitters International conference. The first step in resolving these issues is a veterinary check- up to determine that the problem isn’t medical. Then a review of litter box basics (location, design, type of litter, and maintenance) and some simple adjustments may be all that is required for your cat to behave appropriately. As a pet sitter, I have a lot of experience in this area and may be able to help.

When it comes to cats that don’t get along in their multi-cat household – it may be time for you to reach out to a cat behaviorist. Dr. Marci Koski, a Certified Feline Behavior & Training consultant, successfully helps cat owners restore harmony in their homes. The testimonials on her website are from satisfied customers who wish they would have contacted her sooner. I am very impressed with her understanding of cats and her willingness to share her knowledge with me. I highly recommend her to you. She is amazing and will be happy to talk with you.

What is your proud pet story? Contact us so we can all hear it.