What A Pet Sitter Does and Does Not Do

I’m having more and more folks who want to hire me mainly to do a lot of non-pet sitting related things so it’s time to revisit what I can and cannot do as a pet sitter. I am not a house sitter and people are confusing the two.

Pets I will care for: Dogs, cats, birds, fish, koi, rabbits, exotic pets that do not require live meals, small caged animals like rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, reptiles. This is daily maintenance of food and water and includes litter box cleaning, dog poop scooping (if I can find it in the yard), accident clean up in the house, hairball clean up, newspaper changes in bird cages, litter changes for rabbits and other small caged animals.  I will brush your dog and cat for fun and if there are too many stickers in their fur.

What I will not do: I do not wash and scrub cages or empty and scrub out litter boxes. I will not scrub your floor if the bird poos outside the cage. I do not clean ponds. I do not groom pets. I am not a dog trainer.

Livestock I will care for: chickens, ducks, goats, sheep, horses, pigs, hogs (have to be fed from OUTSIDE their enclosure).

What I will not do: clean cages or pens or muck stalls. I do not clean up chicken poop – I have asthma.

Wild animals: I will fill a couple (2) bird feeders – hummingbird or otherwise – but the hummingbird food MUST be pre-made and in the fridge. I will not make hummingbird food. I will fill water troughs for wild animals.

Plants I will care for: Any including cannabis – up to 15 potted plants but I cannot water daily during busy season. If you have an extensive array of plants I suggest buying “plant nannies” for the hot season or put them on a drip system. I am happy to water once or twice a week but any time spent watering is that much less time I have to spend with your fur children and my insurance does not cover plants.

Plants I will not care for: Over 15 plants that need to be hand watered – especially daily – or exotics like orchids. I do not have a good track record with orchids.

ANTS: Every house is currently inundated with ants. I will clean what is affecting your pet’s food and water but I cannot clean up all the ants nor try to find out where they are getting in. I will “moat” your pet’s food and water in a larger pan with water to keep the ants from getting in the bowls. I will not scrub up the ants from the house and I will not use poison around pets (or myself as I have asthma). How you deal with them will be up to you upon returning.

I don’t fix broken appliances, fountains, toilets, sinks, etc. Yes – I’ve been asked to do this.

Thank you for understanding what I can and cannot do given my time, schedule, and insurance coverage.

New Emergency Policy

In the past year I’ve had a large number of client illnesses that required emergency trips to the vet. This puts a great strain on both me and your fur child. While some emergencies were unforeseeable many were preventable if what appeared as small issues were given the attention they deserved. This way the heartbreak and extreme stress you and I both suffer will be minimized. Remember: I have many clients and I go through this with each one when there is an emergency. I know pet sitters who were in business for many years and had not one emergency while I have had ten in the past twelve months alone. In two cases the pet had to be euthanized the illness was so severe.

While “poop happens” here are a few things you can do to help prevent these types of emergencies:

Examine:
I would like to suggest that, prior to your trip, you fully examine your pet yourself. Pay attention to small things – they may be nothing now but could erupt into full blown emergencies with the added stress of your absence. Run your hands over their bodies and look into every nook and cranny. I can’t stress the importance of this enough when it comes to elderly pets. If you plan on being gone for a few weeks a visit to your vet (especially if it has been a while) would be ideal. Get a clean bill of health for your peace of mind AND mine.

Instinct:
Listen to your gut. Is, as I like to say, your “Spidey Sense tingling?” Have you been noticing something is just “off” with your pet? Don’t assume that they’ll be just fine – remember your absence is stressful. Yes, your pets love me and I love them but I am not you. It’s you they want. If you feel something is wrong it probably is. If I could teach my human pet parents one thing it would be to trust your gut.

Be Available:
I understand there are times where you will be out of reach. But if I have called you and let you know that there is something wrong with your pet please make every attempt to be available. I realize that might mean you adjust your itinerary but until I give you the “all clear” I MUST be able to reach you. I do have authorization to treat but there are many times the treatment will either be extensive or, as was the case last weekend, involve the decision to euthanize. I cannot and will not authorize euthanasia – you must speak with your veterinarian and authorize that yourself.

There is now a $50 charge on all emergency situations. This includes initial transport ($25) time spent on phone, vet consultation, paperwork completion, update calls from vet and to client. Subsequent trips to vet for same emergency are $25.

Please help me help your pet and be ever vigilant for their wellbeing so they can be happy and healthy while you are gone.

Bridget Got Her Angel Wings

 

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Bridget last Christmas – December, 2107

Goodbye Bridget. You are much loved. Auntie Jan was honored to be there at the end. I built you a Reiki Bridge of Light before the techs got there with the stretcher. You were a very good girl. ❤️ It was my great pleasure to be your pet sitter all these years.

My eternal gratitude to Dr. Cook and the vet techs at Sierra Veterinary Care for being there for Bridget and for me on this incredibly busy weekend. They sent two techs out to my client’s home with a stretcher because I couldn’t get this 175 lb Irish Wolfhound up. They were amazing.

Essential Oils and Cats

**UPDATED IMAGE BELOW

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I want to share this story with you – it’s going around Facebook and unlike most things on Facebook this one is true. I’ve had this argument many many times with pet owners who use essential oils. I don’t care how “certified pure” they may be – cats cannot tolerate them. Period. Don’t risk it at all. Larger animals like dogs and horses are fine but for cats – and birds – they are toxic. This fast of a reaction is not unheard of but more than likely your cat will develop liver failure over a longer period of time. Please just don’t expose them to essential oils period.

In the comment section on the original post found here people are still claiming “buy only pure EOs! I’m a distributer! I can help you!” No, no they can’t. Do not believe the marketing nonsense of these MLM culty companies.

That being said I absolutely do use essential oils myself and yes they are the “certified pure” kind. I make sure if I diffuse (rarely) it’s only at night in my closed off bedroom (my cats do not sleep with me). I don’t use them on my body until bedtime after I’ve put the cats to bed in their room. If I happen to have them on my hands during the day (almost never unless I’m making my homemade body powders and muscle rubs) I make sure I wash thoroughly and wait before touching the cats.

If you want to disinfect the air of your home the best thing to do is to open all the windows for 15 or 20 minutes – yes even in winter (unless you are back East during this cold bombing thing going on) – and let the air cleanse your house. I will also use Sage bundles or Palo Santo sticks as incense and the smoke kills bacteria in the air. Pinion pine incense also works. If you are local to Tuolumne County you can find Sage Bundles and Palo Santo sticks at Nature’s Whole Foods Depot in Standard. You can also check out Benjamin Fig downtown. If you have cats please do not use the cone and stick mass marketed incense found pretty much everywhere. It’s filled with chemicals. I also use real Frankincense resin incense but that requires a lot of accessories to burn it properly. Shoot me a message if you want to know more about real frankincense incense.

Here is the text of the post:

“This is my daughter’s cat, Ernie. He has lived with us most of his 16 years. I unknowingly have been poisioning him since Christmas and feel the need to warn everyone who might be unaware of the toxicity of essential oils. I bought a diffuser and a set of essential oils from Amazon. I gave it to my husband as a gift and also one to my daughter and daughter-in-law. We started using ours soon after the holiday and loved how the different oils made the house smell, trying a different one each day. I came down with a head cold. On the package with the oils, it said that eucalyptus oil was good for congestion, so we had the diffuser going several hours for several days in a row and close to where I was sleeping. Ernie loves sleeping with me. The first couple days I didn’t notice any symptoms with Ernie, but on the fourth day, he was lethargic, unstable on his feet and was drooling excessively. My husband instinctively Googled eucalyptus oil. It stated that it can be toxic to cats and they can’t metabolize it and stated all of Ernie’s symptoms. It also said that without medical attention, it could be fatal! So I took him to the Vet right away! The Vet gave him a shot of antibiotics and another shot of vitamins to boost him and instructions to watch him over the weekend. Ernie hasn’t been himself. He is eating and drinking a little, walking a little better, has some diarrhea, but is still not out of the woods. We also learned that out of the 8 oils in our set, only 2 are NOT toxic. Rosemary and Frankincense. Orange, Lemon, Tea Tree, Eucalyptus and Lavender ARE toxic to cats and small animals. There is no warning anywhere on these essential oils, which I feel is shocking! We have also learned that the candles we love to burn are scented with essential oils. Sorry this post is so long, but if this helps to keep any of your animals safe, it was worth the rant!!!”

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***UPDATE***

A discussion happening right now on my personal Facebook page included this screenshot from the YoungLiving EO animal page. NO! Please NO! Consult your Veterinarian on EVERYTHING! It’s one thing to experiment on yourself. Please do NOT subject your fur children to experiments. There are natural herbal alternatives available for certain conditions (not Essential Oils but herbal) that have been developed by Veterinarians but always always ask your Veterinarian about everything. Please.

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NEVER give essential oils orally to your pets – no one knows for sure if they are okay for humans to ingest let alone pets!

Things Poisonous to Your Fur Child

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I’ve had a number of people tell me about recent poisonings of either their pets or pets of friends. First and foremost: Lilies and cats. A friend of mine called me a couple days ago to ask for Reiki for a friend of her’s cat who had chewed on lily leaves and went into renal failure. While it’s still touch at this time her liver and kidney numbers are stabilizing and we’ll know more by the end of the week. As the mother of seven little accidents-waiting-for-a-place-to-happen (remember Tigger’s fun this summer?) I take no chances so I have ZERO potted plants in my house. Cats will chew on anything green and with the holidays coming up please make sure your decorative greenery is plastic (which they will still chew so be aware). Chrysanthemums and Poinsettias are also toxic to cats and dogs.

Mushrooms are popping up all over and cats and dogs can ingest them while trying to eat grass. Clean your area of mushrooms if at all possible. These can be instant death to your pet.

Horse chestnuts are also toxic and can cause bowel obstruction.

Be careful what you compost and make sure your pet can’t get to anything in your compost pile. My friends here in Tuolumne County had their Aussie Shepherd back and forth to Turlock Animal Hospital all weekend. He was lethargic, stumbling, and vomiting. While they knew these were poisoning symptoms they couldn’t figure out what he got into. They finally found the cause: plums. An update just now:

“So I examined his poo this morning and found PLUM in it. A shriveled up plum. He got into my compost and probably ate 50! So then I googled and it turns out the pits are toxic to dogs – they contain cyanide and most dogs die within ONE HOUR of eating a few. Also, they of course cause obstructions. He had EVERY SYMPTOM. How lucky are we? I am so grateful and relieved to know what happened. I literally had a huge cardboard box of them composting in the yard, not knowing it was festering poison. That’s why he only felt better after the enemas – the poison was just sitting in my boy. “

It’s very hard to remove all dangers that your pets can get into (again – remember Tigger’s summer adventure) we can avoid the obvious. Who woulda thunk this guy would dig through compost to eat plums? No one. Just as I wouldn’ta thunk Tigger would impale himself on a gate latch. But we can be aware of the obvious dangers of potted plants and mushrooms and help our beloved fur children live long and healthy lives.

And with that let the Holidays begin!

 

 

It’s that time again!

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We had a fabulous time in Arizona: 2121 miles covered in seven days! I was back to normal on the 21st and now it’s time to book for the Holidays if you can believe it. I still have plenty of openings for Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Year but I book up fast so be sure to reserve your spot.

I’d like to ask everyone to review the Winter Pet Sit Recommendations too. Who knows what this year will bring weather wise, with Global Weirding and all, but please be prepared for snow and lots of rain just in case. I’m ready for a nice, normal winter (wet but not too wet; snow but not too much and above 5000′ thankyouverymuch) after the last two – how about you?

VACATION!

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Just a reminder that I will be on vacation from October 10th through the 20th. I’ll be back to work on the 21st. Thankfully October is always a slow month for Fat Tabby – folks recovering from summer and before the holiday madness – and I’m lucky that my former Independent Contractor Karen is covering the few clients I have scheduled while I’m gone.

One question I always get: “Who takes care of your cats while you are gone?” If my husband and I are gone together then my mom comes and takes care of the kids. This time I’m off alone and so the hubby will be here to do all the work.

So have a wonderful couple of weeks and I’ll see you after the 21st!

 

Tigger and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day

8/1: Suitical update at the bottom!!

Soooooo . . . Tigger is now recovering from a very serious, and very freak, accident. He managed to slice his skin open and had, what I thought at the time I found him, a three inch gash. “Maybe even four inches,” I told my husband. There was no blood and he hadn’t punctured any intestines as far as I could tell – he was curled into a ball and I couldn’t see it all. It appeared that someone tried to skin him. We had zero clue as to what he did! So off to Twain Harte Veterinary Hospital we went!

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They couldn’t keep a cone on him so tried sending him home without since he wasn’t licking the stitches. But once he got home – yep. He popped one. Had to rush him back Friday afternoon for a staple.

I happened to be at the vet when he was going into surgery (I thought I’d stop by and snuggle with him if he was still waiting). Dr. Strand greeted me in the waiting room. “He’s on the table; Dr. Jackson is preparing to stitch him up. What did he do??” I said, “I literally have no idea but I will find out!” “Do you want to see it?” she asked. “YES!”

I was completely unprepared for what I saw. All three doctors, Dr. Strand, Dr. Jackson, and Dr. Crunk were in with him. His gash wasn’t three inches or even four. It was closer to SEVEN!

“Holy &^%$!” was my response.

Dr. Strand said, “It’s ugly but it’s just in the fat layer. He’ll be fine.”

Tigger had to stay the night and when I went home and started the search for what might have cut him. Not only do I want to make sure it never happens again but I want to make sure my three toddler grandchildren don’t get into it! And yes, find it I did.

About twenty years ago I make picket fence shutters for three windows – one of which is in the cat room. I put gate sized hook and eye latches for locking them. Have you ever noticed how sharp the ends of those hooks are? Yeah, me neither. The hook in the cat room somehow got flipped up and locked with the hook pointing up and out at a bit of an angle. There was cat hair and blood on it. Somehow – we think he was bug hunting – Tigger was on the window sill, jumped up, and impaled himself on the way down. Either his weight and trajectory or his struggle to free himself ripped him open seven inches.

So now we are at a new “normal:” Tigger is in a mesh, claw proof cat tent in the living room. I will never go back to a rigged up large dog kennel – having him in this tent is so much easier on all of us. I also ordered a Suitical Recovery Suit from Chewy.com which will arrive tomorrow. I’m hoping it gives him a more normal life for eating and drinking (his cone is starting to smell like Fancy Feast lol) if it doesn’t trigger “Kitty Flop.” I tried to rig up a baby onesie until it arrived but the velcro straps I added triggered a bad case of Kitty Flop. I’ll update as the experiments go along.

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THE SUITICAL IS A HUUUUUUGE SUCCESS! I’LL POST PICS AND VIDEO LATER TODAY! YAY!