Cat tip: How to clean up cat pee the most efficient way?

12 Nov

If you ever have to deal with a cat who pee in the wrong place, you know how hard it is to get rid of the smell.

Cats are efficient predator who use every last drop of moisture from the food they eat. Hence, their urine is very concentrated and…smell really strong.

Also, cats are territorial animals who use urine as a ‘marking device’ to signal to other cats. That’s why their urine is meant to smell!

From my job as a cat sitter, I find there is really only one way to combat the smell of cat pee.

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Yes, simple white vinegar. (It doesn’t have to be Heinz of course…any brand will do!)

I like to put it in a cheap Ikea spray bottle, like these ones…

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Spray the area. Wait a few minutes, then wipe clean with kitchen towels.

It ALWAYS WORK.

Alternatively, you can use other fancy specialist products. I find Urine Off is the only one that works.

PT6004-Cat-500ml_1

Whatever you do, DO NOT USE BLEACH BASED PRODUCT. Because bleach will only bring out the strong ammonia scent in the urine and attract the cat back to the same spot.

Apart from cleaning the area, a responsible cat person should also look into why your cat pee in the wrong place in the first place. Ask yourself these questions: (it goes without saying, you HAVE TO neuter your cat!)

1. Does he/she not like the litter box? The location of the box, the choice of litter, etc.
2. Does he/she look unwell? Will that be a kidney or bladder issue? Should you take him/her to the vet?
3. Is it a case of anxiety? If it is the case, you might want to contact a behaviourist like myself.
4. Do you clean your litter tray every day? (No? Bad parent. Bad bad parent…)
5. Do you have enough litter tray in the house? (I am forever amazed to see customer who lives in a 3-bathroom-3-floor house to provide only one litter tray…sometimes, in multicat household! If you don’t want to walk up and down the stairs to go to the loo, you expect the cat to do so, um…)
6. If you have an elderly cat, you might also take into account that your cat might have difficulty getting into the tray due to arthritis.

 

Have you ever have to deal with cat pee? How do you deal with it? Share your trick in the comments below! 

SMOPB – Part 2: naming your pet sitting business

10 Nov

Since I started my cat sitting business 5 years ago, I have been asked again and again how did I do it.

People who asks, some of them curious (nosy), some of them genuinely want advices. Especially information on how to start a business in Ireland is not available in a consolidated manner, it might take a long time before you get on the right track with a lot of false start in the wrong direction in between.

I am all for sharing information to help other people, so I decide to start a series of post to explain once and for all – how did I start my own pet sitting business. 

 

In the last post, I talked about doing your marketing research. Also, you might want to know what it means to be a cat sitter by read this post.

That will give you a good idea if starting a pet sitting business in your area is a good idea at all. If it turns out pet sitting might not be suitable for your area, there are other business ideas you might want to explore.

And of course before you start any business at all, you should ask yourself if you are cut out for it.

After researching, thinking, checking with your family if everyone is cool with you starting a business, then what’s next?

Follow my blog. Joking…haha! (Only half though, as I will be telling you everything about how to start your own pet sitting business in Ireland!)

Then you have to think of a business name for your pet sitting business.

 

Step 2 – naming your business

(Step 1 and the rest of the series can be found here.)

First of all, you might want to read my post on the general information on business names. But there are other things we need to consider when choosing a name for a pet sitting business.

My business name Maow Care came to me because ‘maow’ is nickname my husband has been calling me for many years, which means ‘cat’ in Chinese…

Maow

So I thought Maow Care sounds like me. Notice I did add a ‘w’ at the end of just ‘Mao’ due to obvious reasons…

When I first got the idea of a name, I have asked one of the marketing consultants in the Start Your Own Business course by Dublin Enterprise Board. He thought ‘Meow Care’ would have been a better name. But my gut feeling told me I needed something a bit different, something almost a little strange so people would remember me. ‘Meow’ sounds too common. After using Maow Care for 5 years, I believe I was right. Because now I could use the word ‘Maow’ in a lot of word play in any marketing campaigns, e.g. Hungry Maow Cat Food Collection, Maow Of The Year competition, MAOW! Newsletter, etc.

For a pet sitting business, I think it’s important to choose a name that’s cute but at the same time professional. And it’s not easy…

I notice there are a few common theme with pet sitting business name. There is no right or wrong on this subject matter, but I will list out what I think as pros and cons for each of them. It is ONLY MY OWN OPINION. I have no intention to offend anyone. If you have alternative opinion, please leave a comment, discussions are most welcome!

 

1. Someone-someone’s pet care

For example, Mary’s pet care.

Pro: Very personal touch. Pet sitting is such an intimate service that I think it is a great idea to stay personal as much as possible. I believe I am the first pet sitting company in Dublin to put my own picture on my website. I want my potential customers to see me and ‘know’ me already before meeting me. I don’t want to hide behind the logo because I want them to work with ME not my company. (A post about ‘staying personal’ will come up in the future…)

Con: If your business start to expand, your customers might be disappointed to find out they are not actually talking to Mary when they ring the  number. Some sitters I know do stick with working alone for many many years. But if you plan to expand in the future or want to leave yourself a possibility of expanding, you might not want to do that.

 

2. A-LOCATION pet sitting

For example, Dublin Pet Sitting

Pro: Straight to the point. People know where you are at and what you cover. Great google SEO.

Con: Not very personal and you might ‘clash’ with other companies who have similar names. You might not stand out from the crowd. A quick search on Google shows at least 3 companies with similar name if you type ‘london pet sitting’!

Screen Shot 2014-11-10 at 20.31.32

 

3. Funny-pet-related-word pet sit

For example: Maow Care (my own business, haha!)

Pro: It stands out. It can be funny and cute.

Con: People might not know how to spell the damn thing!

 

As you can see, there is no ultimate best naming solution. At the end of the day, I think the best important is this – YOU LOVE YOUR NAME! If you feel very proud to say your business name every single time you pick up the phone or handing out your business card. That will make you happy. And happy energy is so important in running a SME!

 

Do you have a business yourself? How did you find your business name? Share your experience in the comment below, I would love to hear from you. 

Cats in the (Dublin) City

7 Nov

I have started a sideline blog to showcase the cat photos I have taken during my daily round. It’s a photo-only blog and I find the theme over there does the cat photos more justice. Every weekend, I’ll put a post up here to remind you to go over there to have a peek! Of course, you can follow that blog as well to get daily cat photos delivered directly to your mailbox🙂

This week on Cats in the Dublin City

The Travelling Cat: Doha via London to Dublin, 2012

5 Nov

Every year, hundreds of cats are being left behind when people relocate to another country. The Travelling Cat Project is a collective effort to demystify international cat travel.

Hopefully, by sharing our stories, it will encourage people to relocate with their cat(s).

We believe if you manage to move your personal belongings to a new country, you SHOULD BE able to move your cat(s) with you.

For a full of list of information and stories, please click here.

 

Today, we will hear the fascinating story of Petal and Omar. They travelled from Doha, Qatar to London and then on to Ireland.

It is apparently a bit of a complicated procedure, but their humans Kirsty and Bob were very determined to relocate to Ireland with their feline family members.

I chatted with Kirsty by email and she said,

“Sadly it was all too common to see notices up in the vets’ office and supermarkets in Qatar saying ‘We’re leaving and can’t take our pets, please give them a home’. It made us all the more determined to bring ours back with us. As soon as I could, I started saving a cat-relocation fund in cash, in case our bank accounts got frozen!”

This is inspirational! Only if more humans take the welfare of their cats so seriously!

Let’s have a look at their story…

Petal

Petal

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Omar

Destination

Doha to London Heathrow, then onward to Ireland by road and ferry a few weeks later

Year

02/07/2012

Human

Kirsty and Bob

Cats

Petal and Omar

Preparation

1. Did you use an agent? 

Yes.

In Qatar: The Veterinary Surgery, Bin Mahmoud, Doha (for paperwork only)

In UK: Ladyhaye International Pet Travel, Blindley Heath, Surrey

Vet and Paperwork

2. What kind of work did you have to do with vet before your cat was cleared for travelling?

We had to have a rabies serology test done on both cats to ensure they had the right amount of rabies antibodies in their system (they were already vaccinated against rabies as part of their yearly vaccinations). This had to be done at least a month after the vaccination was administered.

We were lucky that the quarantine rules for Britain and Ireland changed in January 2012. Had the cats travelled before that date, they would have needed 6 months’ quarantine. We had plans in place to send them to live with a friend in Belgium for 6 months instead, had it been necessary.

Transport

4. How did you travel to your destination? Which carrier did you use?

Qatar Airways

5. How did you book your cat with your carrier? Any specific requirements?

My husband was leaving employment with Qatar Airways so he booked the cats’ flight directly with the airline instead of through our agent. We took the cats in their boxes to the cargo offices a couple of days before the date of travel so they could be weighed and measured. The staff created the air waybill and checklist, and we paid for the flight.

(NB I think the rules changed just afterwards so cargo flights had to be booked by a recognised cargo agent, rather than by individuals)

Cat Box

6. How did you prepare your cat box?

We bought IATA-approved carriers and made sure they fit the requirement for the cats to stand, sit and turn through 360 degrees, which is more space than humans travelling in economy class get.

We put a thick towel and an old t-shirt that smelled of us into each box. We also attached hamster-style drinking bottles to each box door (the kind with a spout and valve) – less likely to spill than a bowl.

Travel day

7. What were the logistics on travel day?

We were required to bring the cats in their boxes to the Qatar Airways Cargo offices at the old Doha airport, four hours before the flight.

Once there, the cats and boxes were weighed and measured, checked in, and whisked off to the DOH airside animal facility where they would stay until the flight was loading.

8. Was it easy? Was it difficult?

I used to run the animal facility at DOH so I knew the people working there and in the cargo offices, and consequently wasn’t too worried about the procedure. It took a lot of time, and of course we were nervous about seeing the cats off on their journey, but on the whole it was relatively hassle-free (nothing in Qatar was ever 100% free of hassle). But our history of working at the airport and for the airline meant our cats had VIP treatment at both ends.

The Journey

9. How is your cat behave during the journey?

No idea! They meowed a lot in the car on the way to the airport but that was normal for them. They were quieter once out of the car. When they reached their final destination, their bedding had been changed, so they both must have peed, pooed or spewed at some point in the journey. That’s not surprising, as it was a seven-hour flight and they were in their boxes for several hours before takeoff.

Arrival

10. Any further inspection or procedure on arrival before you could take your cat home with you?

Our UK agents had to get the relevant paperwork before the cats could be released to them. That meant checking their rabies blood test results and the customs forms.

Our agents collected the cats from LHR and took them to my mum’s house in Sussex. She showed them to us on Skype (we were still in Qatar at that point), then took them to the Alpine Hotel for Cats in Ashurst Wood, UK. The cats stayed there for about seven weeks while we moved out of Qatar and found somewhere to live in Ireland.

Once we had a house in Ireland, I rented a Transit and took the ferry to the UK, where I picked up a load of furniture and the cats. They were stuck in their boxes for another nine or ten hours. They had to stay in their boxes in the back of the van during the three-and-a-half hour ferry crossing from Holyhead to Dublin, but that was probably less stressful for them than being taken into the unfamiliar environment of the passenger lounge.

After travel

11. How did your cat react to the journey?

On arrival at LHR, our agent emailed saying ‘They are both curled up together in a cattery, a little shell shocked, but they are all ok.’

They soon settled in at the Alpine Hotel for Cats. It was their first time seeing grass, trees and rain.

They were fine after the van and ferry journey to Ireland. We let them out of their boxes and confined them to one room overnight. Within an hour or two they were their usual selves and having a good sniff around their new home.

12. How much did it cost in total? Can you provide a break down if you don’t mind?

Agent’s fees Qatar: no record, sorry.

Agent’s fees UK: £450 (paperwork, clearance and delivery to Sussex)

Flight: QAR1873.00 (about €385)

Boarding in UK: no record, sorry, but we did get a reduced long-stay rate

Van rental and ferry crossing: about €1300

13. Any other information you think other cat people should know if they want to do the same journey?

It’s counter-intuitive, but it’s much better to send animals as cargo rather than excess baggage. Cargo staff are more likely to have had special training in handling animals than baggage staff. Also, never sedate a pet for travel. Some airlines won’t accept sedated animals, and it’s against the IATA Live Animal Regulations.

Thank you very much Kirsty for sharing your amazing story with us today. If she can get two cats out of Qatar I think we can travel with a cat ANYWHERE! 

Have you made similar journey? Have you travelled with your cat(s) internationally? We need to hear from you.  Your stories might give helpful insight to other cat people who are making the same journey. Altogether, we can make effort to make sure less cat(s) left behind. Knowledge is power. 
 
You don’t have to worry about the writing. We will send you a questionnaire like the one above, you just need to answer them. Please be in touch! 

Trick of the trade: always lock ALL doors behind you

3 Nov

As a cat sitter, we open a lot of doors.

And with that, we also close and LOCK a lot of doors.

So Trick of the Trade to share with you today –

ALWAYS lock all the doors behind you. 

Whatever the door is. Front door, back door, side door, shed doors, everything. If the doors were lock when you came in, lock it back when you close it. Make it your habit if you are a cat sitter.

Firstly, it is good for your own safety. So that you know no one can just walk in on you. Secondly, you are protecting your customer’s property.

 

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As a cat sitter, I do pick up a lot of ‘trick of the trade’.

Some of them I learnt from mistakes…(oh yes, I do make mistakes and I don’t want to think about them right now…)

But my mistake is your gain.

Trick of the Trade (TOTT) is a series where I will tell you all about them. Some of them can be useful to your own cat(s), while some of them might be (hopefully) entertaining to you to brighten up your mid-week. FOLLOW my blog so you won’t miss any of the tricks!

Cats in the (Dublin) City

31 Oct

I have started a sideline blog to showcase the cat photos I have taken during my daily round. It’s a photo-only blog and I find the theme over there does the cat photos more justice. Every weekend, I’ll put a post up here to remind you to go over there to have a peek! Of course, you can follow that blog as well to get daily cat photos delivered directly to your mailbox🙂

This week on Cats in the Dublin City

Safety tips for Halloween – the worst day of the year for cats!

29 Oct

halloween2

It’s that time of year again – Halloween.

Here is a confession – I most absolutely HATE Halloween.

Every year, so many cats (especially black cats) falls victims of the ‘holiday fun’. Cats being chased, tails being burnt. Or even just the general noisiness scare them to no end.

Before I talk further, first and foremost…

Please remember to keep your beloved cats indoors this Halloween.

They might not be happy and start whining at the door, but between them being whiny and them being tortured by some kids. You know which one to choose.

Now that they are inside, let’s talk about the danger around the house. Oh yes, there are dangerous are the house…

1. Costumes

Pet Halloween costumes are becoming more common, but before you play dress up with them, make sure the costume doesn’t impair their movement, hearing, sight, or ability to breathe, eat, drink, or go to the loo. Also make sure there won’t be small bits that they might be tempted to chew and choke themselves. Better yet? Most of them don’t really like costumes, (dogs generally do like them, however, but DO NOT compare them to dogs, pleeeeease…) Substitute elaborate cat costumes for a simple, festive bandanna – most cats can live with that!

2. Trick or treaters

The constantly ringing doorbell and knocking on the door can make cats very nervous and more prone to running away. Set up a room with food and water bowl and a lovely loo for the cats, far away from the main door. They would rather snooze in front of a fire than dealing with ghosts and goblins, trust me. You might also want to make sure your cat has ID tags in case he or she accidentally freak out and run out of the door (if your cats are not microchipped, what are you waiting for?)

3. Chocolate and sweets

Keep the candy dish, bulging trick-or-treat bags, and purses containing sweets way out of paws’ reach in case they accidentally chew on them out of curiosity.

  • Chocolate is extremely toxic to cats. Signs of a chocolate poisoning: vomiting, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased thirst and urination, heart rhythm abnormalities, and even seizures.
  • Xylitol is much lesser-known, but potentially fatal, toxin. It’s a sweetener used in sweets and cakes. Thank gawd it’s much less common in Europe. In cats, it can prompt a sudden release of insulin, resulting in low blood sugar, a condition known as hypoglycemia. Signs that your cat may have swallowed a product containing xylitol include a sudden lack of coordination, vomiting, lethargy and, eventually, seizures and possibly coma. Ultimately a cat that eats xylitol may end up with liver failure, resulting in death.

4. Hey! Watch where you are tossing those candy wrappers!

Those shiny and crinkly things are huge appeal to cats! If they chew them while playing and eat them by accident, it is potentially dangerous. It can make them sick and if you have a cat prone to chewing it could block their guts if they swallow a substantial amount of them.

5. Hallowmeow decoration

Nothing says “Happy Halloween” like an illuminated jack-o’-lantern. But I don’t think I need to tell you leaving a candle on without supervision while you have cats (or children for that matter) is asking for a disaster. Opt for LED candles for safer ambience. Another tips is this – if you don’t want your cats to ruin your decoration, you might want to keep them up high, as there is no way they are NOT destroying them. Full stop.

Play safe and happy Halloween!

(I still hate Halloween but I know some of you really enjoy it…so enjoy!)

Trick of the Trade: always put your foot or handbag to block the door

27 Oct

I have opened roughly 250 family doors and entered their home in the past 5 years.

I have never once let a cat escape out the front door.

What’s the tip?

I always put my foot or my handbag to block the door open turning the key.

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So to achieve this…

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As far as I know, all professional pet sitter around the world do that, because we don’t want this to happen…

 

Moral of the lesson? Get a professional pet sitter! Never hire an amateur! 

Cats in the (Dublin) City

24 Oct

I have started a sideline blog to showcase the cat photos I have taken during my daily round. It’s a photo-only blog and I find the theme over there does the cat photos more justice. Every weekend, I’ll put a post up here to remind you to go over there to have a peek! Of course, you can follow that blog as well to get daily cat photos delivered directly to your mailbox🙂

This week on Cats in the Dublin City

Cat tips: how to give cat malt paste

22 Oct

Some cats are prone to hairball problems.

One of the solution to help with that is to give them malt paste.

Some cats LOVE those paste while some really don’t. If your cat suffer from serious hairball problems and you really want to get them to eat those paste. There is one secret solution I am going to share with you today.

Smudge paste on the back of their front paws!

Because we want them to do this…

 

See where I am going?

Yes, problem solved.

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