Amazon Idea List for Prime Day 2023

These are NOT affiliate links. I tried that… and no one clicked on any of my links so they dropped my affiliate account. It’s ok.

These are ideas only, of items I think my clients will find helpful, things I’d be happy to see in client homes. They might not work for everyone, they’re just ideas.

This idea list covers all the species of pets I care for, in no particular order, which currently includes:

  • Cats
  • Hamsters
  • Guinea pigs
  • Rabbits
  • Chinchillas
  • Mice
  • Hedgehogs
  • Ferrets

Some items may not be self-explanatory.  For example, 12″ wheels typically marketed for chinchillas are actually the perfect size for Syrian hamsters, so that they can comfortably run with a straight back. Basically, no wheel is too big for a hamster as long as they can move it, meaning the tiniest dwarf hamster can absolutely have a 12″ wheel. And my picks for the quietest, best-quality hamster wheels are the  Nightangel wheel and Prevue Quiet wheel (only goes up to 11″, I think. 12″ would be more ideal for an adult Syrian hamster). Yes, they’re pricey, but a good quality, safe, quiet hamster wheel is a priceless investment and they’re at the top of the market.

Many dog slow feeders and dog food puzzles work very well for cats, rabbits, and the motivated Guinea pig. Tall exercise pens typically marketed towards dogs work great as rabbit and Guinea pig enclosures. Wide casserole dishes make great, heavy, dishwasher-safe pet water bowls.

I do want to add that it’s important to be realistic and practical about your budget, lifestyle, your pet’s needs, and what you’re willing to do. If you know you will hate disassembling and cleaning a pet water fountain every other day, just stick with a stack of dishwasher-safe water bowls. If you will have trouble staying on top of mountains of Guinea pig laundry, don’t use fleece liners, just stick with scoopable bedding. Don’t stretch yourself financially to try to use “the top” cat litter system or pet foods if you will be constantly stressing about use, waste, and how to stretch out supplies as far as it will go. It’s not worth it, and will just take up your valuable time and energy and funds trying to make it work when it really isn’t working. You’re doing great as long as you and your pets are safe, healthy, happy, and clean.

Happy Prime Day!

Cat World Domination Day – and how to survive living with a Cat Overlord

Cat sitter's tips to surviving Cat World Domination Day

As many of us have discovered, today was day of Cat World Domination.

How might we peacefully co-exist with our cat overlords?

  1. Reward good behaviour. Positively reinforce desired behaviors with praise, treats, and cuddles. Build their trust.
  2. Play and enrichment. Tire them out with wand toys so they won’thave the energy to plot further takeovers. Do not use hands or fingers as toys.
  3. Deweaponize. Trim those claws every 2-3 weeks. Short nails are much less effective in human-cat battles than long, sharp claws.
  4. Pet your cat. Some cat overlords prefer only hands-off interactions with their people, and that is ok.
  5. Comb regularly. Combing loose fur off of your cat overlord will decrease their ability to form projectile vomit. Combing can also remove small mats before they combine into big mats. Matted fur is painful, and you do not want an unhappy cat overlord.

Interested in more Cat World Domination survival tips, from someone with experience on the front lines, who has rubbed elbows with many cats and who  knows how cats think and can anticipate many of their common maneuvers?

Code name: “Certified Professional Pet Sitter”

Specialties: cat care, with special interest in other small furry “pets” like Guinea pigs, hamsters, and rabbits.

How to activate: fill out the contact form on the Contact page. Our operative, “the Pet Sitter,” will be in contact with you to discuss how they can help. Unfortunately, “the Pet Sitter” is only able to travel within the current “Service Area. Usually,  this happens when the cat overlord grants their people permission to travel away from headquarters, and they are in need of temporary stand-ins to continue menial tasks like food service, water supply maintenance, and personal sanitation services. The exact details vary per mission, but “the Pet Sitter” is an experienced, trained operative who gets the job done. “The Pet Sitter” is only able to travel within the current “Service Area.”

Follow “the Pet Sitter’s” social media to stay informed of what’s happening behind the lines:

Happy Cat Month 2022

Happy Cat Month

For Happy Cat Month, here are some simple tips to keeping your cat happy, from your neighbourhood cat sitter. In no particular order:

1. Access to clean, fresh water at all times.

Some cats like drinking directly out of the faucet, but they should still have another source of water in case the water stops.

Likewise, if you use a pet water fountain that has zero access to water if the power goes out, then an additional bowl of water is needed.

2. Keep pet water fountains clean. If you have a water fountain, be prepared to completely disassemble it almost daily, including the motor. Replace the filter when it gets discolored or slimey.

3. Comb your cat as-needed. Some cats are mostly self-sufficient when it comes to maintaining their coats and don’tneed much help. Some need daily combing to manage matting and shedding. Some only need a weekly comb. Each cat is different. Combing out small mats is doable, but if you let the mats grow too big, it will take more time and effort to work out, until they have to be shaved off by a groomer. Don’t let it get that bad. Mats are painful to cats.

4. Trim your cat’s claws. It’s just like using a nail clipper, except you use a small pet nail trimmer and you only remove a tiny bit off the tip, about half a grain of rice. It is more comfortable for the cat, as their claws won’t snag on fabric, furniture, or carpet. Not all cats are able to sharpen their claws on scratching posts or outside. Keep an eye on them so that they don’t become overgrown.

5. Enrichment Enrichment Enrichment. Play with your cat. Get them a cat tree, some toys. And use the toys! Lick mats and food puzzles can make a big difference for certain cats. Some like music or certain tv shows. A lot of indoor cats enjoy smelling the outdoors. And there’s the universal favourite, the cardboard box.

6. Please, don’t antagonize your cat for social media.

Organic veggies for Guinea pig and rabbit clients

Due to popular interest, Cats and Hamsters is now pleased to offer rabbit and Guinea pig pet sitting and boarding clients a new daily fresh produce option – Cats and Hamsters’s Special Selection!

This new option will include a species-appropriate vegetable and fruit selection comprising a special selection of:

  • organic produce
  • produce grown by myself from seed in my community garden plot
  • produce from the public markets

I am excited to share that this summer I am trying a local organic farm share, La ferme coop Aux Champs qui Chantent, and will include produce from that share in the daily Special Selection. La ferme coop Aux Champs qui Chantent is a local, organic, worker-owned, worked-run cooperative. Their pick up locations include the Plateau and Petite Patrie. Their philosophy includes offering good, healthy food and making it accessible. So uncollected shares are donated to community organizations and they offer “Solidarity Baskets,” where a weekly basket can be subsidized via donation and members can request a basket at a reduced rate to match economic need.

The original daily fresh produce service for Guinea pig and rabbit clients is still available, and may or may not include some of the same items in the Special Selection.

Clients who prefer to specify a specific list of vegetables and fruit for their Guinea pigs and rabbits can choose the concierge service.

Trim your cat’s nails or get someone else to do it for you

I saw this great TikTok about overgrown cat nails and what that means for the cat:

I have posted a number of Facebook Lives and YouTube videos about how to trim cat claws.

Some cat owners think their indoor-only cat can maintain their claws solely via scratching posts, but I’ve repeatedly found this to be ineffective. Cats might be able to sharpen their claws on a scratching surface, but not all cats are able to do this, and the resulting claws end up needle-sharp! If a cat’s nails becomes overgrown, it will continue to grow into a circle until it embeds itself into the cat’s paw pad, which is painful and can lead to infection, as is shown in the TikTok above.

If you are uncomfortable trimming your cat’s nails, then have someone else else do it. Veterinarian clinics, pet stores, pet sitters, groomers, etc. will often offer pet nail trimming. Mobile groomers and pet sitters can come to your home so the cat doesn’t have to go anywhere. I offer this service on its own and I also include it without extra charge when I am cat sitting, because it helps everyone when cat nails are trimmed! If the cat gets very stressed, fearful, aggressive for nail trimming, veterinarians can sedate them for the nail trimming.

Small pet nail trimmers are best for cats and can be very inexpensive, like the model the vet is using in this TikTok. Like nail clippers, nail trimmers need to be sharp in order to cut the nail cleanly, so they will need to be replaced every so often depending on use. Maybe every other year for one cat.

Don’t worry about getting all of the claws at once – it’s perfectly fine to trim a couple and take a break. And giving lots of treats throughout can help to make it a positive experience for everyone!

Fear Free Certified Professional

When Montreal schools were ordered to close in response to the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic, and we were urged to practice social distancing and basically sequester ourselves in our homes in order to flatten the curve of the disease’s spread, I got a bit stressed out and well, made the bad decision to head over to Costco to get milk (needless to say, 3.5 hours later, I emerged from Costco without milk). As everyone’s travel plans were canceled, my schedule suddenly cleared and I had no furry clients to visit and pamper. I coped by hyper-focusing on doing something I’d been meaning to do for years: Fear Free certification.

FF Corporate Logo

Fear Free is a new initiative sweeping veterinary medicine designed to ease the stress, fear, and anxiety so many pets experience while at the veterinarian. There are currently no specific programs for pet sitters, so I completed the modules designed for veterinary staff, which had a lot of useful information and ideas that are applicable to professional pet sitting and pet ownership.

Pet Sitters World 2019 with Dr Marty Becker Fear Free

Dr. Marty Becker posed for a picture with me after his session on Fear Free at the 2019 Pet Sitters World Educational Conference and Expo in Winston-Salem, NC, USA.

Developed by “America’s Veterinarian,” Dr. Marty Becker, the Fear FreeSM initiative aims to “take the ‘pet’ out of ‘petrified’” and get pets back for veterinary visits by promoting considerate approach and gentle control techniques used in calming environments. Utilization of Fear Free methods and protocols leads to reduction or removal of anxiety triggers, which creates an experience that is rewarding and safer for all involved including pets, their owners, and veterinary health care teams. Learn more at

To become certified, veterinarians and veterinary staff are required to complete a comprehensive, 8-part educational course and exam. They also have to take continuing education to remain certified.

fear free certificate 202003171024_1

Mighty hamster survives great fall

I really don’t post a lot on social media – don’t get used to it!
Last week, I found that my hamster, Maximus Decimus Meridius, had somehow moved the metal lid on his aquarium aside and had escaped. He either fell straight down to the hardwood floor from four book shelves up, or gradually fell from shelf to printer to floor. I found him nesting under the couch, nibbling on a pile of cracker crumbs he had accumulated. After a prolonged chase back and forth, and some hiding under a pile of stuffed animals, I got him. And he screamed like he hadn’t screamed since I had first gotten him, untamed, from the pet store.
Was he in pain? Did he have internal injuries? Was he ok, but just overexcited and scared from his adventure? His ears were perked up and he seemed ok – eating, drinking, running around, etc.. I still wanted confirmation that everything was ok. I called the exotic animal veterinarian I’ve gone to for years, the Montreal Bird and Exotic Vet in NDG. It was Tuesday in the late afternoon and they were booked until Thursday late morning; I didn’t want to wait that long. They recommended I try a 24-hour clinic in Laval, but that seemed far away for me. I posted on a local mommy board, and got a recommendation to a nearby clinic, Anima Plus in Mile End, that handled exotics like hamsters, and was able to take him in on Wednesday afternoon.
If he were visibly suffering, I would have taken him to a 24-hour clinic, either the one in Laval or the one I’ve used for cats in Lachine. But since Maximus seemed otherwise ok, I was ok with waiting a day, wanting him to be seen by a local exotic animal specialist I could easily go to again the the future.
And he passed his physical exam! He kept trying to climb out of his carrying cage, off the table, off the scale. His ears were perky. He still made that screaming sound, and another sound that sounded kind of like chirping, but the vet said everything else seemed ok, and that he was probably mad at being examined. He cleaned himself immediately after we touched him, which apparently is a good sign. We decided not to give him pain medication, because it had been a couple of days since his fall and he seemed like he was functioning normally. She said hamsters are masters at masking illness and injury, and are also very good at dangling from their feet to soften landings. The vet tech gave me a handout on foods to feed and not feet rabbits and guinea pigs. Even though grapes and nuts were on the “do not feed” list… I still gave Maximus both in the exam room. I mean, if he survived a great ordeal and if he had a short time to live, I wanted him to enjoy every little morsel life had to offer him before he went to that big hamster wheel in the sky.
I was happy that he passed his exam, and seemed ok. The service and care at the clinic were great – and it turns out that I had encountered the vet before in our other lives as mommies, so that was fun. The office called to follow up a few days later, and I was pleased to tell them that everything seemed fine with my mighty mite, warrior hamster extraordinaire. I’m glad I found this nearby clinic and this exotic animal vet. And I’ve since put a heavy book on top of the cage – move that, little guy!