Cats have a reputation for being independent, which often leads people to believe that they’ll do just fine on their own when their guardians have to go away for a few days. As long as someone comes in and leaves fresh food and water, that’s all they need, right? Nothing could be further from the truth.
Accidents happen. Your cat could stop eating while you’re gone, or become ill. Having a cat sitter visit at least once a day can avoid disaster. In addition to caring for your cat’s physical needs while you’re gone, a good cat sitter will also spend time playing with and petting your cat. This is especially important for only cats. You may think your cat is used to you being at work all day, but when you’re away, she won’t even have your company in the evenings and overnight, and you end up with a very lonely cat.
If you have a trusted friend who knows your cat well, and who doesn’t mind going to your house at least once a day during your absence, that may be a perfect solution. But if you don’t, or don’t want to impose on your friends, then a professional cat sitter is your best solution.
Finding a good cat sitter can be a daunting task. After all, you will trust this person not just with your precious cats, but also with your home.
- What kind of training and/or experience does the sitter have?
- Will the sitter be able to recognize and deal with medical emergencies?
- Will the sitter be able to deal with shy or aggressive cats?
- Does she present herself in a professional manner?
- Does she have a business license and insurance?
- Does she present a service contract that addresses fees?
- How long has she been in business?
- Does she have a back up sitter if something happens to her?
- For larger cat sitting services: will your cat always see the same sitter?
- Does the cat sitter have contingency plans for inclement weather or natural disasters?
- Is the cat sitter knowledgeable about basic first aid and general cat health issues?
Considerations specific to your cat and your home
- Is your cat sitter a cat person? You’d be surprised how many pet sitters aren’t that good with cats.
- How does your cat respond to the cat sitter at the first meeting?
- How does the cat sitter interact with your cat? One of my cat sitters showed up for the initial consultation with a peacock feather in one hand, and a laser pointer in her pocket. I knew right away that she “got” cats.
- Does the cat sitter seem to want to learn as much as she possibly can about your cats? This includes eating habits, play and sleeping habits, health issues, personality, hiding places, and more.
- Ask some “what if” questions. What would the cat sitter do if she couldn’t find your cat? What would she do if there was a medical emergency?
Ask for references. Ask if the sitter belongs to any professional organizations. Membership in a professional organization may indicate a higher level of professional excellence, but keep in mind that most membership organizations don’t screen for quality and accept members simply for paying an annual membership fee.
I think the two most important aspects of choosing a cat sitter are how your cat reacts to the sitter at the initial meeting, and your gut feeling about the interaction between the sitter and your cat, and between you and the sitter. If there is even a smidgen of a doubt in your mind about a potential sitter, keep looking. The right person for you and your cat is out there.
Do you have a cat sitter you love? How did you find her?
Photo by Alex Parks, Flickr Creative Commons