Alisha McKenzie from Perth writes: I have two wonderful cats, Bella and Iris. I will be going on holiday next year, and I will need to find a good cat sitter for my babies. What do I need to look for in a cat sitter? I don’t want to leave them in a boarding facility for that length of time, but I want to make sure they like the person that stays with them. How do I choose the right cat sitter?
Just like children, finding the right person to look after your animals when you travel is one of the most important factors to planning your trip. I know that just like you, if I cannot find anyone suitable to look after my animals, I won’t be travelling. Particularly with cats, if they do not like their carer, they can withdraw and hide away for the duration of your trip. It is also common for outdoor cats to disappear for the duration of your trip, only to come back when you have arrived home. In some cases they don’t return at all. It is important that you like and trust this person, as they will be living in your home. There are some great animal people out there who will treat your animals like gold while you are away. Here is what you need to know before you choose your cat sitter:
Friends & Family
Chances are your cats have been introduced to your friends and family at some time in their life. They may not see them as important to your cat as you are, but they are familiar with them. If possible, ask a friend or family member that enjoys being around cats to look after your furry loved ones. They also know that these cats are very important to you. I am very fortunate that my close friends are cat lovers and are happy to spend their time at home with my cats when I travel. As my cats are older, they love having company around and a comfy lap to sit on!
The best way to find a new cat sitter is through word of mouth. Asking friends or colleagues if they have a sitter they can recommend is the best way to go. As word of mouth travels, people can give you a first hand account of how the sitter was and how happy their cats were upon their return.
Many vet nurses pet sit as a side business. Asking your vet for recommendations is a great way to get someone whom is experienced, can administer medications and loves animals already! You can meet them beforehand and find out their fees for living in house or visits only and how often they can visit.
Hiring a Professional Cat Sitter
If you must hire someone you have never met, here are things you need to consider:
- How long have they been professionally working their business?
- Do they have other testimonials besides what is on their website?
- Do they have insurance for emergencies?
- Do they have any experience with special needs animals?
- Do they live in house with your pets, or do they visit your pet only?
- What are their rates and what is included?
- If they are living with your cats, are they the only person they are going to meet?
- Does this person work more with dogs or with cats? This is important, as you need a sitter who is a cat person.
- What do they do with your cats in emergency situations?
- Are they interested in getting to know your cats beforehand? This is really important for you and your cats.
A great cat sitter will be happy to answer all your questions and meet with you several times before your holiday.
Introducing Your Cats
So you have picked your cat sitter – you like them, now do your cats like them? How will you know if they are comfortable around them?
Cats can be wary by nature, so they will need to meet your cat sitter a few times. A good cat sitter will come to your home prepared with toys, and plenty of time to allow your cats to feel comfortable to approach them on your their terms. You may need to set up some more visits so your cat can get used to them and so your sitter can learn their daily routine.
What if your cats don’t like your new sitter? Or how do you know if you have picked the right one? You can definitely ask your cats who they would prefer to look after them when you’re away. You can have your cats meet a selection of sitters and then book a consult with an Animal Whisperer to ask your cats to choose who they liked the most. Your cats are a great judge of character and they will be able to show you who is trustworthy too.
Once you have the right person you can relax and enjoy your holiday knowing your gorgeous cats will be well taken care of. Also if you choose to go away again you will find using the same person for your next break will be the way to go. Your cats are now familiar with this person and this person now knows the ins and outs of looking after your loved ones.