If you’re going away on holiday and leaving your cat behind, there are a number of options for caring for him while you’re away. Many cats are absolutely fine going to a cattery (refer to our article on Choosing a boarding cattery) , but if your cat suffers with stress and anxiety, and you don’t have a friend or family member who can pop in a few times a day to look after him, then you may want to consider a professional pet sitter.
Where to find a pet sitter
Word of mouth is always the best way to find a reliable and trustworthy pet sitter, so ask your friends or relatives if they can personally recommend one? If not, you can ask your vet, post a discussion within any of the online cat forums or groups that you belong to, or search for professional pet sitting agencies in your area in your local paper or online.
How to choose the right pet sitter
Once you’ve found someone you think might be suitable, the first thing to do is to interview them in person. Invite them to your home, so that they have the opportunity to meet your cat – and vice versa. If you’re not sure about them when you meet them, then trust your instinct and go with your gut. You need to be comfortable that the pet sitter is going to take good care of your cat, and that your cat is going to respond well to the pet sitter – cats are usually very good judges of character.
Here are a few questions to consider:
- How much experience do they have? How long have they been in the pet-sitting business and what professional experience or qualifications do they have? Most importantly how familiar are they with cats? If they usually care for dogs and have limited experience with cats, can you trust that they’ll be able to tell if something is wrong?
- Do they have a contingency plan for caring for your cat? We all know that life doesn’t always go to plan, and if for some unexpected reason they can’t come and care for your cat (e.g. an unexpected illness or a family emergency), do they have someone to cover for them?
- Do they have the relevant insurance?
- What does their pet sitting service cover? You need to be happy with the number of times a day they’ll come to your home, and whether they’ll spend time with your cat above and beyond simply feeding him, changing his water and cleaning the litter tray. Do you want them to groom your cat, or play with him for 20 mins a day? Do they offer any additional services such as collecting the mail or watering the plants?
Pet sitter checklist
These are the things you’ll need to make sure you have covered before you go away.
- Leave emergency contact details – preferably your mobile number, and the number of where you’ll be staying. You should also leave the contact details of a trusted friend or relative.
- Leave your vet details in case of an emergency. You should also speak to your vet before you go away and find out whether they’re happy to treat your cat and bill you afterwards, or if you can give them your credit card details to hold on file, just in case.
- Make sure you’re stocked up on food and litter, and that your pet sitter knows your cat’s feeding routine and where everything is kept including how to dispose of litter. If your cat requires daily medication make sure your pet sitter knows the dose your cat should take and at what times of the day.
Having an experienced pet sitter come into your home is often the perfect solution for your cat. Whilst this person will be a stranger at first they’ll soon become firm friends and your cat will be in the comfort and familiarity of his own home.
Have you used a pet sitter for your cat? Please share your thoughts below…
Image: spilltojil via Flickr