Cats have a real knack for making their pet parents feel guilty about all kinds of things, and nothing pulls at the heartstrings like leaving kitty behind when you go on vacation. This writer is wracked with guilt just thinking about boarding her cats at their veterinarian’s office, not because they wouldn’t be well cared for, but because they loathe leaving home. My eldest balls herself up in a corner when she’s boarded in such a manner that she looks as if she’s attempting to make herself so small that, “poof,” she’ll disappear and reappear at home. For cats who feel as my eldest does, a cat sitter might be the kindest thing to do to keep kitty at home and give you piece of mind.
Anne Klein, owner of Backdoor Friends Cat Shoppe of Farmington Hills, MI has offered “home service pet care” to her Farmington and Farmington Hills customers since 2007 in addition to the 16 condominium-style luxury, cage-free kitty rooms at her cat hotel she’s operated for over a decade. She advises that when looking for a cat sitter, find out if a prospective sitter:
- Is insured and bonded
- Belongs to a pet sitting organization
- Is a Certified Professional Pet Sitter through Pet Sitters International
- Is associated with a qualified veterinarian the sitter can take a cat to in an emergency
Klein states that those who are members of pet sitting organizations and are insured and bonded, “tend to be more serious about doing their job properly.” In Klein’s case, only employees of Backdoor Friends Cat Shoppe provide home service pet care. Backdoor Friends cat sitters are all well-versed in cat behavior, experienced in administering medication (including subcutaneous and injections) and know how to test glucose levels in diabetic cats – all important knowledge when considering hiring a cat sitter.
Numerous duties are of vital importance when cat sitting, such as feeding, cleaning litter box(es) and removing waste from the home, providing clean water, cleaning feeding bowls, administering medication(s), playing, and making sure the sitter can see the cat(s). Klein says a cat sitter should only do that a pet parent says to do and that cat sitters should always leave a house clean.
Experienced cat sitters should be able to provide you with examples of their strategies as to how they’ve interacted with cats who provide challenges. Klein feeds cats in separate areas in a multi-cat household where a cat is shy. She also looks for a hiding cat in order to administer medication.
As with any situation when you’re hiring anybody to perform a service for you, it’s important to verify a pet sitter’s qualifications, including if they’re licensed and bonded, membership in a professional organization, etc. If the sitter is associated with a veterinarian, find out as much as you can about him or her. Pet sitters should provide you with a contract, ask you for contact information so they may reach you if there’s an emergency, and get permission before-hand to take your cat to a veterinarian. Asking for and checking references is perfectly reasonable.
Ms. Klein says that veterinarians and veterinary technicians are good sources for information as to finding cat sitters. Some veterinary technicians cat sit on the side. You may also contact an organization like Pet Sitters International or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.