Friday, June 17, 2011

Finding the perfect pet sitter: Why it matters and how to do it

Three cats crammed into one cat bed
As you can see, I have a lot of cats. Sometimes, they love each other and they all get along. Sometimes, they fight a bit over resources. I think I took this photo about 30 seconds before Maggie and Lucy got into a bit of a slap-fest over who would be able to sleep in that pink bed with Eamon.

I don't often go on vacation, since I do have so many cats with so many varied needs, but there are times when I feel like getting away and the cats must stay home. When this happens, I look for a cat sitter.

Choosing a cat sitter can be difficult. Ideally, you'd like someone the cat already knows, so the cat won't be freaked out by a stranger entering the home several times per day. Additionally, you want someone who knows a bit about cats, so this sitter will be able to tell when the cat is ill and needs medical attention ... and when the cat is angry because the humans have dared to leave the vicinity (the two things can look very much alike in a pouty cat).

I'm lucky. I have wonderful neighbors who watch my cats when I am away. In return, I watch their cat when they're gone. This makes for a cat-watching circle, so nobody feels cheated. It's a nice thing.

When I do go on vacation, I leave behind detailed instructions about how much food should be delivered in each meal, and where the cats are accustomed to eating. While my neighbors have watched the cats before, it's true, I don't expect them to remember all the small details. I also leave behind phone numbers to call in an emergency, and I prepare a cat carrier in case someone has a problem and has to go to the veterinarian.

And I always deliver thank-you gifts.

All of these steps can help a pet sitter get the job done just a little easier, and that means the cats have a better time overall. And, all of those steps help to ensure that the sitter will take the job again, the next time I have to go somewhere. When it's this easy, why would anyone refuse?

If you're not fortunate enough to have a neighbor you can ask for pet-sitting assistance, this article can help you choose a professional pet sitter.