How To Choose A Cat Sitter

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

(Picture Credit: Getty Images)

Entrusting your cats to a sitter while you leave town can be very stressful—and may not always go perfectly—but you can take steps that’ll help make the best choice possible.

Here are a few things you should know about choosing a cat sitter.

Types Of Sitters

Your first decision is whether you want to hire someone to visit your home daily–while you’re at work, for example–or to stay in your house while you are away traveling. Your choices may be limited by the options available in your area, the length of time you’ll be gone, and your animals’ needs.

The most common option is to hire someone to come to your home daily to feed your cats, freshen their water, scoop the litter, and give them some TLC. Pet sitters will often provide additional services such as bringing in your mail and newspaper, watering plants, filling bird feeders, and other household tasks.

If you’re going away and your trip is very long, you might consider looking for a cat sitter to stay at your home, rather than just daily visiting, for the additional companionship. Some people house sit on a regular, professional basis, or you may find friends or family members.

Choosing A Pet Sitter

Portrait of a young woman with her cat over her head.

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Once you have decided which type of cat sitter you need, you will have to find one. If you do a search online for pet sitters near you, you’ll probably see a list pet sitting businesses. Shop around to see which ones service your area, and check for positive online reviews. Make sure to check the cost, too.

You can also get references from your veterinarian, local shelter, businesses that cater to companion animals and friends, or look online at the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters.

Hire A Professional

When looking for a new cat sitter, you will want to contact them well in advance of your trip and, if you are satisfied with your initial telephone conversation or email exchange, set up an in-home appointment.

Ask each prospective pet sitter for references, and make sure to ask good questions during the interview. Watch how the person interacts with your cats and also how the cats respond to the person.

Ask A Friend Or Family Member

Cat eating banana on woman's shoulder

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If you ask a friend or family member to pet sit for you, you will want to go through the same process to the extent that is practical.

You must consider that if anything goes wrong and your friend or family member is responsible, your relationship may be damaged or even destroyed. You also may feel less inclined to be firm with someone you know than a professional, and that may not serve your cats’ needs the best.

If you do choose to use someone you know, you should think about their history with companion animals, their past interactions with your cat, and most importantly the individual’s demonstrated level of responsibility.

Prepare Written Instructions

Once you’ve chosen a pet sitter, you should go over instructions with them in person. Set your expectations and let them know how they should care for your cat.

Next, write down the instructions so your sitter will have them for easy reference. Don’t skip the in-person instructions or the written instructions. You should do both to cover all bases.

These three written documents will help your cat sitter do a better job:

  • First, write down all your instructions, no matter how trivial something may seem. Your house and cats are new to your cat sitter so every little thing will be helpful.
  • Second, make a checklist of tasks that are to be done daily so that nothing is forgotten.
  • Finally, write a letter to your veterinarian informing them of your travel plans, naming your cat sitter, and authorizing the veterinarian to provide any treatment necessary while you are away. Make a guarantee that you will settle your bill when you return, or call the veterinarian and make other arrangements for emergency payment.

Check The Costs

Adorable cat holds dollar banknotes with her paws and looks into the camera with her big eyes.

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You should expect to pay a pet sitter or house sitter for their services. Professional pet sitters and house sitters will charge a daily fee that may vary based on how many animals you have and whether there are any special needs.

The fees are likely to be higher in bigger cities. Friends or other acquaintances may charge less, but remember that you often get what you pay for.

Remember, if you choose a friend and are willing to trade services, you may save an out-of-pocket fee, but you will have to pay them back by sitting for their pets. Are you willing to make that commitment? If not, then you may have to bite the bullet and pay a professional.

Lastly, listen to your instincts. Your animals are part of the family. Make sure you’re comfortable with any individual with whom you’re entrusting your cat’s care.