Today we have a very special treat for our readers. Mama’s friend Adrianna, a well-respected cat sitter, has agreed to give us an interview with her. We hope this will help our human friends know what to look for and what to expect from a cat sitter. So without further ado, let’s get started!
Siouxsie: I guess we should start with the basics. What does a cat sitter do?
Adrianna: A cat sitter provides for the well-being of cats, generally while their person is away.
Thomas: You mean a stranger comes into our house when our human goes away? That doesn’t sound like fun! What should our people do to help prepare us for having a cat sitter
Adrianna: Cat sitters more prepare the human for the separation. Cats tend to do pretty well. There are a lot of preparations the human needs to do before they go away, to ensure everything goes well.
Dahlia: Like what?
Adrianna: A lot of things. But let’s talk about choosing a pet sitter first.
Siouxsie: What should humans look for in a cat sitter?
Adrianna: First and foremost, trust your instincts. This person is going to be caring for your babies and coming into your home. There are many ways to get a pet sitter: references through veterinarians, word of mouth, and also through things like the Yellow Pages or the Internet. Not all cat sitters are created equal.
Thomas: What do you mean by that?
Adrianna: The kid next door may only come and put down food and water, but not be able to handle it if your cat gets sick. There are pet sitter associations, but they’re generally more expensive. The Red Cross offers first aid and CPR courses for cats and dogs; ask if your pet sitter has taken any of these courses. Also ask what experience they have with cats. If your cat has special needs, ask if they have experience with special needs cats. Some cat sitters will happily stay overnight with your cats. Some cat sitters will just put down food and water and leave–that’s not a good cat sitter.
Dahlia: Anything else you want to say about choosing a pet sitter?
Adrianna: Make sure to check their references. It’s OK to ask if they have any criminal background. Also ask specifically what is included in their fee.
Siouxsie: Once your human has chosen a cat sitter, what should he or she do next?
Adrianna: Talk to your vet and let them know that you’ll be going away. Let the vet know who your cat sitter will be, and make financial arrangements with your vet in case of emergency or illness. Most vets will ask for a credit card. You need to specify with the vet what kind of measures or care you’re willing to authorize, and if you want to be contacted while you’re away in the event that your cat needs vet care.
Thomas: And what about preparing the cats for the pet sitter?
Adrianna: The cat sitter should come to your house, meet the cats, get to know their routine–including places they hide! A clear list of what the cat sitter is expected to do should be posted some place obvious, like the refrigerator. Also on the list should be the weight of the cats, any medications they’re taking or any allergies they have, and contact information for their regular vet and the emergency vet. If your cat gets sick in the middle of the night and your regular vet is not open, it can be a problem.
Dahlia: What about spending time with us? We get lonely when our people go away. Mammaaaaaa! *sniffle*
Adrianna: Spending time with the cats is very important in order to meet their social and emotional needs. You need to negotiate with the pet sitter how much time you want them to spend with your cats. Play and snuggles are very important. By socializing and playing with the cat, the pet sitter can see whether or not they’re healthy.
Siouxsie: What if the sitter can’t find our toys?
Adrianna: There’s always Thing On A String.
Thomas: How can we get the cat sitter to give us extra food and treats?
Adrianna: A good cat sitter will never do that … unless the person has specified that it’s OK.
Dahlia: Will the cat sitter let us go out and play?
Adrianna: No. If you get lost, the cat sitter may not be able to find you. And you might get in trouble with the neighborhood dog, or a raccoon–or maybe even a car! Also, sometimes cats will think they’ve been abandoned and may wander off in search of their person or a new family. But just in case you do get out, your human should make sure you have a collar with a name tag and your human’s contact information. Microchips are also great, as long as your contact information is up to date with the microchip registry!
Siouxsie: I guess I can understand that logic.
Thomas: What else does a cat sitter do?
Adrianna: A cat sitter will go around to every room and check that the house is secure, and make sure that there are no signs of sickness like diarrhea in the litterbox or vomit in any of the cat’s hiding places. So there’s an added bonus, that the cat sitter will protect your property. A cat sitter will also check that anything dangerous like plants or chemicals haven’t been chewed at.
Dahlia: And speaking of litterboxes, do cat sitters clean litterboxes too?
Adrianna: Absolutely! That’s one of the ways a cat sitter knows whether or not the cat is healthy.
Thomas: Anything else?
Adrianna: Yes. There are two things: Cat sitters, because they don’t see your cat every day, are much more likely to notice if there is something wrong with your cat such as being under- or overweight. Also, if a cat is going to get sick, it’s going to happen while you’re away, because your cat is more stressed. Make sure that any potential hazards are safely locked up. Also make sure that the cat sitter does spend enough time with the cat to make sure that they’re healthy. I heard of a cat sitter who didn’t see the cat for three days …
Dahlia: Bad cat sitter! *hiss*
Adrianna: If I don’t see a cat when I come to visit, I do not leave until I find the cat and make sure everything is OK. And just seeing a cat hiding under a bed will not do.
Siouxsie: Is there anything you recommend that humans do to ease their feline overlords’ anxiety while they’re away?
Adrianna: Don’t clean all the human scents out of your house! For example, don’t wash the sheets or places where the cats normally spend time with you. Feliway is also great at relieving stress. Be sure to tell your cats that you’re going away and when you’ll be back. You can also send your cat “love beams” every night before you go to bed.
Thomas: Wow! It sounds like Mama actually did pretty well.
Dahlia: Any final thoughts?
Adrianna: Don’t change your cat’s routine, and don’t ask the cat sitter to start anything new with your cat such as putting your cat on a diet. Also, make sure your cat sitter has contact information for a person who has an extra key to your home or apartment–just in case! Cat sitters really love cats; that’s why we do what we do!
Siouxsie: Well, because we know you and love you, we want to put in a shameless plug for your services. If you’re in the Seattle area and you need a cat sitter, let us know and we’ll put you in touch with Adrianna!
Adrianna: Thank you. Kisses to Thomas, Dahlia, and Siouxsie.
Thomas: And purrs right back at ya! You take good care of Mama while she’s out there.
Adrianna: And here’s one very important final thought: Make sure you have carriers–in good working order–for all of your cats. Greetings to you from Pedro and Kittygirl, the two wonderful cats who have chosen to share their lives with me.