When Work or Travel Keeps You from Home, Who Can You Trust with Your Cat?

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By Pet Sitters International

While cats are often seen as more independent compared to dogs and other pets, experts agree that healthy adult cats should not be left alone for more than 24 hours without human contact. This timeframe shortens significantly for kittens, senior cats, and cats with medical issues.

So, if work keeps you away from home for long hours, you have a business trip, or are planning to go on holiday, who can you trust to watch your beloved cat?

While friends may be willing, professional caregivers are available.

Perhaps friends, family members, or even a neighbor has checked in on your cat in the past. While they may be pet lovers and willing to help, they may not be fully prepared to handle situations that may arise. Would they know if your cat was displaying signs of sickness or distress? Or, if they experienced an unexpected schedule change or emergency, would they have backup to take over care of your cat?

Fortunately, the professional pet-sitting industry continues to grow, and a quick online search will likely yield numerous results for pet sitters in your local area. With more pet-sitting options and numerous online pet-sitter apps, however, it’s important that you do your due diligence to secure reliable pet care.

Finding a cat sitter you are comfortable with—and one that is available for the times and services you need—requires an investment of time. After narrowing down your options, you’ll want to schedule an in-home consultation (often called a meet and greet) with the potential cat sitter and also take time to check their references or online reviews.

Find the best cat care by asking the right questions.

If you’re planning on hiring a pet sitter to care for your cat, read on for a list of questions to ask before you book their services.

When searching for a pet sitter, you want to make sure you are choosing a professional business. Simply using someone who loves pets and wants to earn some extra cash isn’t enough. A professional pet sitter has the experience, educational training and insurance coverage for any scenario that may occur while you’re away.

When considering a potential sitter, be sure to ask the following questions:

Will the pet sitter meet with you in advance to meet your cat(s) and discuss their care needs?
Never book the services of a pet sitter you have not met in person. A pet sitter should come to your home to meet you and your pet, learn about your pet’s routine, and document your care requests. Some pet sitters offer this service at no charge, while others charge a nominal fee for time and travel expenses.

Does the pet sitter have the proper business license, if required?
If your area requires a business license, any professional will have a valid license or permit. While pet sitters care for your pet at your home, some do offer limited in-their-home boarding. If so, ensure that they also have the proper authorization and license to offer this service as well.

Is the pet sitter insured and bonded?
Ask for proof of coverage that is tailored to pet sitting. A pet sitter’s insurance coverage should protect both your home and your pets. Both the insurance and bonding policies should indicate it also covers staff sitters if the pet-sitting company uses staff.

Can the pet sitter provide proof of clear criminal history?
Remember, this person will have access to your property and pets. Ask for proof of a current, clean background check. If they use staff, ensure they conduct background checks on their team members as well.

Will the pet sitter use a pet-sitting services agreement or contract?
The contract should detail the services that will be provided, along with all fees and the expected amount of time that will be spent with your pets. The pet sitter will also document your contact information, as well as the contact information of your emergency contact and your pets’ veterinarian.

Is the pet sitter a Certified Professional Pet Sitter and/or have they participated in other pet-care training, such as pet first aid?
A qualified professional pet sitter will be trained in pet first aid and may also have a pet-sitter specific certification. Pet sitters committed to ongoing education will be up to date on best pet-care practices.

Is the pet sitter a member of a professional and educational association that provides access to ongoing education?
Association membership demonstrates a pet sitter’s commitment to their profession—and provides them with access to up-to-date educational resources and business tools to help them offer the best services.

Does the pet sitter have experience with cats, as well as experience with any specific needs your cat has?

Most pet sitters care for a variety of pet types, but you’ll want to inquire about their specific experience with cat care to make sure they are a good fit. Experience in caring for special needs pets is also helpful if that is what you need. If your cat has very specific needs, the pet sitter can also work with you to learn what care is needed.

Don’t forget to discuss your communication preferences.

When you’ve found the right pet sitter for your cat and decide to book services, be upfront about your communication preferences and the type of updates you’d like while you are away.

Whether you want a daily text while you’re out of town to simply confirm your cat is doing well, or you want to Facetime with your cat a few times while you are away, there’s no request professional pet sitters haven’t already heard. A pet sitter’s goal is to offer your pets the highest level of care and to also help you feel comfortable that your cat is in the best hands while you are away.

While finding the perfect pet sitter will take time and effort, having a professional, reliable caregiver is a win-win for you and your cat!

Pet Sitters International

Pet Sitters International is the world’s largest educational association for professional pet-sitting and dog-walking business owners. Founded in 1994, the organization provides pet sitters and dog walkers with access to the credentials, continuing education and community needed to thrive in the professional pet-sitting industry.

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