Every summer, I “cat sit” for a friend who enjoys dashing off for weekend getaways. Each time she asks me to watch her kitties, she ends by saying, “I know they would be alright, but I feel better knowing someone is checking in on them.” Cats may be solitary creatures, but that doesn’t mean they don’t miss you when you’re gone. Having someone watch your cats when you go away can give you peace of mind – in more ways than one.
As a lifelong cat owner, I’ve learned to never assume a cat can’t find a way to get herself into a situation she sometimes can’t get out of on her own. I had a cat pull the hose off my dryer, climb through it to the vent on the side of the house, and get stuck. I found her hanging upside down when I got home from work. She was fine, but it scared the daylights out of me.
One of my neutered male cats backed up to an electrical socket and sprayed into it which gave him a shock and produced a steady plume of smoke from the socket. I was assured by the firemen who inspected the socket that everything was alright. However, I was right in calling them because my cat could have started a fire. We can’t control or foresee issues that might arise, and leaving your cat home alone for more than a day could turn out to be a bad decision.
When you need to be away from home for any length of time, it is necessary to find care options for your dog to ensure they are safe, taken care of and fed properly. Kennels are a definite option, but they can be quite pricey. Also, your dog may not be comfortable staying in a kennel with the constant stimulation of other dogs in neighboring pens, strange or uncomfortable surroundings and unknown caretakers. Thankfully, there are some alternatives to kennel boarding.
Your dog might be most comfortable in your home. Even with you gone, everything is familiar. They may be much more at ease staying there rather than going to a kennel. If this is the option you choose, you will need to have someone you can rely on to take care of your dog while you are away.
You can advertise for a home care person, but it’s important to make sure they are legitimate dog care specialists. Get full background information and verification of their services, whether or not they are insured. One possibility is to go through an agency that hires professional dog sitters.
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I’m always happy to pet sit for a friend or neighbor, and it’s a responsibility I take very seriously even though I usually do it for free. Finding a good pet sitter should be as important as finding a trustworthy babysitter for your kids. There are some things you need to discuss with a pet sitter whether paid or not, because this person has the keys to your home and the responsibility of caring for your pet while you’re away.
We don’t have professional pet sitting services in my area. People who need to find a pet sitter have to rely on family, friends or neighbors to help them out. Since I’m not a professional service, I rarely charge to watch someone’s pets, especially if they’re good friends. I pet sit because I want to help and because they trust me to do what I promised to do.
Pet sitting is more than just running over to someone’s house and throwing down some food or rushing through a walk with their dog. You want someone who will spend time with your pet, give him attention and play with him along with trying to maintain the regular schedule your pet is used to. Vacations or family emergencies shouldn’t upset your pet with a change in routine just because you’re away from home.
I used to take care of a retired friend’s cats while they took a yearly Florida vacation during the winter months. I did accept pay for this one because it was usually a three month job in winter, and they lived in the country. Two of their cats had medical issues that required daily medication and this was a challenge because they were outside cats. This is a perfect example of why a pet sitter needs to have a good bond with your pets. Knowing where my friend’s cats liked to hang out made it much easier when I had to track them down to give them their medication, and they didn’t freak out and run away when they saw me coming. They were as comfortable with me as they were with their owner.
As a parent and pet lover, you want your child to appreciate, respect and love pets the way you do. This could lead you to help them look for an opportunity to work with pets in some way. Many preteens and teenagers have jobs involving pets, such as pet sitting and dog walking. These are wonderful learning opportunities and provide children the chance to get to know a lot of animals rather than just the one or two you have at home.
However, there are certain things you must consider before you select or approve of any opportunity for your child to work with pets. As a responsible pet owner and parent, you know your child better than anyone and can judge whether a job working with animals would suit their temperament. Not all children are equipped to handle working with pets. This is not to say your child doesn’t love animals and want to work with them, but as a parent you must fairly evaluate your child’s suitability for the job they are interested in.
In my last post, I explained the benefits of hiring a professional pet sitter to care for your dog or cat while you’re away, as well as how to find a reputable one and conduct a phone interview. The process of hiring a pet sitter is not overly complicated, but should not be taken lightly. After all, you’ll be entrusting them to take good care of your faithful four-legged friend, and you need to be sure you’re choosing the right person.
With that in mind, the next step in the process is to invite a prospective pet sitter to meet you and your animal in your own home. An in-person meeting will help you decide if this is someone you want to care for your pet. They may sound great over the phone and look good “on paper,” but first impressions are equally important. Notice how they’re dressed, how they carry themselves, and how they interact with you as well as your pet. Does your pet seem to like them and feel comfortable in their presence? Do you feel at ease when talking with them?
It’s imperative at this stage of the hiring process to trust your instincts. If anything about the person makes you or your pet uncomfortable or wary, then do not hire them, because that “gut feeling” is never wrong!
Trade important information
Besides helping you decide if you want to hire a potential pet sitter, the in-home interview also helps them know if they can handle your pets and their specific needs. Be sure to tell the pet sitter everything they might encounter when caring for your pet, such as medications, conditions, dietary concerns, feeding and walking schedules, behavior issues, and any other pertinent information.
A professional pet sitter will likely have a written contract spelling out their services and fees. Before you sign, read it over carefully, and ask any questions you may have. Make sure you understand their rate, how many visits they will make, and what will happen in case of an emergency with your pet. Give them your cell phone number, and/or a number where you can be reached while away. Provide your vet’s name, address and phone number, and consider signing a form which lets your vet know that the sitter is authorized to seek care for your pet. You may also want to give them the phone number of a nearby friend or family member who could help them in an emergency.
If the interview goes well and you’re satisfied that the sitter will take good care of your pet, you may want to start by hiring them for just a day or two first rather than for a week or longer.
Even the most experienced and reliable pet sitter could run into problems if you haven’t properly prepared for your absence. Be sure your pet has current identification tags and vaccinations. Stock up on their regular pet food and other supplies, and buy extra just in case your return is delayed. Leave everything in one place, where the pet sitter can find it easily. Give your spare key and the sitter’s phone number to someone you trust as a backup; also give their phone number to the pet sitter. Make sure the pet sitter understands your home’s safety features, such as the circuit breaker and alarm system.
Leave Detailed Instructions
During the in-home interview, you should go over the care of your pet verbally, and ask your pet sitter if they have any questions. They will probably take notes as you go over your instructions. However, it’s still a good idea to leave them a detailed written list they can refer to, in case their notes are incomplete or get misplaced.
Write down everything the pet sitter will need to know about your dog or cat — including their likes and dislikes, medications and conditions, habits, fears, and anything else you think may help them when caring for your pet. You may also want to prepare a daily checklist of tasks the pet sitter can use during each visit. This is particularly helpful if medications, special food or specific exercise routines are involved. Post your instructions on the fridge, or leave them with your pet’s food and supplies.
Remember to bring your pet sitter’s phone number in case your plans change, or you want to find out how your pet and his temporary caretaker are getting along. Some of these suggestions may seem like overkill to you, but honestly, it’s much better to prepare for anything and everything rather than deal with it on the fly. And when you feel confident that your beloved pet is in the care of a capable pet sitter, your vacation will be all the more enjoyable!
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, corporate or brand names, is for information and convenience only. Such use does not constitute an endorsement by CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods of any product or service. Opinions are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® All Natural Pet Foods.
The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.