So, you’re going to be gone from your cats for a few days, and there’s not a professional cat sitter to be had. You have to rely on a friend or neighbor for cat sitting. That’s a big responsibility. How do you decide whether your friend or neighbor would be good at watching your cat?

When I approach people about seeing if they could watch my cats, I mentally run through the following questions:

1. Do they hesitate when you ask them to watch your cat?

To me, this is a red flag. If I ask a friend for this kind of favor and I sense any hesitation, I’m unwilling to take it further. If their heart’s not in it, I’m not going to want them watching my cats.

2. Do they unreservedly love cats?

Are they on the same page you are as far as how they treat animals? How do they treat their own animals? Are they going to be willing to come to your place once a day, and do any needed extras such as give medications? Do they gross out at the sight of a litter box? Uh oh!

Do they love and take care of cats like you do? I have a very good friend who shares my passion for cats. She has two well cared for cats of her own. Our philosophies are very similar. I am completely comfortable asking her to watch my cats, and vice versa. In fact, I think we are each others’ first choices. That’s an ultimate situation.

3. Do you know they’d act in an emergency?

If your cat was in trouble, would your friend hesitate to act? Would your friend know what to do? Of course, we’re going to assume that you’ll leave good instructions in case of an emergency, and that all parties would be prepared. But you want to be sure that this person would willing take the extra step if needed. Once I had to run a friend’s cat to the vet. It turned out to be nothing serious, but my friend was grateful. I know she would do the same for me.

4. Are they forgetful?

Does the person seem forgetful in her own life? Are they going to be able to remember and implement your careful instructions? Are there things that need to happen that can’t be forgotten — critical medications, for example? These all play into choosing a good person for cat sitting. I have heard of situations where a cat sitting friend actually forgot to check on a cat — for days — and the cat, who already had health issues, got into serious trouble.

5. Are they organized?

Does the person seem to have a fairly organized approach to life? Will they be able to carry out whatever you need done in the care of your cats while you are gone?

6. Are they discreet and trustworthy?

Would you trust this friend or neighbor with confidential information, and do you trust them to be discreet? They’ll have the run of your home while you are gone, and you should feel okay, and not uneasy, about that!

7. Do they listen — really listen — to your instructions?

Sometimes it seems like the fine art of listening is becoming more rare. Make sure that your cat sitter really hears and understands any instructions. Even little things such as a certain way to lock a door — these are all important.

8. Are they observant?

Does this person notice things? Will they notice if something is up, or off, with your cat? Even if they are observant in general, do they understand cats well enough to notice if something is changing or not quite right?

Readers, what qualities do you look for if you’re asking someone to watch your cat? Share your thoughts in comments!

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About Catherine Holm: Told that she is funny but doesn’t know it, accused of being an unintentional con artist by her husband, quiet, with frequent unannounced bursts into dancing liveliness, Cat Holm loves writing about, working for, and living with cats. She is the author of the cat-themed memoir Driving with Cats: Ours for a Short Time, the creator of Ann Catanzaro cat fantasy story gift books, and the author of a short story collection about people and place. She loves to dance, be outside whenever possible, read, play with cats, make music, do and teach yoga, and write. Cat lives in the woods, which she loves as much as really dark chocolate, and gets regular inspiration shots along with her double espresso shots from the city.

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