The reason I moved to Seattle — other than to seek my fortune in work, love, and creativity — is because my best friend of more than 20 years had started a cat-sitting business and invited me to become a partner. I didn’t have to think too hard before I said yes. I recently had my first gig, and it was everything I imagined it would be: Cat sitting really is the most awesome job ever, and here’s why.
Cats are creatures of habit, and for some it can be tough when their person goes away and a stranger comes in to feed them and see to their care. I start each visit by sitting on the floor and letting the cat check me out. Once they’ve determined I’m not there to eat them, I hold out a half-extended finger for the cat to sniff. If I get a head-bonk, I know I’m in!
Every cat caretaker has different preferences about litter boxes, food and other cat gear. This means I get to find out about products I haven’t seen or tried, and add to my data bank of what works great, what doesn’t work so well, and what to avoid.
There’s nothing quite as awesome as watching a cat get into that butt-wiggling excited-hunting posture and then fling himself after the toy of the day. No matter how lousy my day has been, playing with cats boosts my mood.
I’ve lived with cats all my life and I know quite a bit about cat psychology as a result. Learning what makes different cats tick is mentally stimulating — and incredibly rewarding when I can help a client address a behavior problem or understand a health issue.
I’ve hired cat sitters myself, and I understand the amount of trust it takes to allow someone you really don’t know that well into your home, let alone entrust them with the responsibility for your cat’s well-being. It’s an honor and a privilege to have earned that trust.
Getting to know cat parents is just as much fun as getting to know the cats themselves.
Cat sitting is a lot of fun, but it’s not a lark. If you’re looking for easy money, this is not the business for you. You need the appropriate licenses and insurance. You have to know how to do first aid, know where the nearest emergency vet is, and be able to keep your cool in the event of a health crisis or natural disaster.
Just like any other business, you have to work at it if you want to be successful. You have to market yourself, be diligent and responsible in your work, continue your cat education through credentialing or through other venues such as volunteering at animal shelters, and expect that it’s going to be a while before you see a profit.
If you’re thinking about hiring a cat sitter, here are some tips to help you find a good one. And if you’re in Seattle and you need someone to take care of your feline friends when you go away, check us out and schedule a meet-and-greet.
About JaneA Kelley: Punk-rock cat mom, science nerd, animal shelter volunteer, professional cat sitter, and all-around geek with a passion for bad puns, intelligent conversation, and role-play adventure games. She gratefully and gracefully accepts her status as chief cat slave for her family of feline bloggers, who have been writing their award-winning cat advice blog, Paws and Effect, since 2003.
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