There will inevitably come a time in your tenure as a cat owner when you’ll need to leave your beloved fur baby behind while you go on vacation. As much as we’d all love to bring our cats with us when we go anywhere, it’s just not feasible for most cats. If you’re hiring a cat sitter to take care of your baby while you’re gone, there are things you need to do to prepare for their arrival.
Read on to find our cat sitter checklist so you can have some peace of mind when your pets are in the hands of a sitter.
Tips for Choosing a Cat Sitter
As easy as it would be to hire the first cat sitter you find, you don’t want to pick just anyone. Here are some tips when vetting the best cat sitter for your fur babies.
Ask for Firsthand Recommendations
You wouldn’t trust your human children with any random person off the street, so the same should apply to your cats. Ask your friends and family members if they have used a pet sitter in the past and if they have any recommendations for you. If you don’t know anyone who’s used such a service before, try asking your pet stores or even your veterinary clinic. You can also use local forums, such as those on social media sites, to ask for recommendations.
Meet & Greet
Once you have a shortlist of potential sitters, meet with them, ideally at your home. However, you can also hold a virtual meet and greet by meeting with them via Zoom or phone if that makes you more comfortable. This meeting is your chance to get to know the person who will potentially be taking care of your pets. You can get a feel for what this person is like and whether you’d trust them with your cat’s life while you’re away. If you get any bad vibes or if red flags pop up during this visit, you’ll know to move on to the next person on your list.
Tip: If your cat is on medication, ask potential sitters how comfortable they are administering meds. Some people may charge extra for this task, so it’s important to know this ahead of time.
It’s important to ask potential candidates for references. This allows you to talk with other people who have used this sitter in the past. Please do not skip this step, as it can provide valuable insight into how the potential sitter treated other client’s pets and whether they come highly recommended or not.
Information to Communicate to Your Cat Sitter
Once you’ve settled on the perfect sitter for your cats, you should set up a second meet and greet. This will allow you to communicate with them all the information they’ll need to care for your cats and home while you’re away. Let’s look a little closer at all the essential info your cat sitter will need to do their job well.
1. Instructions for Feeding and Watering
This is arguably the most important job your pet sitter will perform, so don’t skip out on any of the details. Show them where your cat’s food is kept, the utensils you use to portion out the food, and what to do with the spent cans or empty bags. Be sure to communicate what portion sizes your cats receive and where you keep their bowls.
Show them where your cat’s water bowls or fountains are and how you clean and fill them.
2. Instructions for Litter Box Cleaning
Cleaning the litter box is one of the most important jobs your sitter will perform. A clean litter box ensures your kitty won’t have any messy accidents while you’re away. Communicate with your sitter where you keep the litter boxes and cleaning supplies (e.g., trash bags and litter scoops). It would help if you also showed them where your garbage bin is so they know where to throw the trash bags when they’re full of dirty litter.
3. Instructions and Information for Medication
If your cat is on medication, your sitter will need to know not only where you store the medication but how to administer it as well. You may need to demonstrate what tricks you use to get your kitty to take their meds, too. Please ensure you leave written instructions on how to give the medication, even if your sitter is well-versed in medicine administration and has been given a demonstration in person.
4. Itinerary and Contact Information
Your pet sitter should know where you are at all times in case they need to contact you regarding your pet or home. Leave out a detailed itinerary and have several methods of contact available (e.g., personal cell, work cell, e-mail, etc.) so there won’t be any missed calls if something were to go awry while you’re gone.
5. Veterinary Clinic Contact Information
If your cat were to get hurt or sick during your time away, your pet sitter may need to take them to the vet. They must be able to take your kitty to their usual vet, who will have details on their medical history.
6. Letter of Authorization for Emergency Veterinary Care
As awful as it is to think about, accidents can and do happen while pet parents are away on vacation. If your kitty requires emergency care, your pet sitter needs authorization from you to get them medical attention.
Most professional sitters will have a letter of authorization for emergency veterinary care as part of the paperwork you’ll need to fill out before using their services. This is important as it gives them the permission to seek medical care for your pet in case of emergency in case you cannot be reached. These forms typically require you to authorize care costs up to a certain dollar amount decided by you in advance. They’ll also ask if you authorize euthanasia without direct consent.
7. Additional Helpful Information
Depending on your needs and how long you’re going away, you may need additional information to provide your sitter.
- Will they be picking up your mail for you? Where will they find the mail key?
- Are they expected to water your plants? Is there special water you’d like them to use?
- Are they putting out your garbage on pick-up day? Where are they expected to put the bins?
- How do they enter your home (e.g., passcode, key)? Is there a backup method of entry in case the code doesn’t work or they misplace the key?
- Will they be at your house 24/7 for the duration of your trip? What is the Wi-Fi password?
- Do you expect daily updates?
- Are there CCTV cameras set up in the house? Where are they located?
8. Cat Personality Breakdown
Your cat sitter should have a basic understanding of the cat’s personality they’ll be caring for. Are your cats shy, friendly, aggressive, or nervous? Will they come out to greet the sitter when they come for their daily visits, or will they be hiding under the bed? Where are their favorite hiding spots? What are their favorite toys? Where are the toys kept? The more your sitter knows about your pets, the better they can cater their visits to your cat’s needs.
Cat Sitter Checklist
Feel free to copy, paste, and print this checklist so you can have it on hand as you prepare for the arrival of your cat sitter.
- Instructions for feeding and watering
- Instructions for litter box cleaning
- Instructions and information for medication
- Itinerary and contact information
- Veterinary clinic contact information
- Letter of authorization for emergency veterinary care
- Wi-Fi password
- Location of security cameras
- Location of backup house key
- Location of mailbox and key
- Instructions for watering plants
- Instructions for putting out the garbage
- Information about your pet’s favorite toys or hiding places
Knowing your kitties are in the hands of a professional cat sitter while you’re away may not make leaving them easier, but it should provide some peace of mind. Use our helpful checklist to ensure your sitter is as informed as possible so they can keep your pets happy and healthy in your absence.
Featured Image Credit: Kmpzzz, Shutterstock
- Tips for Choosing a Cat Sitter
- Information to Communicate to Your Cat Sitter
- 1. Instructions for Feeding and Watering
- 2. Instructions for Litter Box Cleaning
- 3. Instructions and Information for Medication
- 4. Itinerary and Contact Information
- 5. Veterinary Clinic Contact Information
- 6. Letter of Authorization for Emergency Veterinary Care
- 7. Additional Helpful Information
- 8. Cat Personality Breakdown
- Cat Sitter Checklist