I met Tracy Seiler and her husband, Rob, at a party we hosted several years ago. Tracy instantly intrigued me. Here was a woman who was vegan, proudly showed off multiple tattoos of her cats, and owned her own professional pet sitting business. As a vegetarian, a self-labeled cat lady, and a former pet sitter, I felt a kindred spirit. As I got to know her, I realized that Tracy’s love for animals was much like mine: We both had made significant lifestyle changes to accommodate our passions. Her love had led to a successful career in pet sitting and hobby of rescuing and placing needy animals into forever homes.
I knew I needed to find out what makes her tick.
Tracy has been taking care of cats and dogs all her life.
“I was raised in a family of critter rescuers,” she says. “We always had lots of cats, dogs, and whoever else showed up needing help." When she had a corporate job, her coworkers asked her to pet sit often. “I guess I had a reputation as a softy for anyone with paws and fur.”
“I’m sure pet sitting fills an emotional need in me,” she says. “I’m very much at home and at peace in the company of cats and dogs."
While her job might sound like a lot of fun, there are downsides.
“The only thing I can say I hate is cleaning dark-colored puke from light-colored carpets, especially when it’s only inches away from hard flooring. Why do they always move to the carpet to puke?" Tracy says, echoing a fact many pet owner can relate to.
Then she mentions something I’d never considered: "I’d also like to have ONE holiday off to spend with my family. It’s when we are the busiest, though, so it’s not really an option — but a girl can dream."
I asked her to share a favorite story from her pet-sitting jobs.
"I once cared for a cat who was a little crazy and extremely high strung,” she recalls. “As soon as I entered his home, his pupils would get huge, he’d arch up like a Halloween cat, and meow, hiss, and spit at me. … I had to barricade myself in the kitchen so I could refresh his water and food bowls and scoop his litter box.”
She armored herself for a week in rain boots, a long winter coat, gloves, safety goggles, ear muffs, and a hat in the middle of a sweltering summer to deal with this feline Cujo.
“The one thing I wish everyone knew about pet sitting is that, in addition to providing for the pet’s physical needs for food and water, we also provide for the pet’s emotional needs,” she stresses. “That is how I feel about my own cat sitter. She is doing more than just scooping boxes at my home. She is letting my cats know that they are loved, appreciated, and not forgotten."
We shifted the conversation to her other passion: animal rescue. I asked if her rescuing hobby ever plays a part in her pet-sitting business.
“I’ve placed a few kittens and cats into wonderful homes due to my job and clients,” she says. “I’ve also received phone calls from people thinking I’m a rescue instead of a pet-sitting business. I do what I can and have never, and would never, turn away an animal in need of help."
I love this about Tracy. She wears her heart on her sleeve and is not above pushing those sleeves up if it will help an animal in need.
Tracy needed to get moving onto her next customer’s house, but I had one final question to ask her. Just how great is it to live with and work with animals all day? A huge grin broke over her face.
"It really does rock,” she says. “I’m a huge cat lover and feel very fortunate to live with and work with cats all day.”
She goes on, “When I was a little girl I loved Catwoman. I’d just think: Look at her with all those cats laying around her house. When I grow up, I’m going to be just like her, surrounded by cats. Cats everywhere!”
“Now I’m middle-aged with cats all over my house [Tracy has seven of her own] and really wish the directors would have given Catwoman a utility belt with pockets for a black light, Nature’s Miracle, and paper towels. Show her on the floor trying to get dark colored puke stains out of a light colored carpet — an inch away from the hard flooring!"
We laughed loudly at the image. A perfect ending to a great interview!
Read more about pet sitting:
About Angela Lilly: This plus-sized, longtime-vegetarian, tree-hugging dirt-worshiper geeks out over anything Wookiee, keeps a birding life list with glee, and thinks taking look-alike pictures with her cat, Meeko, is totally normal. With her Halloween-obsessed, home-haunter hubby of nearly two decades and their six house cats, she enjoys her world through writing poetry, macro photography, art collecting, and reading naughty, trashy novels.