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How to Cat Sit: 11 Expert Tips

Written by: Brooke Billingsley

Last Updated on April 3, 2024 by Catster Editorial Team

shelter cat rubbing its head on a person's hand

How to Cat Sit: 11 Expert Tips

Pet sitting has become a popular side hustle for many people, with some people even turning it into a full-fledged business. If you’re a cat lover and considering picking up cat sitting on the side, it’s important for you to be fully prepared when you start talking to your first potential client. Here are some of the top tips for a successful cat sitting job.

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Top 11 Tips on How to Cat Sit

1. Meet the Cat

Finding the time to get to someone’s home to meet their cat can be inconvenient, especially if you aren’t getting paid for it, but it’s important that you meet the pets ahead of time. This will help the cat start getting used to you in an environment that feels safe and normal to them while their owners are present. If you’re cat sitting within the client’s home, then this is also a great time to get a walkthrough of the home and learn all the ins and outs of taking care of their cat and house.

Young woman cat sitter meeting gray cat
Image Credit: sima, Shutterstock

2. Discuss Expectations

Discuss all expectations that you have with the client during your initial visit, and make sure to ask about any expectations they have. Communicating clear prices is important for ensuring you are paid a fair price and that the owner is prepared for the amount they’ll owe you. Talk about whether you expect to be paid upon arrival or after the owner is already home.

Learn about any expectations that the client has about the care of their pets or home. Some people may ask you to put the trash out on trash day, put clean sheets on the bed after your stay, or run your dirty dishes through the dishwasher. If someone asks you to do something that you aren’t comfortable with, make sure to tell them ahead of time.

When discussing expectations, it’s also important to discuss where you’ll be staying. Many people prefer a pet sitter to stay in their home, but some people may expect you to take their cat to your home. If you aren’t comfortable or able to do this, then you should make that clear to them.

3. Be Responsible

Your clients are trusting you with the health and safety of their pets and, in many cases, the care and security of their home. You should always take your cat sitting jobs very seriously and stick to the expectations that the client has set for you. Schedule your other responsibilities around the times that you should be providing care for the cat.

Be responsible with your client’s home. Throwing parties or inviting friends over are big no-nos unless the client explicitly tells you that they’re ok with it. Even then, it’s best to avoid these situations since they increase the risk of damage to the client’s home, and if people are coming and going, there’s a higher chance of the cat slipping out. Keep doors and windows locked and make sure to use any security systems the client has in place to keep their home safe while you’re in charge of it.

cat sitter petting a cat on her lap
Image Credit: Dora Zett, Shutterstock

4. Be Patient

Cats aren’t always the most outgoing animals, so it may take time for the cat to warm up to you. There’s a very real chance that a shy cat may never warm up to you, and that’s perfectly fine. Make sure to lay eyes on them a few times per day, just to make sure they look well. Check to make sure they’re eating and drinking, but be patient with the cat as they get used to a stranger being in their home while their owners are away.

5. Give the Cat Space

If you’ve ended up with a cat that is skittish around you, it’s important to not force yourself on the cat. Don’t chase or follow them around. Instead, give them plenty of space to feel safe and comfortable in your presence. Sitting calmly and quietly in the home may encourage the cat to come out, but don’t be surprised if the cat needs lots of space for a few days.

cat sleeping near salt lamp
Image Credit: Robert Hale, Shutterstock

6. Ask About Any Special Needs

When discussing the job with the client, ask them about any special needs that their cat has. Medical conditions requiring medications or special foods should be discussed, especially if these conditions require any type of special care. If you aren’t comfortable or knowledgeable about giving insulin, for example, then cat sitting a diabetic cat might not be the best job for you.

Also, discuss any special preferences or needs the cat has. Maybe they’ll only drink running water, or maybe they have a favorite blanket that they’ll want for comfort. Understanding these needs beforehand will help you be better prepared to take on the job.

7. Be Prepared

Be fully prepared for the job before you start. Ensure the clients leave you emergency contact information for themselves, their veterinarian, and a friend or family member who is nearby who can help in case of an emergency. Be prepared for situations that may arise with the cat or home, and make sure you have a backup plan in place in case something happens to you or your vehicle.

grey cat playing with its toy indoor
Image Credit: I.K.Media, Shutterstock

8. Be Willing to Play

While cat sitting, set aside time every day to spend with the cat. If you’re still building the cat’s trust, then this may just be sitting in the same room with them. If the cat has warmed up to you, though, then you should do things to stimulate their mind and help them get exercise. Playing games and providing them with puzzles and toys can help entertain the cats and make the absence of their people a little bit easier on them.

9. Ask How the Cat Will Respond

Talk to the client about how their cat typically acts when they’re left with a pet sitter. If the cat has had problems in the past, then it’s likely that previous cat sitters told the clients about it. They’ll also be able to give you an idea of how welcoming or fearful you can expect the cat to be when you show up to cat sit once the owners are gone.

a cat on the couch looking up
Image Credit: Fox_Ana, Shutterstock

10. Learn How Multiple Pets Interact

If you’re pet sitting in a home with multiple pets, ask the clients how the pets all interact with each other. You should know if there are any behavioral problems or tensions between any of the animals in the home. Try to get an idea of how the pets all play together from the client as well. In some cases, pets may play rough with each other, and it can appear like aggression. It’s also a good idea for you to familiarize yourself with how to de-escalate a tense situation between animals and how to break up a fight, just in case.

11. Make Owners Happy

When it comes to cat sitting, the cat isn’t the only one you need to make happy. Do what you can to make the owners happy as well. Happy owners are more likely to hire you back in the future than people who feel like you slacked off on your duties or didn’t provide good care for their pets. Showing a willingness to go above and beyond expectations will likely delight your client and their pets.

Image Credit: Weeraphukdee, Shutterstock



Cat sitting can be a fun hobby or full-time job, but it does require preparation and responsibility to do properly. Always remember that you’ve been trusted with the care of someone’s pet and, in many cases, their home. Provide top-notch care and show the client that you’re a trustworthy cat sitter who is worth hiring back again.

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Featured Image Credit: Helena Zezulkova, Shutterstock

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