In a couple of weeks, it’s going to be my first time.
My first time leaving my cats in the care of a professional cat sitter rather than a neighbor, cat-loving co-worker, or family friend, that is.
Why haven’t I used a cat sitter before? The reasons are many, but the two most important are that I didn’t have to, and when I did I couldn’t find one.
First of all, I didn’t have to because I was blessed to have a colleague who has a long track record of high-quality and responsible pet care. She liked my cats so much that she was happy to go over to my place a couple of times a day and feed and visit with them, just for the heck of it.
But on the one occasion when I needed a sitter because my cat-loving colleague wasn’t available, I found out that in my former hometown of Half-Past-Nowhere, Maine, there just weren’t that many to choose from. I contacted three different cat sitters: two never called me back, and the third charged rates that were clearly designed for the budget of the zillionaires who inhabit Half-Past-Nowhere and the surrounding area during the summer and not for mere mortals like me.
I was reluctant to call on family members, because I lived far enough from them that it would have been an ordeal for them to visit with my cats. Also, a number of years ago a relative stayed at my place to take care of my cats while I was away ÔÇª and almost burned my house down. I returned to an apartment that reeked of burned toast and was decorated with new brown scorch marks on the kitchen cabinets.
Now that I’ve moved 150 miles away from my cat-loving co-worker and I don’t have nearby friends and family members who are able to come over twice a day and
char food beyond all recognition chill with my cats, I had to find a pet sitter. Fortunately, my colleagues at my new office hooked me up.
The cat sitter they recommended has 15-plus years of experience caring for cats of all ages and health needs, she’s certified in animal first aid and CPR, and they praised her to the moon and back — so I set up a meet-and-greet.
The cat sitter’s visit took about 45 minutes. She’d read Paws and Effect, my blog, and learned a lot about my feline family — she could even call them by name and knew about their health history — so I thought that was pretty awesome.
She’s got serious cat mojo. She greeted Siouxsie, Thomas, and Kissy in the proper feline way, and they welcomed her with head-bonks and purrs despite the fact that I hadn’t even given them their evening meal yet.
She watched as I fed the kitties, asked me all the important questions — including some I hadn’t thought of, like information about emergency contacts in case something happens to me — and ensured that I knew what her availability and rates were. Then, of course, we chatted about cats for a while.
I like her.
I’ve got a good feeling about this.
Sure, it’ll cost me, but I’m okay with that. My vacation will be a lot more relaxing because I’ll know that my cats are in the care of an experienced professional sitter rather than relying on neighbors I don’t know very well or the kindness of colleagues with busy lives of their own.
And yes, as much as I love to travel, I’ll miss the heck out of my cats while I’m away.
Have you ever hired a cat sitter? What kind of experiences have you had with cat sitters — or with family, friends, or neighbors caring for your cats while you’re away? Are you a cat sitter yourself? If so, what would you recommend people look for in a sitter? Let’s talk.