Many people are plotting summer travels, but don’t forget about your feline friend. Someone needs to take care of her while you’re gone. Although some cats have no problem staying at a boarding kennel, other cats find it so stressful that they refuse to eat. Our cats fall into the second category, so when we travel, our neighbor “cat sits” for us. That way, the feline team doesn’t have to leave their familiar surroundings.
Taking care of the cats is not really very complicated. Mostly our neighbor makes sure the kitties have food, water, and that the litter box is okay. Our cats even get lots of attention and play time. Of course, not everyone has a neighbor as nice or as conscientious as ours.
In that case, you may want to hire a professional pet sitter. But finding a good pet sitter can be a challenge, especially if you’re new to an area. If you are planning a trip, start looking for a sitter in advance because like boarding kennels, good pet sitters can get booked up far ahead of time. Ask your veterinarian and any pet owning friends for a referral. Most pet sitters also put their business cards in pet stores and vet clinics, so stop by any pet-oriented places and ask.
You also can try the Internet, since a couple of the big pet sitting organizations have web sites. Contact Pet Sitters International (www.petsit.com) and the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters (www.petsitters.org) to get the names of members located near you.
Once you have a few names, you should interview your potential pet sitter. After all, you want the person who cares for your cat to meet (and hopefully like) your feline friend, since they’ll be spending time together. A professional pet sitter should be businesslike. During the interview, most have a form they fill out with your answers to questions such as where the food and supplies are located and contact information for your veterinarian.
Professional pet sitters also generally provide written information that details their services and the costs. In addition to caring for your cat, some pet sitters offer extra services such as collecting your mail or watering your plants. Ask for a list of references and call them.
Most pet sitters will tell you that getting too little information from the client is far worse than getting too much. Be sure to tell the pet sitter anything unusual about your cat’s health or behavior. For example, does Fluffy love being scratched on her tummy, but only until she wiggles her front paw just so? These little details are important. Plus, don’t forget to stock up on cat food and litter before your trip. Many pet sitters charge extra for running out to the store to pick up all the things you forgot.
When you leave town, it’s easier to enjoy your vacation when you know your cat is being cared for by someone you trust. Whether you opt for a friend, neighbor, or pet sitter, finding someone to care for your cat should be an important part of your vacation planning.