Finding a pet sitter isn’t all the easy, especially if you live in rural America.this week,
The first week is March, is Professional Pet Sitters Week, and what better time to address the issues you might want to think about when hiring a pet sitter, or becoming one.
And when kitty needs meds once or twice a day, there’s no choice. Someone has to come into the home and give the feline the necessary medication or there is also the option of looking for cat boarding facilities. As most cat owners know, this isn’t the easiest task on earth. As a matter of fact, with some felines, restraint in a burrito wrap is the only safe way to administer the meds.
That being said, your siblings, parents, kids or neighbors might not want to take on what can become a daunting task.
Paws mom ran into this dilemma when trying to go to a Cat Writers Association conference a few years ago.
Little Yellow, also known as Paws, has a number of health challenges, and at that time, needed to have meds administered twice a day. His life depended upon the meds.
To go to the conference, or anyplace overnight, there had to be a way to administer the meds.
My siblings don’t particularly love cats. They don’t dislike them, but they aren’t their cup of tea. Giving meds twice a day seemed like a challenge they did not want to, or could not, conquer.
That left Paws’ mom searching for a pet sitter. This is something we have considered doing. We love cats. We give meds. As a blogger, we have quite a bit of knowledge about their behavior and psychological needs. As we live in rural New England, the challenges outlined above make us wonder, can it be cost efficient?
The time, distance, and gas required to take care of cats make it difficult to find or be a pet sitter in rural America.
A pet sitter may have to drive 20 or 30 miles, one way, just meet the prospective owner and their pet. That’s a couple of gallons of gas, and an hour of time. If it’s only one client, that could mean charging up to $25 or more, a visit. Are many cat owners, particularly, willing to pay this.
Dogs are a whole different story, as they need to have bathroom breaks outside. They need to be walked.
For the purpose of this blog post, we will focus on finding a feline pet sitter.
Admittedly, rather than spending the extra money to have kitty taken care of, most people will try to find a friend, neighbor, or family member to watch over their pets. And with relatively self-sufficient cats, many leave them at home for a few days with plenty of food and water, and a clean litter box.
Not that this is a particularly good idea, as cats can get into trouble. They can get locked into cabinets, entangled in ropes from blinds, or suddenly become ill. But for a day or two, kitty would probably do OK.
However, when kitty needs meds, he can’t be left to fend for himself. Finding someone who can administer the meds can be a challenge.
During one of many trips to the veterinarian’s office, Paws asked around. Who could we find as a pet sitter? We found someone who worked at the Animal Shelter who was house sitting to make some extra money? She lived more than 20 miles away, so to give meds, she’d need to stay at the house.
Since that conference, Paws has managed to teach her siblings how to give meds. It helps that Paws only needs meds once a day, and it wouldn’t be life threatening if he spit one out – and he does that even with the cautious eye of his mom.
As this first week of March is Professional Pet Sitter’s Week, we give pause, and ask, what should we look for in a pet sitter. We certainly want to make sure they are reliable. They are not only coming into our house, they are responsible for one of our furry family members.
According to the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters,recommends the following steps when hiring a pet sitter:
- Hire a professional pet sitters, or someone who is trained, with experience handling animals. If meds must be administered, make sure the pet sitter is competent and comfortable administering them. The last thing you want is the cat hiding in the closet and not getting the care you are paying for.
- Check to see if they are affiliated with a professional pet sitting organization. Check out the NAPPS Pet Sitter Locator to find NAPPS pet sitters in your area. You also may check out Pet Sitters International, for information. There may be other pet sitting organizations available in your area. Make sure they are credible and reliable. You may want to check with your veterinarian or local Animal Shelter.
- Call the pet sitters, visit their websites to review their rates, services, and service areas, and make sure they can provide the type of service you need.
- Develop a set of questions and conduct a thorough interview.
- Ask for references. Develop a set of questions to ask when checking references. There are lots of websites including NAPPS, where you can find a list of potential questions that might prevent hiring the ‘wrong person’.
- Insure that the potential sitter has bonding and liability insurance coverage. This may be the most difficult in rural America, as the insurance can be quite costly.
- Have the pet sitter meet you in your home and make sure he/she interacts well with your pet. Pet sitters will collect information from you regarding your pet’s care, and should have a contract outlining the scope of service as well as policies and procedures.
- Be aware of pet sitting services available in your area. We never know when work or a personal emergency might make us go on an unexpected trip away from home. Be aware of the services available so you are not blindsided. You want time to plan and get to know the pet sitter, and not be caught making a wrong decision because you don’t have the time to really think the decision through.
Have you ever hired a pet sitter? What have been your biggest challenges? How did you find a pet sitter? What kinds of recommendations would you make to someone thinking about becoming a pet sitter? Please weigh in to this discussion and share your comments.