More and more people these days are picking up extra work or creating their own money-making paths with a series of jobs helping others. One such job is pet sitting. For those of you who are thinking of taking up a career (or making a bit of extra cash) in pet sitting, or more specifically, cat sitting, then we have five top tips to help you start out.
#5 Responsible Persons Only
If you're thinking cat sitting means being able to have a house to party in, then this is probably not the job for you. Someone has chosen to allow you access to their private home, because they prefer to keep their beloved pet in comfortable and familiar surroundings rather than handing them over to a kennel for the duration of the trip. So you need to be able to treat their domain with the same respect you'd want someone to treat your home.
Some people will want you to stay overnight, while others will only want you to come by twice a day to feed, water, and clean up the litter box and spend time playing or simply hanging out with their kitty. Whatever the request of the homeowner, respect it.
#4 Experienced Only?
It's the old catch-22 scenario. People want sitters with experience, but how do you get experience without working. If you've cat- or even dog-sat before, great. Get some references together and start putting ads out there. No real experience? Think outside the box. If you've been left in charge of your sibling's pet at some stage, that counts. Or if you've babysat and are an avid pet-lover, use that.
Absolutely no real experience? Be honest, let the person know you've had no experience of cat sitting, but you love pets, are responsible and have grown up with them. Get together some great references (not from your mother!) that show your honesty, ethics, and character. Also, make sure when you meet the person looking to hire you, you look well-dressed and all washed. Let them know by first appearances you're someone who can be trusted. And make sure you make an effort to be friendly towards their cat! People will go with their instincts over a list of stellar references that come with a slovenly person any day.
#3 Getting Down and Dirty
If you think being a cat sitter means you never get your hands dirty (no poop-scooping like with dogs!), then you need to think again. Cats are very fastidious and they like a clean litter box to go in. This means while you're on the job, one task is scooping the litter box. If this makes you say yuck!, then you might want to become a handyman or get a job in a shop, instead. Cats bury their business and you only need to use a scoop to pick up the waste. If you can't do that, or are lazy, then you may have a mess outside the box to deal with.
While rare, you may find yourself in the situation of having to care for a cat with a wound that needs cleansing and changing. If you don't feel you're up for the job, then be honest at the get-go and leave the kitty in the hands of someone who has no problems doing the cleaning. After all, better that than a kitty that gets an infection because you're too squeamish. But don't panic, cleansing often means nothing more than changing bandages and washing with saline and perhaps applying a salve, and then redressing the wound. However, probably the worst you're going to have to do is clean the litter box and wash the food bowl after every meal.
#2 Know Thine Enemy
All cats have very distinct personalities. And while cats really aren't interested in making you an enemy, they may resent you being in their space. Mostly, the cat will ignore you, or leave little surprises on the bed or kitchen floor to demonstrate her displeasure of being left in the hands of an unknown lesser creature (that's you). Don't chase the cat down and try to cuddle, or you could end up with scratched arms. Much better to simply be with the cat and do your own thing (watch TV, read, do homework) and if the cat comes up to you, then let her set the pace of friendship. If you do this, then you are both going to be fine.
A part of sitting can also deal with pills. Cats are often monsters when it comes to giving them medicine. It's not a mere matter of hiding the pills in a tasty treat like with dogs. Cats will eat around the pills or just plain ignore the offering. If you're unsure of how to go about it, let the owner know. Even if you're an expert at giving cats pills, still ask to find out if the owner has a preferred way of administering the meds. Furthermore, always praise kitty after administering pills and give an owner-approved treats, too.
#1 Must Like Cats
It might seem redundant and completely obvious, but a non-negotiable part of becoming a cat-sitter is liking cats. If you can't stand them then really do find something else to do. Cats and their owners will know if you can't stand the adorable creatures and if you do somehow get the job, then both you and the cat are going to suffer. You won't really be into the job and the cat may get depressed knowing someone who couldn't be bothered is looking after her.
It's like having to go to violin practice when you absolutely hate it and having to go to the local fair when it’s in town. The latter is something you look forward to and give your total attention towards and the other is a chore you'll get out of if you can.
Cat-sitting is fun, rewarding and always interesting for those of us who love cats. So what are you waiting for? Get out there and find your first job!
Meow! It's Monday.