Cat sitting can be a fur-midable proposition if you don’t know what to expect and aren’t prepared to deal with claw-ful situations that can arise. But with a little work on your part, you can set your business up for success and get rave reviews and word of mouth to grow your brand. With that in mind, we’ve got nine cat-sitting tips you should follow so everyone involved has a paw-some experience.
💡Did you know? Only about 22% of cat owners have friends they can ask to look in on their cats when they’re away. This leaves a whopping 78% of cat owners needing to hire cat sitters, which means there is a large market to tap.
Lay the Groundwork
From understanding your client to protecting yourself and your business, make sure you take care of these fundamental cat-sitting tips to build a solid foundation for success.
1. Research Your Clients
A human might be paying for your cat-sitting services, but the cat is your most important client. Take some time to learn the ins and outs of what cat sitting entails, different types of cat-titudes you might encounter, and how to deal with common cat sitting challenges that emerge from typical cat behaviors, like:
- Anxiety or fear from being left with an un-fur-miliar caregiver
- Destructive scratching
- Dealing with the litter box
- Multi-pet sitting situations
2. Protect Your Business
No matter how purr-fectly prepared you are or how closely you adopt these cat sitting tips, things can go wrong. You wouldn’t drive your car without insurance, and you shouldn’t operate your business without insurance, either. Before opening yourself up to risk, put our pet sitting insurance policy in place. You can apply in minutes and get instant approval and access to your policy documents.
What does pet sitting insurance cover? Some common types of issues pet sitters experience are due to things like:
- Pets getting injured by other animals
- Cats destroying or damaging furniture
- Pets getting sick while under your care
- Accidents, like ingesting a small toy or rock
Visit our cat sitter insurance page to learn more.
Cat Sitting Tips to Prep for Success
There’s a saying in sports that “the separation is in the preparation.” The idea being that it’s what happens off the field that determines who wins on the field. With that in mind, here are some key tips to help you prepare for success as a cat sitter.
3. Put Expectations in Writing
Make sure to have some sort of written documentation of what services you provide as part of your cat sitting offering. For example, do you offer 24/7 pet and house sitting or do you just visit once or twice daily for 30 minutes? What is your rate and when do you require payment? What forms of payment can you take (e.g., do you have a card reader or take payments via apps like PayPal, Google Pay, or Venmo?).
Likewise, you’ll want to know what the cat’s owner expects of you. How often do they need you to feed cats or refill food and water dispensers? How often do they expect you to change the litter box? Do they need you to administer any medication?
As you can see, there’s a lot to consider. To make it easier, here’s a pet sitting contract template you can use to start with.
4. Gather Essential Supplies and Equipment
In many cases, the cat’s owner will know they need to supply essentials like food, litter, food and water bowls, and so on. However, if you are cat-sitting at your own premises, this might not be the case. Supplies to have on hand include:
- Food and water dishes
- Fresh water and extra cat food and litter
- Scratching posts and pads
- Grooming supplies
- Feline friendly toys
- A pet carrier for safe transport
- Bedding and a quiet space for the cat to sleep
- Comfort items from the cat’s home (favorite toys, bed or blanket, etc.)
- Cleaning supplies
- Emergency contact information
- First aid supplies like antiseptic wipes, bandages, gauze, and so on
Ultimately, you’re looking to provide a safe and positive experience for your cat client and their owner. And hopefully this will lead to more bookings and word of mouth to help you grow your business. Below are some key ways to avoid cat-astrophes and get rave reviews, recommendations, and repeat bookings.
5. Meet the Cat
No matter how well you know their human, it’s important to have a meet and greet with your cat client ahead of your cat sitting services. You’ll be able to ask questions, and the cat will (hopefully) have a moment to warm up to you (or at least know that you’re a trustworthy human they’ve met before).
During this session, ask questions like:
- What the cat likes to do for fun
- How the cat spends most of its time
- When it likes to be fed
- What health issues it may have
- What a typical day in their life is like
- What are its favorite toys and treats
- How much it eats and when
- Who is the cat’s veterinarian
6. Eliminate Hazards
Whether cat-sitting on your premises or that of the cat owner, clear the area of potential hazards. For example, curious cats can get themselves into hot water in the laundry room, where there are often detergents, fabric softeners, and other chemical hazards they could get into.
Areas to consider include things like:
- Securing windows and doors
- Restricting the presence of other pets or people (especially small children)
- Closets or small spaces where a cat could get trapped
- Preventing access to laundry rooms, bathrooms, and kitchen cupboards where detergents and chemicals are kept
7. Keep Things as Consistent as Possible
In a purr-fect world, the only change the cat will have to experience in this whole process is you being the one to refill their food and water dishes and change out the litter. But perfection isn’t always possible. Maintain consistency for those things which are under your ability to control, like:
- The cat’s diet (including type and quantity of food) and feeding schedule
- The owner’s instructions for cleaning up, changing kitty litter, administering medication, bedtime routine, and more
- The toys, bedding, scratching posts and other items the cat is familiar with
- The type of attention the cat is used to with their owner (some are more reserved while others are outgoing and playful, some don’t want a lot of attention while others expect to be petted and want close contact)
The best way to keep things consistent is using a checklist and setting reminders on your phone for feeding time, bedtime, and so on. In addition, remember that the cat will likely pick up on your energy. So if you’re relaxed and confident, they will feel more secure and calm, too.
8. Be Patient
As you spend more time with the cat, it’s going to feel more comfortable around you. If your new feline friend isn’t cozying up for pets and purrs right away or seems afraid, that’s normal. At the end of the day, your job is to put in the time to keep it safe and sound until its owner returns—everything else is a bonus.
9. Communicate With the Owner
While several of the cat-sitting tips above have touched on communication with the cat’s owner, it’s also something you can do while providing services. For example, if the cat is playing happily or cozying up to you on the couch, snapping a picture and sending it to the owner gives them the peace of mind that all is well on the home front.
And if anything goes wrong or you have a question or concern, reaching out to the cat owner is always a good idea. Make sure you have a plan in place for communication during the time you’re providing pet-sitting services, including emergency numbers.
It’s rumored that cats have nine lives, so we thought it fitting that we offer nine tips that can take your cat sitter skills to the next level. With a little bit of prep work and attention to detail, you can ensure your cat clients will look forward to your visits each and every time!