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22 Things to Do, Go Over With Your Pet Sitter

July 2, 2012

For CH cat parents, going out of town can be a stressful time. Even if you do find the perfect pet sitter, it’s your responsibility to make sure that your pet sitter is informed and prepared to take care of your cats.

Photo courtesy cameliaTWU

You can do this by inviting your pet sitter to your home ahead of time to run through the routine. First, tell her as much as you can about your pet. Explain your cat’s routine, what he eats and when, his favorite spots in your home, if he tends to get into trouble or make a mess (like with the litter box) during the day, how she should handle situations, etc.

Then take her through your home, showing her everything she’ll need to know. Afterward, sit down and chat with her for a while so she can ask questions as she thinks of them. Also assure her that you can leave notes (more suggestions below) if some of your cat’s needs are a bit complicated.

Before you leave, try to take a few minutes to straighten things up a bit and pull out everything she’ll need. Perhaps place your cat’s food dishes and cans of food on your kitchen counter with instructions. Place anything your sitter would need for the litter box (scoop, bags, more litter) out in the open for ease.

What else should you do or speak to your sitter about? Check out these suggestions:

Your Pet

  • Make sure that there are more than enough essentials (food, treats, litter, etc) out and available for the time you’ll be away.
  • For convenience, also place anything else your cat sitter may need on your kitchen counter like forks, cat food can lids, dish towels, etc.
  • If your cat’s needs are a bit complicated, write out instructions and place the notes near the cat food, litter pan, etc.
  • If you expect your cat to make a mess while you’re gone (for example, getting caked with poop and litter), run through your routine of how you wash her down. Try to make it as easy as possible and leave out anything your sitter may need (cat shampoo, towels, etc.)
  • Leave out toys that your pets can play with while your away. Show your sitter which ones are their favorites.
  • Show your sitter your cat’s favorite hiding or resting places.

Photo courtesy k8southern

Medications & Emergencies

  • If your cat will need to be medicated while you’re away, take the time to talk it out and show your sitter  what to do before you leave. Leave a detailed note with instructions, too, for reference. If your pet sitter isn’t comfortable medicating your pet, consult your vet to see if there’s another way the medication can be administered while you’re gone.
  • Similarly, let your sitter know if your pet has allergies, what he needs to avoid, and what should happen if he has an attack.
  • In case of emergencies, show your pet sitter where your cat’s carrier is. Have it prepared so it’s ready to go, if need be.
  • Write up a list of emergency contact numbers. This should include: Your number and someone else with you, a friend near your home they can contact, your landlord, and your vet. While we obviously hope none of these folks will ever be contacted, you want to be prepared just in case. Give this to your pet sitter so she has the numbers on her person.
  • In addition to that, ask if it’s OK to give your sitter’s number to your landlord in case of emergency.
  • Depending on whether or not your sitter will be able to contact you while you’re away, you may want to give her the name of someone who can make decisions in case of emergency, and they can’t contact you.
  • You may also want to contact your vet’s office and let them know that a sitter will be caring for your pets; give your shelter your sitter’s name.
  • On that list, also include your cats’ microchip numbers. If your cats wear collars, make sure they have their ID tags on.

Photo courtesy BlakJakDavy

Your Home

  • Give your sitter a heads-up if your home has any quirks (if the lock takes an extra jiggle to open, if the sink or toilet is fussy, etc.)
  • That said, run through opening and locking your door with your sitter. Allow her to try it a few times, even if it’s a rather normal door.
  • Provide your sitter with a list of security codes and passwords that she’ll need for your home security systems.
  • Show your sitter where cleaning products are.
  • As mentioned above, try to clean up your home a bit before you leave. This includes hiding any plants or flowers your cat may get into, any in-progress projects, or other things that may intrigue your pet (and cause a mess!) while you’re away.
  • Give some thought to what the weather will be like when you’re gone. When in doubt, set your thermostat to a comfortable temperature. If the weather may change while you’re away, consider running through how to use it with your sitter.
  • Let your sitter know if you plan to have anyone else stop by while you’re gone. Some sitters may not enter your home if they see someone is there (it is a safety issue), and professional sitters may not accept your job if you’re allowing others in your home, as it is a liability issue.
  • Leave a light on in your home — near the door your sitter will enter (and leave a porch light on), so your sitter never enters a dark home.
This may seem a bit overwhelming at first, but as you run through everything and become organized by making up lists and putting things out in the open, it’ll all become much more manageable. By making sure your cat sitter has a pleasant experience, you’re in turn making sure that your cats will have a pleasant experience while you’re away.
Do you have any other suggestions/recommendations when it comes to your pet sitter? Please share in the comments!
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4 Comments leave one →
  1. July 2, 2012 10:48 am

    As an animal person and a travel blogger, I definitely approve of this blog. Good thing to keep in mind! My boyfriend and I have rats so we’re always finding ways to make sure they’re taken care of.

  2. Lauren Torggler permalink
    July 2, 2012 12:21 pm

    Great Tips! We are just struggling to find a sitter. We are a little wary about having people over our house in general and of course I, more than my husband, am scared to leave her with anyone! But I guess its better than having her in a kennel or some other unfamiliar setting.

  3. July 3, 2012 6:59 am

    As a pet sitter (over 20 years) I can tell you that the pet sitter should come with forms for you to fill out covering all of the mentioned topics. She/he should have a form for EACH pet, a veterinary release and a contact form. All forms should be signed. The pet sitter should come to visit you at LEAST once, I do twice, once for a preliminary meet and greet, to see if the job fits, and then again a few days before they leave to get everything set up. A good pet sitter will also be taking notes, and have a lot of questions. I know how hard it is to find a pet sitter, I actually had one of my own clients offer to sit mine, and luckily that worked out well.

    • July 3, 2012 8:01 am

      What a great response, thanks Lizzie for sharing!

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