Friday, May 8, 2015

How to Find a Qualified Pet Sitter

Gray cat
Whether you're traveling for business or pleasure, you may not always be able to take your pets on the road with you.  Furthermore, some pets don't like to travel and would rather stay home in their familiar environment.  In these cases, you could consider hiring a pet sitter rather than boarding your pet.

Benefits of Having a Pet Sitter

There are several benefits of using a pet sitter for your cat.

  • Your cat gets to stay at home in the environment he feels safest in.
  • A pet sitter will help maintain your feline's regular routine.
  • Your companion will receive personalized care. 
  • Your cat will get regular playtime and personalized attention while you're gone.
  • If your kitty needs regular medication, a professional pet sitter will administer it properly.
  • Allowing your companion to stay at home reduces the chances she will get sick as she will not be around other pets. 
  • Hiring a pet sitter eliminates the stress your feline would experience if you had to take him to a boarding facility.
Hiring a pet sitter also benefits you.  

  • A pet sitter can bring in your mail and newspapers, which can reduce the chance of burglary while you're gone.
  • Your pet sitter can water your plants while you're away.
  • You will have peace of mind knowing that your cat is being cared for by a professional.
  • Hiring a pet sitter means that you don't have to ask friends, family, or neighbors to care for your kitty while you're gone.
How to Find a Good Pet Sitter

Black and white cat
Not everyone who claims to be a pet sitter is qualified to care for pets.  Thus, it's important to put in the work required to find a qualified professional to care for your furry friend.  

Ask for Referrals: Ask your family and friends for referrals.  If none of your family members or friends have used pet sitters before, ask your veterinarian for a referral.  Your vet should know some local qualified pet sitters or be able to direct you to someone who does.  At our vet clinic, one of the vet techs actually pet sits.  

Check Professional Pet Sitting Organizations: The National Association of Professional Pet Sitters and Pet Sitters International have directories of pet sitters you can search.  

Interview Potential Pet Sitters: Interviewing potential sitters is very important to ensure they are qualified to care for your cat.  Ask about the pet sitter's professional experience and qualifications.  Inquire about what she does in case of medical emergencies and how she handles keeping your pet safe in a whether emergency or natural disaster, such as a tornado, hurricane, or earthquake.  Ask what her contingency plan is for caring for your kitty if she has her own personal emergency.  

Discuss the sitter's fees and the services he can provide to you and your kitty.  Professional pet sitters will have a contract explaining his services, policies, and fee schedule.  Talk about your companion's specific needs.  If your cat needs medication, ensure that the potential pet sitter is able to administer it on time.  Provide your pet sitter with your cat's medical and behavioral history as well as your veterinarian's contact information in case there is a medical emergency.  

Black cat in a basket
It's also important for you to ask a potential sitter for background check results.  Pet Sitters International has created an article on how to talk to a pet sitter about background verification.  This conversation may be awkward, but remember that this person will have access to your home, possessions, and precious companion.  Ask about how the pet sitter keeps your keys secure as well.  Getting proof of a potential pet sitter's licensing and bonding is also important.  

Check References: Ask the potential sitter for at least three references.  Call each reference and ask them about their experiences with the sitter.  Inquire about why the reference believes the sitter is good and how the sitter makes their pet feel loved.  Ask about how the sitter gets along with the reference's pet.  Ask about what the sitter did in an emergency situation, if one occurred.  Inquire about the condition of the reference's home when they returned.  

Conduct an In-Home Visit: If the interview goes well and the references check out, schedule a time for the pet sitter to make a visit to your home to meet with you and your cat.  During the visit, observe how the sitter interacts with your kitty.  Does your companion seem comfortable with her?  Does the sitter possess a positive attitude and handle your kitty gently?  Allowing your feline to meet the sitter before she visits while you're away helps your cat get acclimated to the sitter's presence, which will reduce stress for your cat.  

Finding a good pet sitter takes a little work, but it is worth it.  Once you've found a qualified professional pet sitter you and your cat feel comfortable with, you'll have peace of mind that your kitty is getting the best care he can while you're traveling.  

Have you ever hired a pet sitter?  What was your experience like?



  1. great article. we use a pet sitter. we haven't had great luck in the past, but our current pet sitter lady is a good friend of mom's who started her own business :)

  2. We've been lucky, we've never had a sitter cause we don't let the peeps go anywhere together.

  3. A professional pet sitter will be fine if you do a background check and talk to references. For one pet sit, the owner asked me to administer IV fluids to her cat, which she said was easy to do. When we did a trial run the cat would have none of me. The owner looked into having a vet tech make a house visit or boarding the cat. In the end, the vet said the cat should be all right without fluids for two days, and thank god she was. Show a sitter how you administer meds and measure quantities. If the sitter doesn't have experience with the breed of your animal, give her reading materials and leave notes. A good sitter will want to be as informed as possible.

  4. We love our pet sitter! She quit doing it for a while to work as a Lyft driver, and my human was distraught. Finally she decided to work with a few select pet sitting clients again, so Binga and Boodie get well taken care of when the humans and I are all out of town.

  5. In my case, it's usually friends and family that act as pet sitters. I wish I could take them with me, though.

  6. At this point I haven't ever had to hire a pet sitter because Dave and I have never been gone for more than a day at the same time. This is great information though. You have a great point with the pet sitter being able to get your mail and turn your lights on and off. People are crazy out there these days and are totally looking for opportunities to rob you.

  7. Nice advice! I have never needed to use a pet sitter before since I don't really go anywhere... plus, there was usually either my mom or brother here to take the dog out and feed her. I did leave Shiner at the boarding facility at my work once, and she did not like that. There are definitely some advantages to hiring a pet sitter.

  8. The mom had to find us a new pet sitter for when she goes to BlogPaws. It wasn't easy. There doesn't seem to be many in our area. She did find someone and will be meeting with her in the next week or so.

  9. That is good catvice...we know...well, our angel furblings know too well about a sitter gone wrong...sigh...the poor lady who had done the job well in the past was suffering from Alzheimer's...OMC:(

  10. This is some great info. I've had good pet sitters in the past but that was when we were living in different states. I've boarded them since living here because I've had a hard time finding someone. I'm going to try again and your post has some good questions to ask the potential sitter.

  11. Excellent information :) I hope to never need this. I am lucky that my Mom stays with my cats and I have 3 different cat loving friends that fill in when needed.

  12. It's so important to do this right. Thanks for guiding people!

  13. We've never had to look for a pet sitter because my mom is usually available to watch her grand pets. These are all wonderful tips, I'll keep these in mind for the future. Thanks for sharing! :)

  14. Definitely a good idea to check references for a pet sitter! Cats are most comfortable at home for sure, so it's smart to get a pet sitter if you're going to be gone. Luckily when we're gone my neighbor takes care of our cats, or my mom comes over!

  15. We are so lucky that we have family that watch our pets for us. These are great tips to help find a reliable pet sitter.

  16. Great advice. Check references. Visit them. Know them.
    --Wags (and purrs) from Life with Dogs and Cats

  17. I haven't had a pet sitter, but I have been a pet sitter a couple of times. I love to watch peoples pets for them and keep them updates on their furkids!