Contrary to popular belief, our containment systems aren't just for dogs. We can install an invisible fence for cats as well. If you're a caring cat owner who has considered installing an invisible fence, we thought you might also like this great story about a woman with 5 cats learning how to find the perfect pet sitter...
A Lesson Learned in Finding the Perfect Pet Sitter
When I decided to take a six-day trip to London, I knew I’d need a sitter for my five cats. I wasn’t willing to board them for the simple reason that if I were a cat, I would be deeply unhappy being stuck in a kennel for a week straight. So I flipped through the Yellow Pages, plucked a name from the listings and set up an appointment to meet her. The woman came to my house, took some notes and a look around, and that was that. Because the woman was a member of a pet-sitting association, I set off on my trip feeling comfortable with the idea that I’d left my feline friends in good hands.
When I returned from my trip, I noticed something strange: Buddy – half-feral, “Don’t touch me!” Buddy – kept following me around the house, as though he was afraid to let me out of his sight. Buddy had never done that before. Indeed, the other cats seemed a bit off, too, but there was nothing concrete that I could put my finger on. Nothing seemed out of place, and as time went on and a few days passed, all five returned to normal. I put the issue out of my mind.
A year or so later, as I planned another trip to London, I thought back on how the cats had behaved on my return from the last trip, and decided to try a different pet sitter. Flipping again through the Yellow Pages, I found an ad for a cats-only sitter. That intrigued me enough to dial her number, and the fact that the outgoing message listed a number of dates that were already unavailable suggested that the woman was in great demand. I left a voice mail for her.
When Diane came to my house, I felt like I was the one being interviewed, not the other way around. Clearly, Diane wanted to know whether I took good care of my cats: she asked a lot of questions, and took a lot of notes. Apparently, I passed muster because she agreed to watch my gang. When I mentioned my suspicions about the previous pet sitter, the conversation turned interesting.
Trying very hard to be diplomatic, Diane – who belonged to the same pet-sitting association as the last sitter – repeated what she had once heard that sitter say, which was that she liked taking care of cats because she didn’t have to do anything other than give them food and water. Think about that for a minute: would you want your pets to go a week without any human interaction? Without any attention? I certainly wouldn’t! Which was why I was very glad indeed to hear that Diane’s plan for half-feral Buddy was to bring a book along (she allotted an hour for each visit) and quietly read it in whatever room Buddy happened to be in. In other words, Diane would be present without being obtrusive, and I liked that very much.
I came home from my trip to find several pages of notes detailing each visit. Buddy needed a once-daily pill, and he liked to hide under my bedspread when strangers came to call. When Diane uncovered him each day, he allowed her to pop the pill in his mouth. She would then cover him back up and tell him what a good boy he was. I was amazed that he had been so cooperative with her.
Buddy wasn’t the only one who amazed me. When I went looking for the other cats, I found the three girls lounging around in the living room, all wearing an, “Oh, have you been gone?” look on their faces. The only one who looked traumatized was Spanky, but he always looks that way. I was so impressed by the difference between the do-nothing sitter and Diane that I put her name in my address book in large letters with an asterisk to boot! During subsequent trips, Diane was my go-to sitter, and if she wasn’t available, I changed my plans. She’s that good!
In choosing a pet sitter of your own, consider drawing up a list of questions for them that take your priorities into account.
How long will their visits last?
Do they have experience giving medication?
Will they spend time playing and interacting with your pets?
And, perhaps most importantly, do they have pets of their own?
In Diane’s case, she and her husband owned something like twenty cats, and they’d built an indoor-outdoor cattery for them. That was my kind of cat lady! Anyone who owned that many had to love cats, and that’s exactly the kind of pet sitter you want: one who loves animals as much as you do.
Kelly Meister, Critter Lady
About the Author: Kelly Meister is a writer, animal photographer, and potter. She shares her life with four cats, eleven ducks, and a barn full of ornery horses. Based on her years of experience rescuing animals in need, Kelly also acts as an advocate for their care and humane treatment. When she’s not taking riding lessons or volunteering at a horse rescue facility, Kelly waits on her cats hand and foot. Check out her blog, Kelly’s Critter Talk, at www.kellyscrittertalk.blogspot.com. Her first book, Crazy Critter Lady, is available at amazon.com.