I get the requests all the time: “I’m going away and my cat is really shy, so I just want someone to come in and scoop her litter and feed her twice while I’m gone. I’ll be gone 10 days.” Sigh…..I know many times these folks are just trying to save money, and they tell me that they leave for 3 day weekends “all the time” and their cat is “just fine.” I know they think the cat doesn’t really care if someone is there…maybe she doesn’t. However, all it takes is once for your cat to not be “just fine” and if more than 24 hrs goes by and your cat is sick or injured or trapped, that could literally mean life or death. As a professional petsitter, it is my responsibility to make sure your cat is not in danger. If you are hiring a professional, you need to respect our professional and understand the liabilities we face.
Think about your daily routine with your cat. If you notice that your cat is not behaving normally, how long do you wait before you go to the vet? OK, you might wait more than a day, but that is usually because you are monitoring her behavior around the clock, or at least several hours at a time when you are home with her. If you are away and no one is checking on your cat, the odd behavior could develop just after your cat eats and the petsitter has left. And then 2 full days go by. The sitter comes in, and the cat is acting odd. The cat has not eaten any food, and there is blood in the litter box. The sitter rushes her to the vet. Your cat has a severe kidney infection, which may have caused permanent damage because it went unchecked for too long. One day may have made a huge difference. That is just one example- it hasn’t happened to me, but it has happened to another petsitter I know, and the stress it caused for her and her client was unbearable. The petsitter feels responsible, even though she is performing her job as requested by the client. But now she questions herself- should she have pushed back and required daily visits for the cat? Would she have lost business because her client would have gone looking for someone else who would have done less frequent visits? Possibly, but sometimes this is the risk we take in order to earn the respect we deserve.
So many things can happen to kitties when they are left alone. They could become trapped in a room away from their food, water and littler box because wind blew an interior door shut. Dehydration can happen very quickly for a cat and is very serious.
They could be playing with a curtain or piece of clothing and get themselves tangled or even strangled in it. They could get their claws caught in a cloth and injure themselves trying to extract their paw, could begin bleeding, and could lose too much blood over 48 or more hrs.
Cats get bored- they could start nibbling on a plant which could turn out to be toxic. A sitter may notice this but if the cat has been nibbling for several days, it could be too late to reverse the damage.
What if your cat escapes? Cats are tricky and persistent creature. If they are stressed from being left alone too long, they may start to look for ways out and find them in places you’d least expect. One cracked window might do the trick- cats can squeeze through some pretty small places. One day makes a big difference in your chances of finding your cat, especially if you live in an area with many predators, such as coyotes which we deal with here in the hills in LA.
I point all of this out because people often accuse us of just wanting more money when we request that our clients book daily visits for their cats, which is not the case. I want to know that your cat will be safe and secure in my care, and that I am able to perform my job as a caretaker to the best of my abilities. If the number of visits I am allowed to make is going to limited, I probably will not take the job. It is not worth the stress and hassle of worrying about your cat’s well being for me to take on an assignment with too few visits. Professional petsitters simply have your pet’s best interests in mind, please respect our requests. We are usually willing to work with you on price if your concern is that you can’t afford daily visits- maybe we can offer shorter visits on alternate days, or a 10% discount for daily visit. It never hurts to ask and work out a plan that works for everyone!
Sue Cashin is the owner of Fetch! Pet Care of McHenry County. Fetch Pet Care provides pet sitting and dog walking services in McHenry County and surrounding areas.