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Include hiring a pet sitter in your vacation planning

Bet you are planning a vacation in the next few weeks. Whether it is a two-week cruise through the Panama Canal or a weekend at the Oregon coast, most likely you are leaving your cats at home.

As you are making your packing list and stopping your mail, take some time to consider who will watch your pets.

There are many options for a pet sitter depending on the level of care your cat(s) needs.

  • For some, a relative or trusted neighbor stopping by to clean the box or refill the food/water is about all the cats need.
  • For cats with any special needs such as daily medication or special diets, enlisting a vet assistant or vet tech from your cat’s veterinary clinic may be just the trick.
  • Hiring a professional pet sitter is a terrific way to make sure everything is covered. These sitters are licensed and insured.
  • Finally, if having someone come to your home is not your thing and you know your cats will adjust well to a different, temporary environment, there are many boarding kennels that offer the same superior care as a licensed in-home pet sitter.

I suspect I am luckier than most when it comes to finding a pet sitter for Mack and Clio.

I have a great teenaged nephew who is caring and dedicated (and thanks to my brother-in-law, punctual with his pet sitting duties). For back ups, a co-worker from CAT or a vet tech from my veterinarian clinic are right there for me. All my bases are covered when it comes to making sure my cats get their medication, proper amount of food, clean litter box, and of course a little TLC while we are off vacationing.

If you are still pondering who you are going to call, CAT asked some of our online fans what their criteria was for a pet sitter whether hiring your nephew (like me) or a professional pet sitter.

  • Make sure the person is a true cat lover
  • Interview the pet sitter (or sitters) before hiring to make sure they have the qualifications you are looking for
  • Ask for updates while you are away (an email, text, or even voice mail)
  • Check references
  • See how your pets react to the potential pet sitter and how the pet sitter interacts with your pets during the interview. Are you comfortable with the interaction?
  • Make sure tasks are outlined upfront and inquire if there are extra charges for things like medicating, cleaning more than one litter box, etc.
  • Have a back up. Professional pet sitters generally have more then one sitter on call. If you are using your friend or relative, make sure there is a fall back just in case something happens.
  • Is in-home sitting the best for your pets?
  • Will the pet sitter do other things – water indoor plants, check the mail, etc.

I always leave detailed instructions, even if it my vet tech friend. These generally include:

  • Contact information including where we will be staying and what cell numbers will work (if you are traveling abroad, including Canada, your cell phone may not have coverage)
  • Travel itinerary – where we will on what day
  • Emergency contacts that could include a close relative, veterinary clinic, back up pet sitters, etc.
  • How much medication to administer and when. Thankfully Pill Pockets make it really easy and dare I say fun for my nephew to pill the cat
  • Authorization for emergency vet charges. I always leave a note indicating how much I am willing to pay for these charges so there is no mystery should one of my cats be in medical distress
  • Easy access to extra food and supplies (including extra bowls and spot cleaning solution). These are generally left on the counter
  • Sometimes I leave a special treat to be given to the cats.
  • The standard of care I am requesting. This could include how may days the litter boxes could go before a cleaning, how much wet food to provide daily, where to look for the cats if they are not on the couch or bed (I have one who hides), how to take care of any accidents (you know, hairballs), etc.

Your level of intensity with instructions will, of course, depend on your cats’ needs.

Having a good pet sitter will make your vacation more relaxing knowing your beloved pets are cared for.

Local pet sitters

Pet Sitters International


by Kathy Covey

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