Should I hire a pet sitter for my cat when I travel?
Guest Post from Lindsay Stordahl of That Mutt
One of the nice thing about cats is they’re usually able to take care of themselves for a few days while their owners travel. Well, that is, if you have a normal cat who won’t eat all his food immediately like my cat Beamer. But even he does OK home alone for a few days because he has a timed, automated feeder.
Since I work as a pet sitter, I thought I’d go over some of the options cat owners might consider when they must travel without their kitties.
Hiring a friend or neighbor to check on the kitty
This is probably the most common option. Cats are generally just fine home alone as long as someone checks on them every few days. Asking a friend or neighbor to do this is a great option, and most of them will be willing to do it for free. Or, you could think about hiring a neighbor kid to check on your cat for $20 or so.
There are cons, of course:
- Don’t expect your neighbor to spend more than 10 minutes with your cat, especially if you’re not paying her.
- Don’t expect your friend to visit your cat every day when you’re gone, but maybe every 2 or 3 days.
- Don’t expect her to scoop the litter box unless she says she will.
Obviously, there are liability issues to consider if you hire a kid for the job. What if the cat scratches the child or even bites him, for example?
Hiring a professional pet sitter
I work as a professional pet sitter and have taken care of many cats over the years. Hiring a professional is a great option for many reasons:
- A pet sitter will be happy to spend more time with your cat. You’re paying this person, so she is going to take the time to play with your cat, scoop the litter box, clean up any hairballs, etc.
- A serious pet sitter will carry insurance for her own protection and yours.
- Many pet sitters work over the holidays, so they might be available when friends and neighbors are not.
- Hiring a pet sitter is a great option if your cat needs regular medications at certain times such as insulin injections. Most pet sitters are experienced giving cats medications, assuming the cat is comfortable with the pet sitter.
You can expect the cost for each 30-minute visit to be about $15 to $25, depending on the pet sitter and where you live. You will also need to schedule a “meet and greet” ahead of time to make sure you and the pet sitter are on the same page.
Another option to consider is to drop your cat off at a boarding facility. While this may be more stressful for your cat, sometimes you have to consider your own needs, as well.
If you are uncomfortable with someone visiting your home while you’re away or if you have a cat that is destructive when alone, boarding may be the best option. For example, my cat Scout tends to have litter box “issues” when we leave him overnight. Not exactly fun to come home to his messes.
If you decide to go the boarding route, I highly recommend scouting out your options well in advance. Some boarding facilities cater to cats more than others.
Some questions to consider:
- Is the cat area quiet and away from the barking dogs?
- Does the facility seem to market to dogs and cats or is it mostly a dog boarding facility that just takes cats for the extra money?
- Will it allow you to tour the cat area? Look for clean cages, soft bedding and a cozy place for the cats to “hide” such as a kitty condo.
Of course, some people are able to leave their cats home alone for a week or so without anyone checking on them and they seem to do just fine. We all have to do what we are the most comfortable with and what we can afford.
Who typically cares for your cats when you travel?
Lindsay Stordahl – ThatMutt.com
Lindsay Stordahl maintains the dog blog ThatMutt.com where she writes about dog training, dog exercise, dog adoption and more. She also owns the dog running and pet sitting business Run That Mutt. She has a Lab mix named Ace and two naughty cats, Beamer and Scout.