Got this random picture at a job of one of our cat-stomers – Guinness. Though you guys would appreciate it 🙂
Have a lovely weekend!
Got this random picture at a job of one of our cat-stomers – Guinness. Though you guys would appreciate it 🙂
Have a lovely weekend!
One of the things I love about being a cat sitter is that I get to meet other cat lovers. And many of them have great sense of humour!
Today, I am showing you one of the jobs I have done recently where all 3 cats need to be fed separately.
And what’s great about this job is, the mum thought about putting up photos of each cat to make sure I know to feed them in their correct spots.
Say hi to Picco…
In this particular family, each cat is fed in a separate room so I don’t have to do huge amount of police work. I leave all of them to eat peaceful for a while. Once they are done, then I will move on to do litter tray and socialise with them.
In some jobs, all the cats are fed in the same room but they all follow different diet. I will do a lot of police work in that case to make sure they don’t steal each other’s food.
Do you have to feed your cat separately? How do you police them to make sure they don’t steal each other’s food?
First of all, just to get this out of the way. I LOVE BEING A CAT SITTER. I do. I love my life style, I love my human customers, I love my cat customers, I love that I am doing something I am passionate about every day to the point that I never feel like I am working. But having said that, I am sick of people thinking I am getting paid to cuddle cats all day, so I decide that writing a post about what are the pros and cons of being a cat sitter is in order.
Pro 1. Flexible hours – apart from some cats who need to get their food or medication at specific time, most cats are quite flexible. As a result, I rarely have to deal with rush hour traffic. I can mostly start my day whenever I want. If I feel I am under the weather, I can start my day half an hour later or an hour later. I don’t need to report to anyone. The cats won’t mind, haha.
Pro 2. Get to see sunshine – I am not trapped in the office like I used to! Some days I can even sunbath with the cat together!
Pro 3. Cat cuddle – ok, there is a bit of truth about the cat cuddles…
Pro 4. Amazing customers – 99% of my customers are amazingly lovely people. Anyone who has worked in customer service will tell you 40% weirdo are the normal rate. But cat lovers are some of the best people in the world so I don’t have that problem at all. In fact, many of them have eventually become my friends. In the 8 years of my cat career, I have only ever handle half a dozen difficult people or some of them are just strange. But the beauty of being your own boss is, you can just fire them. You don’t need to take customers you don’t like.
Pro 5. Financial freedom – I control my destiny. I work however much or however little I want. If I need more money that month, I can always do more cat sitting or promote the sales of some cat toys or run a cat workshop etc. I will never ever be layoff ever in my life again!
Pro 6. Read a lot of books – I do spend a lot of time in traffic or sitting with a cat, so I end up reading a lot of books. I love reading and studying so this one is an important perk for me.
Pro 7. Stay healthy – the job is actually very physical. You end up walking a lot. Bending down a lot, lifting things a lot. Goodbye to the office life of sitting all day. There is no need for gym membership! haha
Pro 8. Get to see a lot of interesting places – I have seen hundreds of house of Dublin at this stage. Sometimes the job will take me to neighbour of Dublin I never knew existed. Every day is an adventure.
Pro 9. I get to do what I love! This is the most important point. For the past 8 years, I have never had one day I feel ‘oh man, I have to get up to work….’ Some days it’s difficult because I am doing 14 hours day for 10 days straight. I am tired but I never feel ‘the drag’ to go to work. I am happy to go to work EVERY SINGLE DAY.
Pro 10. Every day is different – no two days are the same at cat sitting. Every job is different, because every cat, every human and every house is different. If you are like me who gets bored easily, hate repetition, love challenges and problem solving. Then cat sitting is for you.
Pro 11. Affordable AND peaceful off season break – since we work a lot during weekend and major holidays (we will talk about Cons number 1 in a minute), we tend to take time off mid-week or off season. I usually take time off in February and November. The advantage is hotels and tickets are cheap and the places are usually peaceful. However, it can be a bit difficult to find somewhere interesting to go in those months as weather tend to be horrible in those months…
And that takes us to the cons…
Con 1. Anti-social hours – cat sitter works a lot on the weekend and major holidays as those are the prime time when people are going away. I end up having to say no to a lot of (I mean a lot!) social engagement. Christmas parties are usually a huge logistic nightmare for me. I need to wake up at 5am sometimes to be able to go to a party. And your friends WILL NOT know how much effort you made just to show up. We also work a lot in the evening. Even though we meet most cats during the day, we meet most humans in the evening when we sign up new customers at meet-and-greet. I constantly feel guilty that I don’t get to see my son when he comes home from the creche.
Con 2. Not as fluffy as you think – we are dealing with cat poop, cat pee, cat vomit. Sometimes even blood. It is not as glamourous as you thought. We are often crawling under the bed to look for a cat, sometimes I am even under a car, or under a brush. And I can imagine sitters who work with dogs will have to handle even more less-than-glamourous stuff…
Con 3. Cat or human emergencies – when there is an emergency, you are stuck with the situation until it is resolved. Bella here had a cat bite, you can’t see very well here but her right eye is swollen. I remember I didn’t go home until after midnight that day. I was in vet emergency with her for a long time. Sometimes you can also have human emergencies. Flights are delay and extra visits are needed last minute.
Con 4. Cat dies – yes this one is very sad but it’s inevitable. Here Mr Jenkins is a very very special cat (I will write about his story one day, follow this blog to make sure you don’t miss it!) He has since passed away. I get very very upset every time when a customer informs me a cat dies, but it’s part of this job.
Con 5. Can’t really call in sick – the cat needs to eat every day. If you are ill, unless you can call in a back up very quickly, you can’t really call in sick.
Con 6. Work at all weather – as I said above, cats need to eat every day. So the same thing applies when the weather is really bad. In winter, we are very often soaked to the bones. Here are some examples of what kind of situation we can be dealing with.
Con 7. Sit in traffic…a lot! Even though we are mostly able to avoid peak hours, but we can still be stuck in traffic a lot. We are spending a big part of our day going from one place to another. It’s inevitable that we will end up being stuck at some point. And then sometimes, you can run into some freakish situation like you can be blocked by Westlife, Queen of England (story will come up soon), or President Obama (story come up soon too).
Con 8. Loneliness – we don’t get to see human very often. If you don’t like water cooler conversation, then this job is perfect for you. But sometimes, you can go on days without speaking to human at all. Plus, another form of loneliness comes from the fact that very few people understand this job. So most people don’t understand when you said you are ‘stress at work’. They just laugh and think you are joking. They don’t understand you can be upset because a cat dies or you are working 14 hours day because it’s bank holiday weekend.
Con 9. Very physical work – cat sitting is a lot less glam than you thought. Most days your clothes are covered in hair, cat poop, cat vomit, etc., our hands are usually in very bad state. Especially in winter when a lot of customers turn their heating off when they are away, we are washing the cat bowls in freezing cold water. (This is my go-to hand cream by the way…)
Con 10. It is actually a very stressful job! This might come to a surprise to you. Yes, we cuddle cat and read books, but those are the good days when everything works as plan. And I am telling you my friend, those days are not the majority! Most of our days will have at least one of the following things happened (often more than one, sometimes all of them!) – cat is sick, road diversion, human’s flight got delay, key doesn’t work, human forgot to buy cat food or litter or both, can’t find the bin bags to take dirty litter out, can’t find the garbage area to put the bin bags (!), cat won’t take medication, cat won’t eat, cat won’t poop for 3 days in a row, human’s family member suddenly show up and throw a party without telling anyone in advance, human got their travel date wrong and you nearly run into them coming out from the shower naked, the roof of the house falls in (I am not joking, this is a true story that I will tell in a future post)…I can go on and on! Plus, it’s a HUGE responsibility to be entrusted with someone’s property and an important member of their family. Compassion fatigue is a big topic in the pet sitting industry. So if you are looking for an easy and relax job, then you are looking in the wrong place. If you love a challenge, then yes this job is full of them!
Con 11. You don’t actually make that much money! This is the ultimate point! A lot of people imagine us rolling in money cuddling cats. But we are not! We spend HUGE amount of time doing unpaid work. Meet and greet, picking keys up, dropping keys back, marketing, charity work, answering email, etc etc. ALL of these unpaid. The only time we are being paid is when we are physically with a cat. So when you even out the hours, we are being paid very little.
After seeing the 11 pros and 11 cons of being a cat sitter, you might also want to read this post about what does it mean being a cat sitter.
As I said at the beginning, I absolutely love what I do and every day I am grateful to work in something I am genuinely passionate about. In fact, I suspect I might continue to cat sit even if I win the lotto. However, I want to show to public that like most jobs in the world, there are downsides to it. Cat sitting maybe a ‘purrfect job’ to me, but it’s not a dream job like people imagine me cuddling cats and doing nothing much.
If you have any question about how is it like being a cat sitter, please don’t hesitate to ask! I constantly got ask lots and lots of questions about my job whenever I meet new people. So fire away, I will answer the best I can!
I saw this campaign run by the An Garda Síochána recently and I thought I need to mention something pet sitter does that you might not be aware of.
Yes, hiring a pet sitter is also very effective crime prevention measure. We are trained to keep an eye on your property. If there is any suspicious things in your house, e.g. windows have been moved, objects have been moved in the house, stranger cars park in the front, unusual marking on the floor, etc, we noticed them. It is not only our responsibility to notice these things, it is also in our interest to notice them! The last thing we want is for the house to get burglary under our watch!
Another thing is, since we are in your property every day, we can make sure that no mail is sucking out from the mailbox. If you subscribed newspapers or milk, we make sure they are taken inside. We can also rotate the lights around the house if you want us to do that. Some customers even ask us to turn on the TV and radio once in a while and leave it overnight so to bring some ‘life’ into the house. We are often asked to deal with wheelie bins. We can also adjust curtains every day if requested. Especially the front room windows facing the street, you don’t want people to notice the curtain has been staying the same for the past 5 days. We also water plants. Dried up plants is another way to advertise ‘no one is here!’.
I even have one customer who has moved away from Ireland to check on his property once a month just to make sure everything is ok. We turn on the heat a bit, run the tap a bit to make sure all is working properly.
So yes, pet sitters do more than just sitting with fluffy cats and cuddle. Read the full list of what we do here.
Do you use a pet sitter? And what kind of crime prevention measure do you put in place? Share in the comment below!
As a cat sitter and behaviourist, I have the privilege to hear a lot amazing cat stories from my human customers. It never fails to open my eyes and remind me how much we all underestimate the cat’s ability.
Puddy is one of the legendary cats I have come across.
He came into my life when his human scheduled a meet and greet on 2011 and wanted to use my cat sitting service. Puddy was 6 years old at the time.
As always at one of these meet-and-greets, I asked the human how they find out about my service and how did they manage their holiday before. If they have always used a friend or family members, or maybe they have used another company before, how did that go, etc. It helps me to get some background story and gauge how the cat is going to handle being alone etc.
As it turns out the reason Puddy’s human – Paul wanted to use my cat sitting service is because Puddy went missing the year before when Paul’s friend took care of him. Paul and his wife Claudine travel to Asia once a year and it’s usually over a couple of weeks. They would want to have a reliable permanent sitter for future years to come. Due to the incident the year before causing them so much stress, they decided they wanted to have professional sitter from then on and found me.
And then Paul told me this unbelievable story…
On winter 2010, Paul and Claudine had only just got Puddy for 5 weeks at the time when they were due to go on their annual Asian trip. It was their first trip away from him. A friend of Paul, who is also a cat lover, offered to help him out and took Puddy to his home. Unfortunately, Paul’s friend probably haven’t thought about the fact that he also had a toddler at the time. They don’t follow instruction well and tend to do their own thing! So at one point, the child opened the door, Puddy sneaked out, he was gone.
Paul’s friend texted and told them Puddy was missing. But since they were in Asia, there were very little they could do. They also figured that since Puddy wasn’t in his own house, he probably wouldn’t know how to get back to Paul’s friend. Of course, you hear all these amazing stories of cats finding their way back to their old house. But Puddy had only been living with Paul and his wife for 5 weeks, he came in their lives as a 5-year-old adult cat, they thought there is no way he felt attached enough to them to try to find a way home. Plus, he wouldn’t know the direction well enough to do that.
On top of that, there is a big problem…
Puddy lived on Grand Canal and Paul’s friend lived on Sandymount.
Yep…not only the two places are 2 km apart from each other, but also there is a river in the middle of the two locations. Everyone thought there is just no way Puddy would know how to cross the river to get to a place he has only moved in for 5 weeks!
But Puddy had other ideas…
2 weeks after Paul was home, they have all given up on the idea of ever seeing Puddy again. Buddy was missing for 6 weeks at that stage. They even started talking about maybe getting another cat at some point.
But while they were watching TV peacefully one night, Puddy suddenly knocked on their window!!!
He asked to be let in, ate bit of food, went straight to the bed to sleep. In a true cat manner, he acted as if nothing happened.
Paul said he did look a bit more scruffy than before but nothing seems to be different than he last saw Puddy before his Asian trip 6 weeks ago.
WOW! Imagine that?
We figured it must have taken Puddy 6 weeks to finally find a crossing. He must have hunted for food and found shelter somewhere along the way to sustain himself during his journey home. There are two possible crossing places – one in Ringsend, one in Ballsbridge. It would have made the journey so much longer for Puddy. Plus it’s not like Puddy had a map! He must have tried to check along the river multiple times until he reached the point where he saw a crossing.
AND! This incident happened on December 2010!
If you live in Ireland, you should know about the memorable winter!
Because this happened…
Yes! It was the coldest winter in Ireland in 130 years. There is even a Wikipedia entry for the event!
In case you were not in Ireland and you didn’t know how severe the situation was, here is a photo from NASA to show you what happened…
Puddy managed to come home!
It took him 6 long difficult weeks but he was determined to see the humans he loved again, so he made it.
The moral of the story:
As for my experience working with Puddy, it was a delightful one. He was a teddy bear cat. So soft and cuddly and he was forever very calm. I could totally imagine after his 6 weeks adventure, he would just go straight to the kitchen to eat some food and went straight to bed as if nothing happened. He had that kind of personality. He also liked to ‘disappear’ for days on end going on his adventure, at times making me very nervous as his pet sitter. But Paul and I knew he would come back. He did manage to cross the river from Sandymount to Grand Canal, we trusted that he would be ok, and he always was!
Unfortunately, Puddy was diagnosed with FIV and then a tumour on his tummy on 2014. He passed away suddenly one day outside his home. The neighbour came tell Paul that Puddy collapsed outside. He has already gone to the rainbow bridge by the time Paul got to him. He was only 9 years old.
Puddy was an extraordinary character. He will be sorely missed. I will dedicate this post to my great friend Puddy. May you rest in peace. I have also put up this story and his photo on The Warmest Spot Cat Memorial page.
Christmas cat sitting challenge is on full speed tomorrow, which means I will be on the road from 6am to 6pm or even later. I might have limited access to shops and need to be comfortable for long duration of being outdoor.
Therefore, Catsmas sitting require special packing. I will write another post to show you my normal gear after New Year.
In this picture, you will see (from left to right):
Not in the picture:
I am now all set to go and let’s hope the weather is not too bad tomorrow and that there is no cat emergency!
People don’t realise how much planning we have put into so to do our jobs over Christmas. We usually start planning Catsmas sitting since September!
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