Difficulty finding sitters

This is my second time looking for a sitter on THS: last time, I lucked out because the only doable application worked out, but this time I’m having trouble finding someone. Quite a few people are applying who wish to travel with their own pets, which I consider risky since it’s impossible to know whether they’ll get along (also, my cat has heart disease and has never been around other animals). This time things looked good, I had 5 applications, 1 with another pet, so 4 that looked promising. I planned a quick Zoom chat with those 4 (to be held 2 days after they applied) but before we could talk, 1 withdrew because they had accepted another offer; 2 others withdrew because they ended up not getting funding to be able to do the trip. The last couple just said no today because they wanted to have a car (despite excellent public transport here) and found that rentals are expensive. I’m not willing to let sitters use my car because it’s the most expensive thing I own and I can’t afford higher insurance costs/repairs should anything go wrong.
Is it always this difficult to find someone on THS? What can I do to attract more sitters? Is there anything I should be doing differently?
I’ve reposted my dates to make my listing show up as “new” but I’m worried I won’t find someone because I’d already boosted my profile once and that only led to 1 application (the one that didn’t work due to the car issue).
Are there other sites you can recommend for finding a sitter?
Many thanks!

Hi there

I am sure it can be frustrating for the homeowners to struggle finding sitters, especially when there seems to be a lot of promising prospects and you’re sure you’ll find a suitable applicant among them and then none pan out.

Generally speaking, I think the biggest issue is there are way more listings available than sitters active at a given period in time. With such a huge membership, it would seem a given that pretty much any listing would generate at least some interest.

But the average member only sits 30 days of the year–this statistic was posted on the forum once and it stood out to me because I thought it would have been more.

And even if there are several thousand sitters available at a given moment, the number that are available for a specific time frame in a specific location is probably still pretty small. This means that even those sits that are desirable in many ways may not generate a lot of applications and it doesn’t say anything negative about the opportunity, or that the HO is doing something wrong with the listing,etc…

Many sitters apply for sits with similar dates at the same time because you never know how long it will take a HO to respond to applications–this can vary widely. And you never know if you will be the one who will get picked for any given sit so if multiple listings come up that seem equally desirable, a sitter will apply to all of them.

Arranging a call within a couple of days is definitely a reasonable time frame for sure–provided you also responded to them initially within a day or so. But between the possibility of already having had applications out for other sits, and the number of new listings that can get posted within 2 days on this site, someone’s availability changing that quickly is not uncommon, though I personally probably wouldn’t apply to any new sits if I had already been in contact with the HO and arranged a call.

I personally don’t find myself ‘in talks’ for more than one sit at a time very often, but if I ever did, I would let the HO know that it is possible my availability may change by time the call takes place.

I read your listing and overall everything looks good. If you can’t consider applicants traveling with their own pets, put that in the listing. It is always a good idea to mention this and any other ‘deal breakers’ upfront so you don’t have these type of people applying–though there are some who don’t fully read listings and it may still happen sometimes.

That your cat has health issues may put off some sitters but they don’t seem overly serious. Dispensing medication in its various forms is a pretty basic task that most wouldn’t mind doing.

If you don’t feel comfortable making your car available, that is totally within your rights. If you live in an area where public transportation is readily available, that you aren’t offering it up probably isn’t an issue, so I wouldn’t stress about that too much.

You still have some time so you can leave the listing up for a bit and then if you still don’t have anyone closer to then, you can boost again–if you are able–or take down the listing and repost it as new.

While not getting a lot of interest right away could suggest less of a chance of finding someone, this is certainly not a given, especially if the dates are not for awhile . For example, I have had my eyes on some listings that were of interest, but I didn’t apply because I wasn’t totally sure of my travel plans. But now that I have a firmer idea of my schedule, I plan to apply to some of them. They have been up for awhile now.

Good luck!

The difficulty is that you understandably assumed those 5 applications were all you got, and thus your entire candidate pool, because THS shut your listing down to other applicants once you hit 5. Next time, as soon as you know someone is definitely unsuitable, decline them so you can get more applicants.

As you can see from your experience, people are rush-applying to make the first 5 when they don’t suit the requirements (or even know if they can make the trip), and that shuts out other applicants who may be your dream sitter.


How long has your listing been posted? The fact that you’ve already had five applicants is pretty promising—your sit’s not until December, and the holiday season is a sitter’s market (many sits get posted) so you may have to exercise a bit of patience and keep denying unsuitable applicants to keep your listing open; do you know about the 5-applicant cutoff?

I do think the fact that your cat requires pills, and that your only previous feedback is 4 stars for the cat being somewhat difficult to medicate, is dissuading some applicants. I probably wouldn’t apply due to the combination of a possibly tricky medication to administer + elderly cat + monthlong sit—a lot can happen with a pet’s health over a month, and I’d be worried that I might end up dealing with a pet tragedy…especially over the holidays! Even if something bad happened that wasn’t my fault, I know I’d feel guilty and sad and would therefore avoid what I consider a somewhat high-risk sit.

Luckily for you, many sitters are braver than me; you’ll just want to do your best to make your listing as appealing as possible. Since your previous sitter mentioned the medication difficulty in their feedback, I suggest you add details regarding that responsibility to your listing. Right now, it only says: “… give him pills daily, and brush his teeth daily. Please don’t be intimidated by the pills and toothbrushing: he is used to both.”

Since the previous sitter’s feedback suggests otherwise, your wording could give potential sitters the impression that you’re glossing over potential hurdles they might experience (lying by omission). It would be beneficial for you to provide more information, like this: “… give him pills daily, and brush his teeth daily. Please don’t be intimidated by the pills and toothbrushing: he is used to both. He usually swallows his pill easily if well disguised within a mound of wet food; however, if he happens to discover the pill and spit it out, you can give it to him in a piece of tuna and he’ll gobble that up in the blink of an eye!”

Other than that, I would say your cover photo could be swapped out; it ought to be a great photo of your home or your pet, but it’s currently not much of either (the cat is too small to be able to really see how cute he is, and all that can be seen of your home is the rug and railing). Of your current photos, the fifth one is a better representation of your home, and the 19th one is an adorable closeup of your cat—and toe beans!—either of those would be an improvement as the cover photo.

I would also remove unnecessary photos of your home that don’t show it in the best light—the tenth photo, with the half-empty bookcases, comes across as disorganized/cluttered and may give the impression of a messy house. Similarly, I’m not sure what the 12th photo depicts—some sort of shelving unit with some objects in front of it?—I’d recommend deleting that as well. Remember that most potential sitters will be clicking quickly through the photos, so each photo should be clear and read well.

Again, I don’t think you need to start worrying yet as you still have quite a bit of time to find someone. Tommy’s very cute and I’m sure the right sitter is out there!

*Edited to add: I recommend also adding how long your cat can be on his own; this is crucial information every sitter wants to know.


Why did you schedule a call with everyone? This is discussed at length in the forum and the general consensus is to always pick your favourite and only call them. Either confirm them there and then or if you don’t connect then move to the next and so on.
It’s a waste of time for people if you interview everyone and not the right approach so as you found already people will just decline and make their excuses and leave at the point

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We’ll, I’ve had a look at your listing, and I personally wouldn’t be put off by the 4 star review (reads like a 5!) and put you in a kind light by saying you were open to his feedback regarding the cat’s pilling routine.

However, one thing that stands out to me is the description of the weather in Ithaca. Maybe climate change is wreaking havoc, but it was my understanding that Ithica got about a foot of snow every month in the winter, with up to 2 feet possible. To say it will be warm and sunny (shorts weather?!) feels disingenuous. Even the past sitter makes mention of how nice Ithica is in summer and autumn.

Another discrepancy is that in your listing you say he has kidney disease, in the forum you mention he has heart disease. Is it both? If so, disclose that. I am happy to look after older cars, but I would be asking what your end of life plan was if he passed while you were gone (and you would need to have one, no “oh, he’ll be fine”). I have had a cat pass during a one month sit over Christmas and it was only after I rushed him to the emergency vet that the HO disclosed that he had had kidney issues in the past. He was younger, and it was traumatic, but I learned a hard lesson to always ask about specific medical issues.

Usually I feel less is more in an application, but I would personally want to know more about his condition and his medication administration routine before scheduling a chat. You day he needs to keep his weight up, does he like to eat? Do you provide plenty of treats for him throughout the day? Is him not eating a sign of distress? With his kidney disease, does he have bathroom issues? Peeing outside the litterbox? Will I have to check his urine for blood? When I give him a pill and he’s “difficult” does he spit it out? Does he bite? Will he hide under the bed? And so on.

Finally, and I mean this with all due respect, the photos of your flat do not convey somewhere I would want to spend a month in the winter, especially if I was snowed in. It could be that you just need to zhush some things (put away dishes, fill in your bookcases, remake your bed) and try to take photos further away to get in the full view of what your place looks like. But it looks like a student flat, and as a 40 year old woman who is part of a couple, it just doesn’t look like there’s enough space. This may not be true at all, but unfortunately for this platform, your photos are your first impression. Just something to consider.

Best of luck, give Tommy a pat from me. He looks like a sweet old man.

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A month near Cornell would be tempting for me as a retired physicist.

However, it is not “just a cat”. He is old with some health issues, and I would be worried that he might get much worse after I had bought transatlantic plane tickets, or that something might happen when I was there.

@jmt349 welcome to the forum.

Looking at the photos and description , I’m not clear if this is a studio with a sofa bed or a separate bedroom with a king size bed (as listed in amenities) maybe some better photos of the bed and bedroom that the sitter will sleep in , will help make your your listing clearer and therefore more attractive to sitters .

@jmt349 I note you said you got 5 applications. Are you aware that your listing is then automatically paused and unavailable to new applications unless you decline the unsuitable sitters and UNPAUSE your listing? It may be there were more sitter who might have applied when you first listed, but couldn’t because of this rule.

Hi. It is that simple: REJECT all the applications you have got by now, and you will get 5 more. I am sure you will quickly find the sitter you are looking for.

Just a note on the sitters applying with own pets. You worry because your cat has never been around other animals. Imagine if you were in solitary confinement for years and your only contact to the outer world was your prison ward. Of course you have a very close connection to this only person in your life. But wouldn’t you be happy, maybe EXTREMELY HAPPY, if you finally met another living creature than this prison ward?

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good grief not my cats they would be horrified!


Cats are often solitary creatures. Assigning human feelings/attributes (anthropomorphizing) to them is misguided. My old cat hated other animals, but loved humans.

You never know for sure how an animal feels, until you give them the chance to express their opinion!

Hello, and welcome to the forum. I’ll give you my two cents as a lifelong academic and lover of cranky old man cats.

1. Tidy up your listing photos.
You have many of Tommy, who is indeed precious, but you could trim some of them. I would also try to make sure your photos actually scale to fit the space available, whether that means using landscape mode, cropping, whatever.

2. Tidy up your actual space.
I don’t see any issues with your place, it looks cozy and cute, like graduate student housing. As a longer-term sitter, I’d be pleased that there was room for my own stuff. Fluff some pillows, straighten some things, and take pictures in good light to show it in its best aspect.

  1. Put Tommy first in the listing.
    This means telling sitters they cannot bring their own pets. Plenty of people will be put off by the medication and tooth brushing requirements.
    You could mention showing them how to do these things on handover, or videos on the process, whatever. Emphasize that you will be available for communication and support, so your sitter has reassurance there.

4. Focus on the location and the time frame.
Lots of talk about Ithaca, and that’s awesome, because it looks like you’re in for a lovely long haul there. HOWEVER, if it were me, I’d be pitching this sit as great for a visiting academic, those who want to maximize their time at the Cornell archives (quiet over the break), or someone into winter sports. I’d say that there is plenty of room for a sitter to bring their own research materials, gear/equipment, etc.

Overall, I’d suggest trimming the body of your listing way way down to focus only on this particular sit – can’t see a waterfall when it’s frozen solid, but you can “…go have a lovely coffee at X cafe before you head into the library for a day of research. Tommy will be there to greet you when you return (on the excellent bus system), Ethiopian carry-out in hand, to hang out on the sofa and receive his nightly treats to keep his weight up.”

Hope that helps, and best of luck to you!

What happens if you intro another animal(s) and the cat hates them? It’s unfair to subject them to that, from my POV.

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First off, many thanks everyone for your insightful, detailed, and candid responses. I was not expecting so many, and I really want to thank everyone for your help!
A lot of you have mentioned the 5-applicant rule: I never arrived at the cap because applicants canceled before a 5th one came in.
I do understand the worry regarding his age. Unfortunately, as much as I might like to change this circumstance, that and the fact that I don’t own a mansion with a pool gives me a bit of a disadvantage. However, your comments have been quite helpful in realizing that my listing is not doing the work it should be doing, if a 700-something apartment with a king bed in the bedroom and a sofa in the living room can be misread as a small studio with a sofa bed only. I will change my info and photos accordingly, and will also add a note regarding his age and health. I didn’t include the heart disease because I usually completely forget about it. He’s had it for years, and like with the kidney disease, nothing has ever changed throughout the echocardiograms and other analyses we do every year. In fact, when I went to the cardiologist 2 weeks ago, she said he looks fantastic on all counts.
I’ll also add a note regarding the pilling.
Regarding temperatures. There’s a lot of stereotypes regarding the weather up here. I remember when I moved, people asked me in August whether it was snowing. December-January actually offer a wide range of temperatures, from below 32F and some snow (no more than 1-2 inches) to 60F, which at that point of the year calls for shorts, at least for me, due to the contrast (but I’m removing the shorts comment). It’s February that hits hard: really cold temps, in the single digits, and one snowstorm after the next. I should have kept assumptions in mind; I will add an exterior source (an almanac of temperatures) so people can check it out themselves. The past sitter’s only other experience in Ithaca–as far as he told me–was in March, which is similarly miserable (less for the temperatures than the fact that spring is arriving literally everywhere else in the world).
Regarding scheduling calls with everyone, I was not aware of that rule. Usually I would only have gone with my favorite, but they all applied simultaneously, and all looked very similar in terms of fit. I’ll stick to one at a time in the future–but it is hard to balance, because you also don’t want to seem uninterested in other sitters who look like they are the exact same level of fit!
I did just get a new application that looks very promising, and we’ve set up a meeting. Hopefully that will work out!
Many thanks again to you all for taking the time to help. Best of luck and all my best to your furries/etc!


Given that when I’ve tried to have him live with the neighbors for a few days (instead of them coming to feed him, so he’d have more company) he was absolutely miserable, I’m not sure he’d be too happy sharing his home with another animal that he did not choose himself. To use your analogy, I’d be adding a cellie, and he’d lose his privacy as well as “control” over his “turf.”
I think this will depend from animal to animal. In Tommy’s case, he has only ever seen other animals from a few yards away and decided to hide (I’m counting this as “has never been around” because he’s never lived or interacted with them). Also, not everyone gets along–that’s true for people too. I don’t think I’d want to move into close quarters with someone I didn’t choose or ever meet or even talk with before, without even knowing whether they’d leave or if/when my friend would return.
Thank you, however, for your insight. I’m glad it works out for your pets!

And here’s a link to temperatures in Ithaca in December 2022 if anyone’s interested: Lansing, NY Weather History | Weather Underground
(I was certainly surprised when I first heard this!)

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Most sitters don’t bring their own pets, and most homeowners don’t want other pets in the house, so it’s perfectly reasonable for you to eliminate sitters with pets. It is especially difficult - and unfair to the cat - to make such a drastic change at his age/


Increase your chances of a better ‘quality’ of sitter applying by tidying up your photos. The cat ones are great and you’ve had a great result with 5 applicants anyway. But some of your pictures look very dark and dingy and like student accommodation, rather than light and bright. Some of your photo’s are great, but others I would leave out.

With each photo ask yourself would you travel a couple of hours to spend time in ‘that’ one specific photo? For example the close-up onw of the fridge with all of the fridge magnets gives a ‘cluttered’ feel, I know it says you love to travel, but you’re after appealing to someone to stay at your place, and do they want to stay in a ‘cluttered’ space. I’m not saying to remove the fridge magnets, I’m saying just don’t use the picture, so you have a fridge and a cooker… so does almost 100% of other owners, so what is the purpose of that photo? Also the stripey bed looks like it’s where the cats sleep, with pillows on two sides, which may put a lot off that don’t want cats they don’t know sleeping in their bedroom, much as that may or may not be the case. Make it look more inviting.

The same with the plastic coat hangers, if it was a beautiful wardrobe then it would be different, but it’s just a bit lack lustre. Just ask yourself, would you book a space based on that 1 photo? If the answer is no, don’t use the pic. Don’t fib and make your space look different to what it is, just make yourself appealing to the most amount of sitters and you’ll attract more of the type of sitters that you want, ie ones that don’t let you down.

Also, don’t video chat with everyone, it’s a waste of everyone’s time, yours included. There will be one sitter that you are drawn to more, trust your intuition and video chat with as soon as you can, if you don’t feel like they are right then arrange to video with another. Some may have dropped out if they realised you were video’ing with others instead of actually wanting them based on what their profile said.

I wouldn’t humour anyone who I knew was video’chatting with others, I’ve done it once before, it was the very first video chat I ever did, and I won’t do it again, I want owners that think we are the ideal fit for them from the on-set.

Sorry if any of this sounded harsh, you have a lovely place, just some of the pics let it down quite a lot. Hope that helps.