We are dog people (noooo; don’t scroll away, we need help please).
Our profile is heavily dog-orientated and we are lucky to have got some amazing sits on the strength of that. However, we want to break into the world of cats and we did once get a sit based on our enthusiasm & willingness to learn (thank you for that, HO) but the sit was cancelled because of so we never actually gained the experience.
HO’s with cats; how can we reach out to you for a start in cat-sitting? All the obvious things apply like they do to complete newbies but is there any sage advice that would make you trust us with your kitty?
(I really, really want to sit Alpacas too but that’s a niche market for this question )
I have a cat, and your enthusiasm to learn would attract me to a sit application from you. My cat is really easy - affectionate, mellow, no meds needed - so it would be an easy sit for you.
My other cat (now deceased) would have been a different matter. She was old, moody, and needed oral meds twice a day and sub-cutaneous fluids twice a week. Experience with medicating cats was necessary because it is very different to medicating dogs (see here: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC372253/!. Avi wasn’t that bad,). I had one sitter who watched me give the sub-Q fluids and felt comfortable doing it while I was gone. However, she couldn’t do it and I ended up paying a pet sitter to do the fluids a few times during her stay.
I recommend starting with sits for cats that aren’t described as fearful or shy, and don’t need meds.
Another strategy could be volunteering with cats at a local animal shelter, and listing that experience on your profile.
@Saltrams I think @Lassie some great suggestions. There are lots of organisations you can volunteer at that work with cats.
Cats can be more work to build trust than dogs I feel but the rewards are great!
When I started in 2018, I had only ever had dogs, in nearly 30 years we had a variety from a mixed found abandoned in a box in a parking lot to pure bred purchased and adopted (retired racing greyhounds). I was terribly allergic but my family was happy. Most of them were allergic to cats so never had any first hand experience with them.
I knew absolutely nothing about them.
But I was extremely drawn to them.
My very first sit were with two gorgeous cats. I asked a lot of questions about their care and behavior.
Since then, I have lost track of how many I have loved but I have learned a lot. People are more than happy to share and teach when you demonstrate genuine interest.
Ironically, I am no longer allergic to dogs either.
If you can, get around them, friends, family, shelter. Ask questions, even here in the forum like you just did about their care and such. A few pics of you and cats are helpful.
This year I took care of several sheep in a few different sits. Never took care of them before either but open communication and willingness to learn goes a very long way.
Be patient, but keep watering that seed and it will grow.
Brilliant thoughts @Lassie, thank you so much. You’re completely right, a poorly dog would actually attract us as we have the right skills but I will pay good attention to the description of the nature of the cat & ask the right questions of owners.
Cats being independent by nature are usually pretty easy to care for. Supply food and water. Pick up the output. The cats usually tell you when it’s time to pet them or play with them. Unless you have to deal with a cat needing medication then it can be a bit stressful. Having had up to four cats for 35+ years now (we have just the one now) I’m still very clumsy at giving them pills. My wife is much better at it. So if I have to choose a sitter and my cat is not sick I would absolutely consider someone with no cat sitting experience if I’m comfortable that they will respect her routine and space.
Thank you @gchampagne both for the info and for being open to a cat newbie as a sitter. It’s looking like I need to make very sure there’s no cat-medication in the offing!
If you do long sits, there will probably be flea treatment needed. This is monthly and is easy - just squirt it on the cat’s neck. Giving insulin is usually easy also, unless you have a fear of needles! Oral and sub-Q meds are trickier, especially if you and the cat aren’t used to each other.
Most of the cat sits on THS seem to have low-maintenance cats, so I’m sure you will have no problem.
Hi @Saltrams as always you have received some great advice from the community … @Lassie has one of the best pieces of advice, if possible volunteer with a shelter where you will be exposed to cats of every age, size, character and temperament.
Just being hands on will give you confidence and insight into cats and their behavoir.
I was always considered a “dog person” although we did have cats all of my life I tended to really bond with our dogs but since pet sitting I have really “discovered” cats and now I’m a “Dog & Cat” person … I believe you can be both
Lots of our sits have been for dogs and cats at the same time, so maybe look for a sit with both?
Look for photos of the dog and cat together as evidence that they get on and can happily be relaxing in the same room as you on an evening. In some sits, the dogs and cats don’t get on and have to be kept apart. Generally this means the cats living mainly upstairs and I always feel that it is shame they can’t come and spend time in the main living room on an evening. We make a point of spending time upstairs with them so they get plenty of attention. If the dog and cat are happy in each others company, the cat is more likely to be relaxed and confident and will also be happy in your company. Make sure to get some photos with the cat to add to your profile. Our profile photos were heavily dog oriented with a smattering of chickens, even though we had set roughly equal numbers of dogs and cats, until we made a point of taking more cat photos!
@Saltrams I would suggest you change the end of your first sentance on your profile to pets, rather than just doggies! Otherwise the first impression is that you are only interested in sitting for dogs. I also don’t think you need special experience to care for the average cat- just a love for them and an interest in them! Our very first sit was a month in Australia, over Christmas, with 2 cats and I had no experience at all with cats! If you express your love for animals in general you should have no problem to secure a cat sit. We often sit cats and dogs together- I love that- to have a mixed furry family!
You have an impressive profile and clearly lots of experience! Just apply for whatever you fancy and see what comes back!
Prior to joining THS 3/4 years ago the only pet I’d ever had was a gerbil when I was a young child!!! Since then (55 sits down the road!) I’ve cared for numerous dogs & cats as well as plenty of chickens, rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, emus!!, ducks, geese, fish, terrapins, sheep, a horse and a herd of deer!!
Its all been a wonderful experience!! I’m so happy to be (so easily with THS!) able to have so many animals in my life!
Thank you for your kind words about our profile; I’ll change the wording as you suggest*.
What an impressive sit history you have, you were lucky to have time in your youth. We can’t match that, starting as late as we are but we will have a good try!
Edit *: THS used to allow many more characters in their headline (hence ours is 100+) but they have since restricted it to 80 (I so hate enforced character control!) So, if I try to change one word, I lose it all
@Saltrams I am not as young as you think! I am almost 59 & hubby is 60! We started housesitting only 4 years ago! Its been 50 years since I had that gerbil!!
Further to my earlier post. Here’s my tips for looking after cats (after had/looked after over 40 now!).
Never pick a cat up. Some may like it but many don’t especially if you are new to the cat.
Don’t be tempted to give belly rubs if the cats rolls around near you. Again many cats will get upset by this.
Always let the cat come to you. Chasing a cat if he/she doesn’t know you can make the cat frightened.
Same age as me! You have packed so much into 4 years, especially considering nearly 2 of them were pandemic years. We joined THS to start sitting only days - literally - before lockdown started (we are in Italy & it started early here). So our first two years were spent being accepted for lots of lovely sits, all but one of which were cancelled
Anyway; well done with your amazing achievements & thanks for your cat advice.
Oh! I didn’t know any of that. I’ll try to get some voluntary cat experience as people have suggested. I don’t know anyone with a cat & need to learn!
@Saltrams In 2020 we got locked down in Australia (Perth) for 5 months -one week after arrival!! Did the first sit (of 5 booked) & all the rest cancelled. Kind ‘guardian angels’ gave us shelter for 3 months (a whole story in itself!) and later when things internally in WA started opening up we got 4 more Sits.
Then one full year of no sits.
This year we unexpectedly became full timers! Since last December- back to back sits in Spain, Germany, Switzerland, France and now here in UK since May. Whilst in Switzerland we planned a ‘summer housesitting tour’ of UK and booked 3 months back to back sits here. Its been a wonderful adventure-cruising around the beautiful English countryside from one lovely sit to the next! The 3 months has become 5 as we are also overseeing a property sale where we hope to Complete this week. The first 3 months were all booked before arrival in UK and the rest we have been booking as we go. Our lofty goal from the planning station (in Switzerland in April/May) was to give our profile a serious boost and aim to reach 40, possibly 50 sits by the end of the summer.
However in these 5 months in UK we’ve done 30 sits and have surpassed our goal!- We will leave with 56 in total!! Its been intense but amazing! Not only all these experiences for ourselves- so many in country mansions!- but also the knowledge we gave 30 families peace of mind while they travelled!
What a fantastic time you have had. Being locked down in Oz would have been my dream scenario. I should set myself the “do more than Lokstar” challenge!! I don’t want to give up my summers at home in Italy though so I would only have 8 months per year to dedicate to pet sitting
Anyway, you are definitely the sort of sitters I admire; do you have a blog/Website or anything? (Yes, I could look but it’s easier to ask you )
Love it- your new ‘beat Lokstar’ challenge!! Summers in Italy sounds wonderful! (Is that where you are from?) And 8 months in a row housesitting is also enough- at one time! This year, for us, its been over 10 months non stop- literally only 5 airbnb nights in all that time! We are powered out and ready for a break from all the responsibility! Straight after Completion we’re heading to France/Germany for brief family time then Mumbai (India- for dental work) then Bali for some serious chill time- massages and yoga! And beachtime! We’ve earned it!
No blog or website -but perhaps we should think about creating one!
P.s it was OK to be locked down in Perth - very relaxed compared to the rest of Australia- but for those stuck in Melbourne it was a nightmare…
Be very afraid, the challenge might become real
We’re Brits who have lived in Italy since 2005, on & off. Currently we spend more time in UK (for the medical treatment I referenced in my post a few days ago in the Introduce Yourself category) but we will return to live in Italy IDC.
I had & still have grand ideas about our own blog, YouTube channel, Website etc but not only are we not sufficiently Lokstar-ish in sit achievements yet but I also worry about what boundaries I might inadvertently overstep while flaunting our sits publicly; one has to be so careful about privacy in these media driven days.