How to initiate conversation with potential sitters

I don’t see any way to send a message to potential sitters. I don’t want to click the “Invite” button because I just want to send out some feelers to people who look promising. How does this all work? Total newbie here.

You have a listing with dates out, well done! That is how it works.

No applicants yet, but there is plenty of time.

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Hi @krhazler and welcome. I am a sitter only, not a homeowner on THS. I believe the only way to initiate a conversation is to hit the ‘invite’ button but do include a message as well. That in no way guarantees the gig for that sitter but invites them to apply. However, personal invites aren’t often successful. Good luck with your listing

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Thanks Maggie. Is there a reason that personal invites are rarely successful?

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Most sitters are looking to travel, most homeowners will look at local sitters when deciding who to invite so that doesn’t really match up.
There may well be sitters who want to go to your area but that would be hard to filter.
Those are the first reasons that come to mind


Examples, of which there are many:

  • Don’t like something(s) about the situation, location, timing, cost of travel.
  • Have better things to do.
  • Don’t want to go there because of the season / weather.
  • They’re currently or will be too far away to make the sit reasonable or convenient.
  • Have some other kind of conflict.
  • Just don’t feel like it.

Imagine if anyone invited you out of the blue to something that’s voluntary. Imagine all the elements you might consider in deciding whether to go. THS sitters have lives, jobs, obligations, families and friends, costs, health, many options to decide among on how to spend their time, preferences, priorities, etc., to consider, like any humans do.

And just like you decided whether sitters are promising, sitters decide whether hosts are as well.


It’s not really how it works best. Posting your dates makes it ‘live’ and sitters then contact you if they want to come to your area and like the look of what you are offering. If you have just put your dates up then within a few days/sometimes hours, you will hopefully have up to 5 sitters expressing interest in your sit.
If this is the case then go through them to see if you think anyone is likely to be a suitable fit for you and your cats. If so, start to contact the sitter you think sounds the best fit. If that works out then just thank the other sitters and say you have chosen a sitter. If in the unlikely event you feel that no one suitable has contacted then as you decline the dates are opened to more sitters but never more than 5 at a time.
Thankfully I’ve never had a problem with finding great sitters within the first 5 and regularly have had a struggle to decide when they all sound great!
Hopefully you will have the same experience, your profile makes you sound welcoming and the only issue might be your senior cat’s use of pads but at least you are upfront about this and there should be no surprises!

My family sits and we’ve declined all of the invites we have received due to:

  1. If I’m already in the city where the sit is, it means I already have lodging. It doesn’t make sense for me to leave one lodging I already paid for to go petsit in the same city
  2. Petsit might be at a cool location but I’m already scheduled to be some other part of the country
  3. We haven’t done a repeat sit yet because we want to continue to go to new locations. That’s part of the adventure our family is seeking
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One other reason is numbers. You might contact a bunch of sitters, but that number is limited by practicalities.

The number of views of your listing is likely far greater (THS does not release the number). Without you needing to put further effort into that. And those are then views by sitters looking for a sit in your area.

Invariably, when I get an invitation to sit, it’s filled by the time I have a chance to open THS and view it. This may be 12 hours-2 days later.

As an example, we have declined the last 50 or so invites from HO, for a vast array of reasons i.e. too local, not suitable, location etc.
It is worth trying though but we choose only to do a few sits per year anyway

I doubt it. There are listings that I would like to get an invite for, but nice easy long sits in the more attractive locations don’t need to do that to get applications. Those are the ones that would send private invitations to selected power sitters in order to avoid applications from hoi polloi.

And I would consider invites for return sits, from HOs that I had liked the interaction with.

But for the rest of the HOs, I doubt that the effort is worth it. Unless they use it to sugar the offer.

Certainly no harm in trying, we have accepted invites in the past. If you don’t ask, you certainly won’t get though

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I am a sitter and I have accepted invites sent to. In fact one I would have applied for except the dates were not right. However after receiving the invite they managed to get a neighbour to do the couple of days that I couldn’t. Reasons I decline though are not in an area I wish to visit. Home does not look inviting. Too far to travel for a very short sit. Too many pets. Very large dogs that I would not feel comfortable with. Or I do not like the sound of people inviting me. I had one who said, I see you are available on the dates I require a sitter therefore I would like you to arrive at such and such a time…then carried on with a lot of demands,. as if I was some kind of slave to come and do their bidding. Needless to say I declines and they were not happy.
I have accepted a few invites though, especially ones where I have been asked to return, as have sat before.

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Any kind of attempt to start a dialogue with a sitter about potentially someday sitting for you is probably not going to work. People’s scedules change and the likelihood of someone wanting to spend talking to you about a someday potential sit at an unspecified future time is unlikely. Even if you narrowed things down to sitters who save your listing, the scheduling issues would make this unlikely.

If you are determined to just say “hi” and give sitters to by pass the five application rule and get in touch with you, you could invite sitters to a fake date – a one day sit that they will decline and you could cancel if they accepted the invitation. This would allow you to write to them through the system, but they might not be thrilled by the contact.

Think of it this way: What if random sitters could just get in touch with you and ask you to choose them next time you go away. Would that be helfpful or annoying?

The best way to find good sitters who are interested in sitting for you is to post the sit dates and go through the applications. If you are in a popular location and the sit responsibilities aren’t onerous, you’ll probably get a few applications that you can vet. If you get five applications, you can decline the less suitable ones and “unpause” to see more applications. What you could do, once you have definite dates for travel is invite some sitters privately to apply before you post your listing. That way they can apply if they can do the dates and are interested in learning more, they can decline, they can decline and let you know that the dates don’t work but they might be interested in other dates so it’s worth staying in touch.

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We come through there now and then so hearted your listing. Cute kitties! Sure you’ll have no trouble.

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Kirsten, you may have seen me favorite your listing. I’m actually considering moving to Richmond – possibly sooner than July-August. In any case, I may be down there M-W or T-W this week. If not, I should be down for a visit soon.

I am looking for someone for specific dates, not some unspecified future.

In that case, you could try writing a note about yourself adding more/other details than are on the listing, or just referring sitters to the listing, and inviting them to apply privately to the date. It means clicking “invite sitter.” You are NOT accepting the sitter for a sit when you do this and you can invite multiple sitters.

With private invitations the steps are:

Petparent invites sitters to specific dates.
Sitter declines the invitations but can now write back to the Petparent and communicate about future dates. Sitter accepts the invitation and can write back asking questions about the sit going on normally as one would with a public listing.
If sitter accepts the invation, petparent can set up a video chat, continue communication etc while also talking to other invitees until a decision is made. If petparent wants the sitter they would confirm the sitter the same as they would with a public posting.
The sitter then needs to confirm the sit as they would with a public posting.
The sit should then show up on the dashboard as confirmed.

However, as others have said, this method is unlikely to get you a sitter. You are more likely to get a sitter by publicly posting dates and vetting the people who apply until you find someone that’s a good fit.

Thanks for these details. It would be nice if THS explained all this from the get-go!