If you like cats, getting paid to take care of them sounds like the purrrfect job. People also need someone to watch their pets. The American Pet Products Association says that in 2021, Americans spent about $9.7 billion on pet sitting and other services other than veterinary care.
Whether you want to be a cat sitter full-time or part-time, here are 5 tips from a pro to help you get your dream job.
Collect as much information as you can
Some cat owners will give you written instructions with all the details, while others might forget to tell you a few important things. Don't be afraid to ask a lot of questions when you meet and greet your client. If you know everything you need to know about your new cat, you'll be able to take the best care of it. You might want to ask your client the following:
- When you're not around, how does your cat act?
- How does your cat act around new people?
- Does your cat have places to hide?
- Does your cat dislike anything?
- How much food does your cat need, and when does it eat?
- What does your cat like to do most?
- Does your cat do anything funny that I should know about?
- What are your vet's contact details?
- Is there anything I should know about your cat's health?
- Is your cat taking any medicine right now?
- If I can't get in touch with you in an emergency, who should I call?
- Where can I find the cat carrier?
- Do you want me to get the mail, water the plants, and do other simple things?
- Where in the house can I use it?
Have a clear plan for communicating with your clients
Even if you haven't been a cat sitter for years, you can quickly become a professional if you're good at talking to people. Clients love getting quick responses and photos and videos of their pets every day while they are away. So, before your client leaves, make sure you've talked about the best way to stay in touch and how often you'll send updates. It's best to have at least two ways to get in touch with someone in case one doesn't work.
Understanding cat body language
If you know how cats move, you'll be able to understand them better. When reading a cat's body language, you should always look at the whole situation instead of just one body part at a time. For example, a cat with a high-held tail is usually friendly, but it can also be a sign that the cat is ready to attack. So, here are some common ways cats show how they feel:
- A happy cat is standing with its back straight, its ears in their natural place, and its tail held up with the tip curved.
- When a cat turns over and shows you its belly, it means they trust you. But they don't want you to rub their bellies, and if you do, you might get scratched.
- A worried cat is hunched over, with its head slightly lowered, its ears turned to the side, and its tail tucked tightly into its body.
- Unhappy cats stand with their backs arched, their hair standing up, their ears flattened, and their teeth showing.
Learn the signs that a cat is sick.
In the wild, sick or old animals are easy prey for other animals, so cats have learned to hide pain or signs of illness. Because cats are so good at hiding their pain, it can be easy to miss the first signs of an illness. Some signs that a cat is sick are:
- Looking strange
- Sudden weight loss
- Getting shy or going into hiding
- Low energy
- Trouble getting around
- Neglecting or overly grooming
- Unexpected changes in eating or drinking habits
- Improper use of a litter box
- Trouble breathing
- Eye or nasal discharge
- Getting quieter or louder than usual
- Stinky breath
- Throwing up or having diarrhea
If you notice any of the above, no matter how small, you should talk to your client right away. Doing so can keep small problems from becoming big health problems.
Gain more experience
Even though there are no formal requirements to become a cat sitter and you could get your first client even if you have never worked before, you should learn more before taking on your first real pet sitting job. Volunteering at an animal shelter or taking care of the cats of friends and family are great ways to get hands-on experience. You will also be set up for success if you read up on cat behavior, learn basic pet first aid, do research on the industry, and take training workshops or online classes to learn other useful skills.