Cats can be wary during your first cat sitting visit to their home. The kitty who sat in your lap during the meet-and-greet might be in hiding, hissing at you from across the room (or at your leg), or purring and all set to show you exactly where her food and litter is (since you are only human and might have forgotten by now.)
The best advice I have for first (and all) cat sitting visits, is to let the cats do their own thing. Even if you adore them and would love to give them a cuddle, wait to see if they’re in the mood, too. It’s only polite.
That’s not to say you let them rule the visit. If either a dog or a cat is being disrespectful to me, I stand straight up and tell them it’s unacceptable. Try it. Don’t yell, but don’t whine. Then ignore them…but keep watch! You’ll be surprised at how well that works. No one likes to be ignored. Cats especially jump at any opportunity to take the upper hand and you can’t accept that.
The Cat Visit Routine
During every cat sitting visit you will put out the food according the client’s wishes. Some people feed their cats twice a day, so you’ll want to review portions when it’s just one visit a day. Do you double-up? Give the wet food every second day and top-up the dry? Cut back a little on the wet and dry?
Keep the work area tidy and the bowls – if empty – washed. Also wash the fork or spoon you use and set it aside for the next day. The rule is to leave everything looking like a job in progress…but clean and respectable in case the family comes home early or a friend drops by. It happens more often than you’d think.
The litter routine is as different as day and night from household-to-household. You might be asked to scoop each day – and the litter will last until the client’s return in a week. Some like a mid-week complete litter change. We have one client who changes the litter each day…with just three scoops of litter. Another prepares a liner-filled tray for each day and we simply change them around and roll-up the old one for the trash. See our article You’ve Arrived! – What’s Next Pet Sitter? – Cats for more on litter.
Some don’t change the litter before they leave and that can be perplexing…and stinky. If it isn’t a health hazard to touch (and I’m not kidding!) and if they have extra litter – you could start with a fresh change immediately. Or go to plan B…which is to put a thick layer of fresh litter over the old and try not to dig down too deeply when you scoop. At the end of the day – we want the cat to feel comfortable. Cats love clean, fresh litter and they will often point it out when you arrive.
Health and Safety at the Cat Visit
Another rule of thumb is to put eyes on the cat at least once every visit. It isn’t always possible, no matter how hard you look, but give it a try for their safety’s sake. You don’t want a sick or hurt cat off licking his wounds somewhere and you aren’t aware of the situation.
- Ask the family during the meet-and-greet where the cat’s favorite hiding spots are. One cat we’ve look after many times is apparently very affectionate to the couple but seldom shows herself to visitors – even the family’s grown children! We’ve had the pleasure of glimpsing her a few times when we’ve gone looking – but it’s always been her idea to show herself.
- If you can’t find the cat – at least check to ensure the food is being eaten at the same rate each day.
- Also watch for anything abnormal in the kitty litter. This includes more or fewer urine clumps, loose stools, very dark or stringy stools, or none at all. (Though sometimes we’ve found little cat poops in different places around the house. Whether they’re angry at the humans or if it’s for a different reason…if you don’t find any in the litter after two days, go on a hunt.)
In our company, we encourage one cat sitting visit a day for safety reasons, but we’ve relaxed the rule slightly to every second day if requested. We don’t accept clients who insist the cat needs to be outside.
- First because we won’t be back to let him in until the next day and we don’t have time to go looking.
- And second because we feel responsible for the cat’s care and a loose cat with his family away has no reason to come back and be locked-up in the house when he can be out patrolling.
Cat sitting visits can be a lot of fun and a nice break in your dog-sitting day or a dedicated service in itself. Unless you’re keeping to a medication schedule, you can fit them in before or after the lunch visits for your dog route. And especially if the cat enjoys affection, cat care visits allow you to curl up with the cat and his favorite cat toys and enjoy lots of healthy purrs on your lap…which is relaxing on even the most frantic day.
This photo is from a cat’s eye perspective during our cuddle time while his family was away.
Until next time…have fun out there!