Cat lovers who want a consistent side hustle should consider cat sitting. It can even turn into a full-time gig if you are in the right location. Before you get started promoting yourself as a cat sitter, you should be aware of all the responsibilities.
What does cat sitting involve? It involves normal duties of caring for an animal like changing out or refilling water bowls, feeding, giving the cat any needed medication, and cleaning the litter box. It can also include petting and providing some companionship. Cat sitters can be required to either check in throughout the day and evening or stay overnight if the owner is out of town.
Read further to understand more of what is required of a professional cat sitter.
Benefits of Cat Sitting
Providing cat sitting services allows many benefits for both the cat and the cat owner. The cat is allowed to stay home where they are familiar rather than in the small confines of a kennel in a boarding facility. The cat owner has peace of mind knowing someone is giving personalized attention to their pet while they are away, whether it’s for the day or on a trip.
The result for both is reduced stress for both the pet owner and the cat. Reduced stress can improve the mental and physical health of the cat.
Normal Duties of a Cat Sitter
Many of the daily activities of a cat sitter are routine and precise. Some of the typical things a cat sitter will need to do include:
- Feeding the feline with the precise amount of food and even the correct type of food as some owners switch from dry to wet throughout the day.
- Clean water bowls and refills them. The type of water needs to be defined as to whether water is from the tap, bottled, or filtered.
- Scoop out litter boxes and refill. Disposing of debris is outside trash.
- Providing the exact dose of medication at the required time. This can include any number of types of medications from pills to ointments, flea medicines, and even injections. Clean up after the cat whether they leave hairballs or don’t use the litter box.
- Play with the cat with their toys, petting and socializing with it.
- Checking the hoe for security, making sure all doors and windows are locked, setting the alarm, and switching lights that are on so the home looks lived in.
- Do their home tasks if necessary like getting the mail and packages, watering the plants, and putting trash on the curb.
- Sending updated daily reports to the pet owner by their preferred method to let them know everything is okay.
A Company Versus Individual
Many large pet-sitting companies employ individuals in different cities to provide services for cat owners. Many cat sitters also work on a freelance basis, developing their side businesses or as solo entrepreneurs.
Working for a Company
Cat sitters who like the constant stream of clients without needing to market themselves may like working for a pet service company. They go where the company sends them and provide a set of agreed-upon services the company contracted with the client to provide.
A pet service company has a set of established rules and protocols that a cat sitter must follow. While you will need to fill out an application, learn about all the rules, take some skills tests, and likely will need to pass a criminal background check.
The idea that you don’t have to do anything to manage the business may appeal to many who just like cats.
Pet service companies also have liability insurance to protect you in case something happens that is unexpected. That could save you from legal action, especially in cases of taking care of an older cat where life can be unpredictable.
Cat Sitting as a Freelancer
Another way to go with freelancing as a cat sitter. You can do this strictly as a side gig or you can establish yourself as a sole entrepreneur. The amount of time you spend as a cat sitter and the amount of money you make will determine whether you need to make it a formal business.
Those who do cat sitting on their own need more than just a love of cats to be successful. They need some marketing skills to advertise their services, people skills to develop client relationships, and business skills to keep track of money, and expenses and submit information for taxes later.
Those who start cat-sitting usually start doing it for friends or family. They can then refer you to others.
One lady started her cat-sitting business accidentally by helping out a friend in her apartment building. He paid her and soon many others in the same business started asking her to cat sit for them. Now, she does it full time without even leaving her apartment building.
Differences between a Professional Cat Sitter from Helpful Friend
Many people can feed and water your cat but a professional cat sitter goes beyond that. They have more extended knowledge than a family friend to understand when a cat is sick or injured.
Most importantly, a professional cat sitter has commercial liability insurance and a bonding policy. Someone seeking to do this professionally, even as a side job, can provide a background check to potential clients as well as a service agreement.
Professional cat sitters also usually have a website that outlines their services, and pricing and provide information about themselves. A website also lists reviews and testimonies of past clients.
Other differences in professional cat sitters are that most are also members of a national professional association like Pet Sitters International, and have a current business license. They usually have a valid certification in pet CPR and are stringent about how they manage appointments and client records.
Day Sitter or Overnight?
The vast majority of cat sitters do “drop in” visits with the cats during the day or evening rather than spending the night. Exactly what a cat sitter does may depend on the client as some cats may have special needs. The cat sitter may need to ask many questions about the expectations of the cat owner.
The sitter may also need some explanation of where everything is located, what vet to take the cat too if necessary, and other things about the cat’s habits. For instance, you will need to know if the cat likes to escape out the door every time you open it.
You will also need to know whether the cat has any health issues like diabetes and if you need to administer insulin or other types of medication.
It also would serve you well to meet the cat before you agree to sit for the pet owner. You need to be able to get along with an animal for it to be a successful job. You and the cat need to be “a fit” as much as you and the pet owner.
Being a cat sitter has a lot of responsibilities so you must take those seriously. People have gotten sued by pet owners who found out they didn’t fulfill all their responsibilities or who failed to make the daily calls as agreed.
Those who love cats will find that cat sitting is enjoyable. They like sharing their passion for felines with pet owners who love their furry family members.