March Break is fast approaching so you’ve checked your kids school schedule, paid for your flight and hotel accommodations, booked your excursions, picked up the sunscreen and then you realize amidst all the excitement…you forgot all about “Fluffy” your cat L. Who is going to take care of your “other” cherished family member while you are out zip lining in the rainforests of Costa Rica?
First things first. If you’ve previously used a professional pet sitting company, family friend or have been given a reference for someone reliable, pick up the phone and give them a dingle and see if they are available to help you out. If you are at a loss as they are already booked or going on vacation themselves, reach out to your local veterinary team. You may be quite surprised to know how many staff members (who you already know and trust) provide cat or dog sitting services on a regular basis. Alternatively, the clinic will also be able to provide you with the names and numbers of reputable boarding facilities or other options that will suit your needs.
Now that you have secured someone to come in and take care of your most prized possession, what information do you need to provide for them to be able to care for your 4 legged family member as if they were one of their own?
First and foremost, an initial meet and greet is in order. This way you get to meet and chat with the recommended caretaker and they also get to meet you and “Fluffy”. You will be able to see how well they interact with your pet, whether your pet likes them too, discuss the fees involved and get a feel for the care they will provide in your absence. This is a great chance to do a run through of your normal day, discuss your pets needs while you are away, whether you require once or twice daily visits or maybe just every other day.
You will need to take the potential cat sitter on an initial walk through of your home. Some things to discuss during this consultation are:
- Where the litter boxes are located, where you store the extra cat litter and where you typically dispose of the excrement (may be flushable litter or need to go in the green bin in the garage etc.)
- What your pet eats and drinks, how often and how much. You will need to show your cat sitter where the food and water dishes are located as well as where you store the extra food, and let them know if your cat is “allowed” to have treats or not. If you’ve ever given your pet something in the past that has disagreed with their tummies (i.e. people food, fishy treats, tuna), that is also good information to pass along. There are quite a few cats out there who are either on a special diet for digestive issues, may be diabetic etc. that are not able to indulge in those extra special treats we all love to give. So this is important information to tell your sitter before going away on vacation.
- Show them which are your cat’s favorite toys, where you store any grooming items (brush/comb/nail trimmers etc.), and where your beloved kitty tends to like to sleep.
- Another VERY important thing to show your sitter is any “hiding” places your cat frequents. There is nothing worse than not being able to find the cat you are “supposed” to look after as the client didn’t tell you “Fluffy” likes to hide in the spare room closet under the shoe rack when someone new comes into the home J
- Most cat sitters will also be happy to take care of some other daily tasks for you while you are away. Things such as watering plants, grabbing the mail, picking up the newspapers or taking out the garbage and recycling when needed (don’t forget to tell them when your pick up day is J) are all services most will provide if asked as they are there anyways.
- Don’t forget to leave out either a business card or note with the name, phone number and address of your regular veterinarian. Also leave the sitter the name of the clinic where you would like them to take your pet in case of an after hour emergency. It is always best BEFORE you go away, to contact your regular veterinarian and let them know you will be away on vacation. You should provide them with the dates you will be away and your expectations as far as care for your pet should any emergencies arise in your absence. I would also recommend setting up payment arrangements with your clinic (leave credit card number on file or ask if you can settle up any balances once you return) in case of any unforeseen emergencies. You don’t want your pet NOT to get the treatment it requires as your pet sitter has financial constraints. (BE PROACTIVE not REACTIVE)!
- Lastly, also leave ANY AND ALL contact information you can in regards to your home. Who to call if there is a problem with the heat, water, electricity. If you have a regular plumber, electrician, friend or family member who’s handy etc. make sure their information is readily accessible should the need arise.
Whew! I think you are FINALLY ready to embark on your next adventure!
Travel safe, stay healthy and as always feel free to contact the wonderful team here at College Manor Veterinary Hospital if there is anything we can do to help make planning your next journey as stress free as possible.
Written by: Angela Devereaux