How to find a great cat sitter in NYC
No matter how much you may be looking forward to a particular business trip or a vacation that you’ve planned for years, it’s never a good feeling when you realize that that time away also means time away from your feline companion. Let’s face it, for those of us who love cats, simply put, they are family.
But there are ways in which that time can be made less stressful for you as well as your cat. Finding a great cat sitter in New York City can make all the difference (if you are boarding your pet see our tips for boarding pets).
Especially for cats with fiercely independent natures, the sanctity and peace of their own living environment is not something to be fooled with lightly. You know that great feeling of returning home to your own bed even though your time out of town was spent at a luxury hotel? The old bromide, “There’s no place like home” is as true as it is trite. And rest assured, your cat understands this essential truth.
There are many ways in which you can succeed in helping your feline companion maintain the comforts of home during your absence. Although a common Manhattan myth tells us that neighbors hardly speak to each other (let alone befriend each other), those of us who are lifetime residents of this city know that that’s simply not true. Many neighbors (be they down the block or down the hall) are willing to trade time caring for each other’s pets. And the likelihood becomes even greater when those neighbors are also friends. Nearby family members are always an option. As are apartment building employees who are sometimes willing to moonlight by offering additional services, as needed. In all the above cases though, just be certain that the person you engage shares a similar sensibility in terms of your personal ethics when it comes to animal caregiving.
If the above options don’t bear fruit, you may find yourself having to look for a professional pet sitter. There are many ways to go about that. Word of mouth is the best, so if you have a friend that has a great cat sitter, that’s probably your best bet. You can also ask your veterinarian to recommend a sitter in the neighborhood (some animal technicians at veterinary offices moonlight – with their veterinary practice’s blessing – in a pet-sitting capacity). One option that people rarely think about is asking a local dog walker. Especially if the person works independently, it is very possible that s/he cares for cats as well. You can also reach out to local, national and international animal services organizations (e.g., the Bide-A-Wee Home Association, Pet Sitters International or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters) for recommendations.
There are good reasons why the source of your referral to a pet sitter is important. It never fails to amaze us when someone calls with a direct and distinctly dispassionate request, to the effect: “I need a cat sitter, I’m leaving tomorrow, the doorman has the keys, I’ll leave instructions on the table, can you send someone?” Such a request speaks volumes of the person making it – and their relationship to their animal. The reason our answer to such a request is almost always “no” is because it is imperative that the cat sitter meets the cat before starting the assignment, for a variety of reasons.
Aside from discussing the particulars (e.g., length of visits, approximate time of day, how that time will be spent, references, etc.), there are a variety of topics to be covered before turning over the care of your cat to someone you’ve only just met – among them, the following:
- Where the food is kept
- How much s/he gets each day
- Whether s/he gets treats as well
- Where the cat litter is kept, whether it’s flushable and, if not, how it’s disposed of
- The cat’s favorite toy
- Whether s/he likes being brushed and where the brush is kept
- Whether the air conditioner is typically left on during warm weather months
- Where the pet carrier is kept
- Whether the cat takes any medications or supplements
- The name of the veterinarian
- Whether you grant permission to the pet sitter to take the cat to the vet if s/he deems it is necessary
- Emergency contact information
- An in-town person to contact in case of an emergency
If you go the professional route for your cat sitting needs, whether you choose an independent worker or a sitter affiliated with a pet-sitting agency, look for one that is insured and bonded. While we would hope that your primary consideration is the level of care and attention your cat would receive at the hands of your chosen pet sitter, it is a tremendous comfort to know that you would have legal and financial recourse in the greatly unfortunate event that you would need it.
Lastly, when making the decision as to who to hire, try to think like your cat. If you sense that your cat would not get along with the person who just walked through the door, trust your gut. To come full circle, your cat is your family and your home is your home. And your feline family member must always be made to feel at home and that the person overseeing his or her care is, at least in the broadest sense of the word, family.