What do you do with your cat when you will be away and your pet can't go with you? Why not give your cat a staycation!
You want your pet to be safe and happy while you are away. For most pets, that means staying home in familiar surroundings. The best way to accomplish that is to find a house sitter.
An experienced, professional house sitter who loves pets will stay at your home while you are traveling—and often, they'll do it for free. You can find a house sitter on websites such as MindMyHouse, TrustedHousesitters, and HouseCarers.
Whether you'll be away for the weekend or you're planning a long vacation, house sitting is a great alternative to boarding or asking a friend to host your pet. As someone who has house sat for people and their pets many times, I have heard time and again how much happier clients and their pets are now that they're using a house sitter. Here are five reasons why:
In general, taking your pet(s) somewhere before you leave is a hassle. With a pet cat, the biggest obstacle is typically getting your pet to another place. Most cats will make it clear that getting in a carrier and riding in the car is not an enjoyable experience for them.
You'll also need to gather up everything your pet needs, like food, medicine, treats, toys, bedding, litter box, brush, etc.
If you have to take your pet to the kennel, there are even more inconveniences. You'll have to get documents from your vet, sign authorization and disclaimer forms, make sure you've read all the rules—let alone working up the courage to trust the kennel you've chosen.
With a house sitter, everything (but you) stays put! Your pet and her belongings stay home and your to-do list gets a lot shorter.
When you are away from home, no matter how fun your vacation is, you're bound to think about your pet. Is Kitty safe and happy? Or scared and sad?
If your pet is at home, you can be confident that she is in familiar, comfortable surroundings. She has access to her favorite places and typical litter box, she can stay on her usual routine, etc. My clients have found that their pet is more likely to eat normally when left at home rather than placed in a kennel or friend's home. And, usually, eating regularly in a familiar, relaxed setting reduces the potential for litter box problems, too.
At a kennel or boarding house, pets are typically outside their comfort zone. They're more likely to feel stressed by the change in location, absence of familiar people and surroundings, and addition of unknown animals around them. They also run the risk of being exposed to diseases and pests.
By staying at home on their own "vacation," your pet gets loving attention and care from a house sitter without exposure to unwanted things. My clients comment that their pet probably gets even more attention from me during a house sitting stay than they do from them regularly.
As a bonus, with a house sitter, your home is occupied while you're away. The mail doesn't need stop, the garbage can go out, and your plants and flowers can be watered, as well!
Professional care for your pet while you are away can be expensive. Depending on your location, a kennel or pet sitter can cost $15-$70 per night. Add to that any perks, options, or tips, and you could be looking at quite a bill. That cost is on top of your planned vacation spending, too—something you'll have to consider when planning and saving up for your trip.
But the idea of "professional, in-home pet care" can't help but sound (even more) expensive. You're not just asking someone to care for your pet, you're asking someone to stay in your home and care for your pet(s). How can house sitting be cheaper?
House sitting is usually an exchange for space rather than a monetary transaction. The house sitter provides care to your pet in return for a place to stay in a location he or she finds desirable. As a member of one of the house sitting groups mentioned above, you typically pay a very reasonable annual membership fee, and you can house sit as often as you'd like. One party needs pet care and the other is interested in traveling to your area and having a "free" place to stay. It's that simple.
An additional service most house sitters provide is regular communication. With smart phones, your house sitter can easily send messages and photos to wherever you are in the world. While some kennels provide an occasional update, they probably don't have a way for you to message them for an update; is Kitty eating? is Kitty using the litter box? is Kitty stressed?
Sometimes, those messages can make a difference in the level of care your pet receives while you're gone. One time I sent a picture update to a pet parent on a trip and she realized she'd forgotten to tell me where the pet's brush was; she let me know that with her pet's coat, it was something she did daily—so I did!
It's more than just the ability to communicate; a house sitter expects to communicate if you'd like. House sitters love pets and are excited to share how things are going. You get peace of mind knowing how your pet is doing, so you can relax and enjoy your vacation that much more.
After going on vacation—finally taking that trip, spending some time relaxing—the last thing you want is to return home to a crazed pet who is struggling to adjust to both your absence and your return. For some, that means a cat who won't let you out of sight, but also won't list or look at you. Feline reunion anxiety can be tough.
Cats are sensitive to change and some will react negatively and persistently to your absence, especially if boarded or cared for outside of the home. You may return to a pet who has coped so poorly, they are not eating much, shaking with nervousness, and/or becoming fearful and hiding (even after your return).
Unfortunately, I have heard some sad stories about distraught pets from my house sitting clients when they used boarding and other alternatives; for some, it's exactly what led them to discover house sitting as an option. Now with a house sitter, they've seen how much better their pet copes with their absence, and it's the only way they'll leave their pet.
A house sitter is a great way to ensure that your pet is cared for while you're away. Your pet gets a staycation while you vacation! Your pet will have lots of attention, be comfortable and safe at home, which will make for a much happier reunion for you both. With a pet sitter, you can leave with less hassle, less worry, and more money to spend on your trip!