You've decided to hire a pet sitter! Maybe you read our piece on 5 Reasons a House Sitter Will Make You and Your Cat Happy and you're ready to get out of town and contract someone to watch over your home and pets while you're away. So, how do you choose the best pet sitter?
While it's a relief to leave your fur baby in the comfort of your home, you may be worried about finding someone that will take care of your pets the way you do. Will they feed them on time? cuddle them? play with them? love them?
Thankfully, there are thousands of experienced pet sitters whose priority is to make your pet happy and comfortable. Use these steps to sort through your options and find the best pet sitter for your furry friend.
1. Decide where to look
Pet sitters are available across the country, the world, and right in your neighborhood. Where you decide to look will depend on your style, your budget, and your comfort level with strangers.
The largest global web platform is TrustedHousesitters.com, which has free sitters for a variety of pets. On this and similar sites, you can review a sitter's profile, read reviews, and see various types of verification and background checks. You can get a pretty good idea of a sitter's personality and assurance of their qualifications.
Another option is finding a local sitter using a site like Rover.com, which has cat and dog care for a daily fee (make sure to check out the house sitting section). A cool benefit of online platforms is that those sitters have access to pet care professionals if questions or concerns arise during their stay.
Of course, a personal referral from friends or family is something to consider, too.
2. Make a checklist
Make a checklist BEFORE you start looking for a sitter! This will save you so much time and make your decision easier.
Make the checklist in two parts:
- What your pet needs
- Sitter qualifications and personality
The "what your pet needs" category covers daily and weekly activities. Standard care includes feeding, grooming, medications, teeth brushing, playtime, dog-walking, and kitty litter cleaning. If you have an automatic litter box, be sure to make note of it as it makes the sitter's job much easier.
Next, consider your pet's personality. How long can they be left alone during the day? Do they tend to get into trouble when bored? Will they be comfortable with a man, woman, or couple?
The sitter qualifications and personality should match your pet's temperament and needs. A rescue pet may need someone quiet. A diabetic cat requires someone experienced in giving shots. Younger pets demand a sitter with creativity and energy. Make a checklist of both necessary and desired sitter attributes.
Now that your checklist is ready, it's time to start looking for the perfect sitter.
3. Search for sitters
In the search phase, you are gathering names of potential sitters. If you have a personal referral, call them up to see if they are available during the window you'll be away and set up an interview.
For web platforms, you will register and create a profile. Setting up a profile will be a breeze because the information you need is on your checklist.
On some websites, you will post your travel dates and wait for potential sitters to apply. On other sites, you have to search through sitters and contact them. Some sites offer a combination of these two strategies.
4. Review candidates
By now you probably have anywhere between 5-20 names of potential sitters. It's time to narrow down the contenders to your top three.
At this stage, be sure to trust your instincts! As a pet parent, you have an excellent idea who your fur baby will get along with best. Eliminate the applicants that give you doubts or concerns.
Look at each remaining candidate against your checklist. Rule out those that do not match, then do you best to choose your top three choices.
5. Choose the winner
To help you choose the winner, do some messaging back and forth. If possible, set up a video interview to get a better sense of the person. If video isn't possible, ask for a phone call.
The goal is to be sure communication with this person is easy. It also gives the candidate time to ask questions and make sure they are comfortable coming to your home.
At last, you can choose the best sitter for your pet! Notify the winner and give yourself a pat on the back. You've done everything possible to ensure your pet is happy and safe while you are away. Now you can get your furry friend ready for their staycation!