As a professional pet sitter I have cared for more than 200 cats during the eight years I have been in this business. I consider that to be a vast amount of experience in knowing how to assess potential problems when kitties are left at home.
When booking services with clients, I am often asked if I will come every other day or every third day, if they are going away for a week or more. My answer is always the same. No. We will only care for the kitties if we get to see them every day. The pet parents tell us they have an automatic feeder, a water fountain and sometimes even an automatic litter box cleaner, so why would we need to visit the kitty every day?
My answer: Because bad things can happen from one day to the next, and since it is my responsibility to ensure the safety and health of their felines during their absence, I need to visit with them daily. So what kinds of bad things can happen?
For one thing, the automatic feeder may not work. I have seen that happen so many times and I end up feeding the kitties manually. If I wasn’t there for a couple of days, those kitties would be starving and could become very ill.
What else can happen? In a recent 24-hour period, I have had two major incidents with cats that if I hadn’t been there to visit them daily, they might have died. One kitty was accidently locked in a closet by the owner while he rushed out of his home to make an early flight. I am not sure how long the cat was in there but he had no access to food, water or his litter box. If I had been hired to come every second or third day, I hate to think the shape that kitty would be in.
Recently, I have been caring for two cats. One is elderly and the other is a 6-month-old kitten. I have been going daily and the cats have been doing fine. Until today, I couldn’t find the kitten anywhere, and he is not a hider. When I finally found him, I could clearly see he was ill. The day before he was happily eating, drinking and playing, but this morning he was lethargic. I immediately took him to the vet. He has pneumonia and is being treated at the VCA. I cannot bear to think of what would have happened if I hadn’t seen him that day.
I have also seen cats climb into places they couldn’t get out of and cats that have injured themselves while exploring in their home when no one was there. Last but not least, social kitties need TLC every day.
Trust me; it is irresponsible to leave a cat without a reliable caretaker coming every day while you are away. It may cost a little more but the peace of mind you will gain is worth it.
—Sari Reis is a certified humane education specialist and the owner of Mission Valley Pet Sitting. For more information you can reach her at 760-644-0289 or missionvalleypetsitting.com.