17 Pro Cat Sitter Tips Ensure A Happy Cat While You’re Away

I travel often for work, almost every week. Given this I use cat sitting services frequently. Even if it is only for a day, it can be very tough leaving your animal.  This is true for you, your cats and for the sitter too. They are a part of the family after all.

So what ensures a positive experience while you’re away? I asked professional cat sitting companies to share their #1 tips to ensure everyone has a positive experience the next time you leave town.

Share they did! Below you’ll find tips from cat sitting businesses large and small. Their tips will ensure that you and your feline friends have a wonderful experience the next time you go out of town for a day or for two weeks.


The Top Four Tips From 17 Professional Cat Sitters

4 of the top tips from professional cat sitters

Below you’ll find these tips fleshed out in far more detail than in the infographic. I’ve taken the detailed tips and summarized them for ease! If you’d like to read the detailed tips right from the pros then scroll on down!

Tip #1: Conduct an In Person Meet & Greet
  • Have the sitter that will be watching your cat come in advance and meet your cat
  • It enables you to put a face to a name and you can hand the keys to the person that’ll be using them
  • The meet and greet also gives your cat a chance to learn their scent and get familiar with it
  • It enables you to show them around the house and call out areas of interest and quirks your cat has
Tip #2: Establish a Clear Communication Plan
  • Be sure to tell your cat sitter the best way to get in touch with you (text, calls, emails, etc.)
  • Between you establish a clear communication plan including frequency and a backup plan in case one method doesn’t work
  • If you’d like pictures of your cats daily be clear about that, most sitters will accommodate (and are good photographers to boot!)
Tip #3: Leave Very Detailed Instructions
  • Leave printed instructions that describe in detail what needs to be done for your cats each day
  • This should include feeding schedule, water refills, litter scooping, hiding spots, brush locations, etc.
  • If your cat has any medication or medical needs be sure to leave extra detailed instructions on this topic
  • If there are other activities (mail, flowers, etc.) be sure to ask your sitter in advance, but include them on the list too
  • Be sure to review your instructions between vacations as we all know our cats can change
Tip #4: Plan In Case of An Emergency
  • Always plan for the worst just in case, even for a very short trip
  • You could easily encounter flight cancellations or a need to extend your trip
  • Buy and leave extra food, litter, medicine for your sitter to use in case your trip gets extended
  • Provide an envelope of cash so if you get delayed your sitter can buy necessaries to take care of your cat(s)
  • Be sure your cat carrier is visible or easily accessible and the location is noted in case it is needed
  • Leave your veterinarian’s info (Name, Phone, Location) just in case your cat gets sick

The Incredibly Detailed Tips Are Below

Below you’ll find far more detailed tips and extensive expertise from the cat sitters that took their time to contribute. Some of the sitters decided to contribute expansive lists & details and others focused on the one key tip that has made or broken experiences in the past. They are all incredibly insightful.

There are an extensive number of tips below that did not make it to the infographic, but they are well worth reading to ensure you have a wonderful experience with your cat sitter.

You’ll find tips related to ensuring your cat has interactive toys, a comfy bed to sleep in and several on preparing your litter box and your kitchen before you leave. And if you’re an experienced cat owner you won’t be surprised to find Feliway in the mix as well.

You’ll also find that these tips range from one man/woman shops focused in a single neighborhood all the way up to huge teams of cat sitters covering whole cities. Be sure to check out their websites for more detail!

*An 18th cat sitter has now weighed in. If you’re interested in adding your tip please contact me at StuffCatsWant@gmail.com.


meow sit company logo
“Establish clear and seamless communication”

From the MeowSit Team

MeowSit says their #1 tip for cat owners to ensure the cats and the cat sitter have the best experience possible would be to establish clear and seamless communication.

It’s important to discuss all the pet care details (e.g. pet behaviors, feeding schedules, location of food items/toys, etc.), so that both parties have a clear understanding of the expectations of each visit. We love providing pictures and memos to our clients after each visit.


Lakeview Petcare Team Logo

“Leave out a cat care kit on your counter or table so the sitter can find all the food and supplies…”

Emily at the Lakeview Petcare Team

The Lakeview Petcare team indicates you should leave out a cat care kit on your counter or table so the sitter can find all food and supplies. This means bowls, toys, brushes and anything else important.

Also leave a note of printed instructions. This ensures that every little detail is as close to as if you were home as possible. We all know cats love nothing more than a routine!


Chicago Pet Sitters Logo

“Wear a t-shirt for a few days/nights and leave that shirt in an area your cat enjoys…”

From the Chicago Pet Sitters

Chicago Pet Sitters had three key recommendations for cat owners to ensure a smooth trip:

  1. Before leaving wear a t-shirt for a few days/nights and leave that shirt in an area your cat enjoys. The scent will bring comfort while you are away.
  2. Put a calming pheromone to use. It comes in a diffuser, spray and collar. Some people swear it works, some don’t think it does. I know several vets who use these in their offices, so it’s worth a shot.
  3. Finally, leave a radio or TV on for your cat so they can hear voices. It may be nice to know there are people or the sounds of people nearby. We suggest NPR or a classical music station.

Smart Paws Chicago Logo

“Keep the cat’s routine as similar to their normal routine as possible…”

From Smart Paws Chicago

Smart Paws Chicago says that it always helps when the owner makes arrangements to keep the cat’s routine as similar to their normal routine as possible. Keeping feeding times the same and putting out toys they usually love helps keep the cats happy!

Cats are not a fan of change so new treats or toys are not a good idea when they’re already dealing with a change in routine.


Karen from Cat Care by Karen

“The number one element in a successful client/provider relationship is trust.”

From Karen at Cat Care by Karen

Cat Care By Karen provided several tips and indicated that each of these is equally important to a successful interaction:

The number one element in a successful client/provider relationship is trust.  You are handing over your house keys to someone you’ve probably just met for the first time.  You are asking that person to come into your home while you’re away, to care for your precious living creature.  So of course you’re going to have some apprehension.  How do you overcome that challenge?

  • Research and Ask for Referrals: Read Yelp reviews and ask your veterinarian or favorite pet store clerk for their best referrals.  If you have friends with cats, ask them if they would refer their cat-sitter?  I’m insured and bonded, which is another layer of assurance.  When I was a Realtor in another state, I was also finger-printed and successfully passed a criminal background check.
  • Ask How the Service is Run: Will the person who meets with you be the same person who comes to your home each time and performs all of the tasks?  What policies or restrictions does the service have?  For example, is service available every day of the year?  Are there additional charges for holiday or weekend visits?
  • Arrange an In-Home, Pre-trip Meeting: This gives you a chance to make sure you’re comfortable with him/her.  You can also go over your care routine, hand off a set of working keys, and determine how — and how frequently — you would like to be updated while you are away.

cats in the city logo

“Written or printed instructions and details about your cat(s)…”

From Robin at Cats In the City

Cats in the City recommends a comprehensive set of recommendations broken into two key pieces:

  1. Written or printed instructions and details about your cat(s) for the sitter including:
    • Your cat’s favorite hiding spots
    • Your itinerary so we know when you leave and return for routing purposes
    • Emergency contact info emailed to us before you leave, it should include a local person who also has house keys.
    • Vet name, address, and phone #
    • Best way to update you (email or text message)
  2. Preparation of supplies for your trip + several days in case of a travel hiccup or emergency:
    • Fully stocked kitty supplies and kitty feeding instructions
    • $25.00 labeled emergency cash (to cover incidentals such as paid parking or if you run out of paper towels)
    • Cat carriers should be visible and easily accessible
    • A hand towel as we wash our hands a lot – upon entering your home, after handling food and dishes, after kitty litter scooping

Sylvie from the West Village Cat sitter

“Turn on something like the National Geographic TV Channel…so they are not feeling lonely”

From Sylvie at The West Village Cat Sitter

The West Village Cat Sitter recommends pet parents turn on something like the National Geographic TV Channel for the cat to ensure they are not feeling totally lonely. Not only will it show a little bit of Light in the house but sound as well.

If you’re gone for an extended period of time they recommend using a timer from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. so your cat can sleep peacefully and also to ensure you don’t bother the neighbors (depending on how loud the volume is).


Paws on Pine Logo

“Get as much information as possible – either at a meet and greet or through extensive notes”

From Heather at Paws on Pine

The #1 most important thing is to get as much information from the cat owner as possible- either at a meet and greet prior to the first visit or extensive notes about their fur family including feeding, favorite treats and toys, hiding spots etc. With that information, we can ensure the cats, their humans and our cat sitters have the best experience possible.

If a cat isn’t eating or needs a pill and won’t take the pill pocket or if its impossible to pill them by mouth, a can of tuna fish always helps in a pinch. Also knowing if they are a “runner” when the front door opens is usually good to know in advance.

Their favorite hiding spots are super important- we like to see (and of course interact) with our furry family during a visit but some are shy so its good to know where their favorite spots are in advance so we can find them to make sure they are ok.


The Advocat Logo

“Hire a veterinary medical professional who is also a cat whisperer”

From Shanti at The AdvoCat

My tip would be for palliative kitties / or end of life stage / or chronic illness. Hire a veterinary medical professional who is also a cat whisperer to spend a a few hours with your beloved on a daily basis.  The investment is worth your piece of mind.

Twice daily visits are always recommended for cats if your sitter can not do sleep overs for non medical sits.

Also, have a neighbor check in, & on call for any emergency situations.

Be sure your sitter sends updates!


Pawfect Day Logo

“Make sure you set up a consultation with your Pet Caregiver before the big day”

From the team at Pawfect Day

Our #1 tip for making trips away easier on your cat is to make sure you set up a consultation with your Pet Caregiver before the big day. Cats have so many different personalities and you want to sure your Pet Caregiver and cat are fully acquainted with you present.

This is less threatening than a stranger barging into your home without mommy or daddy present.

This is also a great opportunity to go over any hiding locations. Some cats get very creative! We once found a cat cuddled up under the comforter, in between the pillows.

Does your cat make a run for it when the door opens? Where do you want your sitter to discard the waste? Are there any special toys your cat likes? Any special treats?

You will also want to go over food, bowl location. Does your lock require a special jingle? Make sure the keys work before giving them to your sitter. If you have plant life, make sure to point them out, especially if you will be away for a long period of time.

Most importantly, if your kitty requires medication, it very important you review this with your sitter in advance.

This short meet and greet is a wonderful opportunity for your pet sitter to learn all about your furry baby!


Tales of the Kitty Logo

“Make sure your contact information is up-to-date, especially emergency contact information.”

From Shelly at Tales of The Kitty

Make sure your contact information is up-to-date, especially emergency contact information.  Also, if your cat is on medication please check that we have the most current dosages and any constraints associated with the meds (i.e. insulin – how much and what time do you normally administer?)

The one we run into most often, which is most frustrating and so easily avoided:  Ensure you have enough litter and food to last throughout your scheduled visits.  This saves the client any supply pick up fee that may be assessed and makes your sitter happy.


Jordan's Pet Care Logo

“Make sure that you have enough supplies and have them readily available in their normal station.”

From Jordan at Jordan’s Pet Care

Our best tip to make sure everything goes smoothly for both cats and the cat sitter is to make sure that you have enough supplies and have them readily available in their normal “station.”

That way the pet sitter doesn’t have to go rummaging through cabinets stressing the cat out and the cat will likely get excited when they see the sitter going toward their normal food storage spot.

This will also expedite the process of feeding and leave more time for the sitter to play with the kitty, brush them, or just hang out and give them some extra TLC.


just for cats logo

“If you had to boil it down to one thing … consistency! Cats are creatures of habit.”

From Linda and Rita at Just For Cats Pet Sitting

Letting your cat stay home for care is the best thing you can do, surrounded by their own toys, sights and smells. That’s why we are here and why Just For Cats Pet Sitting was started.

Our reservationist gets all of the information ahead of time like what the kitty eats, drinks, where things are, personality, maybe a favorite toy or even, “Fluffy might be shy at first but loves getting scratched behind the ear” and all of this goes into a file.

Then we pick the best kitty care specialist who goes on a meet and greet to get to know the client and the kitty and learn the routine to provide consistency. We assign one primary caregiver who will be the main caregiver on every visit.

If for some reason that caregiver was unable to go (vacation, etc.) and we had to assign a sub, that person will be on file as the sub to send in the future to provide consistency. That way they know the client and the kitty and know what to look for, what is normal and what is not normal.

So, I guess if you had to boil it down to one thing … consistency! Cats are creatures of habit, after all!


au purrs logo

“Use a professional! Don’t use ‘hobby’ sitters and don’t use companies that hire independent contractors”

From Jill at Au Purrs

My tips would be more centered around finding a good cat sitter, and tips for owners on their own cats based on the amount of cats we see.

For instance— my feelings about litter/litter systems — the more complicated aka “helpful” they are, usually the harder they end up being to scoop/clean etc on a daily basis. Daily scooping is really the best way to deal with litter.

Since we are a legitimate business, we already have secured online profiles for clients to fill out with all their information and instructions, so *our* advice is as long as everything is in that profile, everything will be done as they like it.

My best advice would be — use a professional! Don’t use “hobby” sitters and don’t use companies that hire IC’s— use ones that hire employees (like they are supposed to) so that clients can rest assured their cats are in good hands and that they can count on the service being the same across the board, no matter what sitter— since when they are employees and not IC’s, the employees must adhere to the company’s policies and procedures.

If they are random people hired as contractors, those contractors can essentially do the visits they are assigned to any way they want. Professional companies should be insured, bonded, and registered with their city (county/state) as a business.

They should treat their employees well and have someone at the helm who is watching to make sure everything is carried out as it should be so that the client can enjoy their vacation. Use a professional! Is my best advice!


sparkle cat sitting logo

“A prior meeting should have occurred where the sitter and your cat had a chance to meet”

From Mike at Sparkle Cat Sitting

I’d say the best advice for a positive experience for both your cat and the cat sitter is multi-faceted. A prior meeting (the in-person Consultation) should have already occurred where the Sitter and your cat have had a chance to meet and create familiarity.

To add a little cushioning to the cats overall experience while the owner is gone, investing in Feliway diffuser plugin for the house helps calm cats. They are safe, with a money back guarantee. The best prices are on Amazon.

Lastly, never force interaction. Allow it to happen organically. Let kitty come to you, don’t go fishing her out from under the bed. She will feel more safe and confident with your presence.


Kristin's Kitty Care Logo

“To ensure a smooth travel, be sure to give as much info as possible to the sitter”

From Kristin at Kristin’s Kitty Care

To ensure a smooth travel, be sure to give as much info as possible to the sitter:

  • Location of food, toys, hiding spots, carriers (in case of on emergency)
  • Veterinary information and an sealed envelope with your credit card number and a letter from you to authorize Care to your sitter.
  • Enough food and supplies to last your whole trip and then some so you don’t feel rushed to buy supplies after returning from a trip.

Kitty in NY Logo

“The most important ingredient for a successful cat sitting service would be communication with the client”

From Jose at Kitty In New York Cat Care Service

Regardless of the caregiver’s experience and love of cats (which we consider important traits in any cat sitter), the most important ingredient for a successful cat sitting service would be communication with the client.

Clients love to receive photo and video updates of their cats while they are away. They need fast replies from the caregiver. Lack of communication, slow replies and no photo/video updates or negative updates (how the cat did not eat or vomited, attacked them…) are the worst recipe for a cat sitting service.

Open communication, lots of photos and videos and fast replies are what clients look for when they contact us to care for their furry friends.


cozy cats and daily dogs logo“The single most important tip…is high communication”

From Maureen at Cozy Cats and Daily Dogs

At Cozy Cats and Daily Dogs, the single most important tip to help us, our clients and feline friends have awesome visits is high communication. Since clients are the best ones to know their pets and their nuances or changes to routine, we encourage them to convey these to our office regularly.

This communication includes any updated (food/dietary, medical, alarm, vet or emergency contact change) information for each trip you schedule, both through our system electronically, and a note in the home, if possible.

What’s really helpful is if the note also reinforces where things are in the home (carrier, toys, litter) to help us to step in when you’re out, to be the eyes and ears for you! This way it’s more likely your cat(s) have a comfortable visit and and you’ll get the peace of mind you need.

And not to worry, at CCDD, we pride ourselves on responsiveness, so you’ll be getting the same high communication back from us!


Wrapping It Up

I’d like to personally thank all of the cat sitters that provided their time for this article. I know you all love cats and animals in general and I appreciate your generosity in helping the rest of us cat owners when we go away for a day or a week.

Cat sitters make our lives so much easier by giving us someone we trust to take care of out pets while we’re away. Your wisdom will certainly be applied to future encounters!

The tips these wonderful professionals have provided are a great resource to ensure that you have a positive experience with a cat sitter you hire in the future. And it’ll make sure your cat has an excellent experience too. If you have to break it down into 4 key areas to remember here’s the list:

  1. Conduct a meet and greet in advance
  2. Be sure to establish a clear communication plan
  3. Leave very detailed instructions about your cat(s)
  4. Plan for an emergency and leave extra supplies

Be sure to thank your sitters profusely for looking after your fluffy feline friends! If you have any additional tips please leave them in the comments below.

If you’re a professional cat sitter and would like to be featured in this article please email me at StuffCatsWant@gmail.com.

StuffCatsWant.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.

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10 thoughts on “17 Pro Cat Sitter Tips Ensure A Happy Cat While You’re Away

  • June 17, 2018 at 10:19 am
    Permalink

    Hi, Craig,

    Thank you for this incredibly thorough guide about how to organize cat sitting! You are right, cats are part of the family, and one cannot afford to leave their care to chance, while away from home.

    I would appreciate your thoughts, on this: is it a way to understand what was the quality of the cat sitting, when coming back home? Are there any clues we can notice, or something in the cat’s behavior to show me everything was okay?

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • June 17, 2018 at 11:27 am
      Permalink

      Great question. Most sitters actually recommend that you have a cat sitter work only 1 or 2 days the first time you go away. This way you have a much more clear picture of what is going on with your cat.

      There are even some that suggest hiring the sitter to come by while you were simply hanging out with a friend for the day (agree on a specific time) then come home and check on how you think things went. Is there food in the bowls, is the litter box scooped, etc.

      While I wouldn’t say it is necessary at all (and wouldn’t recommend it), if you’re extra curious you could also always use a home security system that records things over a period of time to check in. I would suggest you notify your sitter though that something like that exists in your house before you do it. No Meet the Parents nanny cam hidden in a bear or anything.

      Reply
  • June 17, 2018 at 10:44 am
    Permalink

    Hi Craig,

    WOW! Forget about it, I know nothing about cats in comparison to the amazing knowledge here. So insightful and I found it surprising that cats can feel lonely and turning the tv for national geographic is a great idea 🙂 .

    I find cats very friendly with me and they always want to jump up, whenever they want to no matter what, and sit on my lap.

    You know Craig, there are studies that more than suggest that having a cat sit on your lap while you stroke it brings down blood pressure. They even tried it on prisoner in the USA and they found that they prisoners were happier etc.
    Incredible really.

    Thank you kindly for your insight on cat sitter tips and looking forward to more of the same.

    – Philip.

    Reply
    • June 17, 2018 at 11:25 am
      Permalink

      I hadn’t read up on that study, but it doesn’t surprise me! You’re starting to see comfort or stress cats all over the place.

      The Denver airport has a cat that comes out and hangs out with stressed out airport travelers when they get stranded or delayed.

      I’m very happy so many people are finding this article useful, I know I did!

      Reply
  • June 17, 2018 at 8:29 pm
    Permalink

    All the tips are so helpful! I never knew. I used to leave my cats in the care of family members, especially my Mom. Now, after knowing all this, I can better prepare my Mom for cat sitting in the future when I get a cat again.

    Once again, thank you!

    Reply
    • June 18, 2018 at 8:00 am
      Permalink

      Glad you found it helpful. I’m very appreciative all these sitters were willing to provide their point of view!

      Reply
  • June 18, 2018 at 2:25 am
    Permalink

    Hi,

    What an amazing article! I love cats. I had Zuco for 12 years. We never hired a professional sitter when we were away. We had neighbors for the service. They were feeding the cat and taking care of him. However, I do remember how he was almost crying when we come back, all emotional to see us again. Your article gives me even more insight into why it is important to have someone who you can trust to, rather than someone like you said, who is doing it just for a hobby.

    Cats are amazing creatures. I broke my wrist once, and my doctor asked me do I have a cat? She gave me the advice to let my cat lay over my hand and for me to pet him. Apparently, the vibrations from Zuco helped my wrist bones to heal faster! Cats rules!

    Thanks for the article!
    All the best,
    Ivan

    Reply
    • June 18, 2018 at 7:59 am
      Permalink

      They are pretty intriguing creatures. And yes, I’ve heard about the vibrations from their purrs being good for promoting over all health. I hadn’t heard that they might help heal bones faster, how cool!

      Glad you found it helpful and thanks for reading.

      Reply
  • June 18, 2018 at 5:13 am
    Permalink

    Hi Craig, there’s so many excellent tips here. We are currently minding our friends cat at our home. She is lovely but the poor little thing had been abused as a kitten before her adoption, so is very timid and frightened. We tried to do a transition for her, and we have her owner’s t-shirt in her bed so she can smell him. It’s been 8 days since she joined us and only in the last few days has she been more comfortable with us. We have all of her favourite things here. I hope she is feeling OK about her stay here.
    I think that all of the tips you have here are excellent, they all resonate with me. Is there anything in particular you would do for cats who are particularly stressed? Thanks

    Reply
    • June 18, 2018 at 8:04 am
      Permalink

      How old is the kitten?

      You might want to try a Feliway Spray or Diffuser. Cats normally prefer staying in their own environment so moving was an additional stress on your little furry friend. I understand the necessity though, especially if it is a young kitten. They need constant attention and you probably cannot live at your friend’s house!

      The Feliway is a synthetic pheromone that should help calm your cat down. The best thing to do though is just give her time. Hopefully she’ll come around soon!

      Reply

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