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Felinexpress.com home > Cat Care > Pet Sitters Primer

Pet Sitters Primer

For pet owners, access to a pet sitter is a treasure. Imagine, someone willing to enter a home when the owner is absent and take responsibility for the pets. But problems can and do occur. If a friend asks you to pet sit, what do you do when these problems surface? Here are some tips: 

Cats in Hiding
Cats who hide are scared. The hiding place becomes security. The minute their owners pull out the luggage, cats know that their routine is changing. This change can unnerve a cat. Not changing their routine is paramount to earning their trust. Set your schedule and adhere strictly to it: food, water, scooping litter pans all done at the same time(s) every day, so the cat can adjust. The food and water bowls, the litter pans should always stay in the same place the owner has placed them.

After the owner leaves, the familiar scent fades from the home. The house is quiet. The cat grows apprehensive. Stress sets in. The cat can refuse to eat. This can lead to severe health issues.

 If the family is going to be out-of-town for several days, ask them to leave their dirty clothes sealed up in large plastic bags. Take one clothing item out of the bag, place the item on the floor near the food bowl. Bring out a different item every other day. The renewed smell may tempt the cat out of hiding reducing the stress level.

Should the family be traveling for an extended period of time, ask them to send their scent signature home. By taking a plain sheet of paper, rubbing it all over their forehead, and then mailing the sheet of paper to you, this is a scent signature. Lay the envelope and paper on the floor. The familiar smell will draw the kitty out.

Suggest to the owner(s) to sleep with a few of the catís favorite toys, the night before they leave. Putting these owner-scented toys into a plastic bag for later may reassure the cat that the owner has not abandoned him.

Benjamin Braat DVM of Linn Benton Veterinary Hospital in Albany, Oregon, suggests that if a cat is hiding, the best way to bring that cat out of seclusion is to bribe it with treats. Lay a few treats on the floor near the hiding place, the first minute you arrive. Before you leave, repeat this procedure.

Robin Hollis of Guardian Petsitting offers this tip:

ďCats that are timid have a hard time when Mom and Dad leave and the pet sitter is left behind to take care of them. Usually, I ask the client about all the potential hiding locations to help with finding the kitty. I do wish to locate the kitty, even if it does not want to come out to socialize for I need to verify that it is feeling well, and can be found. I also make sure the food and litter box appear appropriately utilized in order to verify that our timid kitty is coming out, eating and making daily litter box visits.Ē

If you are unsure if the cat is coming out of hiding while you are out of the home, you can leave on a tile floor, a thin sprinkling of corn starch around the food bowl or the litter pan. Then you can track the footprints to see where the cat goes.

Hissing cat
A hissing cat is telling you that she is scared, angry or uncertain. Direct eye contact with a hissing cat means that you are challenging this cat to battle. Closing your eyes, blinking slowly, yawning several times or lowering your head, reduces the threat.

Sit on the floor, put your right hand out in front of you on the floor, palm side down. Have a meaty treat in the center of your hand for the cat. Keep your eyes closed, your breath even. When she approaches, donít move. Let her take the treat from you.

If she does not approach you, leave the treat Then perform your kitty duties and leave.

If you are working with a cat that is showing aggression, be sure your tetanus shot is up-to-date.

Lonely cats
When owners leave town, cats get lonely. They withdraw or stage a hunger strike. The loneliness causes stress.

Just as in the cats that hide, donít change any of the routine for these lonely cats. Food bowls, litter pan(s) water bowls should all stay in the customary places.

Comfort Kit for Kitties:

  • CD player with harp music CDís. Play the CD on low volume continuously if you can.
  • Feliway Spray by Farnum Pet. This pheromone spray possesses a mellow effect on an anxious kitty.
  • Snugglekittie www.snuggleme.com  This stuffed animal that can deliver everything from heart sounds to warmth for the young kitten or older cat.
  • Drop a few drops of Rescue Remedy into the water bowl or over some canned cat food.
  • Apply Pure Vanilla Extract on your wrists, the tops of your hands, behind your ears and your shoes. This will neutralize your scent.

Before Pet Sitters became commonplace, there were very few options available for away-from-home pet care: A family friend or relative to come in and feed and care for the cat. Or, the other alternatives were boarding at a cat and dog kennel, or boarding at a vet.

Boarding at a kennel or vet, that oftentimes contained other stressed out animals, exposed cats to stressful, unfamiliar situations and even sickness.

Because of the service pet sitters provide today. The pet is now being monitored under the best of conditions; within the familiarity of its home.

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