When you need to go away, who to trust to look after your pets can be a very difficult decision. When friends and family aren’t an option then you need to turn to a professional to give your pet the care that they need. This leaves the option between choosing a Sunderland-based pet sitter or a Sunderland cattery. With that in mind, here are a few things to think about!
Cats; We specialise in cat sitting and 90% of our clients are feline first. It’s thought that adult cats sleep for up to two thirds of the day – so we try our best to visit them when they’re likely to be most awake and active so they’re entertained and don’t get lonely. Adventurous outdoor felines also benefit by using a home pet sitter as their territorial routines don’t need to be disrupted if they continue to have access to the outdoors via cat flap. That said, a lot of our pet parents are happier if their cats are kept indoors while they’re away to make sure that we do indeed get to see the cats and they’re not just out prowling all the time – but also so they’re confident there have been no accidents.
Animals with special needs; Our Lyla-cat is one of these furry contenders. When we adopted her she’d been living in a small cage at Kays Hill Animal Sanctuary for over a year. She’d already been home with one family who gave her back and the poor thing has a few quirky habits. For us, putting her back into a caged environment just wasn’t an option. She hates other cats, she likes her peace and quiet and she’s a territorial cat with her own routines. As a home pet sitter, I’ve looked after other nervous rescue cats – or whiskers hiding under beds – and their owners have all said that they couldn’t rationalise the cat-carrier struggle/ car-moving stress/ cattery life worries. For all their cats may not want to see me, they’d prefer a calm, lonely week than an unhappy, stressful one.
We also often get calls from pet parents who have animals that have medical needs and are struggling to decide which level of care is best. A pet who needs calm and quiet may not want to be stressed with the move and change of environment to a kennel – but at the same time you would have to be confident that they’d be safe left at home. Another option for this is that we’ll come round to your home more times per day than normal to make sure they’re okay.
In the past with previous (less fussy) animals, we have of course used catteries and kennels and been entirely satisfied. We did prefer cat-only places and dog-only places which I think is more for our peace of mind than anything else. It’s worth saying here that I’m not out to say that all kennels are bad, bad, bad because that’s completely untrue – the choice between using a cattery and a pet sitter in Sunderland is entirely up to you and your pets’ personalities!
Dogs; We look after dogs on a regular basis but as we’re not licensed to be a kennel (or sometimes it’s called home boarding) we generally do daytime and evening walks for folks who are going away for a family day trip – or are working late. This option also works well for our long-term professionals who may need to ring us at the very last minute (literally, sometimes) because they’ve been held up at work and we hold keys for them routinely. When it’s just a short trip away, knowing that your pet can stay at home and not have to worry about up-to-date vaccinations can be very reassuring. On the whole, the story goes that most dogs are happier to be in kennels because they are more adaptive and sociable animals – but we’ve met a lot of exceptions who would be far happier with a few walks a day in their local neighbourhood and a bit of peace and quiet.
Prices; Ah, the clincher! This can swing both ways – some people would prefer to spend more making sure their furry friends are being cared for at home – whereas others think that for the same reason a home pet sitter should be cheaper. Well! For these reasons, we set our prices sensibly – we’re not out to make our first million or build up franchises and management fees – we want to deliver affordable friendly pet care – which helps with your holiday budget! In fact, choosing Whitburn Whiskers for your home pet sitting is often competitively priced to local Sunderland catteries and kennels. We don’t charge extra per pet which means that we often work out more cost effective. Provided we’re both confident that we can look after all the animals in the agreed time, you can have one cat or five, two rabbits, a fish tank and a hamster. Click here to have a look!
Availability; We get a lot of last minute pet sitting jobs – whether this be for last-minute holidays, unexpected family difficulties or (more commonly) that the person originally intended to care for your pet can no longer do the job. We try our best to take on any job – no matter how busy that makes us! Quite often we get referrals because during peak seasons the catteries are full and can’t fit anymore in.
Home Pet Sitting Bonuses; We do sometimes do home sitting (without the pets). There are many benefits in having someone visit your home every day while you’re gone that are unrelated to the level of pet care we carry out! We’ll happily look after your plants while you’re gone so for any budding botanists out there – you don’t have to worry about returning to a house of miserable looking plant pots. We also move your post out of sight so there aren’t three week’s worth of junk mail waving at burglars from your doormat. Having someone come into your home and making it look lived in is invaluable, especially at Christmas time! Plus no one wants to return home to a full wheelie bin – or a fully defrosted fridge/freezer that broke the day after you left.
Reliability; My husband, often comes with me on house visits – especially if there is more than one animal in attendance as this means they get more attention! Also he’s very good at his job as Whitburn Whiskers Official Photographer. My family is insured on our Cliverton pet insurance policy, and I have extensive notes on all of my customers (only nice things of course!) if I suddenly come down with the plague.
Trust; We’re aware that handing over your house keys involves a great deal of trust in your pet sitter – which is why we’re CRB-checked and aim to be as open and honest as we can about ourselves on the internet. At our free, informal first meeting with you and your pets – please make sure you ask us any questions you want and we’ll happily answer them! But be warned – I can talk about pets for England! A lot of our pet parents tell us that they’re a bit nervous about the whole process at first – but we make sure we text them regularly to let them know their house and belongings and pets are safe and sound and take pictures to keep them in the loop.
I hope this has given you food for thought – please get in touch if you’d like to know anything more!
(The Cat Whiskerer)