Wondering what your cat sitter actually does while you’re away? Well, we try to make sure that our visits are fully focused on your cats (and don’t worry, they make sure of this too!). Let’s use the lovely Thomas as an example of a normal cat sitting visit to a one-cat household in Sunderland (NB: A ‘normal visit’ is one where we don’t need to administer medication, rush to the emergency vets, clean up any spills or accidents, call a locksmith when the key snaps, spend 30 minutes just FINDING the cat, fixing anything broken, calling an out of hours plumber…)
When I arrive at teatime, Thomas would have already heard the gate open and be sat at the door meowing loudly. I let myself in and edge around the door so he doesn’t run out – cue Tom-cat winding himself around his legs until I sit and give him a proper fuss. Then I’d pick up his black and yellow string (with a bell on the end) and we’d head round the house together closing all the blinds and curtains. We then have a bit of a play around until…
Thomas leads me back to the kitchen where he would let me know that it’s FOOD TIME. I collect up all his bowls and glasses (Thomas likes to drink out of a tumbler in the living room) and give them a good clean. I decide whether it’s normal tea – or special treat tea – leave him to tuck into dinner.
While he’s chomping, I’d go to the conservatory to water the plants and and refresh his litter tray and pop out to the wheelie bin. Sometimes Thomas couldn’t make his mind up whether to eat – or come and play with me so to put him at ease I’d write out his diary and sit near him. This means he isn’t yo-yoing between the two getting indigestion!
When I first meet a client and their cat, I like to ask what their favourite toys and tricks are – nothing makes a cat feel at ease like their own things. One of these ‘things’ for Thomas was a very soggy battered monkey toy that used to be his mum’s! I’d been advised to maybe pick it up with a stick – Thomas also likes to chase and chew sticks – but I still wasn’t prepared for Thomas’ reaction! Hissing and pouncing and battering! I soon saw what being on the wrong side of this wonderfully fluffy feline could be like!
That said, I don’t play rough with cats that I look after! I find that the relationship between cat sittee and cat sitter is a wonderfully complex one. They’re aware (almost immediately) that I’m there for them – and nothing else. This means that I’m bossed from food bowl to toys to neck scratches to face nuzzles in quick succession. But I don’t think they know I’m paid to do this. I think – they think – that they have to be nice to me (don’t tell them the truth!). Either way, we have a mutually respectful relationship. We play nicely and nobody gets scratched or bitten (especially not the cat).
I want to make sure that while their pet owners are away – my cats get lots of special treatment too. This means I have lots of tricks up my sleeve to make friends with cats; whether this is special catnip toys, a cat laser pen, or catnip bubbles! Either way it’s lots more fun for us both to play different games every day – and keep them interested in my visits. Cats are naturally inquisitive so bringing something new nearly always perks them up and also gives me a chance of wearing them out so they sleep happily between visits.
Most cats like to sniff my shoes and they can’t get enough of my scruffy canvas backpack I take everywhere. I think they all want to mark their scent on me before I head off to the next house! That… or they just don’t want me to leave 😉
(The Cat Whiskerer)