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If you adopted a cat during the pandemic, you’ve probably been able to stay at home with them most of the time over the last two years. While it’s great that things are getting back to normal, you might be wondering what to do with your feline friend if they’re not used to you being gone.
Or, maybe you’ve had a cat in your life for a while, but you have to start traveling for work – or for fun!
For the most part, cats can be pretty low-maintenance when you leave them alone. You know your cat’s personality better than anyone, but it can be hard to predict what they might do when you’re gone for the first time in a while, especially if they’re anxious about separation.
One of the best ways to ensure your home stays in one piece and your four-legged friend stays safe and secure is by hiring a pet sitter.
However, bringing a pet sitter into your home requires you to make sure your cat and your home are fully prepared.
So, how can you do that to make a less stressful experience for everyone?
Before you take the time to prepare your pet and your home, you’ll want to be confident in the pet sitter you’re choosing. A great sitter will ease the stress of separation for your cat and will make it easier for them to be at home without you. There are a few things to look for when you’re trying to decide on the right sitter. While your choice will be personal and dependent on your cat’s needs, some general guidelines to follow include:
- Looking for a local company with a pet sitting team
- Becoming a member of a pet sitting organization
- Looking for people with certifications
- Looking for those trained in first aid
When you’ve narrowed things down, it’s a good idea to let your cat and a potential sitter meet. They need to get along and bond as quickly as possible, and you’ll have a pretty good idea of whether that will happen on the first interaction. A good pet sitter should be comfortable around your cat and not hesitant with them, especially if they have experience.
If you’re worried about your cat feeling anxious while you’re away, try to make them as comfortable as possible with a designated room or “pet area” where they can go to feel safe. A pet room or pet corner gives your cat the opportunity to establish its territory. Cats positively claim their territory by scratching, rubbing, or sleeping. That’s right — when your cat rubs against you, it’s marking you as territory and that “scent” goes a long way!
Scent is a big deal to your feline friend, so having a blanket or bed and a few of their favorite toys in one location will assure them that they’re still safe at home by providing some familiarity when you’re not around.
The ideal pet room for your cat depends on their needs and the things they enjoy. Have fun with decor and make it visually stimulating for your cat. However, make it practical, as well. Choose the right furniture that won’t encourage scratching or collect a lot of hair. Keep the room neat and organized with safe storage options.
Most importantly, consider how you can make certain pieces of furniture multi-functional, especially if you want to use the room or corner for other things, too.
A pet room will give your cat a sort of sanctuary to escape to when they’re feeling anxious. It will also give your pet sitter a place to go to look for your feline friend if they’re nowhere else to be found.
Once you’ve decided on a sitter, get together with them for an interview, or just to get to know them. Let them know your pet’s needs and your expectations, and give them detailed instructions when it comes to your cat’s daily routine. Keeping that routine in place when you’re away can boost your cat’s comfort level and make them feel a sense of normalcy when you’re not there.
Your cat’s routine (and the information you leave for the sitter) should include things like
- When they eat (and how much to give them)
- What toys they like to play with
- Where they are usually found for their afternoon nap
- Any medications they take (and when)
Leaving detailed instructions with a pet sitter will help to ensure your cat maintains their routine, so they don’t have to deal with two major changes at once. If possible, you should also try to return home at the same time each day if you’re gone for work. Eventually, your cat will pick up on that part of their routine, too, and might become less anxious while you’re gone.
Getting your home ready for a positive pet sitting experience doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Your main goals should be to keep your sitter as informed as possible and your cat as comfortable as possible. By hiring a sitter, you’re already doing something wonderful for your furry friend, so enjoy the peace of mind that comes from knowing they never have to be alone!