Thanks to Rover sitter Kaylee M. for this guest post.
Having a dog is very much like having a child: they need to be bathed, fed, and taught to do their business in appropriate settings. When you’re working late, you arrange for a sitter to stop by, and when you go on vacation you arrange for more frequent visits or in-home boarding. But what about your feline family members? They bathe themselves, generally self-feed appropriately, and know to use the litter box. You’re not likely to board them; cats prefer the comforts of home—like, say, having the vet come to them (seriously). Do they really need a sitter?
Well, that depends. Most cats will be just fine with an overnight on their own, provided there’s access to plenty of food and fresh water. But being left alone any longer than a day or so can be dangerous or even traumatic for your cat. It may not seem like it, but cats crave affection just like dogs and humans. After a couple of days on their own, they can begin to feel neglected. As a frequent cat sitter, I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of giving your cat companionship while you’re away.
Still on the fence about whether to hire a sitter for kitty next time you’re out of town? Check out these 10 reasons it will benefit you and your cat.
1. Food and water
My cat loves to play with his water bowl. He’ll sit there planning his attack, and then swipe the bowl from one side, then the other, creating a sloshing mess all over the kitchen floor. Usually, I intervene before it gets out of hand, but with days of boredom and no cat sitter, this could easily turn into an empty bowl and a thirsty kitty.
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Then there’s Lila, a sweet cat who loves to put her toys in her water bowl. She’ll find the most absorbent ones and toss them in. This leads to soaked catnip balls and a dry water bowl. Luckily, when I take care of her I’m there every day to refill her water and place the absorbent toys out of reach. Without a sitter dropping by, this could get dicey.
2. Heating and cooling
Whether you’re leaving town for a winter getaway or taking advantage of summer break, there are forces beyond our control when it comes to the weather. Maybe a heat wave rolled through the day after you left, or a blizzard of epic proportions knocked out the power. Without someone to check in daily, your kitty may be in danger of overheating or enduring freezing temperatures.
Always make sure to check the weather before leaving for your trip, and plan accordingly. Set out extra water if it’s going to be sweltering and have an emergency plan in place.
3. Preventing escape
Cats are notorious escape artists. Some seem to do it just for fun! But if your cat feels threatened or uncomfortable, he may attempt to get out while you’re away. The ASPCA estimates that only 74% of lost cats are ever returned home.
Hiring a pet sitter can eliminate the risk of escape by keeping your cat fed, comfortable, and content.
4. Love and attention
The idea that cats hate affection is a myth I’ll never understand. Over the past few years of dog and cat sitting, I’ve witnessed as many felines as canines run to the door to greet me when I arrived. If anything, the cats were actually more excited to see me, while the dogs were usually preoccupied with being fed or going for their walk.
Like all creatures, cats are complex. Sure, a particular cat may not want loads of attention all the time, but interaction is as important for your cat as it is your dog. One thing I’ve noticed is that cats get progressively needier as your vacation goes on. So you may want to consider longer or more frequent sitter visits if your trip is more than a few days in length.
5. Playtime with the cat sitter
Cats love to hunt; it’s in their nature. As carnivores, cats have been hunting their prey since before the Egyptians constructed the Great Sphinx. That’s why the feather on the end of a string is so enticing. That stimulation is immensely beneficial for your kitty. She is able to expel energy, create a goal (to catch the feather), and accomplish it.
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Without regular playtime, cats often get bored and become lethargic, or worse, destructive. In lieu of a walk, I spend the majority of my time playing with the cats in my care.
6. Breaking things
Speaking of destructive behavior, if you’ve ever owned a cat, you know they can be a bit mischievous. Without adequate stimulation, your cat can become a danger to herself, your household items, or both.
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Even if it’s not intentional (which, let’s be honest, it often is), your cat can destroy houseplants, picture frames, dishes, or any other breakable item left on a high shelf. If a cat I’m watching seems extra rambunctious, I’ll do my best to get him to expel that energy in a healthy game. On the off chance he still manages to break something, I’ll check to ensure that he isn’t hurt, alert you, and clean up the mess.
7. Clean litter box
Nothing is worse than coming home from the airport to find a stinky poop or pee-stained carpet in your entry hall. Cats are meticulous groomers. They like to stay fresh and clean, just like you and me. So assuming that they’ll be happy using the same, increasingly dirty litter for a week or more is not a good bet.
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Unless your cat is potty-trained (and knows how to flush), booking a sitter can save your house from damage and your kitty from frustration.
Insects and rodents often take advantage of a quiet house. They use your time away to infiltrate and find food, water, or shelter from inclement weather. With no one present to scare them away, they’re more likely to invade.
Pests are hazardous to your home and your pets. Due to their predatory nature, cats are likely to hunt pests like mice, rats, and roaches, all of which can carry disease. Rodents can cause also physical harm from bites or scratches.
A sitter not only makes your house feel lived in, but they can also identify an infestation if one presents, and help to get it under control before you return home.
9. Household security
If you still don’t think your cat needs a sitter, consider your house’s security. Along with pests, burglars and intruders may also take interest in your home while you’re away.
Pet sitters don’t just take care of your precious kitties; they also water plants, take in the mail, turn on and off lights, and generally just make the place look occupied. This can prevent anyone with bad intentions from taking advantage of your absence.
10. Peace of mind
Even though your felines may not require as much attention as their canine cousins, they’re still your fur-babies and we know how much you care about them. Worrying about your cat’s well being is a waste of your precious vacation time.
With a sitter, you get peace of mind in knowing that your kitty is fed, exercised and safe, so you can enjoy your time as much as they’re enjoying theirs.
Kaylee is a Rover sitter in San Diego, CA and a freelance writer.