Here at Rover, we love dogs—and guess what…we love cats too! If you’re one of the many sitters on Rover who offers cat care, we’ve got tons of advice to help you get off on the right paw (forgive our wordplay). An important thing to know: taking care of someone else’s cat is not the same as caring for your own. So whether you’re a cat newbie or a lifelong lover of nature’s most complicated quadruped, make sure you get the info you need during or before the Meet & Greet—just like you would when learning about someone’s dog.
Before You Get Started
First things first: Don’t introduce someone’s cat to any other pets in your care. Unlike dogs, cats are very territorial and won’t take kindly to any other animal who walks in the door. So, if you’re offering dog boarding at the same time you’re doing drop-in visits for a cat owner, leave the dog at home.
You’ll also want to clarify if the cat is indoor only, indoor/outdoor, or outdoor only. If the cat goes outside, ask questions like:
- When should I let them outside?
- How long are they typically gone?
- Are there any calls or treats I can tempt them with to bring them home?
- If they’re gone for longer than usual, when should I call you? (If you’re experiencing a lost cat, make sure to also give our Trust & Safety team a call at 888-727-1140. We’ll jump into action.)
Lastly, before agreeing to sit at cat, make sure you know the proper way to interact with felines to keep them safe and comfortable. Remember the following:
- Don’t grab or reach for a cat that is shy, defensive or hiding.
- Cats take time to get used to new people and resist change.
If There Are Other Pets in the Home
Ask questions like:
- How does your cat feel about other animals in the house? What can I do to keep interactions peaceful?
- How do you keep cat food away from your dog? (Cat food is much more protein-rich than dog food. Basically, if a dog chows down the cat food, they’re likely to experience stomach upset and some other less-than-savory side effects.)
Health, Safety, and Medication
To help ensure you don’t experience any surprises, ask questions like:
- Do they have any allergies?
- Are they taking any medication? If so, how and when should I administer it? (Not sure how to give a cat pills? Here’s a crash course on how to pill a cat, but we recommend practicing with the pet parent there if you can.)
- Are they spayed or neutered? If not, what other care instructions do I need to follow?
- Does your cat have any other health care needs?
While it’s super rare, sometimes health issues pop up. If that happens, make sure you’re prepared by asking:
- Who’s their regular vet, and where’s the closest emergency vet?
- Where’s their carrier, in case I need to take them to the vet?
- Any tips for getting them in the carrier, like burrito-ing them in a blanket?
- Does your cat ever have accidents? Where do you keep your cleaning supplies? (Here are some tips for cleaning up cat urine).
Feeding, Water, and Treats
Start with the basics:
- What do they eat?
- Should I leave their food out all day, or feed them at set times?
- How much do they eat?
- Where is their food kept?
- Where are their water bowls?
- Can I give them treats? What kind, and how often?
- Where can I find their treats?
- Are there other kinds of treats they enjoy?
The Litter Box
You knew we’d bring up poop sometime. Ask questions like:
- Where are the litter box(es), scoop, and poop bags?
- Does your cat use clumping litter? If not, how do I clean their box?
- How many times a day should I clean their box?
- Where should I put the full poop bags?
- If you want to go above and beyond: Where do you keep your brush or vacuum to clean around the litter box?
Grooming and Scratching
Some cats, especially cats with longer fur, need regular brushing. And cats who aren’t declawed will need a safe place to sharpen their claws. Ask questions like:
- Where do you keep a cat brush, and how often should I brush them?
- How does your cat respond to being brushed?
- Is your cat declawed? All four paws, or just the front two?
- What surfaces in your house are okay for your cats to scratch?
- What should I do if they scratch something they’re not supposed to?
While you’re learning how, don’t forget to learn about who you’re taking care of. Of course, nothing beats meeting the cat and giving them a chance to feel comfortable with you, but we also recommending asking the pet parent questions like:
- Is it okay for me to pet or pick up your cat? Do they like being held? If you’re unsure of how to pick up cats, this article from VetStreet helps break it down. We also like this post from petMD that breaks down cat body language (and how you should respond to it).
- What toys do they love to play with? Do you leave them out, or do you need to put them away to prevent your cat from eating them?
- Is there anything I should make sure to keep away from your cat, like plastic bags or ribbons?
- What else can I do to make your cat feel at ease?
While it may look like a professional photo, the featured image of this post is a real Rover cat. (Do you see where this is going?) The next time you care for a Rover cat, we’d love to see a pic (or, you know, more than one). You can find us on Instagram @RoverDotCom.
Want More Cat Stories?
If you’re a cat lover or a cat sitter, we have plenty of resources regarding the felines in your life.
- Essential Cat Meet and Greet Guide
- 8 Ways to Say ‘I Love You’ in Cat Language
- Mikel Delgado: Cat Behavior Expert
- 4 Best Ways to Get Rid of the Cat Pee Smell
- New Report Reveals that Cat People and Dog People Aren’t as Different as We Thought
- Why Does my Cat Knead Me?
- Why Does My Cat Stare at Me?
- Why Are Cats So Cute?