Fit-For-Service Home Environments
As Meowtel Sitters, it's important to ensure that the homes we are visiting meet satisfactory cleanliness, health, safety, and comfort standards. After all, our feline friends deserve the best care, and a dirty or unsafe environment can impact their well-being and ours. Here we have some tips on how to ensure that the homes we visit are fit for service and ready for a purrfectly amazing reservation.
Navigating Unfit Environments and Setting Boundaries
First and foremost, it's essential to establish clear expectations with the client before continuing with their reservation if you notice any red flags throughout your interactions. Cancellations for Unfit Home Environments typically occur after the Meet & Greet, if you feel that your health or safety could be adversely affected by being in that space, or if you do not feel comfortable with the condition that the cat(s) may be in. Unfortunately, many times when a home is found to be messy during the Meet & Greet, it often remains unchanged even after the client is apologetic or has promised to tidy things up. It's crucial to prioritize your own well-being and the well-being of the cats in your care by only accepting reservations in homes that meet satisfactory standards for both parties.
For this reason, this is also why we recommend that when at all possible, you attend Meet & Greets in person. While virtual Meet & Greets are permissible, you may not be getting the entire picture of the client's home. Familiarizing yourself with the client's home prior to a Meet & Greet can help you avoid a sticky situation, and gives you added time to reach out to Meowtel for help and support.
If you need to report an unfit or unsafe home or believe you have witnessed animal cruelty or neglect, please call 1-844-MEOWTEL immediately or email us at [email protected] with photos and videos of what you saw. It's our duty to keep our furry friends safe and happy, and that starts with their living environment.
Here we have some of the key points to keep in mind to ensure all your reservations are smooth sailing:
1. Paws Off Hazards
We want to be sure that both the cats we care for and ourselves are not in a potentially dangerous situation. This includes checking for hazards such as obstructions at the point of entry or exit, overgrown vegetation, doors that are not able to be locked, or any other dangers that may be present in the home. It’s also important to make sure that you have adequate lighting to complete all your tasks, including being able to see to enter and exit the home safely.
Another potential hazard is unannounced home dwellers. This can present itself by actually running into a surprise guest, or even just noticing that things are not as you left them (dishes that weren’t out before, items moved around, etc.) Your clients should be letting you know if anyone else will have access to the home throughout the duration of your reservation.
If you arrive at a home that is unlocked, and you are unsure if someone is inside, let the owner know. With their permission, you can also follow up with local law enforcement to check the home to ensure that no one is inside. Remember, if a home doesn't feel safe, it's always okay to cancel the reservation!
2. Pawsitively Cozy
A clean and comfortable living space is essential for any cat to live their best life. Excessive hair, dust, or litter box accidents can make for an uncomfortable living environment, and repulsive odors can be unbearable for both cats and humans alike. Pests and infestations can also create an unsafe and unsanitary environment, and as Meowtel sitters, we reserve the right to limit the time spent in a home or cancel a reservation if a home does not meet satisfactory standards for cleanliness and comfort.
When entering a client's home, it's important to assess the cleanliness and overall safety of the environment. Look for any signs of clutter or unsanitary conditions, such as overflowing garbage, large numbers of uncleaned pet accidents, lack of access to tap water due to overstacked dirty dishes in the sink, food waste, etc.
Remember, cats thrive in a clean and healthy environment, and if you notice any signs of abuse or mistreatment during your visit, don’t hesitate to contact us so we can step in and assist you. Documentation is very helpful in delicate situations such as these. If you can, we highly recommend using your phone’s camera to document what you’re witnessing. For more information and guidance on this impurrtant subject, please read our Fit For Service Home Environments FAQ.
3. Achoo-Free Homes
The well-being of our fur children is of the utmost importance. Extreme temperatures can be detrimental to a cat's health, and it's important to monitor and notify the client of the temperature in the home and make adjustments if possible.
It's also important to be aware of any potential health hazards, such as illegal substances or drug paraphernalia that may be present in the home. Hoarder homes, where there is an excessive accumulation of items, can also create an unhealthy and unsafe environment for both cats and humans.
If any of these situations arise, it's permissible to alter the visit duration to complete the critical care tasks such as feeding, water refresh, medications, and litter box scooping, and to report the situation to Meowtel Support.
4. Communicable diseases
As cat sitters, we have the pleasure of interacting with a variety of kitties on a regular basis. This often includes multiple visits throughout our day, as well as returning home to our own precious furry friends. To ensure the health of all our kitty clients it's impurrtant to ask about any potential health concerns a client's kitty may have at the Meet & Greet. Highly transmissible diseases such as ringworm, or upper respiratory infections have the potential to pose health risks to all kitties under our care, despite best efforts and practices to keep everyone safe. We partnered up with the ameowzing veterinarian Dr. Danny Cox at Petzey to give us expert advice on which diseases are the most transmissible and what practices sitters can do to keep our feline community safe. Place your paws here for more info.
5. How to Handle the Situation Tactfully
By now, you might be asking yourself what the best way to handle any of these situations might be. The cleanliness or upkeep of a person’s home is often a very delicate and uncomfortable thing to have to discuss. If you are at a Meet & Greet and feel that a home is not fit for service, here are some ideas on how to handle things.
Scenario: You show up for your Meet & Greet and find that the client's home smells very strongly of pet waste, and there is garbage stacked throughout the house.
This is tough, we know. If you feel comfortable, one way to approach this subject would be to soften your decline of their reservation by saying something like.
“I really appreciate you taking the time to meet with me today and letting me get to know your cats. I noticed though that my allergies seem really irritated here. Since this is the case, I am sadly going to have to decline the reservation.”
If you feel that you are able to be more direct, a firm but gentle decline is also fine. Something as simple as:
“It was very nice getting to meet you and the kitties. Unfortunately, I don’t think that I am the perfect fit for this reservation. I apologize that it didn’t work out and I will reach out to Meowtel Support for you so that they can assist you further.”
You may still get some follow-up questions, but providing you remain factual but kind, we trust that you will provide the client with the correct response.
If you feel too nervous to do either of the above, another option is to message the client shortly after you leave the Meet & Greet (but this would not be the best option if you have already exchanged keys). Saying something like:
“I apologize for the inconvenience, but unfortunately I can no longer take care of this reservation for you. I will reach out to Meowtel Support so they can assist you.”
You may get some follow-up questions, but this may be a space where you feel safer answering them.
Lastly, as uncomfortable and sad as these situations can be, it’s always good to keep in mind that individuals whose homes fall into these categories may be struggling in some way themselves. Some clients are elderly and cannot clean their homes the way they once could, others may be suffering from mental health issues. While it is not your responsibility to fix these situations, we do ask that you keep these things in mind. Your safety always comes first. However, when a situation allows, approaching it with a gentle and clear response can go a long way. And remember, we are here to help!