Prioritizing Mental Health as a Meowtel Sitter
Cat Sitting As a Career: It’s Not All Catnip and Cuddles
Since we obviously all love cats and often get cuddles, playtime, and adorable photos as a part of completing our regular sitter visits, the idea of stress or burnout might seem extreme. But what happens when, say, you find yourself booked for 20 reservations in a week? While this might be great for your wallet, it also means 20 litter box cleanings (at least), many possible medications to administer (to multiple cats with a wide range of personalities), managing different foods and food amounts, coordinating multiple schedules and routes, keeping track of keys or codes to multiple households, not to mention any other special instructions! I don’t know about you, but just writing and reading that list made me tired.
As cat sitters, we are givers: givers of our time, our physical and mental energy, and our lived experience that we use to help others. Being a cat sitter means being a caretaker, and as many of us have learned throughout the pandemic, caretakers often experience high levels of stress, fatigue, and burnout. So what can we do about it?
Where Are You Right Now?
This is, of course, where we would all like to be! Typically when life is going great, we can handle little hiccups (or hairballs) along the way. Our stress levels are fairly low, our health is in a good place, and we feel open to new challenges and oppurrtunities that come our way.
Things Could Be Better
This is a place we can probably all relate to. Life gets a little too busy, and maybe we aren’t drowning yet but instead feel like we’re doggy-paddling (a dog reference, shocking, I know!) to keep up with everything. If you find yourself here, now is the time to take a step back and think like a cat, and by that, I mean asking yourself, “What can I do to make my life easier and more enjoyable?”
Some possible cat answers might be “Sleeping for 18-21 hours, doing parkour on walls, curtains, or scratching posts, playing with my siblings until they’re really annoyed with us, sprinting at 3 A.M., and taking another nap after doing all that.”
On second thought, maybe this isn’t litterally what I would suggest doing to relieve stress, but I think you can understand that this is the time to prioritize and determine what can be taken off your plate.
Unfortunately, if we’re at (or past) the burnout point, the only cure is rest, and a couple of days off won’t cut it. If you’re already here, I’d like to point out that burnout is not your fault. Many times when we’ve reached burnout, it’s due to a combination of many factors outside of our control (whether that’s caring for a sick loved one, performing in a high-stress job because it provides well for us and our family, or just having a lack of access to resources that can help).
Warning signs and symptoms of burnout include but are not limited to:
- Feeling exhausted, overwhelmed, or drained
- A decrease in patience, focus, and productivity
- Heightened anxiety
- Difficulty sleeping
- Physical symptoms such as headaches or gastrointestinal issues
If you find yourself in the burnout or pre-burnout stage, we at Meowtel are here to support you. We want all our sitters to be happy, healthy, and fulfilled, so we have compiled the following steps to help you put your best paw forward.
Many Paws Make Light Work - Ask for Help
Asking for help can be scary, especially if you don’t have a lot of practice. As a (mostly) reformed perfectionist and people-pleaser, I know that asking for help can often come with feelings of shame or failure, as well as the fear of judgment from others. But as cat sitters (and human beings), it’s better to ask for help before we find ourselves in a situation we might have been able to avoid, whether that’s being late to a reservation due to having taken on too many in the first place, or forgetting some essential instructions because we already have so much to do.
The most immediate way to ask for help is by contacting us at [email protected]. If you’re overwhelmed with your workload, we will do what we can to help and make sure all our kitties get the care they need!
Another way to build a support system is by contacting other sitters in your area via Meowtel’s in-app chat! Again, doing this beforehand can help you have some backups in mind if a client reaches out and you’re unable to take a reservation.
Stretched Too Thin - Make Space
Your Meowtel availability is 100% within your control for a reason! There is no penalty for blocking off days that you need (or want). While this may mean fewer total reservations, fewer visits with great reviews are far better than many visits with poor ones. Part of the reason overwhelm happens is due to the chronic lack of blank space on our calendars, so we encourage you to make space for yourself!
Making space will also make it easier for you to stay organized while completing kitty visits, as you will not be juggling so many logistical details all at the same time (like driving all over the city to visit 50 kitties, no matter how fun the kitties themselves might be).
Lastly, with our soon to be released “Vacation Mode” feature, you will be able to enjoy your time off the clock without the worry of missing messages.
Know your Value
The service you provide as a Meowtel sitter is so important. The peace of mind that comes with having a qualified, insured, reliable, and communicative sitter cannot be measured. That being said, you provide a valuable service and deserve to be paid what you’re worth, and your rates are within your control for that reason as well.
When setting your rates, remember to consider the size of the service area you cover (and the time and fuel required), the complimentary meet-and-greets you offer as part of Meowtel’s service, and the medication experience you have. Setting your rates below your worth sets you up for a higher workload and lower payout, which sounds 100% dissatisfying!
Our kitties know their worth (being known as heccin’ apex predators and worshiped as gods in many cultures), so you should too!
Fill Your Cup
Ah yes, self-care, the buzzword that spawned 2,870,000,000 current Google results to be exact. I could say all the things you’ve already heard (do yoga, go outside, treat yourself, make a nice bubble bath, etc.), or I could acknowledge that you know your life and your body best and know what self-care looks like for you. If not, there are only 2,870,000,000 articles to go through to figure that out (kidding).
Lastly, Recognize a Less-than-Great Fit
Sometimes, things we are excited about just don’t work out. Maybe you already work in an animal care field and thought cat sitting would be a great addition to your life, or you’re in a high-stress job and thought it would be a great way to relax. To be honest, cat sitting is not the same as working in the veterinary field or other professional pet-sitting businesses, and you may also find yourself in stressful situations. As an individual sitter, you won’t have a team of people to help you with cats that are unwilling to take their medications or are difficult to wrangle out from their favorite hiding spots, and in an emergency, you might have to take them to the vet, which is usually a nerve-racking situation for all involved.
If sitting with Meowtel is adding stress or difficulty to your daily life, please do not hesitate to reach out to us at [email protected]. It is possible to temporarily deactivate your listing if you simply need a longer break, or to permanently deactivate it if it just hasn’t been a good fit. While cats might endlessly try to fit in a cardboard box that is clearly too small for them, this would be a good time to not follow their example 😊
Why Mental Health Matters to Meowtel
Here at Meowtel, we prioritize cat happiness, cat parent happiness, AND cat sitter happiness. We want you to have a successful experience as a cat sitter, making a competitive income and making new feline friends! Prioritizing our mental health, respecting our limits, and knowing how to recover when we’ve pushed ourselves past them are all essential to having the best possible experience as sitters (and as humans)!
Our team at Meowtel is here to help you achieve that, so please reach out if you’re in need of a helping paw!