Welcome back to part 2 of how to become a top notch sitter! In this second part of the series, I will outline some ideas to help you become the best sitter you can be. This part focuses solely on what to do and what not to do during the actual reservation. For Meet and Greet ideas, please refer to part one of the series.
THE DOs and DON’Ts DURING RESERVATIONS
BE THOROUGH, BE COMMUNICATIVE
This goes for the meet and greets as well as visit updates. You may think being overly thorough is silly but cat parents love knowing details. The more details provided, the more at ease the cat parents become with being away from their fur babies.
Make sure the parents have filled out the Cat Profile and Vet Release forms prior to their departure. This will have any illness history as well as the cat’s vet information should you have an emergency. The cat owner can either leave a hard copy printed out for you or submit a PDF version to the Meowtel Bellhop.
Make notes of anything that is unique to your kitty client, such as feeding amounts, bowl colors, dietary restrictions, etc. Know that while it isn’t common, illnesses and sometimes death may occur on your watch. You must be calm and collected if and when you deal with either of these situations.
If the cat is displaying any odd behavior (hiding in an unusual place, vomiting, excess crying, etc.), tell the owner immediately. If they say something like, “Oh, he does that sometimes,” then that’s one thing. If it isn’t something the kitty normally does, it’s a perfect time for them to say “that’s strange, they never do that.” By communicating anything that seems odd, you will be able to understand the cat better and therefore be prepared if the cat is/becomes sick.
USE COMMON SENSE
Make sure the cat has food (per parental instructions), water, and a clean litter box. Be sure to play with and give the cat love and attention. Ensure that the cat is inside when you’re leaving. Be sure to lock the doors and check all windows prior to leaving the house.
ASSUME THERE IS A CAMERA
We're in the 21st century… everyone has a camera. While we hope that parents disclose this, they are under no obligation to do so. Therefore, always act as though you are being watched. While this may seem creepy, it’s not. You’re in someone else’s home and they have the right to know what the guest is doing in their house as well as how the guest is treating their child. Be courteous, be alert, and be respectful.
FOLLOW THE PARENT’S INSTRUCTIONS THOROUGHLY
If the parent wanted someone to just check in on the cat to make sure it was still alive, they would throw the kid down the block $10 but that’s not what they’re looking for. They are looking for someone to give their cats love, attention, and someone who can follow their rules. They hired you for a reason. If they say to give the cat ¼ cup of dry food twice a day, stick to the ¼ cup. You don’t know the reasons why they do what they do and they don’t need to explain themselves. Just think if the tables were turned, you would want whomever you’re paying to watch your cat, to follow the rules you set in your home.
SEND DETAILED UPDATES WITH PHOTOS OR VIDEOS EVERY VISIT
When I say detailed, I mean detailed. I probably go a little too in-depth but that comes from my type A personality and from many, many years in production. I let the parents know where the cat was when I arrived, their general temperament, what they ate (if they have different flavored canned food, I make note as to which I served so they can tell which they like, don’t like, if they get sick from one, etc etc). I also let the parent know I scooped their box, gave them fresh water, if we played, if we cuddled and where they were when I left. Additionally, strive to send a combination of at least (5) good quality photos and or videos with each update. Sending blurry photos shows you don’t care. If you are booked for more than 1 visit a day, the cat parent must receive an update each visit. Or believe me, Meowtel HQ will hear about it from the parent.
Seems like a no brainer, right? It goes without saying but do not hit, kick, punch, slap, squeeze or do anything that causes bodily harm to your kitty client. Abuse also includes verbal abuse. Even if your kitty client does something incredibly infuriating and possibly dangerous, do not scream at it and do not call it names.
I feel as though I shouldn’t have to say this but you have been hired to do a job. Part of that job is to engage with the cat(s). Therefore, do not spend your entire visit on Snapchat. Sure, you’re allowed to use your phone while you’re there. I often draft my updates throughout my visit so I don’t miss anything I think is noteworthy. But don’t spend the whole visit on the phone. It’s both rude and unprofessional.
ASSUME YOU KNOW WHAT’S BEST
Like parents to children, parents to animals have different parenting styles. Just because you do something one way, doesn’t mean that you know what’s best for your client. Follow the instructions from the parents to a T.
HAVE SOMEONE COVER YOUR VISIT WITHOUT SPEAKING TO MEOWTEL AND THE PARENTS
There are situations that arise that may not allow you to complete your reservation (such as illness or death). If either of these arise, you must alert Meowtel immediately to work with finding an approved replacement. The replacement must be approved by both Meowtel and the parents prior to missing a visit.
You are the only person that has received permission to enter the client’s home. Do not bring any visitors over. If someone is picking you up, have them wait outside. You are an adult, not a child throwing a party while your parents are away. Be respectful of the parents and be responsible in your actions.
SPEND LESS THAN 30 MINUTES PER VISIT
This is the absolute bare minimum required for a visit. This is what the parent is paying for. If you do not spend at least 30 minutes with the cat, you will not be paid. You are always welcome to spend longer with the cat.
If the parents tell you the internet password, tell you to watch TV, tell you to help yourself to food, that’s one thing but don’t assume you have free range to any of this if they don’t. This isn’t your house; you are a guest. It is not uncommon for parents to offer these items up to you as an incentive to stay longer with their kitties. If that is the case, feel free to take them up on their offer(s).
If you follow these steps, you will no doubt, become a top notch sitter! Better sitter practices = better ratings = more cats & more money!