Not all pet sitters are created equal or we wouldn’t have a litany of horror stories. Jill Rose would know, she has worked as a professional pet sitter her entire adult life and is celebrating her 25th year in business at Ally McPets in Southern California. After all these years Jill has seen it all from cats, dogs, parrots to iguanas but our focus today is on cats.
Pet Sitters International is celebrating their 24th annual Professional Pet Sitters Week from March 4-10, 2018. Four years ago we interviewed the extraordinary pet sitter Jill Rose and wanted to do an update with Jill’s views on the pet sitting world and how it’s changed. We chatted at length and it was reassuring to hear her effervescent voice of pawsitivity. I was happy to hear her dog, Norm, now six is doing well and her cat Zeke, age 12 is as cute as ever and there is a new dog, Ruby and a couple of Zebra finches.
I’m a staunch advocate of professional pet sitters versus boarding. Unlike dogs who are pack animals and enjoy doggie daycare, cats do not. They are creatures of habit and prefer staying at home. That means finding the right person for your pet sitting needs. Even if a person belongs to a professional pet sitting organization Jill recommends a face to face meeting. This handy pet sitter checklist outlines what to ask anyone you’re considering cat-sitting for you.
Jill has good news and not so good news about the pet sitting industry.
The good news is the growing interest in responsible cat care, and a vast array of toys, scratchers and other products that didn’t exist four years ago, let alone twenty years. It’s no wonder the pet industry topped 67 billion last year. We are showing our love for cats from buying treats and catnip, toys galore to dedicated cat rooms with places to climb , perch or hide. Jill said, “I’m seeing clients who aren’t afraid to decorate to enhance their cat’s well being including building catios.”
The public is more informed with options like never before. We’ve blogged about catios for years but it seemed like something exotic until recently. We really have come a long way thanks to the glut of books, blogs, videos and TV shows. There is nothing crazy cat lady about loving cats anymore. Twenty-five years ago some would have considered pro pet sitting a crazy choice but Jill and her supportive mom were ahead of their time.
There was a time when Jill had to explain the service she provides is a real job. It’s much more than looking after a pet and there isn’t much sitting. Jill and her assistants walk dogs, ferry pets to groomers, vet visits, administer meds, insulin shots or subcutaneous fluids. Even overnight visits are possible. And heaven forbid there is an emergency, they are certified in CPR and first aid. It’s serious business which means being fully licensed, insured and bonded. I don’t know about you but I’m not comfortable letting a neighborhood kid or stranger into my home overnight. Too many things can go wrong which is why I’m a passionate advocate of providing the best possible care for beloved pets.
We live in uncertain times, and anything we can do to reduce anxiety is my motto. For me it’s being prepared. For cats, it’s keeping their routine familiar. Jill has seen some of the same clients go through several lifespans of adoption, death and adoption. “Some clients have me in their wills as a designated pet care provider until their pets are placed in their new home, Jill says. She recommends that everyone have provisions in their will for their pets. She gives her clients “in case of emergency” cards to place in the car and wallet with her info. That’s a great idea for everyone. If something happens and for whatever reason you cant get home, have a point of contact and your vet info on a Pet Emergency Care Card.
The downside to all the pet love? “The competition and inexperienced pet sitters says Jill. Twenty-five years ago there were maybe 5 pet sitters in our Redondo Beach area. Now there are over a 100. People think that it’s an easy business to get into and make quick cash.”
With the rise of Uber-style tech apps like Rover, costs are lower but so is the level of pet care. There is no consistent person providing the service and certainly not the level of expertise or experience. Sure you might get lucky with a friend or neighbor or a listing on Craigslist but why chance it.
Sixty-eight percent of U.S. households, or about 85 million families, own a pet, according to the 2017-2018 National Pet Owners Survey conducted by the American Pet Products Association (APPA). In 2018, the estimates are 90 million dogs and cats are now leading in popularity at 95 million. With pet owners more mobile but away from home, pets need more care from non-owners on regular basis. And no, it’s not okay to leave your cat alone for the weekend.
On a personal note: I have never left my cats alone even overnight. It’s too risky. Illness and accidents can happen but things can go wrong with the home itself from electrical, heating or plumbing issues to external issues of severe weather to break ins. Cats have escaped from broken window screens or doors not closed properly from a careless caregiver.
I find it ironic that some cat owners will buy pricey sweaters or costumes, luxury cat bowls or beds, feed high end food and balk at spending $2o+ for a pet sitter visit. This what Jill offers for $22 which is a bargain compared to rates in New York. Every city and every professional pet sitter will have a range of rates. Lucky pet owners in the Redondo Beach, Torrance, Palos Verdes area south of L.A. might get Jill at Ally McPets Check out their latest news and photos on Facebook and now on Instagram
Pet sitting visits include:
- Feeding meals
- Change water
- Most medication administration** (see below)
- Walking/play time and/or brushing
- Poop Patrol/Scoop Litter Box
- Bring in mail/newspapers/packages
- Trash out on trash day
- Alternate lights/blinds
- Light plant watering
- Setting your alarm
- Double checking gates to ensure they are closed after lawn or pool service
I’m curious as a cat. What is the cost of a cat sitter in your area?