Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Why I Need a Vacation From Vacation

Friday has a nasty habit. He hates company. Anytime someone comes over he growls, hisses and once he even attacked my brother-in-law. Though you may come visit every day, he will not like you. He would faint dead away if a hamster attacked him but let a 200lb, 6’5” human male come in the door and he’ll square off and show fangs. Charming. Simply charming.

Thankfully, he’s not putting as much effort into his company-hatred as of late. Yet, his newfound ambivalent attitude did little to ease my mind while I was preparing for my recent vacation. Vacation means that “company” has to come into the house. He doesn’t care if they’re there to feed him. He can’t be made to like anyone. I worried that he would be uncooperative at best and lethal at worst.

Because our dog can be aggressive, we keep the cats separated when we’re not home. That alone doesn’t present much of a problem as Friday doesn’t mind being “wrangled” into the bedroom but he eats in the bathroom which is not connected to the bedroom. It’s an old house. I knew that twice a day Friday would have to be steered from bedroom to bathroom and back to bedroom. Two years ago, he spent my vacation shut in the bathroom, as he refused to come out and threatened to bleed the woman who was watching him. She put a litter box in the tub and a water bowl out for him and called it good. Naturally, he scattered litter everywhere and I was determined that he would cooperate this year.

I racked my brain. His sitter needed a way to move him without having to pick him up or on a bad day without even touching him! I finally struck on it! Tuna! Friday would follow Satan himself to the gates of hell at the mere promise of tuna. Feeling smart, I bought a couple cans and left the sitter a can opener and several little plastic bowls. Sure enough, one morning after breakfast, Friday decided wanted to sit in the dining room and watch the birds through the window. He promised to stay put for hours. But with a flick of the can opener he was front and center and not only was he willing to go back to the bedroom but he led the way!

Knowing I’ve figured out the trick to buying Friday’s cooperation for anyone, company included, makes me feel much better about my future travel. Since I spent so much time and energy prepping for a sitter I decided to offer you a list of tips from me, a professional pet sitter with nearly ten years of experience taking care of everything from hamsters to horses. Hopefully, your cats are better behaved than mine and you won’t have to go to tuna lengths!

When using a pet sitter be prepared:
Clean it up: Don’t leave a mess in litter boxes that calls for a back hoe to clean it out. Change it and leave fresh litter for your sitter. Likewise, wash water and food bowls before you leave. Your pets don’t like nasty dishes any more than you do and a good sitter will wash the bowls again before you come home.

Get organized: Sitters have limited time. Time spent looking for the cat food is time that could be spent socializing with your cats. Clearly describe where food is stored. If it’s stored at the back of the pantry slide it to the front for your trip. The same goes for litter scoops (you wouldn’t believe how many hours of my life are spent looking for these jewels. Where do you people put them?!) brushes, treats, can openers, medications or anything else you would like your sitter to use for your pets while you’re gone.

Medical info: If your pet is on medications, be sure to tell your sitter. Leave medicine where the sitter can find it but somewhere safe where your pet cannot chew into the container and accidentally overdose. If you hide the meds in treats or food leave everything your sitter could possibly need to get the pill from the packaging to your pet including: scissors, spoons, paper towels, etc.


Miss T said...

Great information! We've used a couple of cat sitters sinced we've had the boys and as soon as I've locked the door, my brain starts creating all kinds of scenarios that I haven't prepared the sitter for. Good to see a set of dot points that I can refer to next time we leave the boys "Home Alone" or almost. Thanks. :)

caricature said...

lots of useful info. great post :)

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