Saving on rent and bills while cat sitting

One of the best perks of cat sitting is the notion of saving on rent or utility bills. The concept of exchanging cat sitting services with staying over at cat owners’ houses is amazing.

Back home where I first started rescuing, fostering or cat sitting, it was all done at my home. The culture is different in the Middle East when it comes to cat owners hosting you at their houses. It is not common in Lebanon.

Moving to the UK and spending my holidays in the US, and thanks to the great House Sitters UK and House Sitters America websites, I have been saving on months and months of rent and utility bills.

This doesn’t mean I had no other expenses, of course besides buying your own groceries and personal stuff, you may incur some expenses, mainly related to transportation and travel. And sometimes, you may end up staying over in a hotel such as Roomzzz Aparthotels or Airbnb.



Earning money from cat sitting

You’ve been enjoying cat sitting all year long, saving on lots of utility bills and rent, however, you’re not making money from cat sitting yet. This is mainly because most cat owners are offering you stayovers in exchange for your cat sitting services.

However, this does not mean you can’t charge for your cat sitting services. Mind you that many cat owners are generous enough to leave you a lucrative tip before or after your stay at theirs. Below I detail how you can earn money from cat sitting.

Offering extra services

Buying a high traffic cat related website

Buying a Franchise cat sitting business

Starting your own cat sitting business

Joining Affiliate networks and selling other businesses’ products and services

 

Impressing cat owners with your cat sitting skills

Now that you’ve met the cat owners, confirmed your sit, and started cat sitting, it’s time to impress cat owners with your cat sitting skills.

I’ve mentioned briefly how you can earn money from doing extra services next to cat sitting, but that’s definitely not the only way to impress cat owners.

Below are multiple ways and simple things you do to wow your cat owners.

Buying treats for the cats

Mowing the lawn

Gardening

Feeding the squirrels and birds outside

Getting mail

Paying Bills

Cleaning the car

Filling up their fridge with groceries

Taking excellent photos and videos

Fixing things that don’t work at home

Meeting the cat owners

When it comes to cat sitters meeting cat owners, first impressions are everything. Whether it happens online or face to face, you need to impress cat owners to make an impact early in the relationship.

Bringing in a small gift

Most cat owners are already stressed out about travel and last-minute packing before they go on holiday. The least you can do is to let them feel relaxed that they are leaving their cats in safe hands.

One simple gesture that means a lot to cat owners is to bring in a small gift. I usually bring in some cat treats with me. It is a nice way to get introduced to the cats and leaves a positive impression that you are kind and generous.

Ask for a tour of the house

Most cats will be shy at first, so make use of that time to review the instruction notes cat owners sent you, and ask any questions that make your stay with their cats more comfortable and useful.

Questions should come in the form of making sure you understood the notes well, clarify anything you need more explanations for, and show the cat owners that you have actually done your homework and know where everything is but you’re making sure.

Ask questions while touring the house

Examples of these questions:

  • How far is the vet from here, and where can I find the cat carrier in case I needed it?
  • Where can I find the water and gas valves in case of any emergency?
  • How to use home appliances (washing machine, dryer, oven, stove, TV, Internet, heaters, air conditioning, intercom, security and alarm system, etc)?
  • What part of day do you like me to contact you for daily reports on the cats?
  • Where do you want me to put the mail received?
  • Should I answer the door or the intercom/phone?
  • What should I say to anyone who calls/visits while you are away?
  • What day and time do you return home?
  • Do you prefer I’m home when you return or should I leave before?
  • Where will I leave the keys on my way out?
  • Do the neighbours know that I am staying here and do I have to introduce myself to them?
  • Where do your cats hang out in the house, outside in the garden?
  • What time do your cats go out and come back in?
  • Are the cats microchipped? If so, are the catflaps programmed to these microchips?
  • What do I do in case the cats did not come back in on the same day?
  • Do you want me to clean the bed sheets before I leave

Show care to the cats

Try to gently approach the cats if they warmed up to you. Stretch your hand to their chins or nose and let them smell your fingers. If they run away let them be. If they stay try to pet them on the scruff. Petting a cat while their owners are still around makes them feel secure.

Keep a piece of clothes on the bed or bedroom chair while you are staying in the living room or hanging outside. Cats want to sniff your clothes to understand and memorise your smell.

Cats usually stare at you from afar. Do not stare back yet. Wait till they understand every move you make. Make sure you follow a standard routine and habit on a daily basis so that they remember all your daily activities.

For example, if you get up at a particular time in the morning, make sure you get up the next day on the same time. Also, try to give the cats some space and time alone to visit the litter box or eat/drink.

Many cats won’t warm up to you quickly. It can take several days. I’ve had cats that never warmed up to me. Some other cats warmed up after 11 days. Do not force a cat to do something they are not sure yet about doing.

Types of Cat Sitting Ads

Before communicating with cat owners who are looking for cat sitters, it is very important to understand the different types of cat sitting ads and the psychology behind them. In this article I explain three types of cat sitting ads.

Last minute, urgent cat sitting ads or cancellations

Cat owners often find themselves in deep stress, disorganised and all over the place. These cat owners are not necessarily the last-minute type, but due to unforseen circumstances find themselves in some kind of an urgent need for cat sitters or for cancellation.

There are few reasons why this happens as explain below:

  • Last minute holiday plans, usually those are either work-related business trips or social events
  • A cat sitter has suddenly canceled the sit due to some last minute reason
  • A sudden cancellation due to illness or other family member situation in the cat owner’s household

Last minute house ads due to holiday reschedules or any cancellation coming from cat sitters causes lots of stress, especially in the communication with cat sitters. You as a cat sitter need to handle this with extreme caution and care. Those types of ads are posted at a very short notice and you need to be comforting and assuring in case you decided to communicate with cat owners. Those cat sitting jobs are very easy to land as the competition is usually very low among other cat sitters.

My advice is if you want a quick and easy cat sit, search for those ads by applying the filters. Reduce the notice period (play with the dates on House Sitters website) and adjust them to be starting shortly (this week). Usually cat owners have little time to filter through applications and usually accept the cat sitter with a good experience and review. Also, chances that you will be contacted by desperate cat owners are somewhat high. So, be prepared to have a very good response rate (within 6 hours on average).

If you are experienced with cat sitting, you don’t need to ask many questions, and my recommended action to take is to pick up the phone and call the cat owners (most last minute ads will have a phone number posted on House Sitters website).

Calling cat owners who are in desperate need for a cat sitter is very stress-relieving, especially if you have excellent communication skills. The conversation and agreement usually goes very swiftly and smoothly.

Medium urgency cat sitting ads

Those cat sitting ads are posted within 3 weeks to 6 months in advance. The communication with cat owners is usually stress-free, and cat owners have ample time to filter through applications, look at reviews and ask for a couple references. Cat sits which are due within 4 weeks or less, are the serious ones as the communication really starts to flow faster and the response rates increase. The competition for these ads is very high. Expect to be competing with not only local cat sitters, but also cat sitters coming from abroad – especially during the summer.

The chances to be selected for the job are a bit weak, and depend on many factors:

  • your availability
  • your location
  • your experience with cat sitting
  • your references
  • your ratings and reviews
  • your communication skills

If you want the job, you’ll have to impress cat owners in the way you communicate with them. Also, your profile should be attractive and rich with reviews.

To increase your chances, ask questions that show cat owners that you care for their cats, and you have the experience to handle special cases (if they mention any in their ads). You basically need to study the house ad very attentively and focus on asking questions that are not answered in the ads.

Some questions that help you start a good conversation:

  • I’ve noticed in your cat sitting ad that you mentioned that your cats need to be fed twice a day, do they eat dry and/or wet food?
  • Do your cats leave the house during the night, and what time do they usually get back home?
  • How far is the vet from home in case of any emergency?
  • Do your cats require special care or do they have a favourite toy you want me to use while cat sitting?

The above questions will not only show experience, but also help assure cat owners that you are detail-oriented and want their cats to be happy during your sit.

I usually look for misleading information and turn their attention to it. For example, one of the cat owners mentioned in their ad that they are leaving by the end of July, but the dates on the ad say end of August. I pinpointed that to the cat owners and they were impressed that I have attention to details. It’s a great conversation starter.

Flexible and relaxed cat sitting ads

Those cat sitting ads show you that cat owners are either super-organised or want to get this responsibility off their shoulders as soon as possible and well in advance of their travel.

Super-organised cat owners usually travel to the same destinations and on the same month(s) every year. Planning for such holidays is a no-brainer. They spend the least time arranging for their travel. The bulk of their stress is finding a reliable cat sitter and agreeing with them on the sit as early as possible.

These cat sitting jobs are amazingly filled up very quickly. You would think you have all the time to contact the cat owners, on the contrary, cat owners are trying to seal a deal way in advance to free their minds from worry. This is why when you search for cat sitting jobs, do not filter much and leave your search criteria open.

The communication with cat owners is very mellow, calm, and your profile is well-researched. My advice is to take it to the next level very quickly to seal the deal early. Ask for a quick call and impress cat owners as early as possible. Usually what cat owners do, if they like your profile and they get along with you on the phone, they confirm right away and remove the ad from the website. This is why you need to make it quick and establish contact as early as possible.

 

Planning your cat sit

Congrats, you just found a cat sitting job, communicated with the cat owners, and your sit is confirmed. Now, you should be planning your cat sit accordingly.

One important thing to note before planning your cat sit calendar is that you need to coordinate your work/personal holidays with your boss, family, and friends and arrange for your holidays at least 3 months ahead of time.

Most cat owners submit their cat sitting ads way in advance (some plan their leave one year in advance) as they need to get their stress out of their shoulders and find a reliable and trustworthy cat sitter as early as possible.

In fact, you should be looking at three kinds of cat owners’ ads:

  1. Last minute, urgent cat sitting ads
  2. Medium urgency cat sitting ads
  3. Flexible and relaxed cat sitting ads

In this article, I deep dive into the pros and cons of each type of cat sitting ad.

Confirm a sit before planning your holiday

I used to plan my holidays with my boss then look for cat sitting ads that happen in the same period. Little did I know that the best practice is the other way around. You plan your holidays based on your cat sitting jobs calendar.

When you contact a cat owner who is traveling a year from now, you can easily plan your holiday around that sit. It is very difficult finding a cat sitting job that fits perfectly with your planned holiday, that’s why you confirm a cat sit, and then plan your holiday accordingly.

Local cat sitting – Commuting plans

Bus Rides

Rural Areas

National cat sitting – Transportation Plans

Train Rides

Air Flights

Roomzzz Aparthotels


International cat sitting – Travel Plans

Flight Trips

Airbnb Stayovers

 

 

Getting in touch with cat owners

Now that you have found cat owners and cat sitting ads online, I am going to tell you how to communicate effectively with them. But first, I’d like to differentiate between two types of cat owners:

  1. cat owners who are not currently looking for cat sitters
  2. cat owners who are currently looking for cat sitters

If you spot a cat owner tweeting about their cats, they’re not neccessarily looking for cat sitters. In that case, you need to build the relationship with these cat owners and wait till their need for a cat sitter arises.

How to build a relationship with cat owners

The first step to build a relationship with a cat owner you’ve never met is to find them. In this article, I talk about how to find cat owners online.

Once you find a cat owner online, you’ll need to monitor their daily activity, by adding them to a Twitter list, or by setting up a deck on Tweetdeck. You can automate this using automation tools such as Phantombuster or Zapier. I talk about automation tools in my personal website.

Third step is to show some love for their feline furry friends. By monitoring their tweets about their cats, the least you can do is hit the like button. Or, you can add to the conversation by throwing out a playful comment. Always remember that cat owners love to talk about their cats, so by adding a comment, you’re starting a conversation with them really.

Do not be pushy or stalkerish. You can start by a follow to their account, then next day hitting like to one of their cat tweets, third day you reply, and so on. Do this once per cat owner. If they do not interact back, move on to the next cat owner. You do not want to be a creep or annoy them.

The objective here is to notice you. Once they follow back or start a conversation with you, it’s time for you to introduce yourself as an awesome cat sitter.

This is where the conversation moves from a playful comment to a professional dialogue. Usually this conversation happens privately via direct message. Make sure to have your cat sitter profile with reviews or references ready in case they ask for it. I talk about how to set up a powerful cat sitter profile here.

In the next article, I discuss the types of cat sitting ads and how to respond to them.

Finding cat owners online

When looking for cat sitting jobs, you not only need to set up a powerful cat sitter profile, but also where to find cat owners online and how to keep an eye out on cat sitting ads. You can do that either manually, or set up automated alerts. I don’t have any preference for which is better, but if you don’t want to miss a cat sitting job, you better set up an alert for that.

If you are a working professional, you also need to plan your holidays upfront to be able to know when are the dates you are available for cat sitting.

Let’s start by how to monitor upcoming cat sitting jobs both by email and manually.

Cat sitting alerts by email

You can set up cat sitting ad alerts by email while you enjoy doing other things during your day.

House Sitters UK

House Sitters America

House Sitters Canada

House Sitters New Zealand

In-App cat sitting alerts

Cat in a Flat

Trusted House Sitters

Cat sitting alerts on Twitter

This is one of my favourite strategies to find cat owners. The only drawback is that these cat owners are not necessarily looking for cat sitting now, but I use this technique to build relationships and trust before asking them if they need cat sitting in the future.

What I usually do is I add each cat owner to a Twitter list, or set up a Tweetdeck deck, and monitor their tweets on a daily basis. Once I find a cat sitting opportunity (a cat owner could tweet they’re looking for a cat sitter in your area), I reply offering my services.

Here’s how I set up these saved searches:

Go to Twitter search and type:

“my cat” near:[your area].

So, if you are looking for cat owners in California, you can type in search:

“my cat” near:california.

You’ll get live tweets of cat owners in California talking about their cats.

I’ve set up Twitter searches for you below if you live in the US, UK, Canada, or Australia. You can narrow down to a specific state, province, county, or city by changing the location after the word near. Mind that there is no space between near: and the location.

Cat owners live tweets in the US

Cat owners live tweets in the UK

Cat owners live tweets in Canada

Cat owners live tweets in Australia

Creating your cat sitter profile

Now that you have located all the cat sitting websites that I have recommended earlier, it’s time to make a powerful impact to cat owners by putting together a great cat sitter profile.

Leaving a positive first impression to cat owners who are anxious planning their holidays is all you need to win them over. However, what would you do if this is your first cat sitting experience ever?

My first interaction with cats

Most cat sitters are cat lovers by nature, and being a cat lover, it is highly unlikely that you have zero experience with cats before. For me, it started in 2015 when I lived in a house of two cats adopted by university students. I had never touched a cat before, but I’ve gained experience in no time as I was the only work-from-home tenant at that house, and I am the one who takes care of them during the day.

That’s how I started falling in love with these lovely companions. All of a sudden, my phone gallery was full of cute pictures taken while I pet the two cats, play with them, or while they wrestle with each other.

My first story with cats

I also had one incident that made me a rescuer later on. I came home one night and heard that one of the cats had jumped out the window from the fourth floor but he landed on the first floor’s terrace, and hid behind the shutters, scared and in pain. I had to get a ladder and climb up to the first floor’s terrace to rescue him. He broke his leg and we took him to the hospital for operation.

The above incident is a powerful story that shows cat owners that you not only love cats, but you’re willing to do anything to rescue them.

Since that day, I got attached to cats and started researching about them. It has been 7 great years since.

Your cat sitter profile

Help out in cat shelters

If you’ve never interacted with cats before, you’ve got to do this before creating your cat sitter profile. You can start by visiting shelters. Volunteer on weekends by helping out in shelters for rescued cats, or foster your neighbour’s cat while they’re away. There must be an interaction so that you can write something interesting and leave an impact on cat owners.

Tell a story

Always remember, telling a story is powerful. As a marketer, I rely a lot on telling stories everywhere I go and whoever I meet. Storytelling makes your cat sitter profile stand out.

Use humour and playfulness

Cats are funny, but also being funny with cat owners reduces their pre-travel stress a lot. Having a sense of humour is not always easy, however, you can use some one liners or headlines in your profile that stand out and make your cat owner at ease while visiting your profile. I use this headline: Trilingual if meowing is a language. Cat owners have given me a good feedback when I first talked to them, they always remind me how funny my headline is. Use a similar or funnier headline.

Upload powerful pictures

Make sure when you upload photos of cats you sat with to include yourself in those pictures. Cat owners want a proof that you did not steal the photos from somewhere. Show photos where cats are on your shoulder or while you’re playing with them, or petting them while they nap on your lap. This shows the cat owners you are fun to be with around cats, caring and loving.

taleb cat sitter

Verification, Security and Insurance

All three websites that I have recommended in this article have a stringent verification process to protect from any issues that may arise with cats and cat owners. You need cat owners to feel safe leaving their cats with you, so if you are DBS checked, or have insurance you can mention that in your profile as well but it is not necessary as those websites provide that already.

Reliability in case of an emergency or illness

Most cat owners leave excellent instructions and notes for you to follow, however, you need to assure cat owners that you can administer medication and know how to deal with emergencies or certain illnesses. Ask for the cat’s vet number and address and also ask them to show you where the cat carrier is when you meet them.

Show Interest and be Responsive

If you show interest in the cat by asking important questions, you gain the trust of cat owners fast. Questions like are they indoor or outdoor cats, do they have a special food or favourite treats, what makes them happy. Cat owners love to talk about their fur babies, and you need to encourage them to do that. It shows that you care about cats and you’re not cat sitting to spend the day outside site seeing or partying at night.

Ask for Reviews and Provide References

Make sure you ask for reviews and provide references. Do not be surprised if cat owners ask for the email address of previous cat owners you sat for. They are leaving you with their most valuable pet and they want to be sure you are reliable and trustworthy enough around their feline friends.