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.