Think you love cats enough to care for them for a living — or in your spare time? Fred T. Allen has built a thriving pet sitting business in Corpus Christi, Texas. Fido Sit is known for going the extra mile, whether that means watering plants or even saving a beloved cat's life with the Heimlich maneuver! We asked Allen how to be a great cat sitter.
Show Your Trustworthiness
When it comes to hiring a sitter, Allen says cat parents have three major concerns. "Their worries all end in y: unreliability, immaturity and dishonesty," he says.
Trustworthiness is the most important part of being a great cat sitter. If you have a reputation for being trustworthy, clients will know you're reliable, mature and honest.
"Pet sitting isn't a simple job where you just throw some food and water down, pet the cat a couple times and leave," Allen says.
Allen's policies include getting a list of tasks, not entering a room if the door's closed and keeping a log of what happens during each visit, plus doing a little extra too, like bringing in the mail, watering the plants, and playing with the pets for at least 20 minutes. Allen advises paying close attention to the cats' health and notifying clients if anything seems off.
Receive Kitty Training
Interacting with a new-to-you cat can be different than snuggling with ones you've known for years. You can get tips from a cat behaviorist or by volunteering at a local cat rescue.
"After I put the food out and clean the litter, I sit on the couch real still and wait," Allen says. "I talk softly to them, and wait for them to come to me."
You'll also want to get certified in pet first aid. Allen once saved a choking cat with the Heimlich maneuver!
Get the Word Out
"You've got to have a webpage," Allen says. "When people want a pet sitter, the first thing they'll do is type 'pet sitter' and the city name. If you type 'pet sitter Corpus Christi,' I'll pop up number one on Google. It took me a long time to get there."
Allen has a Facebook page and encourages his clients to post reviews there, on Google and Angie's List to help get the word out.
"I'll also go to events," he said. "If there's a dog-in-the-park type of event, I'll go there and hand out cards."
Invest in Your Business
Allen is a big advocate of insurance coverage for a pet-sitting business. He recommends comprehensive insurance and bonding before your first job. Allen wouldn't do a visit without it.
Having trustworthy policies, going the extra mile, honing your cat behaviorist skills and getting positive reviews will all build your reputation as reliable, mature and honest. Do these things, and you'll find yourself with loyal customers who keep coming back.