Looking After Someone’s Cat

Have you been asked to look after someone’s cat or cats? I have. I seems like a fairly straightforward little pastime of a job that will bring a bit of fun to the home at the same time. There is some fun, maybe lots of fun but there is also a heavy burden of responsibility. Failure is unthinkable. This is because you are often looking after a member of the family. A person who asks another to look after their cat is probably concerned about their cat’s welfare more than a person who boards her cat at a cattery. If that is the case they must, absolutely must choose the right person. If they cannot receive an absolute assurance from the cat sitter/caretaker that their cat will be safe then they are better putting their cat in a cattery. At least in a cattery, despite the downsides, your cat is almost certain to be safe. Bored maybe, but safe.

lost cat being cared for by a friend

This is what happens when a friend or relative loses another person’s cat.

The above picture was taken today (8th August 2012) about 500 yards from where I live. As you can see the temporary caretaker lost someone else’s cat on the first day that he/she took responsibility of him/her. That must have been devastating for the cat’s owner, hugely upsetting for the temporary carer and it may have wrecked the relationship between the two.

A cat in a strange place must not be allowed out, full stop, period, unless outside is as safe as inside. And cats are good at getting out, finding ways out and they will be well motivated to escape from a strange environment as they will often be frightened. If and when they have escaped from their temporary home they will probably try and head back to their real home as cats have good homing instincts. If, as is the case for the cat in the picture, the cat is living in London or some other city with a lot of roads and traffic, the likelihood of being killed on the road is very high.

And if not killed by a car or lorry, the cat will be in panic and probably get lost and wander around as a stray cat. Of course if the owner’s home is nearby the cat might make it back home but no one will be in.

The lost cat might get picked up and put into a shelter. I think in London the nearest shelter to here is the famous Battersea Dogs and Cats Home and they probably have a good success rate for rehoming or returning the cat to his owner.

I would expect one of the things the temporary carer would have done is to telephone or go around to Battersea Dogs and Cats Home to check it out.

I just feel a sense of desperation and despair for the owner and caretaker. In my case I looked after two very glamorous cats that I recall were purebred cats (one was a Persian I think). I lived in a house at the time in St, Albans, Hertfordshire.

I can tell you that I felt the weight of responsibility and was very careful about the cats’ welfare. This was a time well before I started this website.

The person looking after someone else’s cat also has to factor in the potential distress that may occur to any existing cat in his home. That can cause real problems over a two week period. And what about disease and transmission of disease between cats under these circumstances? Catteries insist on vaccination records for obvious reasons. Recommendation: ensure that there is a place for the incoming cat to hide as it will allow a cat to express innate behavior. Note: some cats will feel at home almost immediately but many won’t.

Bottom line: the first requirement is safety. Everything is second to that prime objective. If neither party to the arrangement feels that that requirement is guaranteed then don’t ask someone else to look after your cat while you are on holiday and if you are asked, don’t do it unless you feel the weight of responsibility and have the time and space and presence to discharge your obligations to a high standard.

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Looking After Someone’s Cat — 4 Comments

  1. Hi Michael,

    Over time I’ve had two cats escape.

    I got one back a few days later. The other one disappeared for good.

    One time it was my fault. I opened the door and my cat bolted.

    The other time a room mate left a window open. That was the cat that never came back.

    Losing a cat was one of the worst feelings I’ve had in my life. I never want to go through that again.

    I’d pick a cat sitter very carefully. I would choose a person who loves and has cats. I’ve had two cat sitters in the past and both loved and had cats. It worked out well because they came and lived in my house while I was on vacation. I wouldn’t do it any other way. I strongly suggest all other cat parents follow suit when they go on vacation.

    I wouldn’t drop my cat off at another persons house because that would freak out my cat. As you pointed out, if the cat got outside, it would likely be a disaster (and in a strange neighborhood to the cat).

    =^-^= Hairless Cat Girl =^-^=

    • I agree with you as usual. The big factor in someone else caring for your cat while you are away is, “Is the person completely trustworthy and able to do the job?”. Even the slightest doubt for me would prevent me asking the person to do it. There is just too much at stake. I would never, ever forgive myself if a friend lost my cat or he got hurt. It would be a big blow to so I have to play safe. I don’t go away these day 😉 I am a prisoner….

  2. It’s much safer for a cat to have someone living in to look after him/her in his/her own home, but having done that and even been well paid for it, I wouldn’t like to do it again. The responsibility of keeping the cats and the house safe is tremendous, but maybe I worry too much and others may enjoy living is someone else’s home.

    The only cat sitting I’ve done since then is voluntary through being a Cats Protection volunteer, visiting the cats at home to feed them etc, just short term while a person living alone has been in hospital. Oh I could tell you some tales about one house lol the woman had just thrown paper hankies over the piles of cat poo on the carpet and she’d used air freshener to try to disguise the stink. I ended up mucking the place out, you really don’t want to know what the kitchen cupboards were like inside.

    Another we met through Cats Protection became a ‘friend’ who was carted off regularly to hospital after falling, we looked after her cats in their own home every time, little did we know until too late that she ‘fell’ every time her court case for fraud was due. She eventually abandoned her poor cats altogether.

    We are lucky in that my sister and I live together since she was widowed, we don’t go away but if either of us had to, our cats would still have the other of us at home.
    We’d never trust anyone to look after our boyz or put them in a cattery but we are happy to stay home with them.

    • Nice stories. And I think we are the same. I don’t go away either. I am what is called, “anchored” to the spot. I just know he’ll have a tough time with someone else or if he goes to some other place and I can’t put him through that.

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