Dog walkers are definitely becoming ever more popular particularly for well-paid professionals who are busy at work and who don’t have kids. Their kids are their dogs. They pay professional dog walkers handsomely. It has become a decent career move to turn one’s love of dogs and walking into a job because they can earn £30,000 in London, UK and more. This is more than primary school teachers and nurses.
Dog walking is not easy, although it looks it, but dog-walkers are increasingly taking advantage of cash-rich pet owners with little time to give to their dogs. You might ask, “Why have a dog then?”
This is obviously a good thing for the dogs. We know that dogs pine for their owners if left indoors or in enclosures all day. Just today there was a nice story of a dog who used a trampoline in the back garden to escape a 6-foot-high fence and chase after his owner who was heading for the train station. This dog wanted his human’s company and used his intelligence to get it.
Now what about cats? Essentially, the modern domestic cat is no different in terms of emotional requirements. The idea that cats are independent and can cope well alone all day is inaccurate. The domestic cat today is quite sociable and being alone all day in an apartment for instance is a recipe for stress-related illnesses. No question about it. I am convinced a lot of ‘cat behavior problems’ are caused by human behavior problems – separation anxiety by being away all day at work and then going out for a drink afterwards.
Dog walkers are paid by the hour. Historically, as I know it, cat sitters are employed to live in the cat owner’s home and are usually paid by the day to sit in while their owners are on holiday or away for a few days. I’d like to see more cat sitters being employed to provide company and play with cats while their owners are working. They would be paid by the hour and stay for an hour.
The burgeoning market in dog sitters hints, once again, at pet owner’s favouritism towards the dog and a misunderstanding of the emotional needs of domestic cats. This bias towards the health and welfare of dogs is seen in more frequent veterinary visits which are not due to increased ill-health in dogs.
There is a general misconception that cats are aloof and will cope well alone. There are no statistics but there will be numerous examples of stress in cats caused by being alone for too long particularly in confinement even if the home or enclosure is large.
Whereas dog walking is now considered a career more, cat sitting is considered pocket money for reliable, retired people. It is perhaps time to upgrade the status of cat sitters and for cat owners to be more aware of the emotional needs of their cats.