“Since becoming a cat sitter my mental health has improved hugely”

The words of the title are by Matt Weatherall who recounts his life as a near full-time cat sitter on The Guardian’s website. He works in London and he says that to date he has stayed in 25 houses, looked after 30 cats and saved about £10,000 in rent. He says that he is booked to 90% capacity. Any gaps he has in accommodation he goes to his mother’s in Kent or travels. He says that last Christmas he went to Bali.

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Matt Weatherall with dilute calico. Mark Chilvers/The Guardian

Mark loves cats and they love him. He is a cat man, it seems to me. One cat owner told him that he could not expect their cat to sit on his lap because it had only happened once to them. Within four days the cat had sat on his lap and he sent them a photograph.

Just to be clear, cat sitters are people who live in a cat owner’s property to look after the cat and as a side issue to look after the property while the owner is away, sometimes for an extended time. On one occasion he stayed in a very beautiful house with a large garden in London with two Burmese cats. He stayed there for five weeks last summer. That must have been a great experience because you’re living free in London in a big house. That is worth a lot of money. To rent such a place for five weeks could cost something in the order of £5-10,000 if you’re renting on the commercial market.

An interesting aspect of his story is that he suffers from social anxiety which was diagnosed in 2016. He describes it as being self-conscious multiplied by 1 million. When it gets to be a real problem it forces him to stay in the house. This is where cat sitting helps with his mental health. He freely admits that his mental health has improved hugely as cat sitter.

If he feels that people have become too daunting his cats with whom he makes friends are a very good replacement. Tellingly he says that he hasn’t needed talking therapy in more than six months and he puts it down to cat sitting.

Of course, he would like his own place, a one-bed flat so that he can live normally and have his own cat but in the meantime he is finding being a professional cat sitter good for his health and his pocket.

At one time he was living in a 15-person hostel dorm in the central London. He found it useful because he was only paying £350 in rent a month to live in central London but he tired of it after he set up his own business hosting events which puts neighbours together. I presume he runs this while cat sitting.

He confirms, as all informed cat owners know, that each cat has their own individual character. He is better placed to assess this because as mentioned he has cared for 30 cats in 25 different homes.

The downside is that he can’t take a weekend off away with friends or indulge in an all-night party. He’s got cats to look after and I’m sure that some of his clients are quite demanding. They’re demanding because they care about their cats. Mark has a responsible job but he is good at it.

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