By Jennifer Viegas for The Daily Cat
The Animal Nanny, Marna Stein, is a registered veterinary technician who works in San Francisco and represents a new kind of pet sitter -- one who provides more personal and specialized services for your cat. Would you and your cat benefit from having such a nanny cat sitter? You might be surprised by the tasks Stein and other super-sitters can handle.
Cat Sitter Supreme
With a cat nanny service, expect the usual pet sitter perks, only with a twist. For example, Stein and her colleagues will feed and play with your cat, but for lonely or otherwise needy felines, they can stay overnight at your home, too.
“Really social cats get lonely and are used to their regular routine with their owners,” explains Stein. “They will come sleep in the bed and curl up beside the sitter, who can help to ensure the cat maintains its usual habits.” Since she also has a medical background, including serving as a hospital manager for two veterinary clinics, Stein can administer medicines and provide extra support, even at night, for aged and ailing felines.
We all know about dog walks, but some cats also like to take an outdoor stroll on a leash. One of Stein’s regular cat clients must have its daily walk in the owner’s courtyard. “It’s often amusing because the cat follows the same routine of inspecting the perimeter and certain favorite spots,” she says.
Why Hire a Nanny Cat Sitter?
In addition to providing expected home comforts, a more specialized pet sitter can be a lifesaver. “One cat got caught underneath a bed box spring, and it’s fairly common for cats to lock themselves in closets,” says Stein. She has figured out how to foil this: by placing a clothes hanger on the inside door to prevent feline Houdinis from getting trapped.
An even more serious problem is when a cat stops eating for a few days, out of possible anxiety, depression or confusion over the changed routine. “Cats can get feline hepatic lipidosis, or fatty liver disease, and it can come on suddenly,” says Stein. “Even young, healthy animals can develop health problems, as anything can happen in a 24-hour period.” A good cat sitter would contact you and make necessary arrangements, such as transporting the animal to its veterinarian. Stein offers “pet taxi” services even outside of emergencies, since most cab companies won’t drive animals.
Top Questions to Ask Cat Sitters
Whether you are seeking a pet sitter for daily duties or for temporary vacation-time help, consider asking the following questions during initial discussions:
1. Are you insured?
Liability insurance will protect you from financial loss in the rare event that an accident should occur while you’re gone. “Any responsible professional business should carry liability insurance,” says Stein.
2. What kind of special training do you have?
It helps to have a sitter who has prior veterinary training and has taken pet first-aid and CPR classes.
3. Are you a member of Pet Sitters International or the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters?
These are the two major U.S. associations for pet sitters. (If you don’t have a pet sitter in mind, you can also contact them for referrals.)
During first conversations, also inquire about forms of payment, hours of service, whether your pet sitter needs a key (Stein keeps keys on file for regular customers) and what you can expect when you return home. The Animal Nanny leaves behind a detailed note reporting what happened during her stay.
The Connection Between Nanny and Cat
Just as Mary Poppins had to win over her children, your pet sitter nanny may need time to bond with your cat. “Cats tend to be wary in general,” says Stein. “Even with good care, it sometimes takes a couple of days before they come out and say ‘hi’.” But the best nannies leave their cats craving more when they leave. One of Stein’s clients reported that her cat, Bella, looked for her beloved cat sitter for a while at the front door after the Animal Nanny’s work was done.
Jennifer Viegas is the managing editor of The Daily Cat. She is a journalist for Discovery News, the news service for the Discovery Channel, and has written more than 20 books on animals, health and other science-related topics.