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How NOT To Lose A Good Pet Sitter

I love traveling but hate leaving my pets, especially Ruby. My pets are complicated and a teeny-tiny bit weird. Maybe everyone feels this way? But in our case, it’s true.

We are three humans, three cats, two mice, and a dog. That’s four different species, down from five when our bunny, Lulu was still with us. Oh, and our house is also kind of “special needs”(aka old and broken).

Finding (and keeping) a good pet sitter is hard for us. Many pet sitters focus on dogs or cats or maybe small animals, but usually not all three. We are overachievers when it comes to pets and it takes a brave soul with a smile and can-do attitude to care for our brood.

Helpful hint: There’s a fine line between full disclosure and scaring the heck out of a potential pet sitter. I believe in treading lightly, focusing on the bright side – with Ruby this means deflecting from the cray-cray to the cuteness, and as a last resort, her painful past (though she’s been with us for five years now so this one sometimes doesn’t work as well). Always apologize ahead of time just in case your dog gets stressed, eats a bunch of mouse food, gets sick, and then tracks it through the whole house – because it could happen. Also, a “my pets behaved badly” bonus is a nice way of saying “thanks, I know this was way more than you bargained for, but we appreciate you and hope you won’t hold all that vomit against us.”

Pet Sitting Instructions: How not to scare the heck out your pet sitter

Pet Sitting Notes: Full Disclosure with Sunshine and Cupcakes

A montage of recent notes to our pet sitter

1.The cats have a love-hate relationship without the love part. On good days, they ignore each other and on bad days, its like the kitty fight club or Real House Cats of New Jersey (special request: please don’t let Rosie watch reality TV. It’s not good for her mental health).

The bright side: Rosie doesn’t bite or scratch humans. She saves her house cat rage for Teddy.

2. Ruby doesn’t understand portion control. Also, she really likes cat food (and mice food). I suggest feeding the cats on top of the refrigerator. We tried the table, but Ruby is surprisingly good at climbing. Of course, the fridge-top patio should only be used when the kitty fight club is not in session. Contrary to popular belief, cats don’t always land on their feet and sometimes take their food bowls down with them.

The bright side: Our refrigerator is not very tall so you won’t need a stool (aka no fall risk).

Apologies and Notes to my pet sitter: how not to lose a good pet sitter

3. Our house is old and kind of broken. You will need to jiggle the lock and then throw yourself against the door to get it open.

The bright side: It’s winter and your puffy coat (gosh, I hope you have a puffy coat) will break the impact and prevent serious injury. 

4. The mice are rebels and would like nothing more than to shred the place. Trixie, the more white mouse, also seems particularly bent on escape. She knows about the cats and doesn’t seem to care. We think she might be depressed or maybe nuts.

The bright side: Besides the shredding and escaping thing, the girls are pretty low maintenance. No pep talks or cuddling required. Mice will be mice.

Pet sitting 101 dogs, cats and mice, oh my

5. Did I mention Ruby’s separation anxiety? Sometimes when I am gone she refuses to leave the house. She takes “I’ll be home soon, you stay here,” literally. Unfortunately, this may lead to accidents or worst case scenario, intestinal distress.

The bright side: I pay REALLY well. 

6. Rosie likes to hide in the kitchen cabinets. I suspect she’s looking for the chips. She’s also deaf and sometimes gets kind of screechy if you startle her.

The bright side: I hid the chips in the fridge with some guacamole. Help yourself. 

7. Teddy thinks small boxes make him look thin or maybe invisible. They don’t but  just play along.

The bright side: Is there anything cuter than a big cat in a small box. You are welcome. 

Notes for my pet sitter and instructions and apologies for my pet sitter

8. When we are gone and can’t supervise, Rosie and Teddy must lead separate lives. While one is upstairs, the other is downstairs and vice versa. Feel free to switch them around – though be careful lifting Teddy. Quite frankly, he weighs a ton and we don’t want any back injuries. Always lift from your knees because safety first. Please include Ruby in the musical cats game; otherwise, she will feel left out and get even more depressed.

The bright side: After chasing Rosie and carrying Teddy (and possibly Ruby), you will probably be able to skip your workout for the day. 

9. Our house is way more complicated and scrappy than our pets. Broken things happen.

The bright side: If anything breaks, just turn it off and walk away. We will take care of it later or more likely, next year. 

10. The couch is the place all lost things go. Things you might find between the couch cushions: one of the cats, keys, the chips, the remote control, and ALL the pens.

The bright side: You might also find money. Keep it – you have totally earned it!

P.S: I’m SORRY for everything. Thank you.

pet sitting instructions and apologies: How not to scare or lose your petsitter

Finding the perfect pet sitter takes some work and luck. Ideally, you want someone who is responsible, experienced, and meets the unique (sometimes weird) needs of your family. For us, we need a superwoman of sorts who is comfortable walking dogs, wrangling cats, and isn’t afraid of rioting mice. We are lucky to have found a great pet sitter who knows all this stuff and shockingly, hasn’t quit yet – hurray!

What do you look for in a pet sitter and do your pets require any kind of funny explanation?

How not to scare away a good pet sitter: full disclosure pet sitting instructions


  1. March 15, 2019 / 2:32 am

    that are good tips and I hope you have the pet sitter who can see the little special things with a smile… btw: WE LOVE your mice house!!!

  2. March 15, 2019 / 3:44 am

    Seeing all those faces … I can’t imagine anyone could say no to pet-sitting! This – along with the apology to your dog post – are my absolute favorite posts anywhere ever. Just saying.

  3. March 15, 2019 / 5:29 am

    We used pet sitters for a good year, when traveling with three dogs didn’t work for us. It was hard using someone we had just met, Mom worried a lot, not about the cats, but the dog/dogs who were left home. Luckily, Mom’s cousin and her daughter stepped up and would stay at our house with whoever was left home and it worked great. Mom knew she could be trusted and they enjoyed the time with pets and some extra cash.

  4. March 15, 2019 / 5:40 am

    totally cracked me up. now oddly enough I want to be a pet sitter because crazy as your brood sounds, they also seem adorable. It would be nice if I could find a pet sitter for Pinkie and Midnight as they hate each other so I worry if I’m apart from them too long. Easier to take them with me but I hate long drives because they abhor the car and vocalize their opinion.

  5. March 15, 2019 / 5:41 am

    Hari OM
    In all the time I had the J’s, there was only one occasion where a ‘sitter’ was required; and that only for Jasper cat as Jade travelled with. He loved neighbour G… I can’t imagine how it would be for you, but I think the honesty of your list and the bright side options make it all quite appealing! YAM xx

  6. March 15, 2019 / 5:46 am

    Bravo Kristen this is a wonderful post!! Bravo.
    I sure did hate leaving Madi. Especially in her later years. I did have a good sitter though and I’m thankful. And she always left the sweetest notes on how Madi spent her days.
    Hugs Cecilia

  7. March 15, 2019 / 5:48 am

    Apologies Kristin…I have another friend who is Kristen
    I have had my name misspelled a lot so I make an real effort to spell others correctly

  8. Sandra Hangey
    March 15, 2019 / 8:24 am

    I laughed all the way through this and wow did you find a jewel of a sitter, keep her at all costs and I am sure you will…. we were so picky that we have not been away together since 2004, my son and his wife, the sitters moved to TN and we never left together again… the good news is we both hate traveling so this is OK with us….

  9. March 15, 2019 / 8:38 am

    Aww, this is just the cutest!! We’re very fortunate that Eddie can go to family when we’re away and the cats have a fantastic sitter (a good friend) who comes and stays at the house with them.

  10. March 15, 2019 / 9:33 am

    OH! I have fallen in love with Rosie! And of course Teddy, since I’m not sure I’ve seen either of their photos before. We have an old, broken down home too, where opening doors means a kick to open a jam, and do NOT look too closely at the heavy scratches on the hardwood floors. We are just beginning to realize that Manny and CB need to be fed separately; Manny eats so slowly, and is intimidated by CB, so he’s not eating enough…says the woman with an obese friendly feral. Thank goodness The Hubby doesn’t want to travel with me; he’s a built-in cat sitter! Hilarious post!

  11. March 15, 2019 / 10:53 am

    Aw, what a bunch of wonderful babies you have at your house. I can see why you need to tread lightly when you’re looking for pet sitters.

    Have a fabulous day and weekend. Scritches to all your babies. ♥

  12. March 15, 2019 / 11:32 am

    Those were all good and we understood them completely…we’ve never ever had a pet sitter though.

  13. March 15, 2019 / 1:30 pm

    You’re so right…finding the right pet sitter takes a lot of work. But being able to leave home knowing your dogs and cats are understood and loved while you’re away is the best! Hang on tight to your sitter.

  14. Bella, Roxy and Dui
    March 15, 2019 / 2:39 pm

    Having three ‘not very’ well behaved dogs, I’ve never been tempted to add another species. So I just factor in the boarding fees for any trip I take. Our house has a few problems, too. Those things you put up with for years and only get repaired when you want to sell it.

  15. March 15, 2019 / 4:00 pm

    Your posts always make us smile, for a variety of very different reasons. Today’s was hilarious:) Mom is actually thinking about getting a canary if she can find one. But then she wonders, hmmm, what do I do with a bird when they go on vacation???

    You are very fortunate to have such a good sitter – any chance she would consider a trip to OP?

    Woos – Lightning, Misty, and Timber

  16. March 15, 2019 / 6:36 pm

    I almost felt like our household might be normal after reading this. Almost. It’s not. We can only have one pet-sitter, my sister, because Luke will not accept anyone else into his household. Thank goodness for her, because there’s the elderly cat and the crazy farm birds to take car of too. The truth is, vacations are a thing of the past for hubby and I right now. I don’t want to impose on my sister, who has a full time + job, and a home and cat of her own to take care of, any more than we have to, so it’s basically hubby’s family emergencies or special occasions only. Other than that, I get away with “the girls” for a weekend every so often, and luckily the hubby is happy to stay home. Though I don’t know, one morning I may wake up to a note that says “gone on vacation”! Great post. Thank you. It’s a comfort to know we’re not the only ones with a crazy pet household. ♥

  17. March 15, 2019 / 7:04 pm

    “Walk slow and never talk in a squeaky voice. Otis can become highly aroused, think you are playing, and might bite you in the ass.”

    I don’t travel much.

  18. March 15, 2019 / 8:00 pm

    Oh..My..Dog…thanks so much for the needed giggles(and memories of past sitter searches)!

  19. March 15, 2019 / 8:33 pm

    Thank you for this list. If we ever need a pet sitter we will check it again. I think we would break a pet sitter

  20. Idaho PugRanch
    March 15, 2019 / 10:16 pm

    What a great post!!! After a few years without a pet sitter we found a good one. I remember her messaging me that the microwave would not start. I had forgotten to tell her you have to slam the door Ha ha. But now with Hazel on heart medicine 3 times a day and her other meds I hesitate to ask someone to take on that responsibility
    PugRanch Mom

  21. March 15, 2019 / 11:04 pm

    Heeheehee! We always got a teen desperate for money and who knew our family well, or now we get one of our own grown kids. Makes things easier, and yes, i’d have to write a letter like that, too, about how you have to give Link his water in the bathtub and Tripod SissyCat must under no circumstance go near Mikey.

  22. Carole Schulman
    March 16, 2019 / 6:45 am

    Having gone through several pet sitters in all these years, my best one retired…I enjoyed this post very much. I’ve had some clunkers, but I have had two that were great. Right now I am without one, and no family nearby to help out. My pet is a cat and now she is 12…so someone who could engage her in some play would be great. You never know however what play they may get.
    Have to use Word Press… and old account I use for storage, to comment on your blog. This is Katie isabella, kitty extraordinaire. 🙂 (blogspot)

  23. The Swiss Cats
    March 16, 2019 / 11:09 am

    We laughed all the way reading your post, but it’s a great post, and many good and important points ! Purrs

  24. meowmeowmans
    March 17, 2019 / 10:44 am

    What a terrific post! There’s always a fine lie between full disclosure and inspiring a panic response. Ha. We’re lucky, too. We have a great pet sitter, who is a friend we met through volunteering at the shelter. In fact, all of the sitters we’ve had over the years ar sheltering friends. 🙂

  25. March 17, 2019 / 4:07 pm

    I couldn’t open your blog for several days, so glad it finally worked. Now that I only have two dogs, down from two birds, two cats, and about four or five dogs in the past, I find I am so attached to them that my BIL, whom they love, is the only acceptable pet sitter for me. Fortunately, I am done traveling, but in case of emergency, my BIL it is.This post is wonderful and I’m so glad I could open you blog to so I could enjoy it.

  26. March 17, 2019 / 6:16 pm

    BOL MOL dis made Mama laugh. Her has some crazy notes like dat fur our sitter but luckily our sitter is Gram and her nose Mama are a little bit extra when it comes to us 😉

    Matt & Matilda

  27. March 18, 2019 / 1:33 pm

    Bwahaha. Love your pet sitter notes. If they didn’t smile after reading that, you probably don’t want them around your adorable menagerie anyway.

  28. Bobbi and Gracie
    March 19, 2019 / 9:14 am

    Oh my gosh. This was very entertaining and brought a smile to my face early today!! LOL! I always hated going away and leaving Gracie … we used to take her to the kennel and I’d try to erase her imprisonment from my mind while I was away. When I could no longer stand to leave her there, I hired my daughter to come and be with her most of the day, leaving her there at night by herself. This worked well for a while but now that she is older the separation anxiety has kicked in and she cannot stand to be alone for more than an hour or two. Gary and I feel as tho we have a newborn baby. So finally we were able to talk Gracie into putting up with my daughter’s black lab/doxie mix and tho they are not the best of friends (Gracie’s choice… Ellie would love to be bff’s) Gracie tolerates her and she now just stays with my daughter and her family.

  29. Jennifer
    March 19, 2019 / 2:20 pm

    Your article made me laugh. Although I only have two dogs, you would not believe all the detailed instructions we have for them with all their ailments, personality issues, etc. Plus our house, like yours is also complicated. One of the best advantages I have is that I run a dog walking/pet sitting business with sitters who fortunately love my girls. Also like you, I always tip to help make sure they want to come back.

  30. March 20, 2019 / 9:21 pm

    You are SO lucky you have a good pet sitter! I’m so paranoid about my dogs, mainly Icy, that I just can’t leave them with anyone. Being a Husky, Icy is a huge handful and I don’t feel confident that anyone can fully handle her Huskiness without somehow losing her. So, either the dogs come on vacation with us, one of us stays home with the dogs, or we just stay home altogether. Needless to say, finding great dog friendly hotels is a continual effort. Great post, I so enjoyed reading it!
    Love & Biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

  31. March 24, 2019 / 9:34 pm

    I can and DO totally relate to all you’ve written! You’ve made some spot on points and reminded me of some I need to remember and keep in mind. THANKS for this!! ♥

    (Kim – Life at Golden PInes)

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