People are always intrigued when they hear I house and cat sit my way around the world, and they usually have a few questions about it. I’ve compiled a list of the more frequently questions I get and I hope my answers shine some light on what it’s like to do this.
How do I get started as a house and pet sitter?
I’ve already done a post on how I got started as a house and cat sitter, and it includes some advice on how you can get started. But it’s really not that hard. Pick a house sitting website to join, add photos to your profile and talk up any relevant experience you can bring to the sit, and then start applying for ones that interest you.
Do you get paid to house and pet sit?
I don’t get paid to look after people’s homes and their cats, but there are websites out there where you can get paid for your time. The websites I use operate on an exchange model where the sitter provides care for the person’s home and pet, and the sitter gets a free place to stay.
How much time is spent looking after the pets?
I can only comment on cat care, but it takes no more than half an hour out of your day. Feed the cat, change their water, clean up after them and play with them. You’ll probably be asked to replace the litter every few days, vacuum around the litter box once a day and hand out the occasional treat.
Does the home/pet owner pay for your airfares?
No. It makes me laugh that people think someone in the US is paying for me to fly from Australia to look after their cat. Domestic airfares aren’t subsidised either. None of my travel is paid for.
Are you ever tempted to go through the person’s belongings?
Also no. That’s their stuff and it’s of no interest to me. Sometimes the person I’m sitting for will offer me space in their wardrobe, but it’s easier to keep my clothes in my suitcase.
Are there cameras?
There might be. I’ve never been told someone had cameras and I’ve never asked. I do feel like the owners should probably disclose this at some point though.
Do you pay for stuff like toilet paper and washing powder?
This stuff is almost always provided. I will, however, purchase more toilet paper if I use the last of theirs.
Do you get a car as part of the sit?
I think I’ve been offered use of a car for one sit. So, in my experience, a car is not usually part of the deal. I’ve seen listings where a car is included, but I think this also presents a lot of problems. What if you crash or damage the car, or get a speeding ticket?
Is it weird sleeping in someone else’s bed?
It’s no weirder than sleeping in an Airbnb or hotel bed. The owner puts fresh sheets on for you, and I make sure to wash and change the sheets before I leave.
Have you ever had a pet emergency?
No pet emergencies in the three years I’ve been doing this. TrustedHousesitters is the only house sitting website I’ve used where the owners have to list a preferred veterinary practice (a good thing) otherwise I guess you’d take their pet to the closest one.
What happens if the owner cancels on you?
A cancellation isn’t something I’ve experienced, but COVID-19 has made things a lot more uncertain. I’ve had to change my flights to arrive earlier or later than originally intended, but I’ve never had to seek alternative accommodation because a sit fell through. This is something that plays on my mind a lot, especially when I’m travelling to the US to house and cat sit.
How do owners know they can trust you?
Some of the house sitting websites have security checks in place and sitters can pay extra to have a police check/clearance visible on their profile. I think you start to become more ‘trustworthy’ after getting your first positive review. Other people can then see you did a good job (and didn’t steal anything (or cause any trouble)) and you can probably be trusted with their home and pets.
Isn’t house sitting just for older, retired people?
Nope—anyone can do it.
What’s your favourite thing about house sitting?
There’s many things to like about house sitting. These include:
- seeing how other people live—what products they use, how their house is decorated, etc.
- having access to a proper kitchen and washing machine when I’m travelling
- getting local recommendations from the owners
- all the cute cats I get to look after.
And it saves you a lot of money. Sometimes up to thousands of dollars in accommodation per sit.
What’s your least favourite thing about house sitting?
Garden maintenance is my least favourite thing when I’m house sitting. I’m not a gardener and some people’s gardens have been very… heavy on the upkeep side. A place I cared for in Launceston had the most beautiful garden, but there was no mention of how much work was required. The lady didn’t upload photos of it either so it was a bit of a surprise when I arrived.
Please comment—or email me—if you have any other questions about house and pet sitting. I’m sure there’s a million other things people might want to know, but these are the questions I find myself answering most often.