I am in Canada with/on an open work permit, and available to house and cat sit from the beginning of August 2024.

Please send me a message if you’d like me to look after your home and cat(s).

Hi. My name’s Madolline.

And I’m seeing the world One cat at a time.

My winter and spring cat sitting adventures in Canada

My winter and spring cat sitting adventures in Canada

I spent the last three months cat sitting in Calgary, Montreal and Victoria before returning to Vancouver for another two sits.

Calgary

The first of the house and cat sits was in Calgary. It was a relatively short one—only four or five nights—but it filled a gap in my itinerary. Calgary also happened to be a city I was keen to return to after spending three nights there last September. I was expecting an average daytime temperature of around -15°C and a few snow days. The coldest it got to was -20°C, but it wasn’t nearly as bad as it sounds.

The two cats I was tasked with looking after were called Birdie (tortoiseshell) and Tank (ginger). Birdie is the older of the two and she was adopted before the couple got Tank. While Birdie and Tank get along just fine, Birdie preferred to spend her time sleeping in the basement. Tank, on the hand, would rather be with/near you. Or sitting in the shoebox I kept for him.

The owners warned me Tank would wake me up very early to request his breakfast, but they didn’t tell me how just cute the whole thing was. That first morning, at around 7am, Tank jumped on my bed. He rolled around on it for a minute or two, and let out a quiet meow before positioning himself against my legs and falling asleep. That was Tank asking for breakfast. If only all cats were as polite as Tank.

Birdie, despite spending most of her time downstairs, would resurface every couple of hours to meow at me for food or follow me into the bathroom. I found out that her owners refer to her as ‘Scraps’ because she’s always trying to steal people’s food, but Birdie’s fondness for the bathroom remains a mystery.

Montreal

I was originally meant to arrive in Montreal at 3.30pm on a Monday. The night before, WestJet emailed me to say my flight was cancelled (it actually wasn’t (it ended up flying out about 30 minutes later than scheduled)) and they’d be putting me on one that left Calgary just before midnight. The red-eye flight would see me land in Montreal at around 7am on Tuesday. Not ideal, but, thankfully, my friend’s sister—the person I was cat sitting for—didn’t leave Montreal until Wednesday evening.

My friend’s sister’s cat’s name is Tango. Tango is an indoor–outdoor cat, with most of his time spent wandering the neighbouring alleyways. Even if it was raining or snowing, Tango would prefer to be out in it. Sometimes he’d just chill on the balcony-like space out the back. Then there were times when he’d be gone for more than 12 hours. I was told not to be too concerned if that happens, but my sister’s friend has fretted over his whereabouts in the past. She has taken to attaching an AirTag to Tango’s collar so she could get a better idea of his general location.

Tango was a real character. He preferred to drink from one of the vases scattered around the apartment. He would also drink from my glass if I had one at the dinner table. He liked to sploot, nap in a cardboard box, and creep on the birds and squirrels from the kitchen window. In the evenings, he would position himself against my laptop as if to say ‘Please stop looking at your laptop and look at me’.

Victoria

I’d seen more snow in Montreal than I’d expected, but I was now on my way to Victoria, B.C., just as the city’s cherry blossoms and flowers were starting to bloom. Victoria was somewhere new for me, but it was a city I heard mentioned plenty of times on my previous trip to Canada. I was able to book a ticket from Montreal-Trudeau International Airport to Victoria International Airport that ended up saving me a lot of time. Most people who visit Victoria get the ferry from Vancouver, but I didn’t care for 1.5 hours on public transport and another 1.5 hours on the ferry after a spending five hours on a plane.

Nahlah, the cat I was spending the next 25 days with, is a COVID kitty. She had become accustomed to having humans around 24/7, but hasn’t always been a fan of them. Nahlah’s owners told me it took her weeks—if not months—to feel confident enough to leave the couple’s office/spare bedroom. It took just as long for her to let them pet her. The office is still kind of a safe space for Nahlah and it’s where I chose to sleep during my stay.

Nahlah is a very unique-looking kitty. The first thing you notice is she’s ginger. Yes, a female ginger cat. That’s pretty rare. When I first saw photos of her, I thought she may have been a Bengal. After I met her, I started to think she was part Abyssinian. No-one knows for sure. But what I do know is Nahlah loooves to be brushed, enjoys keeping warm under the range hood (the couple leave the lights on for her) and is a big fan of going on walks. The couple use a harness and cat leash to take her out at least once a day, and they’ve got one of those space bubble backpacks for her to see out of. Nahlah has even been to Mexico. Her owners spent four months on the road—living out of their van—and Nahlah accompanied them on the trip.

Nahlah’s home is central to almost everything anyone visiting Victoria would want to see or do. The Dallas Road Waterfront Trail was two blocks away, Beacon Hill Park was 10 minutes in the other direction, and the Legislative Assembly of British Columbia, Royal BC Museum and Fairmont Empress hotel were buildings I walked past most days.

Other days were spent relaxing at the apartment, with Nahlah close by. Her little cat bed had been left on the fold out couch and I’ve never met a cat who was so attached to their cat bed. Most cats I know prefer to sleep on the human’s bed. If I stayed in, Nahlah would spend the entire day in that cat bed. And the majority of the photos I sent to the couple were of Nahlah snuggled up in it.

Nahlah’s owners were beyond generous and great sources of information. They picked me up from the airport and drove me to the ferry terminal when it was time to leave. The drive to the Swartz Bay ferry terminal would’ve taken close to an hour and a half on the bus, and it wouldn’t have been fun with a 23kg suitcase, carry on suitcase and heavy backpack. They were so knowledgeable about Victoria and Vancouver Island, and other parts of Canada I am hoping to visit.

Back to Vancouver

After saying goodbye to Nahlah’s owners, it was time to board the Vancouver-bound ferry. I had no choice but to use public transport to get from the Tsawwassen ferry terminal—where everyone heading to Vancouver gets let off—to downtown Vancouver unless I wanted to fork out around $100 for an Uber. Due to a medical emergency on the previous Tsawwassen to Swartz Bay ferry, my ferry was 30 minutes late which meant I missed the 3pm and 3.05pm buses to Bridgeport Station. I had a bit of wait for the next bus, but I eventually made it to Vancouver’s West End to commence the first of two cat sits I’d organised after arriving in Canada.