Types of Girl about the Globe (GatG) – Budget GatG, Pets GatG
International Cat Sitting
I'm writing this post from a one bedroom flat in London with a cat called Winston on my lap whilst admiring the interior of this gorgeous apartment in Crystal Palace. I have Netflix, a double bed and even a garden and the best part is… it's all for free! My only duty for the next two weeks is to make sure that Winston is fed, watered and nurtured.
For those of us who get a bit lonely on our solo travels, cat sitting is a perfect option. But it doesn't have to be restricted to just cats. You've probably heard of dog sitting but as well as dogs you can find birds, fish and even reptiles that need ‘sitting' all over the world.
What is Housesitting?
If you haven't heard of house sitting, house-sitting is when a person stays at another person’s home whilst they are away. The homeowner allows a sitter to stay in their house usually rent-free for an agreed amount of time, to look after the pets and ensure that the house is looked after whilst they are away.
If the homeowner has plants then you'll need to look after the plants and the garden (if they have one). You may need to take in any post and just generally look after the house and any other expectations that the owner has. House sitting can be in your home city or further afield so it's ideal if you're planning to travel and want to stay in someone's home.
Why Become an International House Sitter?
There's no doubt about it, travel is expensive and if one of the reasons that you don't travel is because of your finances, then becoming a house sitter can be a solution to having to pay for accommodation, especially for international travel.
Accommodation can be one of your biggest costs especially if you're similar to me and prefer your own space instead of shared hostel dorms. Hotel rooms in popular cities aren't generally the largest of rooms of either so they don't allow for much comfort. And even if you do find a good deal on a hotel room, it may not have a kitchen (unless you book an aparthotel), so you could end up spending a small fortune on eating out.
Unless you're travelling within peak times, flights are usually affordable and you can find housesits all over the world. As long as you can pay for your flight or train ticket, your accommodation will be taken care of.
Pet Sitting Worldwide
You don't have to go internationally either as you can search for housesits in your home country. Maybe you want to visit your capital city or just stay somewhere in the countryside instead of your own one bedroom flat.
Housesitting doesn't just mean looking after a house. There are the pets to look after too! One of the main reasons for doing it could be that you love dogs and you miss walking one and having the company of a furry friend. That's where pet sitting is ideal.
That's why house-sitting is a win-win situation, especially cat sitting London or Barcelona. I even applied for housesits in Dubai! You can generally get house sits any time of the year but you have even more of a chance to apply during the peak holiday seasons. And because most people acquired a furry friend during the pandemic, house sitters seem in popular demand.
How I Got Into International House Sitting
Although I was new to this platform, I had some experience looking after cats, fish and plants before. I helped run a friend's Airbnb in Barcelona, cat sat in the New Forest and looked after a stranger's apartment in Switzerland through the Couchsurfing platform!
But it wasn't until my friend Sally from Luxurious Lifestyles told me about it that I decided to sign up. I had joined her on a dog sit and got an insight into the world of housesitting and how much easier it was than I had initially thought.
I gathered all the photos of myself pet sitting that I could find, asked people for references for my cat sitting services and attached a link to my Airbnb profile to prove what kind of house guest I was.
What I love about it is that you don't come home to an empty house. There is always company with Winston (except when he's roaming around outside) and he sleeps on the bed with me. Plus stroking an animal releases those feel-good endorphins that I miss when I'm travelling solo.
Whilst searching for my housesit, I was even headhunted by a couple in Gloucester wanting me to look after their cat! So if you've looked after pets before, are a reliable and responsible house guest and have a genuine interest in animals, it's worth applying anyway. The house sit I was accepted for already had 7-11 applicants when I applied but I always believe that if you're meant to do something, it will fall into place.
Do I recommend becoming an international house sitter? Yes, definitely! Just make sure that you read how to look after the animal and that you're okay with all the requirements. Some placements require you to play with the cat for an hour a day, give them their medicine or not leave them for longer than a few hours. Luckily Winston is an independent cat and likes to do his own thing and just come back for cuddles in the evening. Just like his housesitter!
How To Get a Cat Sitting Job
How it works: You set up your profile, upload photos and references and search for the dates and the destination that you want to travel to, choosing what types of pet you would like to look after. Then you apply with a personal message and hope that they choose you for an interview.
When I had my interview, I must admit that I didn't really know what to expect. But I had nothing to worry about as the chat was really informal and I had a rapport with the lady that was interviewing me. I think that if you have something in common, it's a good idea to mention that when you apply.
How much does cat sitting cost? House sitting is one of the cheapest ways to travel especially if you want to be a dog sitter. You can basically stay anywhere in the world rent-free in exchange for looking after an owner’s pet (or pets). All I had to pay was an annual fee of £70 to be able to place my details on the platform. There are different membership tiers that you can choose from basic, standard and premium.
You do need to remember that you’re not completely on a holiday and have responsibilities as a pet sitter. If you're looking after a dog, you'll need to feed, walk, and possibly groom them. You may need to be up early for the walks and to feed them and then walk them again in the evenings.
Dogs are obviously more work than cats so if you are choosing to be in a city to be able to constantly sightsee, you may need to have a more realistic expectation. The homeowner may not want their pet left for longer than a few hours so it's wise to be flexible with what you want to do. Overall, pet sitting is rewarding and you may even find a long term cat sitting placement for a few months!
Cat Sitting Tips
Here are my cat sitting tips for international house sitting. You can also use it for dogs too!
Take lots of pictures of the cat and send them to the homeowner every other day or every day depending on what you arrange with them before they leave. I'm also using a cat flat app called Sure Petcare that allows his owner to see how long he's been outside the house. That way she can keep tabs on him from her holiday in Greece.
Try and keep the cat (or dog) at its usual routine. Winston comes in around 10 pm so I call him in and bang the bowl until I hear him running in before giving him his treat for the night. That way he's used to the same time every evening and it will be the same when his owner comes back.
Give the house a thorough clean before the homeowner returns from their holiday. Change the sheets and if they are coming back in the evening, leave a light on to welcome them. There's no nicer feeling than coming back from a holiday to a home that's cleaner than you left it.
Replace the food that was in the fridge. If the homeowner is returning at night, how lovely would it be for them to wake up in the morning with bread, eggs and milk in the fridge so they can have their cup of tea and breakfast? You could also add some fruit too as you replace everything you've used and more.
Most importantly, if you agreed to be in the house all day or all evening to keep the pet happy, make sure that you stick to it and follow any ground rules. After all, it's all about keeping the cat happy.
I hope these tips have helped you and inspired you to see how you can become an international cat (or dog!) sitter. As for me, next stop, cat sitting in Barcelona!