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Cats Need Care Too

by Barry KuKes

As I have previously mentioned, my lovely wife, Cindy, is a pet sitter. Surprisingly, the majority of her clients are people with pet cats. These cat owners love their cats so much that they contract Cindy to come to their home to clean the litter box and feed and play with their cats. Sometimes, the owners are home during her visits but can no longer care for their pets due to illness.

Unlike dogs that need to be let out, walked, fed, etc., cats are very independent and can be on their own for several days. However, many cat owners prefer to have their babies cared for by a pet sitter when they are away for a day or two. The owners could easily place a large amount of food and water out for the cats and set up an extra litter box or two to hold them over for one to two days, but instead, they elect to have someone visit the cats while they are away.

Cats need daily care. You never know what a cat can get into when alone. Once, back when I lived in Chicago, I noticed smoke coming from my neighbor’s house. I ran over and rang their bell, and knocked on the door. The husband answered and said, “It’s okay. It was a squirrel.” Well, I couldn’t just say, “Okay then,” and walk away. I had to know more.

He invited me inside, and their living room was filled with smoke. His wife was waving a pillowcase, trying to get the smoke out of the open windows. She said, “A squirrel got in the cat door and was roaming the house until the cat, a large Maine Coon named Zeus, saw it and began to chase it all over the house. Once cornered in the living room, the squirrel attempted to exit via the fireplace, which still had smoldering ashes from earlier in the day. The poor squirrel didn’t get very far before catching on fire and running out of the fireplace and back into the living room, where it proceeded to climb the fabric draperies to escape from the giant cat. The draperies caught fire, and smoke filled the house.

Luckily, the people were home, grabbed a fire extinguisher, and put the fire out before it escalated. The extinguisher also saved the squirrel, who was now tailless, as it jumped out of an open window.

Think if the homeowners had yet to be home. This situation could have been a disaster. Not that a pet sitter can prevent this from occurring, but they can make a note of anything out of sorts in the home.

Recently, my wife was caring for four cats at a client’s house, and upon her visit, the smoke alarms were blaring. The ceilings were 10 feet high, and she didn’t have access to disengage the alarms. The alarms were deafening, and all six alarms were going off. She herded the cats into a bedroom that did not have an alarm so they could get some relief from the ear-piercing howling. She contacted the homeowner, who was at Disney for the weekend, and the husband traveled back to Daytona to resolve the issue. The alarms were over five years old, and all needed to be replaced. Had my wife not been pet-sitting, those poor cats could have been exposed to the intense noise for three days or until a neighbor alerted the police.

Many adopt cats because they want more freedom from their pets when needed. A pet dog only allows for extended day trips, much less overnight stays, unless a neighbor or pet sitter cares for the dog while the owners are away. Cats don’t need as much attention, but a daily visit from a pet sitter to ensure everything is under control, is affordable, and se, that’s great, too.

If you care about your cat, dog, hamster, fish, etc., consider a pet sitter when you are absent from home. A saltwater fish tank needs attention, and a hamster needs new bedding, so regardless of the pet (except a snake that can eat once a week), almost every pet needs care and attention daily.

If you need a pet, please adopt, don’t shop.

Barry KuKes is the former community outreach director at Halifax Humane Society. E-mail him at View more of his work at