FAQ

Kindly find my rates and fees by clicking on the following link:

 

Fees 20171113

 

Why should I use your service?

Nearly all of my clients have told me: “These are my children. They are my babies.” They aren’t like family, they are family. When you have to go somewhere without them, you want to make sure that they are going to be cared for, loved, and looked after to your own high standards. You don’t want to be distracted while you are preparing for a business meeting, have a family emergency, or while you are trying to enjoy a vacation. You want to feel secure knowing that your pet family is safe, happy, and healthy, so you can focus on whatever else you need to do, so you can come home to a safe, happy, healthy pet.

We dote on our pets, and sometimes it may be embarrassing to give detailed instructions to a friend/neighbour/family member who may be more casual about cat and hamster care. It may feel like you are asking them for a favour. They may not have experience with animals, or they may be unavailable. There is no such awkwardness with a professional pet sitter. I will never feed your pets anything you haven’t first authorized. I won’t try to overfeed or underfeed your pets. I do not eat or drink in a client’s home, except for bottled water I bring myself. I wear a fresh pair of clean socks over my socks at each cat visit to protect the cleanliness of your home. My purpose as a professional pet sitter is to follow your instructions and to be there for your cat or hamster.

As a cat owner, I believe that cats do best when they can remain home. Their surroundings are familiar, they know where everything is, and their routine is not interrupted. When they stay at home, they will be more relaxed and healthy than if they are stressed out at a kennel, confined in a cage, surrounded by strange cats and sometimes dogs. The only thing missing will be you.

Kennels often charge per cat, so for multiple cats, this may save you money. In addition to looking after your cats and small furry animals, I can also water plants and collect mail, so your life is less disrupted when you return home. I can move drapes, turn lights on/off, and move waste bins to help keep your home secure while you are traveling. I provide daily reports with pictures, so while you are away, you can be assured that your furry ones are doing well.

I am discrete and take great care in protecting my client’s privacy and the security of their homes: I do not have signage on my car and I do not wear a uniform identifying me as a pet sitter. Photos of clients on my website are posted only after a client has returned home, photos are selected to include as little of the home as possible, and the location marker is turned off when I take photos so the home cannot be identified by gps coordinates.

I am quite experienced as a hamster owner. I also drive a car, and can provide round-trip hamster transportation to my home for boarding. I only accept a few hamster boarders at a time, so I can devote my attention to my hamster guests. I play with them throughout the day and provide complimentary fresh treats (if given permission), such as organic raisins, fresh vegetables, unsalted peanuts, and freshly stove-popped unsalted popcorn.

Not all pet sitters are alike or adhere to the same standards. Many of my clients have been pleasantly surprised at my professionalism and the high level of service I provide when they meet me at the consultation. My previous work experience has included working in luxury retail administrative offices and academic/scientific/medical administrative offices; I understand providing exceptional client care and in protecting my clients’ privacy. I am a member of the professional pet sitter’s association Pet Sitters International (PSI), and am bonded and insured. I am a mature, responsible, reliable, attentive to detail, trustworthy professional pet sitter with a strong work ethic and high standards of excellence. I am always learning. This is a business based upon reputation and trust and word-of-mouth referrals.

My service goals:

  • Clients feel secure that their pets are receiving excellent care.
  • Clients come home to a happy, healthy pet.
  • New clients become regular clients.
  • I am the #1 choice for pet sitting in my service area.
  • My service is so amazing that my clients tell all their friends, family, neighbours, and colleagues how awesome I am and how happy they were with my service. They write glowing online reviews singing my praises. Whenever they hear that someone in my area is looking for a pet sitter, they immediately chime in with my name. Because… well, I am awesome!

My cat is independent and only needs a visit twice a week.

I only offer daily visits or twice daily visits. Any number of things could happen while you are away, and I need to be able to respond to them as quickly as possible.

The first cat visit must start the day that you leave or the day after you leave, and the last cat visit will be not earlier than the day before you return. For example, if you depart on Saturday, I must come on Saturday or Sunday. If you return on Wednesday, my last visit will be not earlier than Tuesday or Wednesday.

Please be honest about your departure and return dates and be respectful of my scheduling policies. You are hiring me to look after your cat’s safety and well-being during your absence. Please, let me do my job.

…but, it’s just a cat! They’ll be fine!

To be candid, particularly during the snowy months, if there is a snow storm, blackout, I am hurt/injured/sick (FYI, I’d have to be really sick), I might be prevented from getting to your home and your cat. Montreal winters are harsh and buildings are old. Summers are hot and humid and many buildings lack air conditioning. I will make every effort to get to your cat on the appointed day and time, but it may be impossible to do so due to unforeseen circumstances beyond my control. What if your flight is delayed? Your car breaks down? What if your cat is sick or got locked in a closet or trapped behind furniture? Or they knock over their water bowl? Cats hide illness and injury. They can be mischievous and get into all sorts of trouble. This means your cat could go 2-3 days or longer without food, water, litter box access, or medical care.

When I first began pet sitting, I accepted a couple of every other day bookings. One day, I walked in to discover a large chunk of ceiling had collapsed in the area the cat was being kept. Drywall got into the food and water dishes, and covered the surrounding area. It wasn’t clear at first if that cat had been hit, too. I wasn’t sure when this had happened, and how long the cat had been without drinkable water or edible food or if the cat was injured. Fortunately, the cat was ok, the clients were reachable, and the landlord was able to repair the ceiling before the clients returned home. But it was the deciding factor for me, as I spent every day worrying about this cat – only daily cat visits!

More than one client has left in such a rush that the room with the litter box was left firmly closed. Thankfully, I was able to visit before there were any accidents.

Why are your rates so much higher than the pet sitting I see advertised on Craigslist/Kijiji?

My rates are simple. Unlike some professional pet sitters, I do not charge extra for the consultation meeting, last-minute bookings, holidays (with the exception of December 24 & 25), key pick up or drop off, brushing fur, trimming nails, administering medication, or weekly overall litter box cleaning. There is no additional fee for more than one cat. I do my chores, then I play with your cat with the time I have left. Or have a long, one-sided conversation with them – their choice.

My rates are based upon my time, travel, my worth, and business expenses. Anyone can call themselves a pet sitter. One big difference between a “professional pet sitter” and a “hobby pet sitter” is that I am bonded and insured with pet sitting insurance. I am a member of a professional pet sitting organization. I drive a car. I have a website and various social media profiles and business cards. I send daily reports with lots of pictures and am easily accessible via text or email. There are many business-related expenses that go into my rates (I am even vaccinated against rabies!). And I provide exceptional service.

Could you come twice per day?

Yes, my fee is per visit. I offer a $5 discount per visit for two visits per day.

Could you stay longer than my reserved time if my cat comes out just before you’re about to leave and wants attention? I’ll pay you for the extra time.

If I have available time, then sure! I love playing and cuddling with my cat clients. However, my time is reserved in advance and especially during peak times my schedule may not allow for me to extend my stay past the time we had originally agreed upon. For cats who need additional time – for example, if I need to wait while they eat, extended brushing, extended exercise, extended socialization, etc. – I recommend booking premium 45-60 minute cat visits. For an additional 20-30 minutes past that, the fee will be an additional basic visit.

What if you can’t find my cat and I’ve hired you to brush them/exercise them/trim their nails?

I will search for your cat for the duration of your reserved visit. Sometimes cats hide or they get accidentally shut into closets. If I cannot locate them, if they are not inside, or if I find them after an extended search and don’t have time to complete the agreed upon tasks, the visit will still end at the pre-reserved time and I will consider the visit as services rendered (in other words, yes, I need to be paid for the visit even if I did not have contact with your cat). I will not extend my visit to complete tasks unless I have availability to do so and the client has agreed to pay for the additional time. I consider that I arrived prepared to do my job, and that it is the client’s responsibility to provide the cat so I can do my job in the pre-agreed upon time frame.

I want cat visits at exactly 8am and 5pm.

I cannot guarantee the exact time of my visit, due to traffic, parking, weather, the unpredictability of animals, etc.. I understand wanting to keep your cats on their regular schedule, and will make every effort to reach your cat close to your requested times, particularly if the cat needs medication or is physically frail. I visit cats between 6:30am-3:30pm, every day. I am exceptionally available at other times – for example, if a cat needs medication in the evening – but normally my available hours are from 6:30am-3:30pm.  Please feel free to contact me to discuss your cat’s needs.

I have 2 or 3 cats. Do I have to pay per cat?

No, the price per visit is the same regardless of the number of cats. If your cats are all housed and/or fed separately, it may require a premium visit rather than a basic visit, simply because I might not be able to do what I need to do within a 20-30 minute visit. This isn’t always the case, and it depends on the set up and the cats’ needs. We will discuss this at the consultation visit.

Can you watch my friend/neighbour/family member’s cat at the same time to save money on pet sitting? We can put them in separate rooms.

I would not advise doing this to your cats, and I won’t knowingly accept such an arrangement. The visiting cat will be stressed in the new environment, and the host cat will feel like their territory is being invaded by this strange cat. There could be litter box accidents and property damage due to the stress, even if they never have direct contact with each other. This contradicts my cat service philosophy of minimizing stress for the pets.

Can I get a discount? My cat is sooooo easy/I’m going to be gone a long time/I live really close to you/I’m really close to your service area but not inside your service area/this other person charges less than you/I’m a really nice person but I can’t afford your rates/etc..

It is my policy not to give discounts beyond the discount for twice daily visits (even though the work and operating costs are the same for me, cats are more relaxed if visited twice daily). I do not discount for friends/neighbours/relatives/colleagues. I never want to have clients ask me why I charge this other person x, when I charge them y for the same service. The fees, which are posted at the top of this page, are the same for all of my clients, no exceptions. I prefer building professional relationships with repeat clients who are happy with my service, rather than haggling with once-off clients who are always searching for the lowest priced pet care. In my case, you get what you pay for: awesomeness.

Can I pay you half upfront, and half at the end?/I don’t feel comfortable paying you until the end./Can I postdate the check?/I want regular service and I want to pay you monthly.

For new clients, a non-refundable deposit is due when I collect keys (usually at the consultation meeting). This deposit is credited towards the overall pet sitting balance. The remaining balance is due in full on the first cat visit, or when the small caged animal is received by me for boarding. I must be able to deposit checks immediately, or receive electronic transfers not later than my first cat visit.

I am happy to follow detailed individual notes regarding pet care, however, I cannot do so with regards to money. This is ultimately a business, and my policy is to be paid at the beginning of service.

I don’t live in your service area. Can you still visit my cats?

My service area includes: Outremont, Mile End, Plateau, Griffintown**, Westmount, NDG, Hampstead, Mont-Royal, Parc Extension, and Cotes-des-Neiges.

If you are out of my service area, there is an extra $5 out-of-service fee per visit. I am happy to accept out-of-service requests when my schedule allows, though generally these will be early morning visits to avoid traffic and not farther than 8 km from Outremont. Some examples of out-of-service areas to which I will travel are: Downtown, Old Montreal, Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, Rosemont, Sainte-Marie, Pointe-St-Charles, Ahuntsic

**I am working on updating my service area listing to be more precise, but due to the parking and traffic issues in Griffintown, I might not be able to provide service for all areas.

My cat also likes to go outside. Could they go outside for a few minutes during your visit?

Unfortunately, I am unable to accommodate this request. What if the cat doesn’t come back right away? My time is reserved in advance – I might not be able to wait around until they decide they want to come back inside. What if they don’t come back at all?  What if they get in a fight and get hurt or get hit by a car? What if they try searching for you in the big wide world? If it is an outdoor-only cat, I can take care of them outdoors as preferred. Note that I assume no responsibility for the safety of cats allowed access outside. Also, I assume no responsibility for the security of the client’s home should the client wish to keep a window open or door flap to allow the cat access outside. Otherwise, cats will be kept indoors for the duration of your time away. The only exception would be if the cat were leash-trained or if you have an enclosed, cat-proof space outside.

My neighbour/friend/relative will be stopping in to check on the cats, too.

Kindly note that I do not job-share – not with other pet sitters, and not with neighbours/friends/relatives. I work alone. Clients sometimes want to have a friend stop in to check on their cats to make sure everything is ok, or want the neighbour/friend/relative to visit once a day and for me to visit once a day to save pet care costs. This puts me into a tough position as your pet sitter. You may trust this person, but I don’t know this person at all. What if there is confusion on who is feeding the cats and giving medication? What if a door or window is left unlocked? I know I double-check that the door is locked when I leave a client’s home and that the cats are fine. What if something gets damaged, or the cat escapes outside? What if I said x happened, and they said y happened; who would you believe? It is a liability issue, as well as a safety issue (I have never met this friend/neighbour/relative) and has too much potential for miscommunication. The presence of another person in your home will invalidate my bonding and insurance coverage for the job, and in such cases I assume no responsibility for damage to property/animals or for lost/stolen items.

What if my cat or hamster gets sick while I am away?

The client must advise me of any known medical conditions so I can monitor the cat or hamster for changes. If I notice anything suspicious in the health of your cat (not eating, lethargic, hiding when usually friendly, excessive diarrhea and vomiting) or hamster (growths, diarrhea, not waking up), I will contact you immediately to discuss what you would like me to do. If the animal needs to be taken to the vet, the pet owner is responsible for all veterinarian fees at the time of service. I am unable to pay veterinary expenses for later reimbursement. It is a good idea to make arrangements with your veterinarian beforehand so that you can leave a credit card on file with them, or have an agreement about treatment and payment. If a specific veterinarian has not been indicated during our consultation, I will take animals to one of the following clinics, both of which I have used personally:

  • (For cats) DMV Veterinary Center (Montreal) in Lachine – 24 hours emergency services
  • (For hamsters) Montreal bird and exotic animal hospital in NDG
  • (For hamsters) Anima Plus in Mile End

What if I run out of hamster food/cat food/kitty litter/paper towels?

The client is responsible for providing all pet supplies, and cat visit clients must also provide all cleaning supplies. It is awkward for me to be unable to clean vomit or litter box accidents or wipe running eyes when there are no paper towels or trash bags. I recommend clients stock a generous supply of all basic items – food, medication and medical supplies, litter and litter liners or litter locker bags, hamster bedding, paper towels, trash bags and poop bags, and toilet paper. The toilet paper is for me – please…don’t make me have to bring my own toilet paper!

However, I understand that travel and life events do not always allow for shopping prior to departure. I can restock missing pet or cleaning supplies with a concierge fee of $25 + the cost of the item(s). This is the cost of a cat visit. Kindly note that this is a convenience service to help ensure the high quality of my pet sitting service, and that I cannot guarantee the store, brands, or prices of the items purchased. Generally, I use Bounty paper towels, Charmin toilet paper, and Glad Force Flex tall trash bags.  I will make every effort to obtain your cat’s preferred brand/type of kitty litter and pet food to prevent stress to the cat or hamster.

Should you use reusable cloths in lieu of paper towels, kindly provide a generous stack of them, and access to a washing machine or laundry bag in which used cloths can be placed. Unless you have reserved an extra premium cat visit (1.5 hours), I will not have time to launder the soiled cloths. I strongly prefer using paper towels if your cat is prone to vomit and litter box accidents.

Wait, you’re going to use my washroom?

Yes. I sometimes drive from cat visit to cat visit to cat visit, each lasting 20-60 minutes or longer. I prefer not to, but I am only human and yes, at times, either my toddler or I may need to use your washroom. Hence the need for toilet paper. I also wash my hands after tidying cat litter and just before leaving each cat visit.

How far in advance do I need to make a reservation?

As early as possible to ensure availability! Particularly important if you are requesting visits at specific times of the day, or during holiday times like December-January, Easter, and June 24-July 5. It’s never too early! (For example, I start getting inquiries for the winter holidays in August.)

Kindly note that, for new clients who have never before used my service, a reservation is not considered confirmed until after the consultation visit and non-refundable deposit.

If you expect to travel under short notice, it might be a good idea to schedule a free consultation visit with keys right away, which will provide greater freedom when you have to travel unexpectedly.

When should I book the consultation visit?

I strongly urge new clients to schedule their free consultation well in advance of their departure date. There could be issues with the keys/access codes or perhaps it’s just not a good fit. I might not be available to meet during peak times, and I do not consider new requests for pet sitting as reserved until after the consultation visit and non-refundable key deposit. To avoid last-minute scrambling, please schedule your consultation visit 1-2 weeks prior to departure or even further in advance if it is close to peak times.

I want to meet you first before leaving my cats/hamsters with you.

Good idea! I’m happy to include a free consultation, also known as a meet and greet or pre-service visit, as part of my service. I will visit your home so we can meet and you can introduce me to your pets. You can explain where I can find the pet supplies, cleaning supplies, and your cat’s favourite hiding spots. We’ll go over your instructions – feeding, litter disposal, etc.. At that time, I can also collect keys or access codes and emergency contact information. I will try using your key and access code to ensure that I understand how use them and that they work.

Kindly note that for new clients, there is a non-refundable deposit that must be paid at the consultation meeting when keys are given, which will be applied to the final invoice. The requested cat visits will not be considered reserved until this deposit has been received. The entire pet sitting balance must be paid in full on or prior to my first cat visit. I accept cash, check, or electronic transfer and I provide receipts.

I’m also happy to answer questions via email, text, or phone.

I want to meet you now and then again closer to when I leave, as the cats’ diet and routine will change or we are moving to a new place or I don’t want to give you the key at the consultation meeting.

No problem! I offer one free consultation visit with key pick-up. Key return is also free, though some clients chose to leave their keys on file with me for future pet sitting. If I need to come by twice before my visit (including picking up keys, new cat food instructions, missed consultation visit, etc.), I charge per extra consultation visit.

If I leave the free consultation visit without keys on file, and there no cat visit reservations within 6 months of the initial consultation, there will be another pre-service meeting (a paid extra consultation visit) needed to collect keys and go over the cat’s routine again. After 6 months, it will be hard for me to remember the cat’s routine and where supplies are if I’ve never before provided pet sitting, despite my notes.

I’ve read your online reviews, but I want to check your references myself.

I do not provide a list of references that prospective clients can contact. Firstly, I want to protect my current clients’ privacy. Secondly, only a portion of my clients, many of whom are regular clients, take the time to leave online reviews; it would be even harder for me to solicit and maintain a list of people willing to exchange phone calls or emails with prospective clients.

I provide online reviews on my website and other social media, pictures of happy (and not-so-happy) clients, I maintain profiles on a variety of social media websites, I’m bonded and insured, I’m a member of a professional pet sitter’s association, I have business cards, I offer a free consultation visit where we can meet and you can see me interacting with your cat(s) and your home (aka, a job interview), I am easily accessible via phone, text, email, and various messenger apps, and I provide detailed email/text/messenger reports with pictures during each cat visit so the client knows exactly what is going on and what I’ve been doing with their pets. Yes, I even take pictures of vomit and litter box accidents before I clean up so the client will know where they were when they come home.

While I admire those who ask for live references, this is ultimately a business based upon mutual trust, and I’ve found that prospective clients who request live references in addition to all of the above generally aren’t comfortable having anyone other than family or friends in their homes, and nothing I can do would ever be enough to reassure them of my trustworthiness. I was once one of these people, so I understand where the sentiment comes from. It is hard allowing a stranger access to your home and your beloved pets while you are not there. You just have to trust your own judgement, and do what feels best for you and your pets.

I want to drop off/pick up my key at your home.

I only meet hamster boarders at my home. Frankly, I have an ever-changing schedule, and I cannot wait at home to meet clients, or accept visitors in the evening when I’m trying to get my small child to eat dinner and go to sleep or early in the morning when I’m trying to get her ready to start the day. It’s actually easier for me to go to the client, rather than have them come to me.

I am happy to provide complimentary key pick-up and key return. For new clients, key pick-up happens at the time of the consultation meeting. I’m also happy to keep keys on file, which is especially convenient for those who travel often, do last-minute travel, or those who may have emergency travel needs. If you plan on using me as your pet sitter in the future, I recommend clients keep their keys on file with me.

What is your cancellation policy?

My time is reserved in advance. As a solo pet sitter, when my calendar fills, I must turn away clients. Last-minute cancellations are a loss for me, because the clients I turned away have already found alternative pet care.

  • No refund will be given for any reason for the non-refundable deposit or for any pre-service fees (for example, fees for the second consultation visit).
  • No refund will be given for cancelled pet sitting reservations or for shortened pet sitting jobs after they have already started. Exceptions: death (pet/human family), life-threatening illness/injury (pet/human family), or “act of God” events like earthquake, hurricane, flooding, etc.. In the event of shortened reservations due to the above reasons, only the unused portion will be refunded.

The pictures used on this site are of my cats, “Olaf” Olaf Purrsun Meowkinsen Skogkatt and Ethel, and various hamsters – “Bob” le Petit Robert, Whitey, Mina, Buffy, Maximus Decimus Meridius, Bunny, and “Fred” Frederick.

Cat and hamster picture on business cards used with gracious permission by the photographer, Ásta Katrín – thank you!

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