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 Post subject: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:02 pm 
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So my boyfriend and I have been talking about starting a cat sitting business for a while, and his job is getting increasingly shitty. So we're thinking this may be a good time to explore that option as a business for him.

What do we need to do to make this happen? I mean there's the obvious promotional stuff, but what else? At what point do you need to register as a business Insurance? Any advice from people who have done this and it's gone well (or not well)?


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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 7:40 pm 
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I would just browse other cat sitting services in other cities and see the kind of information they put on their websites and then go from there. I'm not a cat-sitter, but I've used their services before, so I'll tell you what I look for. If it's something you want to make a living on register as a business and get insurance right from the get go. Have everything that makes you look official such as any certificates, licenses, insurance policies, and references in a binder, on your website, and as a PDF to send to any potential clients. The first website I visited for the San Francisco area had links to their licenses and insurance on the front page.

One thing that made me feel good about the guy we got to cat sit for us recently was that he showed us pictures of his cat and told us all about her. I immediately felt much more relaxed about the whole thing!

A good Yelp presence is really helpful as well, so if you cat sit for any friends you might ask them to leave a review for you.

Good luck!

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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 8:54 pm 
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Thanks! I looked at some local sites and none of them seemed to mention any of that official stuff, which struck me as a bit odd. I'll definitely look around more, and good advice on getting something up on yelp!


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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Sat Oct 29, 2011 10:32 pm 
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My pet sitter keeps a diary and writes on it every day she visits my cats. It says how they ate, how they were acting, if they would come out to play, and anything that happened around the house (like burned out lightbulbs). She leaves it on the counter when she's done. I really love coming back and reading it. It also reassures me that she's staying and paying attention. So I recommend doing that! :-)

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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2011 12:41 am 
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Ours does that, too. They also text us after a day or two to let us know that they are looking after the cats and things are fine. Here is their website:

http://www.pawspetsitters.com.au/


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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2011 4:30 pm 
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I used a cat sitter for two weeks this past summer and she sent me daily emails with a picture. They were mostly "he ate all of his food, I changed his water, etc." She also brought in our mail and if we had plants, she was willing to water them (we don't have any though).

When I met her for an interview, she was really friendly and it was obvious she really loved cats. She also had a really long checklist of things to ask me about. The fact that she was so prepared (and thought to ask things I definitely wouldn't have thought to tell her) made me feel more comfortable.

I think the Yelp recommendation is a good one. I always look on Yelp before I hire someone like that.

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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 12:28 pm 
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Definitely get a professional website. Also, you might want to look into advertisement magnets and once you start to get a few clients and the necessary licenses/insurance, see about getting a booth at local humane society events. You could also look for online advertisements on humane society websites or similar but non-competing businesses.

I know it may take a bit more work, but also look into becoming a vet tech? It may not be the direction you want to go but could provide other job opportunities while you are working the cat sitting business. I know when we go to our vet, they tell us that their vet techs work on the side as cat sitters and even have cards available for us to take.

Also, are you only interested in cat sitting? Dog walking is pretty popular and complements a cat sitting business. Most people are ok to leave their cats at home an entire day but very few people (hopefully) are willing to do similar with their dogs.

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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:48 pm 
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I have dreams of starting a cat-sitting business. Sigh.

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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 3:59 pm 
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linanil wrote:
Definitely get a professional website. Also, you might want to look into advertisement magnets and once you start to get a few clients and the necessary licenses/insurance, see about getting a booth at local humane society events. You could also look for online advertisements on humane society websites or similar but non-competing businesses.

I know it may take a bit more work, but also look into becoming a vet tech? It may not be the direction you want to go but could provide other job opportunities while you are working the cat sitting business. I know when we go to our vet, they tell us that their vet techs work on the side as cat sitters and even have cards available for us to take.

Also, are you only interested in cat sitting? Dog walking is pretty popular and complements a cat sitting business. Most people are ok to leave their cats at home an entire day but very few people (hopefully) are willing to do similar with their dogs.


He does like dogs, but I think dog walking is a bit more daunting of a prospect. At least for right now. But it would make sense to branch out. I'll have to mention being a vet tech to him. I think he may be worried that there would be too much education involved since he's not sure if he wants to go back to school.


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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:11 pm 
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I suggest that you look for a Small Business Development Center (SBDC) in your area. They provide free (usually) consulting for people wanting to start their own small businesses. They will be able to answer with authority business questions about DBAs, taxes (not inconsequential for the self-employed in the United States), and insurance. They will encourage you to create a business plan, the very process of which will take you through much of the suggestions mentioned here (i.e., check out what other cat-sitters are doing).

I think specializing in cat-sitting is awesome.

Your business is going to grow by word of mouth more than anything else, but you'll have to expend some effort in the beginning to get your name out there. You might want to consider boarding, too.

Also, a suggestion: my cat sitter also does small dog boarding. She has a small dog herself (a rescue <3) and lives in an apartment. She is fussy about what dogs she takes in -- they can't be barkers and they have to get along with her own dog. But once that is settled, she is the best dog sitter ever, because they get the same amount of loving care that she gives her own dog. So you might want to give that some thought, too. She is not a vet tech, but trained as a phlebotomist and once worked in a hospital, so she's familiar with giving medications, including injections.

Good luck!!


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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 4:43 pm 
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Thanks! I'll definitely see about the SBDC here. Boarding might be tricky though since we're in a tiny apartment with an already territorial cat.


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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 6:53 pm 
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I definitely agree that pet sitting is all about word of mouth. you have to find some people to let you do it and let them tell their friends. also people can often find a friend or neighbor to check in on their cats. dogs are where the moneys at. I did a lot of pet sitting for a few years and no one ever wanted me to stay overnight with their cats. You can make a lot more money staying overnight with dogs.

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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 02, 2011 7:05 pm 
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My cat sitter doesn't have a website or anything like that (I bet he doesn't even have business cards). He also walks dogs and his business is completely word of mouth.


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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Tue Nov 22, 2011 10:33 pm 
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I know nothing about the legalities of starting a business or how to become insured and bonded etc. However, if you are doing cat sitting, I would assume you would be going to people's homes and into their homes when they are not home. I would be so beyond picky if I ever had to use a pet in home service.

You would, I assume, need to present yourself extremely professional and trustworthy. I'm not a prude by any means, but I'd watch the language. Your reference to your boyfriends job situation in this thread is an initial turn off. I'd assume that is not how you would present yourself to potential clients. I live in a large town. Not a city and there are several sitter services even in this town. So there is competition out there. To get near my pets and in my home, I'd practically expect a halo. Sorry.


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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2011 8:16 am 
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I don't know, shitty when talking to 'friends' doesn't seem bad to me. Now if you were saying forktastic whatever, whatever, then maybe. On a board where you can discuss your poo, sex toys, period, etc, the use of the word shitty is mild.

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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2011 9:42 am 
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I am having a pet sitter in a couple weeks, so I will let you know more after what I liked and didn't Ike, but she is going to spend the night at our house. She doesn't have to, but she offered and my cats are really shy, so I thought it would be great since it will give them time to warm up to her. If she just stopped by to feed, change litter, etc, the cats would probably go two weeks without being pet, and that makes me sad. I feel so much better about leaving them now.


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 Post subject: Re: How to start a cat sitting business?
PostPosted: Wed Nov 23, 2011 1:33 pm 
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linanil wrote:
I don't know, shitty when talking to 'friends' doesn't seem bad to me. Now if you were saying forktastic whatever, whatever, then maybe. On a board where you can discuss your poo, sex toys, period, etc, the use of the word shitty is mild.

Anyone who wouldn't hire someone because they used the word shitty on a message board isn't someone I would want to associate with anyway.

and thanks, littlebear! Things are moving slowly but it's still definitely something we're considering.


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