I am often asked what length and how many visits should be booked when hiring a cat sitter. Here is a breakdown of what we have seen works best.
When booking visits, it is important to consider your cat’s personality when choosing the length of your visits. If your cat is social, you might want longer visits. If your cat is anti-social, shorter visits are recommended because a sitter’s presence in your home may stress out a cat that is afraid of people.
One Or Two Visits Per Day
Usually, we try to match the number of visits per day to the number of times that your cats eat a meal or gets a medication.
For example, if your cats eat a meal in the morning and in the evening, we will usually schedule two visits per day. If you cats have free feed dry food or only get wet food once per day, we generally schedule one visit per day.
If your cat gets any medications, you will need to schedule a visit that corresponds to the time your cat gets the medication.
If you also have a dog, be sure to check out our article about What length visits should I book for my dog?
Times When Cat Sitters Can Come To Your Home
We will usually set up flextime visits or a in the morning and in the evening. Below are all of the time slots that we offer for cat sitting.
- Morning: 7:00am – 9:30am
- Late Morning: 9:30am – 11:00am
- Mid-Day: 11:00am – 2:00pm
- Early Afternoon: 1:00 – 3:00 pm
- Late Afternoon: 2:00pm – 5:00pm
- Evening: 4:00pm – 6:30pm
- Flex Time: 8:00am – 8:00pm
How Long Should My Cat Sitting Visits Be?
There are a lot of variables here, so I will talk about the length of visits we offer and what types of situations we match to each length of visit.
The logic is pretty straightforward.
- Fearful & aggressive cats get less time
- Social cats get more time
- Easy medications can be squeezed in,
- Medications for shy cats take longer if your cat tends to hide.
- Remember, you can mix & match the length of your visits
Mixing and matching visit lengths can add a lot of value. For just a few dollars more in most cases, you can add an extra 15-minutes here and there for some extra playtime or snuggles.
You can even add a longer visit for just one day out of the week.
The 30-minute visit is a great length of time for cats that like to play and like to be around people.This is also enough time to administer a medication if needed. We will have enough time to prep a meal and have playtime during a 30-minute visit. But, keep in mind, if you have 4 or more cats that like to play and a garden that needs to be watered, you might want to book a 45-minute visit.
If your cat is shy but friendly, I like to do a 30 or 45-minute visit. I have seen more often than not, a shy cat will come out of their hiding spot after about 20-minutes and then go all out chasing a laser pointer for the last part of the visit! It takes time for a cat to build trust with someone that is coming into their home. That extra 15 or 30-minutes make all the difference in a lot of cases. You will have a happier cat when you get home if you book a little more time for your shy but friendly cat.
The Flextime time-block is between 8:00am & 8:00pm and are very popular. They can be perfect (purrfect) for your if your cats free kibble and you only need one visit per day.
If you are having trouble finding a cat sitter with availability, which is common during the holidays, you can suggest a flextime time-block. Being flexible with your visit time might help you get in if you are booking last minute.
If you are looking for a quick visit, the 20-minute visit is a good choice. We will have enough time to scoop the litter box, do a meal prep, and send you an update, but that is about it. Shorter visits can be good if your cat is afraid of people or aggressive. I like to get in and out of those visits quickly because your cat will be stressed out just by our presence. I don’t want to add any stress to their situation, so when a cat doesn’t warm up to new people, I recommend 15-20 minute visits.
On the other hand, if your cat does like people, keep in mind 15 minutes go by very quickly. There are usually only a few minutes for playtime if any time at all. If your cat likes people and likes to play, think about sprinkling in a couple of 30-minute visits. Social cats really come alive during a 30-minute, so you will have a happier cat when you come home if you do a couple longer visits.
This is one of the best options for cats that love people and for cats that are shy but friendly. 40 to 50 minute visits give your cats a chance to snuggle with your sitter totally de-stress. Cats love the cadence of these visits because they usually go: Mealtime – Playtime – Snuggles!!! Talk about perfect for cats!
40-50 minute visits are perfect for shy but friendly cats. I see so many times when I am pet sitting for a cat that is a bit shy, they will check me out for for the first 15 or even 30 minutes. But then they come out roaring for snuggles! The longer visits give your cat a chance to feel comfortable around their pet sitter, whom from a shy cat’s perspective is an intruder coming into their territory! Cats are naturally curious, but they are often naturally territorial and naturally fearful of changes in their environment. So it might take a little extra time for your cat to warm up to a sitter. But once they do, it is certainly worth the wait!
During the 50-minute visit, your cat will get the same: Mealtime- Playtime – Snuggles as the 40-minute but they get even more of the good stuff. I have seen cats really connect with us during the 50-minute visits and I have heard some of the loudest purrs come from the 50-minute visits! If you can get away with one visit per day, booking one 50-minute visit is a great bang for your buck! Most of the cost of the visit is covering drive time to your home, so once we are there it is not too much more to add extra time.
What Length Cat Sitting Visits for Diabetic Cats?
Usually, we try to book at least a 30-minute visit for diabetic cats. This way we can give your cat a meal and give the shot 20-minutes or so after breakfast or dinner. If your cat is shy, you might need to book a 45-minute visit so your sitter has enough time coax your cat out of their hiding place and give the shot.
If your cat is really good about taking the shot it can be done in no time at all. But if you cat runs away and hides or is aggressive for the shot, we will have to book more time to give your sitter a chance to safely administer the shot.
How Much Time Does It Take for A Sitter to Give My Cat a Pill?
Giving a cat a pill can take anywhere from 1 – 15 minutes depending on how well your cat takes pills. If pill pockets are not an option and we have to pill your cat, it takes a few minutes for a cat that is good with pills and 15-minutes or more for a cat that does not like pills. Whenever possible we will use the soft Salmon Flavored Whisker Lickin’ treats as a pill pocket. These work great because it makes administering a pill basically stress-free for your cat. Most of the time we will not even have to take a shy cat out of its hiding spot to give a pill if we use the Whisker Lickin’ method. We just smush the Whisker Lickin’ treat around the pill, toss it to the cat, and in a few minutes the treat is usually gobbled up!
If your cat is shy, it might take 5-10 minutes just to find your cat and then a few minutes to confirm your cat ate the pill pocket. So for shy cats be sure to book enough time. Its amazing all of the hiding spots cats can find!
For really shy cats that need pills, you might want to set up a kitty room and we will try to keep your cat in one room with food water and a litter box. This will minimize the number of hiding spaces and your cat might actually feel more comfortable being in a smaller room while you are away.
Automatic Food Dish To Get Down To One Visit Per Day
One of the easiest ways to get down to one visit per day, and keep your cat on a regular meal schedule, is with an automatic food dish. These cat food dishes that are on a timer so your cats get their meal on time, even while we are not there!
This is the most ingenious way I have seen to set up a once per day cat visit schedule. You can put dry food or wet food in these dishes, set them for 12 hours in advance, and they just pop open!
No batteries or cords needed because they operate on a wind-up timer. If you put wet food in them, you will need to put a freeze-pack in the bottom to keep the wet-food fresh.
Overtime, these cat food dishes wear out. You might want to buy a spare if you are counting on it over a long stretch of holiday visits.
Beware Of Changing Meal Times For Older Cats
If you decide to not use a timed food dish, be careful changing meal times & amounts quickly. Dramatically Changing a meal schedule or the type of food too quickly can be dangerous for older cats.
Older cats tend to have sensitive digestion because they do not absorb nutrients as well as a young cat.
Even changimg the mix of food on the fly can have detrimental effects. Be careful here. It’s serious stuff. If your cat is older or has sensitive digestion, it may be in your cat’s best interest to schedule visits during their regular mealtimes.