Here's a brief collection of wisdom I've accrued from 30 years of taking care of people's pets across dozens of American cities. The pets primarily included cats, dogs, bunnies, and plants. For photos of some of the cuties, veneture to my pet photography page.
If you can think of other essential/useful questions, let me know and I'll update the list accordingly (and happily to cite you if requested).
- what’s the feeding/water/litter schedule, and where are the food, litter, treats, and toys located?
- what’s the location, hours, and contact info of the pet's vet and their nearest 24-hour emergency hospital?
- what are the pet's general habits? what brings it joy? does it like being held/cuddled/stroked in specific ways? anything it strictly doesn’t like?
- what is the pet's relationship with the outdoors / other animals? can it go outside on its own? how much supervision is needed?
- does the pet have friends/playmates it likes to visit?
- does it have traumas or habits I should be especially attentive to?
- what is the expected compensation for this petsitting commitment, if any?*
*I've done a lot of petsitting for free, or as a favor, especially with close friends, but i do typically recommend asking for some compensation for your time/labor, especially when it's someone you don't know, or the responsibility is actually quite intense, like walking multiple dogs multiple times a day; or having to administer time-sensitive food/medicinal regimens; or navigating complex roommate situations. In a previous engagement, I was offered $35 per dog per day for live-in sitting with 2 walks per day. Other times, I may have been offered ~$200 for a month (plus the ability to live in the space for the whole month).
- what's the key/entry situation? keys? keycard? code? do I need to download an app?
- if I am sharing sitting responsibilities with others, can they have key/keycard/entry access too? may i share your contact info with them as well, so you can check in with them in the event you can't reach me?
- is there anyone else i can reach out to in the event i can't get in touch with you?
- what’s the trash/recycle/compost/laundry policy in the home/building? where are supplies stored?
- what's the fridge/freezer/pantry/bar policy? can I eat/drink what I see, or are there items you'd prefer I not touch?
- anything I should know about neighbors / doormen / repair people / other possible visitors to the dwelling?
- any house rules you’d like me to specifically attend to/obey, e.g. no guests, no shoes, no access to certain rooms, pest mitigation, etc.?
- are there any forms of transportation you have access to that I should be aware of or that I may use while I'm there (car, bike, scooter, metrocard, etc.)?
- do you have any household supplies that get automatically restocked / re-ordered, such that if something runs out, I should notify you and/or wait for a replacement? if not, do you have recommendations of where you usually procure replacement items?
- upon leaving, should I leave sheets/towels in a specific place, or wash them myself?