Catsitting for 20+ CATS!
I don't remember if I posted here a couple of months ago about talking with a breeder of Turkish Vans in Ypsilanti (next town over) ... http://ypsivans.com.. about sitting for some 17 of her cats when she took a couple of others to a cat show out of town. And the job fell through at the last minute, due to a "family emergency" she said.
I thought perhaps she'd decided she just didn't want to pay for a petsitter and that was the last I'd hear from her.
A couple of weeks ago she got back in touch with me: she was going to a show in Wisconsin the weekend of Sept. 20-22 and would I sit for her. Well, I did it.. a visit Friday pm, visits Saturday am and pm and Sunday am and pm.
There were more cats this time; including a litter of 6 kittens about 6-7 weeks old.
I did it! Boy, was it exhausting!
I got $30 a visit, thinking about an hour each time. She's talking about another show in October. I think I'll ask for more; it took at least an hour each visit, and that was with everything going smoothly.
(Also I'm going to line up liability insurance. It was hitting me what a huge responsibility all these cats were!)
She has this cute little house with lots of little rooms, one after the other, many without overhead lighting. Some cats were in this area, some in that, and some should not get into other areas but some were very tricky about slipping through narrow door openings or opening screen doors themselves.
So It was all very interesting, shall I say ..now that everything went well and I'm unwinding from it all. :eek:;)
Anyway, I wanted to share this update.. and ask for any feedback or thoughts you might have and also what I should charge now that I know more about what exactly is involved.
Cheers! All the best,
I don't know what to charge for rates - but where are the PICTURES???? :D
That's what I was thinking too... could you take pictures of her kitties when you visit them again. Were the kittens adorable, I bet they were! I think it's a good idea to have liability insurance. Are Turkish Van cats the ones who like to play in water?
Copied from her Web site... Ypsivans Ronald Weasley - look at his eyes! I want to smooch him!
They are so cute. I love the pic of the cat and the Dalmation. I thought Vans came in other colors, too.
Wow! That sure sounds like a lot of work. Right now I'm pet sitting for only 2 cats and I just go over there once a day. I feed them and make sure that they have enough water in their drinking fountain, bring in the mail, and check to make sure that their automatic litter box is working properly. I will also need to change the bag in the litter box since their parents are out of town for 2 weeks. I'm getting $15 per day and they live less than 1 mile away from me so it only takes me maybe 15 minutes a day to do this. I would definitely ask for more money per day at least $50 maybe even more. Good luck.:)
I normally charge $15/visit but for that many cats I would absolutely have asked for $30/visit... that's a lot to look after!!!!!
That would be a lot of work, but a labor of love for this Old Cat Man. I know have Ten Cats and Four Visitors. That is a lot of litter box cleaning and can opening. And we too want PHOTOS!!
These are the six kittens I was taking care of: http://ypsivans.com/brand_new_kittens
They've gotten somewhat bigger, of course, since these pictures were taken, and they were just FULL of energy, scampering and bouncing and exploring and climbing all over.
Ronald, the guy in the photo that cassiesmom posted here, is one of the cats who went to the show in Wisconsin.
My phone doesn't have a camera in it. I have a separate digital camera, but I don't know if I'd have the energy to try and line up good shots with it on top of all the food-serving and water-changing and litterbox-scooping.. and slipping carefully through doorways to make sure that little feet weren't scampering out below where I was looking.. washing a LOT of dishes..
Carol, the owner, is talking about going to another show next month.. in Pennsylvania, I think.. and she'll be away longer for that one.
I would ask her for more money, given that you apparently did a good job, and took longer than someone doing a perfunctory job would do! But you would know better than us what a good rate is where you are!
I've just got a new cat-sitting job lined up and I charge $15 pr. visit, but that is because it's not far away. I stay at least an hour, often two. I can there on my bicycle in about 15 min. However, with that many cats and if it takes time to get there, you could charge a bit more.
I've done a looooooooooot of research on petsitting professionally as I do it on the side for clients at the clinic QUITE often. I decided not pursue it as an actual LLC to for a couple of reasons.... paying taxes and fees on the income and fees for having an LLC and having to pay for bonding and insurance... it really adds up, and considering it isn't something that I do every single day (maybe a few jobs a month) I felt it wasn't worth pursuing it.
That being considered, when you're doing it "on the side", you absolutely need to charge what you feel your time is worth, but must also consider that "professional" sitters in your area charge higher prices because they are a legal business, have the insurance and bonding, etc. If you charge TOO much, these potential clients may go with one of the professional sitters instead as they have "all the bells and whistles".
I think $30 a day (assuming one visit a day?) is pretty fair, considering it only took you about an hour. I've stayed longer with some of my kitty visits and charged half of that (and most of the time was spent attempting to find/catch a very unhappy diabetic kitty to give her her insulin...). I only ask for $15/visit for a "reasonable" amount of cats and 2 dogs (really a "reasonable" amount... I consider 30mins - 1hour for a visit a reasonable amount of time for $15, regardless of the number of pets I'm caring for), and I ask $45/night for my overnight visits (I stay at the house 24/7 except for work or any errands [like getting food etc] or events that I've already made the owner aware of. Of course, no client has ever expected me to stay at the house 24/7 but I feel an obligation to since they're paying me to watch their pets.). Most "professional" pet sitters in my area charge $15-20 per visit up to 2 pets, charge additional fees per each additional pet and for extra services like medicating, etc. They charge upwards of $60/night for overnights and that does NOT include a mid-day potty break and generally only includes the hours of 9pm - 9am or 7am. I feel like I am getting paid fairly for my services when most of the pets I sit for are so low maintenance, anyway... and most of my clients round up or tip very generously!!!!
Again though... charge what you feel YOU'RE worth... if you're happy with $30/day then that's the perfect price for you :)
Just wanted to throw in my 2 cents, ignore it as you wish haha
Thanks, folks, for your feedback and thoughts on the price and others aspects of the matter. I am working on my response, but it is taking me a while to get all my (many) thoughts together and compose a coherent reply. I'll be back soon!
Thanks, Karen and Jessika. I've also put this question out on a Yahoo group of Ann Arbor-area petsitters that I belong to, most of whom have been doing it as legal businesses full-time or as a substantial part of their income for quite a long time. A couple of them responded saying they thought $30 was reasonable for an hour's work in this area, but with so many cats and so many details to keep track of, I might want to go higher.
Also, since these are not rescue cats and she is breeding them for profit, I might consider a higher rate to care for all these special cats. That's some of my thinking too (and why I want to line up liability insurance before doing this again!): these are valuable cats (in the marketplace, I mean; as we all know, ALL cats are valuable!).
One said "Wow! I'd be scared to take that on, I think! More power to ya!"
The other asked, "Does it smell?" (with so many cats?) I replied, yes there was some aroma, but I thought that might be due somewhat to intact males on the premises. She then said "UGH I didn't even think about the fact that the cats are not spayed/neutered! Sounds far more complicated than I would want to take on even for more money. " She's been in business since 1994, too!
Carol, the Van breeder, was talking about going to another show in mid-October and being away longer for that one. I haven't heard from her yet. I don't know if she'll argue if I raise the price. I also don't know who she'd get if she doesn't have me. She was happy with my work this time; I did everything she wanted and some above and beyond.
Her son, who lives nearby and I think is in his 20s, has provided cat care for her on occasion, but he is not exactly dependable, shall I say? She told me before that he doesn't want or like to do it. The last time she went to a show and he was in charge, he told her on the phone one morning "I don't feel like going over there today. I'm going to hang out with my friends." I don't know if she somehow browbeat him into going over to do the bare minimum, or if she had to cut the show short and rush home early.
I'd kind of like to do it again, even if it's at the $30, now that I know the whole setup more. I spent at least an hour a visit, and that was with everything going smoothly. If any complications come up, such as one of the kittens escaping from the kitten room, I'd be spending a LOT more time getting things back in order!
There's another concern of mine: her house is pretty much wide open. There's just a screen door in front, which locks with a key, but it would be nothing to cut through the screen. That goes to an enclosed porch, which has a regular door going into the rest of the house, but that door doesn't lock, at least from the outside. Around back, it's a screened in porch, which leads to another door that can be locked from the inside.
Jessika, thanks for all your research and thoughts on the business end of it. I don't pet-sit full time and don't really want to. I'm organized as a business to some degree: I have a business name registered with the county (Friendly Paws Pet Care), and I have business cards out here and there. I don't have a web site or advertise. I am considering liability insurance.
I work some as an independent contractor for some of the sitters who are in business. My own clients are people I've known from other contexts or friends of friends or who otherwise have found out about me by word of mouth. They've all been people with a "reasonable" (good way to put it, thanks!) number of pets, mainly cats, and I spend about half an hour a visit, taking care of the chores and then just hanging out with the animal(s) to give them some company. I charge for the visits of that type from $15 (for a guy right here in my apartment building), $17-18 for most clients, and the newest one $20, which is becoming the going rate around here.
Carol, the breeder, and I connected through a web site called Care.com, which is about getting people in various helping professions together with people looking for such services. I believe it was our very own Tracey (krazyaboutkats) who tipped me off about Care.com!
Since you are registered as a business (LLC?), do you not have to claim the income and pay taxes on it?
There will be some months where I'm triple booked (one overnight with 3 "kitty visits" was the most I did for a weekend... was SO busy!), some months where I get a few overnights back to back (longest stretch was 3 1/2 weeks of overnights), and other months where I am dead and wish I had some work. Thankfully I have a few very loyal repeat clients who pay me very generously (seriously, one of them goes out of time multiple times a month sometimes, or will give me a day's notice for an overnight... and if I can I always say yes because the dogs are so easy and she pays so well!) so it makes up for the dead time. I made a large down payment on my new car AND paid for a brand new fancy washer and dryer when we moved into our new house due to money saved up over the past year from pet sitting alone!
Good luck with whatever you decide to do! Sounds like you already have it figured out :)