Grace Jaeger is the owner of Cat Watchers™, a cat sitting service in the Minneapolis Minnesota area. Since 1997, she and her small staff have provided cat care to several thousand cats in thousands of homes. All staff members are experienced in caring for cats with special needs, including pilling, administering insulin injections and subcutaneous fluids.
What prompted you to start a pet sitting business?
While I would love to say it was something I’d always dreamed of, the reality is that growing up I never thought it would be possible to make a living working with my favorite creatures. It took a twist of fate to get me started. After a repetitive movement injury forced me to look for another way to make a living, I decided to try and use my lifelong passion for cats. Cat Watchers™ is the result. It was truly a fortuitous injury and one I am thankful for every day!
What do you enjoy most about being a pet sitter?
This one is easy – the Cats! It is also very rewarding to provide a service that is so needed and appreciated by their humans.
What do you enjoy the least about being a pet sitter?
On an emotional level, the hardest part of this work is losing cats that we have cared for. I often grieve for them as though they were my own.
From a work perspective, the hardest part of being a pet sitter is the schedule, which is essentially 365 days a year. Our busiest times are always the holidays. Luckily I have an understanding and supportive family and they are willing to be flexible about holiday celebrations.
Another not so enjoyable part of being a cat sitter is caring for cats that don’t want us in their homes. Stalking is not out of the question (scary!) and we have had to learn how to protect ourselves. But as long as we don’t have to “do” anything to the cat, we will continue to care for them. After all, they need human attention too, even if they don’t appreciate it.
Since you only care for cats, what special skills do you think set you apart from others who care for a variety of pets?
Cats are intriguing creatures. They don’t usually share with humans what they want or how they’re feeling. So it takes a real sensitivity to their behaviors to give them quality care. This may include observing not only how the cats are acting (or not acting) but also monitoring how they’re eating, drinking and using their litterbox.
As an example, recently I was able to help a young male cat who was clearly in distress while in his litterbox. Because of my understanding and experience with cats, I immediately took him to an emergency vet, who found that the cat’s urinary tract was totally blocked from crystals – in fact, I had saved his life. Luckily these types of emergencies don’t occur very often but it is fulfilling to know that I was able to use my experience and knowledge of cat behavior to help one of my cat friends survive.
In addition to being intriguing, cats are mysterious and their behaviors are often inexplicable. When I started the business, I thought it was my job to become friends with each cat I cared for. The cats have helped me to change that focus – now I believe it is our job to make the cats as stress-free as possible in their humans’ absence. For some cats that means lots of attention and for others it means leaving them alone in their safe hiding spot. I believe that understanding this is critical in providing care and comfort for the cats.
Cat owners are something special too and appreciate the fact that we specialize in cats. Over the years, I have frequently heard that our specialization was a primary reason for my pet sitting service being selected.
Can you tell people a little about the event you started a few years ago, Leave Your Cat at Home Day?
A few years ago, I noticed that while there are celebrations for just about everything, there wasn’t a special day just for cats. With this in mind, I started an annual celebration called “Leave Your Cat At Home Day™”.
This celebration is a day dedicated to honoring and admiring cats for the way they have arranged the world. Everyone else has to go to work, including kids and d*gs, while cats are able to relax in luxury at home and be adored.
The event is the last Friday in February – this year we will be celebrating our 5th annual Leave Your Cat At Home Day™ on February 27th. A visit to the Leave Your Cat At Home Day™ website will introduce you to four of my cats (the Cat Collaborators) and give you ideas to help your cat celebrate. Be silly, have fun and honor your cats!