An independent cat

An independent cat

We are finding that there are lots of new experiences with each pet sit. There are different pets to look after, a new house to live in, the responsibilities that come with each of them and a new location to explore. This was our first experience with a single cat, described in the advertisement as an independent cat.

It was also the first time that we had arrived at an empty house. The owners had left early that morning and sent a text to say that they had left the keys in a watering can outside the front door.

We like to meet all of the owners before we sit for them, some in person, some by Skype. Luckily, we had met our current owner late last year. We stopped by on our way to Byron Bay to say hello and to introduce ourselves. We were shown around her home and introduced to Meg, the cat, who we would be looking after.

On the first morning we arrived and found the keys in the watering can and entered the empty house. On the dining table we found a list of instructions for the house and for taking care of the cat with some recommendations of what to see and do in the area, but there was no sign of Meg.

After a couple of hours we thought that we might have to send a message to the owners telling them that Meg had gone AWOL. In fact it was about four or five hours later before she made her entrance announcing her arrival with a loud meow. We were quite relieved that she had shown up.

Meg is two years old and likes her independence. She lives the lifestyle of a typical house cat, her day involves eating, sleeping, stretching, sleeping, yawning, and sleeping a bit more. She has two cat flaps to access the house, but what sort of cat uses a cat flap when there are large patio doors to enter and exit from and two pet sitters available on call to open and close the doors for her?

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Curiosity and the cat

Meg is a very inquisitive cat, she loves to climb the garden fence and check out what the neighbours are up to. Hopefully the neighbours believe that Meg is real and that this is not a Cat-Cam that we have installed on the fence to spy on them!

She loves to go hunting around the garden and along the garden fences as she tries to solve the mystery of the disappearing gecko. Luckily she didn’t bring us any gifts from her expeditions during our sit.

Travelling slowly

It’s not that long ago that January for us meant a financial year end and auditors or a revenue target review and sales meetings. We much prefer enjoying our summer days taking care of pets and peoples homes and the freedom that it brings.

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Our current pet sit is our seventh, we are in Port Macquarie on the mid north coast of New South Wales for two weeks. The town is large but with a relaxed feel, it’s on the estuary of the Hastings River and Pacific Ocean with miles of bays and uncrowded beaches.

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One of the things that we really like about pet sitting is that it enables us to travel at a slower pace. We only apply for pet sits that run for a minimum of two weeks, our next sit is for four weeks and the one after that is for seven weeks. This gives us time to unpack our things properly and to experience living in a new place.

We also get to plan what we want to see and do which means that we are not running around trying to see everything over a few days. Simple things like cooking are easier, as meals can be planned and shopped for and we can find the best cafes, bars and walking tracks and join a local fitness studio, Bodiline Pilates was our choice in Port Macquarie.

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Living in a home with pets for longer periods also brings the feeling of being one of the locals, this comes with a sense of familiarity of the town and of belonging. On previous sits we have noticed how amazing it is that so many people chat with you when you walk a dog as opposed to walking alone!

By attending local fitness studios we are meeting the locals, most of whom love our pet sitting stories, and this has led to some offers of future sits. We are also recognised in some of the cafes and restaurants and we are known by the owners of some of the AirBnB accomodations that we use in between sits.

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Independent house sitters

Looking after independent Meg has been our easiest pet sit to date. She would disappear for long periods of time, returning for food or when she needed a massage. This gave us more freedom to do what we wanted to do and to go to places where pets are not allowed, such as some cafes, beaches etc. Plus cats don’t need to be taken for a walk!

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A new year brings new pet sits

We are now listed on three house sitting websites. Each day we receive messages for new sits that are advertised. We have been busy applying for more jobs and our effort is paying off. Our 2019 calendar is filling up, we are pretty much fully booked up to July 7, including seven weeks in the south of England, plus the whole of October and November when we return to Australia.

It’s quite amazing how many people are looking for sitters and how many people are all over the world providing pet sitting services. We have been asked to write an article of our pet sitting experiences to date, our story will feature in the February issue of House Sitting Magazine.

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Farewell Port Macquarie

And so our time in Port Macquarie has come to an end for now. However, our summer on the coastline of New South Wales continues as we head to our next pet sit. This time we are driving four hours north to Eltham which in is the hinterland behind Byron Bay. There we will be looking after Bronte, a Labrador, for four weeks.

Here are the things in Port Macquarie that are right up our boulevard:

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Port Macquarie has some excellent cafes. Two of our favourites are Salty Crew Kiosk, on Town Beach, and Sandbox on Flynn’s Beach, both make excellent coffee and have full on ocean views.

There are some seriously good coffee spots around the town including The Cabin, which was our favourite local place, especially as the owner would bring along his dog, Bruce, who would make himself comfortable on the deck.

Port Macquarie has a 9km coastal walk which runs along some stunning bays and beaches. Along the way there’s several cafes including Sandbox at Flynn’s Beach and Salty Crew Kiosk at Town Beach.

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It pays to always check your surroundings before breaking out into a YMCA dance routine.

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Ottolenghi’s mint chocolate fridge cake makes the perfect leaving gift

A 5 star review

It always makes our efforts feel worth the while when the owners write a review of our pet sitting. This is from our Aussie House Sitters profile page and our seventh 5 star review:

Ian and Lloyd were truly amazing house sitters. Our cat was looked after wonderfully and we were kept up to date with posts on Instagram and texts. We arrived home to a spotlessly clean house and breakfast in the fridge for the morning after getting home very late from an overseas trip. To top it of, there was a delicious sweet slice in the fridge, which I'm ashamed to say is nearly all gone in less than 24hrs! Thank you so much guys. You made our trip a lot less stressful.

For more photos of the pets that we have looked after see our Instagram account: sit_and_paws

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