Not all pets make good pet sitting candidates. There are some dogs, and even a few cats, who are so uncomfortable with a pet sitter in their home, some of whom respond very aggressively, that I choose not to provide their care. We had one request for pet sitting some years ago, with a dog that wouldn’t even let us in the house for the meet and greet with the dog’s people home. Definitely not a good candidate for pet sitting.
The guard kitties, however, are a class of their own. We’ve had a few over the years. One calico was so aggressive that we had to give up trying. If you so much as looked at her she would fly at you, screeching full voice, with teeth and claws at the ready. The owners didn’t believe us and had a neighbor pet sit her once – someone she knew well – and he got the same response. The cat was supposed to get insulin, but there wasn’t a shot of getting anywhere near the poor thing.
Another is the only cat who has ever bitten one of my staff, sending her to the emergency room. I still pet sit for her, but I am always aware of where she is, never let her corner me, and never touch her. She usually meets me at the front door, trying to prevent my entrance, but we have worked out a sort of truce so I can at least go in, get her food (with medicine in it) set up for her, freshen the water, and scoop the litter. Very occasionally she will engage briefly with a wand toy. But we both know our limits!
And then there’s P, who I’ve been caring for over the years. He’s been no fan of mine, and is very quick to try to corner me, hiss at me, swat at me, and I’ve been able only to provide minimal care for him many times. He loves his own people, but he has had little use for me. But lately, he is working on turning the corner, at least a bit.
A year ago, his family adopted a kitten I was fostering – I’ll call him H.
H and P had a bit of a challenge getting along at first. P is older and a kitten might not have been his first choice, but they are doing pretty well together now, and I’m thinking H might be key in convincing P that I’m not as bad as he thinks!
H. loves me, and is happy for tons of pets and lots of play. A total sweetie. And I love getting to pet sit my former fosters too. I brought one of my favorite toys over – the Kattipede from Neko Toys, and H just loves it. But it turned out the P did too. A long wand toy, P decided it was okay to play with me since I was at a good distance from him. And play he finally did – running and reaching up to get the toy. P still stayed away from me, but no hissing or swatting.
After a few days of this, P decided to brush against my leg on the way past me – a bit of a surprise! And then he let me pet him, ever so briefly and just on his back, as he walked past me. This morning he sauntered past me quite deliberately and slowly for another quick pet and even arched his back, enjoying the contact, short as it was. He continues to be a playing machine as well, nicely taking turns with H for a good play time.
So P may be moving out of my guard kitty category if he keeps this up. I don’t know if it was his mom’s lectures about being nice, or if H is showing him that I’m not so bad after all, but whatever it is, I sure like it better.
The transformation isn’t complete yet. P did corner me as I was finishing up my visit this morning, and got in a quick swat and hiss, just to remind me who’s boss. As his mom says, P’s gotta be P still. But progress is progress, and it’s fun to see him play and enjoy some time with me, even if a little grudgingly! If he’s not careful, he might actually discover that he likes me.