The linked article, "A Pet Owner's Guide to Pet Sitters," by Mary Anne Miller, member of The Cat Writers' Association, also offers a list of questions to ask a potential commercial pet sitter before hiring him or her to take charge of your precious cats in your absence.
Veterinary InformationYour veterinarian's name, address, phone number and office hours. If your veterinarian does not handle off-hours emergencies, be sure to also include the same information for the closest veterinary emergency clinic. If you subscribe to pet insurance for your cats, make sure the policy packets and signed claim forms are together with your cats' health records, in the event emergency care is needed in your absence.
Letter of Authorization for Emergency Veterinary TreatmentWrite up a simple "to whom it may concern" letter authorizing your pet sitter by name to seek emergency care for your cat(s.) Also either leave signed blank checks (write "for veterinary care only" in the check memo), or make arrangements in advance with your veterinarians, either by leaving a credit card authorization, or by asking them to bill you upon your return. Understand that not all veterinarians will agree to the latter; a lot depends on your previous relationship with them.
Your Itinerary and Cell Phone NumberEncourage your cat sitter to call you when she has questions about your cat's care in your absence, and particularly if she sees something amiss healthwise
It's also nice for you to schedule a daily call when she is there, so you can talk to your kitty on the phone.
A List of Your Cat(s)' MedicationsIf your cat is on daily medications, it is imperative that you have your pet sitter come to your home before your trip, so she can practice giving your cat his daily medications. Medications for conditions such as feline hyperthyroidism, feline diabetes, hypertension, or heart disease simply can't be skipped. If you have any doubts at all about your pet sitter's ability or dedication to giving these medications, it would be wise to consider boarding your cat at a veterinary clinic instead.
Also make sure your cat sitter understands the importance of providing fresh, clear water for your cats at all times. An automatic water dispenser is the best way of ensuring fresh water for cats.
Demonstrate how to scoop the litter, and how to empty and clean the box, in case your absence will be extended. The last thing you want upon your return home is to find a cat with newly developed litter box avoidance.
Leave Your Scent in Kitty's BedCats' sense of smell is one of their most important senses, and they are most comforted by the smell of people and things they hold most dear. Leave several of your old unwashed t-shirts or pieces of sweatshirts permeated with your scent in your cat's bed and in other corners and nooks where she might sleep during the day. Not to imply that you don't wash your clothes, but make it a point to wear two or three old t-shirts before leaving, to make sure your scent is well-embedded in them. If you can stand to go without deodorant for a few hours all the better. Your cat will be comforted by your unseen, but scented "presence" during your absence, and you'll feel better with that thought.
Go over your cat sitter's list of important information with her before leaving, then post it in a prominent place in your home. Make sure she knows where to find medications, food, and litter. Your peace of mind will be well worth the effort!