Help me find a 🐱/🏠-sitter in Boston
April 15, 2016 4:14 PM   Subscribe

I just moved to Boston (Jamaica Plain, specifically) and I'm looking for a regular cat sitter since I often travel, sometimes for good chunks of time, so it would be ideal if pet watching could be in exchange for staying in my apartment. How can I find a trustworthy person amenable to such an exchange?

I'm currently hitting up the local vet clinics to see if any employees are interested, but I wanted to see if there are other services out there or individuals that MeFites might know who would be interested.
posted by Cogito to Pets & Animals (12 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
One of my ex-boyfriends did this through AirBnB. He was upfront in specifying that guests had to cat-sit as part of staying in his condo, and he usually got foreign exchange students who would gladly pay to stay and have a kitty friend to boot. It covered a fair amount of his mortgage, IIRC, and his kitty was very happy.
posted by Hermione Granger at 4:37 PM on April 15, 2016 [5 favorites]

Boston is a desirable location but I don't see many ways for this to work with a single, consistent person.

When I was living with roommates but had no pets, I was happy to catsit for friends in exchange for a place of my own for chunks of time. Either just as part of normal friendship give and take or sometimes for some Seamless meals or bottles of booze. I would probably have done it for friends-of-friends too, but probably not for strangers, unless they lived in a really convenient neighborhood for me.

Beyond that, maybe someone who lives out of town but has some reason to be in town regularly but not on any particular schedule and doesn't already have a better place to stay. Maybe a retiree with kids in your neighborhood?

I could see this working with AirBnB or something like it (and am thinking about that for a longer trip I hope to take) but then it wouldn't exactly be a regular cat sitter.
posted by Salamandrous at 4:40 PM on April 15, 2016

I'd look for graduate students, of which Boston has an abundance. When I was in grad school, I gladly house/pet sat for people as a chance to get away from my own terrible digs. And because I missed having pets around me. A chance for peace and quiet and no housemates (bonus if you can offer a/c in the summers!) would be a goldmine for many grad students.
posted by TwoStride at 4:59 PM on April 15, 2016 [6 favorites]

We found folks like this on . We put up an ad saying that we were particularly interested in people who could repeat, and three times found people with personal reasons for wanting to stay occasionally in our neighborhood in exchange for watching our dog; each relationship lasted several years.

The last few times, we offered to pay our sitters, and they accepted, but that was because our dog was getting old and hard to care for and (in one case) it was clear that our sitter could really use the cash. But they had always agreed even before we mentioned money.

This was in Chicago, but I suspect Boston would work similarly!
posted by wyzewoman at 5:18 PM on April 15, 2016

You could post flyers in local people hubs: Ula Cafe, JP Licks, City Feed, and Boomerangs. And welcome to the neighborhood! I got priced out of an apartment a year ago and moved to nearby Roxbury, but still hang out there all the time.
posted by cubby at 5:22 PM on April 15, 2016

2nd'ing grad student - I occasionally pet sat for older/more stable friends who had real houses with some frequency in grad school, and since I was there for several years "regular" wasn't a problem. I did find that I was happier about it if I got paid. I let them set the price and it was generally pretty nominal (I don't remember the actual amounts but this was quite a while ago and in a different city so it wouldn't be relevant anyways) but it made a big difference psychologically.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 7:16 PM on April 15, 2016

Good call on the grad student suggestions. What's the best way to reach out to them?
posted by Cogito at 7:48 PM on April 15, 2016

I'd check the local university off-campus housing sites, like this one I dug up--maybe their facebook/social media sites are places you could reach out?
posted by TwoStride at 8:02 PM on April 15, 2016

My gigs were for friends, but this was back in the 90s - long before social media was a thing. Facebook or some other sort of student-based posting sites are a good idea. Maybe also postings in places near you where students might hang out - coffeeshops and the like. I'd also just ask around and see if you happen to know any grad students, or know people who know grad students.
posted by 2 cats in the yard at 3:00 AM on April 16, 2016

Do you have friends who want to visit Boston? Just thinking that if I had friends who needed catsitting, and they were in a city I wanted to visit, I'd be more than happy to do it - I like cats and it cuts the cost of travel for me. Obviously it's not something that would work regularly, but if you know when you are going and it's just for a week or two (my office allows three week vacations at a time, but I know US companies don't give as much holiday), or you can organise a few people over a travel block, it could work.

I really want to visit Boston, and if this was a condition for an apartment I was looking at on AirBnB, I'd be interested in staying there. I'm sure others would be too.
posted by mippy at 3:12 AM on April 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

Try NextDoor or the Jamaica Plain Facebook group.
posted by woodvine at 11:19 AM on April 18, 2016

I ended up finding people on both (nÊe and Both worked out great. The former is free and requires a little more work and has a less refined UI. The latter you have to pay for ($100/year), but guarantees your money back if you don't find a sitter (provided you post your request at least one month in advance). I found sitters on both sites within a week.
posted by Cogito at 7:03 PM on June 15, 2016

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