What It’s Like to Be a Cat Nanny in Vancouver
Is this the purr-fect job?
January 4, 2017
Anke Morin might just be living the dream: the animal-loving Vancouverite gets paid to play with cats all day in her role as an insured-and-bonded cat nanny for The Cat Nanny. As part of our new Q&A series on Vancouver’s coolest jobs, we caught up with Morin to talk shop and get a few kitty photography tips from the expert.
How did you get into the nanny game?
We adopted our own two cats and after that I started volunteering with Action for Animals (they do cat adoption through PetSmart). I was doing that for a few years and, I was in sort of an unhappy office job so then I started looking and came across the cat nanny job I thought, oh, I’ll do that. I started at the end of August in 2014.
So you’ve been doing it a while now.
I love it. There’s a lot of driving (I have a pretty big coverage area) but I cannot tell you how many times I’m thinking about how my rat race mentality is completely gone. I always smile when I hear DJs on the radio saying “Oh no, it’s Monday,” or “Thank goodness it’s Friday.” Caring about that is completely gone from my life—it doesn’t matter if it’s Monday or Friday or Sunday anymore.
What do you like most about being a cat nanny?
It’s flexible. I have a big family, with four kids, so it’s nice that it’s usually pretty flexible. You’re kind of your own boss. I can take as many bookings as I like.
How many bookings do you have at a time?
It’s hard because it really varies. On average, it’s about three or four, but during the holidays or any long weekend, it’s very busy. Like at Christmas, I was hopelessly overbooked. I had 15, that was crazy. And some people want morning and evening visits.
What does your average day look like?
I get my kids ready for school, then start going to my first client—or if I have a twice-a-day client, I might go before breakfast, then get the kids ready, then head out again.
I feed the cats, I change the water. And there’s a lot of watering plants. Some cats need medicine. In the beginning they’re usually kind of shy, but I have my ways of making them comfortable—food and treats. Some cats are lovey-dovey and some are more active, so I might use lasers and toys.
Most people book a half-hour visit, but on an average day, it’s likely I’ll be there longer. It’s not the kind of job where you time yourself and at 30 minutes the beep goes off.
Is it ever uncomfortable being in strangers’ houses alone?
There was one house where there was a bit of a hoarding situation, with six cats. I could’ve said no, but I felt for the cats and knew nobody else would do it. But there’s not too much that shocks me. People might say, “Sorry it’s messy,” but trust me, I’ve seen it all. And we always have a meeting before, so it’s not the first time in the house. For me, it’s a job.
But being in strange places all the time can result in unexpected things happening. I got stuck in an elevator the other day. I’ve had the alarm go off before and not known where the panel was to disable it. Or there was a place with two cats and a snake.
Do you ever get any unusual requests?
If they book in the summer and I’m supposed to water the vegetable garden, that takes up a lot of time. I’m thinking, “I’m not the gardener.” I like keeping things alive, but sometimes I barely have any time left with the cat.
You take pictures of cats to send to owners. Any tips for kitty photography?
I always ask the client if they want updates. Most people like it. There’s a thing where you have the rapid fire burst of photos, then you can go through frame by frame, get a good one of the tongue out. And then you can totally edit and adjust the lighting. I’m a hobby photographer, so I have a bit of an eye for it if I do say so myself.
What would your advice be for aspiring cat nannies?
You have to love animals. But you don’t actually need a car: other sitters at my company take a bike, bus or walk. You also cant be afraid to get a scratch or two. But I would say, go for it. I have my intense times where it’s a little too busy, like this Christmas, but I always say, it beats the office any day.
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