Pet Sitter Spotlight: Rita Reimers of Cats 90210 and Charlotte Cat Sitting
This Day 15 of our 15 part series spotlighting the Professional Pet Sitting Industry and the extraordinary work being done day in and day out.
It should go without saying that the professional pet care industry is an extraordinary bunch of individuals who have amazingly big hearts.
Much of what the pet parent client sees is the direct result of many years of love, care, and professionalism.
Similar to the skilled magician or gifted performer or talented surgeon, you only see the effortless work as the training and education is done behind the scenes.
And that’s a price you can’t pay for.
The successful pet sitter will also be directly responsible for staff members that they send into the client’s home to do the job.
In today’s spotlight, you’ll see 3 separate examples of how hiring the right people literally make all the difference in your success.
You will also read how Rita Reimers of Cats 90210 and Charlotte Cat Sitting made a promise to a pet parent that she fulfilled — but wishes it never would have come to it.
The Right Staff
I put applicants through a rigorous process before bringing them aboard as cat sitters, and as a result I have some pretty wonderful people representing my company.
Here are a few stories from 2014 that illustrate how important it is to hire the right staff with the right stuff.
Background: I started Just for Cats Pet Sitting aka Cats 90210 back in 2003 as a solo cats-only pet sitting service, under the name The Kat Lady. I had been sitting since 1998, but 2003 I got serious about it with an eye toward replacing my income and leaving corporate life.
As one of only 2 other cats-only sitting service in Los Angeles at that time (now we are one of two), it soon became apparent that I could not remain a solo pet sitter and make enough money to live, if I also wanted to have a life too.
I began adding people to my staff in 2005, which is when we became Cats 90210. I was able to leave corporate life in April 2006.
Once I moved back to Charlotte NC and we opened our Charlotte location, Charlotte Cat Sitting, in 2014, the parent company Just For Cats Pet Sitting was formed under which both companies are housed. We now have 12 sitters working for us, 10 in LA and 2 in Charlotte.
Sarah Saves a Life
It was Sarah’s second set of visits with Tucker kitty, and she was booked for a 19-visit twice-a-day stretch over 10 days, including the week of the July 4th holiday.
Upon arriving for the second visit in the set, Sarah immediately knew something was wrong when Tucker did not greet her at the door, as was his habit.
Sarah looked around, finally finding him sitting in his litter box. Quietly observing Tucker, it became apparent that he was in pain and straining to urinate.
Of course it was a Sunday, but since Sarah takes her own cats to the same vet Tucker’s owner uses, she knew the vet was open. Sarah called Tucker’s owner, Zac, who agreed that a vet visit was in order, and after letting me know what was going on, Sarah took Tucker right in.
I should also mention Sarah was booked for a dozen visits that day, so she also took a moment to let her next few morning clients know she would be a little late that day, and told them why.
Tucker was diagnosed with a sever urinary tract blockage; the vet said that Sarah’s quick action saved Tucker’s life.
It was decided that Tucker would stay at the vet for the rest of the time Zac was away. Since his blockage was so serious, the vet wanted to keep a close eye on him.
Zac was extremely grateful that Sarah’s quick action enabled Tucker to have a complete recovery, and we have sat for Tucker two times since then. We’re very lucky to have Sarah as part of the Cats 90210 family.
Cross Country Move
I was called by Melissa, who was about to embark on a cross country move from Atlanta to Los Angeles, and she needed some help in LA getting the cats settled in.
The very day her fiancé Landon and the cats were to arrive in Los Angeles, he would have to leave again for a business trip, leaving the cats alone in an empty and strange apartment for three days.
It was a little odd to take a booking without having met the clients at all, but I did my research on their names and found the story checked out.
Since I live 4 hours away from Atlanta, I did offer to drive there to meet Melissa, but we couldn’t work out a good day for it since she was busy getting prepared for the move.
The day Landon and the cats were to arrive in Los Angeles, our sitters Pam and Melanie were going to meet him and the kitties at the new apartment and get the keys.
I was sending two sitters since we were going into a situation that was a little different than usual. But that morning, Landon texted Pam to say he left the key under the mat, as he had arrived the evening before and was sick with the flu. He left the cats there and went to stay with a friend.
Of course then we were very concerned about this odd situation, so I was glad two of the sitters were going there together. Upon arriving at the apartment, Pam and Melanie found two very scared kitties, Austen and Benny, alone in an empty apartment.
They were separated from one another by a gate, as they don’t get along very well unless someone is home with them. One of them didn’t even have anything soft to lie on, so Pam got a soft jacket from her car and left it for him to curl up on.
Pam visited the kitties for the next three days, giving them extra love and affection. She could see they were beginning to relax and be a little less afraid with each visit. On the fourth day, both Melissa and Landon arrived in Los Angeles.
Pam met with Melissa and Landon to finally meet then and to retrieve her jacket. They were very grateful to Pam that she was able to get the kitties settled in and enable their move to go as smoothly as possible.
Holiday Bail Out
A frantic call came in to the office the week of Christmas, at a time when we were full and not really taking new client reservations. Polina was very upset; she and her boyfriend were already out of town, and the friend that was taking care of their two cats decided she wanted to go see her family for Christmas after all.
After speaking at length with her boyfriend, Roger, I agreed we would find a sitter to take care of their kitties. Polina and Roger were already very comfortable with us since they were able to read details about our sitters and see their photos on our website.
After speaking with me, Roger said he was very sure we were the right sitters for them.
We had just hired a new sitter, Steven, who luckily lived not too far away from Roger and Polina, and he agreed to handle the sit.
This would be his first booking. Since we were not meeting the owner and it was an odd situation, I sent our sitter Melanie along with Steven to meet the current sitter, meet the kitties, and get the keys.
Roger and Polina were very relieved that they didn’t have to end their vacation. Once they arrived home, Steven went over to officially meet with them, which made Roger and Polina feel even better about out services.
They have booked us again since then.
A Client’s Last Wish
I first met our client, Linda, and her kitties, Sonny and Lexie, back in 2007. Linda was a marathon runner, and she ran in marathons all over the world while we took care of her cats, Sonny and Lexie.
Back then, we had a wonderful sitter on staff, Alyssa, and she became Linda’s primary sitter. Linda and Alyssa became friends, and Alyssa was one of a handful of people that Sonny and Lexie accepted into their world. The only thing Linda loved more than running was her cats.
In 2009, I took over as Linda’s cat sitter when Alyssa moved to Long Beach, and while Sonny and Lexie would sniff me and tolerate my presence, they didn’t take to me the same way they had to Alyssa.
Sadly, in 2010, Linda was diagnosed with Cancer. She went through chemo and was declared cancer-free by the end of 2011. During the time she was in chemo, Linda made me promise (several times) that I would get her cats to Alyssa if anything were to happen to her.
I promised her I would, but I told her it would never come to that. “I know” she said, “but promise me anyway.”
I moved to Charlotte in 2013, and before I left I met with Linda in January 2013, introducing her to Melanie, who would be taking over care for Sonny and Lexie.
Linda’s hair had all grown back, she looked healthy, radiant, and beautiful. That will always be my last memory of Linda, for shortly after that she was re-diagnosed. The cancer had come back, and it was in her brain.
Linda booked Melanie a few times to visit her cats while she ran marathons. Then she stopped booking us, and the only contact I had with her was on Facebook.
By then I knew Linda was back in treatment, yet she never let on just how serious it was. One day, I signed into Facebook early in the morning to find the horrible unexpected news that Linda had passed away the night before.
I noticed that some of her friends were talking about her cats, trying to decide what to do with them.
Then I remembered my promise…
I called Alyssa right away, she hadn’t yet heard about Linda’s passing, but she immediately called Linda’s best friend to tell her she was coming for the cats.
Melanie met her over there since we had the keys, and Alyssa took the cats home before her other friends had a chance to take them to a shelter.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would ever have to make good on that promise I made to Linda back in 2010. Linda counted on me to make sure her cats had a good life after she was gone, and I am glad I was able fulfill her wish.
I still miss Linda, I still can’t believe she’s gone…
Over to You
Read More: See the full and complete 15-part series spotlighting the Professional Pet Sitting Industry.
Tell us, has there ever been a promise you were forced to make or keep with a client? Have you connected with a specific pet parent on a deeper level?
Let us know in the comments what you think! And please share this entire series with your social communities.
What great stories you have Rita!! You are in the right business as it shows you have a huge heart!
Thanks Maureen! Sometimes the people need more hand-holding than the cats, as I am sure you know from experience too!
Fantastic stories and it shows the ethics you and your sitters abide by. It eases everyone’s mind to know that the sitters you hire are such a good fit and truly love and care for not only the pets, but the clients as well.
Thanks Dawn. whenever possible we do go above and beyond simply pet sitting, which I know all of us do. It was a tough year for our clients in 2014, actually had 3 of our human clients pass away this year (Linda to cancer, Mary who was also a personal friend of mine to a heart attack, and the husband of a long term client of our committed suicide over thanksgiving week while we were cat sitting for them).
Wow thanks Josh for posting all the stories, it really honors the wonderful people I have aboard!
Rita, you’re not JUST a cat lady, but also a people person! All-creatures person. 🙂
I am in tears after reading your story. Tears for the loss of a friend, tears for the love and concern you showed in the way you ran your business and took care of not just the pets, but the clients as well.