Published by PETA.

This article originally appeared on PETA Prime.

It’s almost holiday vacation time, but unfortunately, you cannot take your feline friend with you. Your neighbor will not be able to watch your cat companion either. You concede that you will have to work with an outside sitter. But how do you know that the sitter will provide the proper service? Here are some tips excerpted from my book 250 Things You Can Do to Make Your Cat Adore You.

1. A big smile is not a reliable reference. Check references carefully (try to determine if the folks providing the glowing endorsements are actually the sitter’s relatives and friends).

2. Call the Better Business Bureau, your local Chamber of Commerce, and any and all animal protection organizations within thirty miles to ask if they have ever had a complaint about the sitter.

3. Meet the sitter in advance and ask her questions about cats and their care (wrong answers, wrong sitter).

4. Sign a contract, but not one that exempts the sitter from liability in the case of feline illness, accident, or death.

5. Make sure the sitter agrees to check in with you every day, no matter where you are.

6. Leave your telephone numbers, those of your best cat-aware friend or relative, and that of your vet taped to the telephone.

7. Leave water in bowls in many rooms at the house (if the sitter is struck by lightning, your cat is in far greater danger of dehydration than of starving to death).

8. Have someone you know and who knows cats check on the cat at least every two days.

9. Worry! This can help you think of other precautions.

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