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Why Use a Professional?

An excellent pet sitter is more like a nanny than a baby sitter. We go beyond simply cleaning litter boxes and providing essential food and water. We also monitor each individual’s health, administer any necessary medications, take care of grooming needs, replenish necessary supplies, handle medical emergencies, and diffuse potentially dangerous situations between our clients’ dogs and unfamiliar dogs or people. Most importantly, we pay attention to their emotional well-being. We keep them stimulated, active, and happy.


Why work with a professional pet sitter/nanny?
What are the advantages of using pet sitters vs. boarding kennels?
Why work with Kari Kells?
Why do non-professional sitters charge less?

Imagine: What if you ask a friend to look after your cat and this friend only stops by every 2 or 3 days to plop down food and water. What happens if your cat knocks over the water bowl and becomes dehydrated? (Cats internal organs begin to fail if they go more than 24 hours without water.) What happens when the litter box gets so full that the cat decides to use your favorite rug instead of his box? What if your kitty injures herself and needs to be taken to the vet while you are gone? What if there’s a power outage and the furnace or air conditioner no longer provide a comfortable environment for the animals? What if the friend accidentally spills a drink that stains your carpet? Each of these scenarios would be non-issues if you had worked with a professional pet sitter/nanny instead of relying on a friend. We carry pet sitter insurance and know how to professionally and calmly handle unexpected situations.

“This is the first vacation where I had total peace of mind that my dogs were being lovingly cared for. Your insight into animals & how to keep them happy let us relax & feel confident that they were in good hands.” ~ Murphy & Daisy’s mom (Nancy)

Why work with a professional pet sitter/nanny?

  • Professionals know what information is needed when caring for your companions, including having a Veterinary Release form. When meeting you, we ask about pets’ play preferences, exercise & meal schedules, commands recognized, and personality quirks.
  • Using insured care-givers means that you would not be held responsible if your pets caused injury or property damage. Pet sitter insurance (which I carry) protects you and provides you with legal recourse if your property is damaged, your pets are injured, or your pets cause property damage or injury to others. Click here to read more about pet sitter insurance.
  • You won’t be inconveniencing neighbors or friends. Sure, they may want to do you a favor and may genuinely like your pets, but will they adjust their schedules so that your pets experience as little anxiety and stress as possible during your absence?
  • Professionals know what to do during veterinary medical emergencies. For your peace of mind and your pets’ safety, I am American Red Cross Certified in pet first aid and CPR.
  • Your house keys will be safeguarded and will not be connected to your address. Most of us use locking key cabinets and we label keys using codes that make it difficult to connect a particular key with your address.
  • Dedicated sitters/nannies will not skip scheduled visits with your little ones.
  • Keeping your companions in their normal environment and on regular routines will lessen the stress caused by your absence.
  • Professionals notice subtle cues about animals’ health & stress, including the contents of litter boxes. (Stool changes may indicate the need for a veterinary visit.) Responding to symptoms early prevents serious medical issues.
  • Your companions receive personal attention and lots of exercise while in a sitter’s/nanny’s care. Insufficient attention can lead to depression when combined with your absence. Will neighbors who stop in to feed your pets also play with them and groom them? If they do not, what recourse do you have? If you use a kennel, does it allow pets out of the cages? (If so, for how many minutes each day?)
  • For pets who need medication, professionals make sure they never miss a dose.
  • Professionals have contingency plans for unexpected events. We handle emergencies and mitigate problems such as water leaks, weather related property damage, or other situations that would be costly if unattended. We are your eyes and ears at home while you are away
  • Regular activity around your home is a great crime deterrent. Sitters/nannies alternate lighting and window coverings. Some of us also offer overnight visits which add to that lived-in look.
  • Trusted friends and relatives are familiar with your home and might love your pets dearly. However, most people tend to lose motivation after a few days. At that point, they provide the necessities, but let the details slide. Less diligent litter box cleaning can result in cats looking for alternatives. Water dishes become slimy and mucky after a day or two of not being washed. Accidents might not be cleaned up quickly, resulting in lingering stains and odors. Minor details like water shut-off valve or fuse box locations could end up being major issues in emergency situations. Some people might make a judgment call that hurts your pets, such as using an excessive amount of a toxic cleaner that is ingested by your pet. Competent professionals are familiar with and avoid exposing pets to common household toxins.
“Thank you for the peace of mind knowing my cats are safe & well cared for. You are a rare find!” ~ Foxy and Baby Boy’s mom (Marsha)

What are the advantages of using pet sitters compared to boarding kennels?


  • Pets are free to play, sleep, eat, or roam freely around the house, unlike at boarding kennels.
  • Your pets receive personal attention and lots of exercise while in a sitter’s/nanny’s care. Insufficient attention can lead to depression when combined with your absence. Will kennel staff also play with them and groom them? Does the kennel allow pets out of the cages? If so, for how many minutes each day?
  • Boarding kennels present an increased risk of exposure to illnesses and parasites.
  • Regular activity around your home is a great crime deterrent. Sitters/nannies alternate lighting and window coverings. Some of us also offer overnight visits which add to that lived-in look.
  • You do not have to transport pets to & from a kennel, so they won’t suffer from “travel trauma”. When animals return home, they usually need several days to readjust after being boarded in kennels before they seem like themselves again.
  • Kennel noise & activity overwhelms many dogs & most cats because they have an especially hard time adapting to new environments. It is unnerving to be left in a place with unfamiliar noises, smells, people, and other anxious animals. When feeling abandoned by their human family, they are more comfortable staying in their own home.
  • Even at top-notch kennels, pets can become nervous wrecks. Being left in a strange noisy place with frenetic activity can traumatize pets who are shy, nervous, or have had traumatic experiences with humans.
  • Some kennels are caged facilities with strict limits on how much attention each animal receives. Some only allow pets outside of their cages only briefly and charge extra for that privilege.
  • Pet owners must pick up and drop off animals during kennel hours, which can lead to a delay your pets’ return home.
“You were perfect for Tucker! Gentle, sensitive, & played with him & made his 30 days of loneliness more interesting.” ~ Tucker’s family (Mary & Bob)

Why work with Kari Kells?

When you can’t be there to take care of your animals, I’m the next best thing. I treat my clients’ companions as unique individuals who are part of my extended family. I take their lead as I get to know them, making sure to not overwhelm shy pets or neglect more gregarious ones. (Read more about me.)

“I could find anyone to ‘scoop & feed’. I needed someone who would play with him, love him, & keep a wary eye on his medical well-being. I wanted someone exactly like Kari!” ~Tinny’s best buddy (John)

Why do non-professional sitters charge less?

The main reason that non-professionals charge less is that professionals actually only keep about 50% of the fees they charge. The other 50% goes to self-employment taxes and business expenses.

“I will definitely use you again. The love between you & my kitties was natural from the beginning. You were open & flexible with all of my neurotic & specific details. You’re wonderful! Thank you!”~ Lucy, Duncan, and Gus’s mom (Lindsay)

Below are a few of the many reasons that professional pet sitters charge more than neighborhood kids charge.

  • We pay taxes both as an employee and as an employer. Non-pros rarely claim self-employment income on their taxes, so they pocket a lot more of the money. They can charge and keep $10/hr, while a pro must charge $20/hr in order to pocket that same $10.
  • Professionals pay for insurance and bonding. This means our clients will not have to rely on their homeowners or renters insurance if an accident happens. For example, what happens if one of your pets ruins an expensive rug?
  • Professionals have supplies that safeguard your keys and information. I use a locking key cabinet and label keys using codes that make it difficult for someone to know which key goes to which address. I store client information information in a locking file cabinet.
  • Professionals pursue professional development. For example, I’m Red Cross certified in Pet First Aid & CPR and I take animal health classes from time-to-time.
  • Professionals also look after your property. We make our clients’ homes look lived in by alternating lights and curtains, bringing in mail and newspapers, and dealing with any home repair emergencies that arise. For example, what happens if your pipes freeze and burst? I take measures to reduce the chances of this happening.
  • Professionals recognize and act on signs of illness. We notice changes in details like pet appetite, waste, and energy levels. For example, we know the difference between poo that is a healthy color, texture, and smell; poo that indicates an animal needs immediate medical attention; and poo that just need us to keep our eye on things. And we act quickly if medical issues arise.
  • Professionals maintain professional memberships. For example, I’m a member of the National Association of Professional Pet Sitters. I stay updated on relevant laws, get informed of professional development opportunities, and hear how other pros handle certain situations, etc.
  • Some other common pet sitting business expenses:
    • I paid an attorney to help write my contract to make sure that my clients’ interests are covered. Non-pros don’t use contracts. Here’s an example of why pros use contracts: what happens if a window gets broken while you’re gone? Who pays for the window?
    • A tax preparer helps with my taxes because they’re too complex for me.
    • I have higher auto bills for fuel than most people and have business-related wear-and-tear on my car. I often drive 40-60 miles per day in the Olympia area so I claim that info on my taxes. Non-pros rarely claim self-employment income on their taxes so they don’t track expenses like this.
    • I buy lots of supplies so I’ll be prepared just in case: spare doogie-doo bags, broom and dustpan, latex gloves, pill-poppers, fur-friendly bandages, variety of medical cones/collars, styptic, etc. The costs add up. Non-pros rarely carry supplies that might be needed once in a lifetime.
    • My mobile phone plan has to accommodate my business needs. Non-pros probably need fewer minutes, less text-messaging capability, etc.
    • I have to pay for a website, my own internet domain, accounting/invoicing software, client-info database software, and extra PayPal features (which include extra PayPal fees).