Going on a holiday but leaving the little ones at home? If they’re human and one of them is over a certain age, you can just get them to babysit each other.
But when the little ones in question are furry and continue to walk on four legs after the age of two, you’re going to need help no matter how old they get.
For those who have maids, non-hostile neighbours who don’t mind popping in to feed your pet or family members who are happy to take care of Rover/Princess/The Destroyer, good on you.
But if you have nobody in your personal network who can take care of your furkid, what are your options in terms of pet accommodation?
Engage a housesitter
Boarding your pet at a kennel or with strangers isn’t very reassuring, especially as some pets in such places “suddenly and mysteriously” die. What’s more, if you’re going away for more than a few days, such services can end up costing a bomb.
One affordable way to ensure your pet is taken care of is to engage a housesitter, who will stay at your place and look after your pet for the duration of the trip. Such housesitters are often travellers looking for accommodation, but to set your mind at ease you can pick only those with a proven track record of housesitting as indicated by their reviews.
Most housesitting websites will charge an annual fee, which works out to be less than a week at a pet kennel and can be worthwhile for those who travel often.
Nomador is the only well-known site that you can use for free. The site with the biggest database of members is TrustedHouseSitters, which charges 119 USD a year. Another reputable site is HouseCarers, which charges 50 USD a year.
This is by far the most cost-effective option, as the membership fee pales in comparison to pet-sitter and pet kennels’ fees. The downside is that there is no guarantee you’ll be able to find a pet-sitter if demand is low.
Hire a freelance pet-sitter or pet-boarder
Just as there are many Singaporeans who would be happy to give your kids private tuition for a fee, there are quite a few moonlighting as pet-sitters, too.
For a daily fee, they’ll either visit your place each day to feed your pet, clean its toilet and play/walk it or let your animal stay in their homes.
One drawback is that the fees can really add up. You’re looking at paying $20 to $30 per visit, with pet boarding costing around $40 to $50 a night. At such prices, you might end up paying the pet-sitter more than you’ll be spending on your own holiday accommodation.
You can also try to source for your own pet-sitter—preferably someone who lives in your neighbourhood and can look after your pet at a lower price.
Pet-sitters sometimes put their contact details up on the noticeboards at local supermarkets along with private tutors and piano teachers, and as an added bonus these are often students who don’t mind doing the job for less. There are usually more pet-sitting ads at expat-heavy supermarkets like Holland Village Cold Storage.
Board your pet at a pet hotel
There are countless pet boarding centre or pet hotels in Singapore. The main question to ask is whether you can trust them to look after your pet.
While in theory your pet is supposed to be under surveillance throughout the day, in practice these pet hotels have so many animals on the premises that yours is unlikely to get much individual attention. Just like at school, those who are well-behaved and eager-to-please are likely to get more attention.
Also bear in mind that despite the photos of delighted dogs playing with each other and cats climbing magnificent cat trees, in reality your pet will spend a significant portion of the day confined to a small space. And if your pet does not play well with others or is particularly timid, there is a chance he’ll be left in confinement all day.
How do you ensure your pet is looked after while you’re on holiday? Tell us in the comments!