Summer is around the corner, and with borders reopening and travel kicking off in full swing, our family decided to go to Europe for a few weeks. But what to do with our cat? After researching pet hotels here and reading stories where owners picked up their cats or dogs who were traumatized by the experience, we knew that this was not an option, especially since ours was adopted from a shelter and now considers our home to be her only safe space. 

Although Japan is known to lag behind other countries regarding animal welfare initiatives, there were surprisingly more feasible options available. One is the growing pet-sitting service. It turns out there are many animal lovers who work full-time as pet-sitters across the globe, and yes, even here in Japan!

Finding the right pet or house sitter

It definitely takes more time to screen the right person for the job, given you are leaving your home and family member in their care. One of the most reliable sites to consider is Trusted Housesitters. Their slogan reads, “A community of local & global verified pet sitters keeping pets happy at home in return for a free place to stay.” Isn’t that a win-win?

For extra convenience, you can also join the “House-sitting and pet-sitting Japan” Facebook group with over 2,500 members. Certified sitters constantly post their availability on the group, or you can post your inquiry so the people reaching out to you are already free on the specified dates. Many of the people posting in this group are already members of Trusted Housesitters and ready to give you references and reviews from past clients for your peace of mind.  

Other options to keep your furry friend safe

People say that your neighbors are your greatest asset, and therefore, it is essential to build a good relationship with them, especially if you won’t be moving away for a while. For times such as this, you can approach your neighbor and ask them to keep an eye out while you’re away. This is a feasible option for cat owners since they are more independent than dogs. It’s also perfect if they already have pets because you know that they’re acquainted with the responsibilities involved. 

Trusted friends living in the same area is another great option. You can even open your home to them if you are gone for a longer duration, so they can have a mini staycation while you remain at peace that your home and pets are safe. 

Regarding compensation, it’s usually a non-verbal agreement and highly subjective to the relationship and responsibilities involved. For example, if they will be dropping by instead of staying in your house, then transportation costs should be covered. Many pet and housesitters from Trusted Housesitters also indicate that they don’t require a fee because you are already giving them free boarding. 

For us, we will inform our neighbors as well as get a trusted friend to stay in the house while we’re gone. I plan to fully stock the fridge and pantry as a small gesture of appreciation and buy them a lot of souvenirs, too! 

Other pet-sitting options

If you prefer to leave your pet somewhere other than a pet hotel, you can hire a pet sitter offering boarding services. 

HappyWanNyan is a bilingual site that connects sitters with your requirements. They have sitters all over Tokyo, Saitama, Chiba, Tochigi, Kyoto, Osaka, Okinawa, Kanagawa, Hyogo, and Fukuoka.

The price for a short stay or “daycare” is ¥2,000 to ¥4,000, while boarding is around double that price. Other services include walking (¥1,500) and bathing (¥700). 

Pet Backer is another website with an easy-to-use application that offers general pet sitting plus grooming, feeding, walking, and pet-taxi services. 

Take note that for HappyWanNyan and Pet Backer, there is a corresponding fee for house-sitting, which is around ¥5,000 to ¥10,000, depending on the pet and services needed. 

Even if you don’t have pets, these people can simply house-sit for you and ensure everything is in order while you’re gone. This is especially convenient if you have plants that need tending during the hot season. The process usually entails a video call for introduction, an initial house visit, and of course, periodic updates throughout your trip. 

Instead of reading stories of cats that were picked up shivering or dogs staying caged for most of the day at a pet hotel, going the pet or house sitter route has more wholesome reviews, such as families coming home and seeing their dying plants come back to life thanks to the sitter’s green thumb or picky cats instantly warming up to a sitter because they sense a kindred soul. 

Hopefully, this guide helped reassure you because you can now fully enjoy your trip without worrying about your pet or home.