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A Pet Sitter’s Journey

February 25, 2016

@ aunt irene's

Hi! I'm Pam. Owner of All About Cats.

If you zoom in on the little girl on the lawn chair holding the cat, you will see that I’ve been at this cat-loving thing for a long, long time. Growing up, we always had dogs because my Mom didn’t like cats…said they were sneaky, and that they killed birds. I didn’t see it that way. Even as a little kid, I figured that they were just doing what cats do. If you didn’t want them to kill the birds, you could simply keep the cats inside. It wasn’t that I didn’t like dogs, too, or any other animal, for that matter. But there’s always just been something about cats, right? As a child, I satisfied my wish to have a cat by seeking them out at any neighbor or relative’s house. This picture was taken at my aunt’s house. I can almost remember how thrilled I was to be holding that cat; how soft its fur was against my skin; the low rumble of its purr; how beautiful it looked to me…I was a goner.

I was fortunate to marry into a cat-loving family, and so I got to have the very first one of my own shortly after we moved into our house. My son was probably 2 or 3 years old at the time, and we let him name the cat. Somehow he came up with the name Elizabeth. I have no idea where that came from, as we had no Elizabeths in our lives at that time, but Elizabeth it was…until we realized that the cat was a male, at which time “she” became Eli. I’ve actually had more cats than I can remember since that first one, and they’ve enriched and improved my life in ways too numerous to mention, up to and including directing my career.

In the fall of 1993, I had just graduated from college in May and was working at a local hospital. I had been what they called a “returning student”, which meant that many, many, many years after high school, I had returned to my academic pursuits. I had no vocational aspirations whatsoever, but had just always felt badly about not going to college, as I had assumed I would while in high school. I expected that I would stay at my job until retirement, and I probably would have done that were it not for me asking myself on one particularly miserable day, “What am I doing here? A very dangerous question, indeed. I found myself in a therapist’s office soon thereafter for some career counseling, going over my aptitude test results, when he very casually, and off-handedly said, “Well, what do you love?” I laughed, and said, “Cats. Too bad I can’t think of a way to make money from them!” Fast forward, although there was NO sense of speed at the time, six years, and I noticed an ad in the back of a Cat Fancy magazine for a book called Petsitting for Profit. Hmmmm…really? By this time, I was truly unhappy in my position at the hospital…no, I mean truly, truly, truly…like throwing a stapler across the room, dropping an f-bomb in front of a patient, lying on the floor of a public bathroom, crying, kind of truly. But I had these cats at home, and one in particular, Norman, who I would talk about to my co-workers every single day.

One day, one of my co-workers said to me, “You know, you’re an entirely different person when you talk about that cat”, and he was absolutely right. I would always start off the day telling stories about what Normie had done the night before, and for at least those few moments, I would be happy and pleasant. Between Brian’s comment and the ad for the book, a light finally came on. I began entertaining the idea of quitting my job to start a pet-sitting business. I remembered going to a seminar in 1991 or so, and doing an exercise that asked me to act out some scenario where my most child-like, basic-self was purely in bliss. As I just sort of walked around in circles, someone asked me what I was doing, and I said, “I don’t know, but I just imagine walking around with all these cats rubbing in and out between my legs”. Hell-o? At last, I decided that I really had absolutely nothing to lose, and that I would build a pet-sitting service just for cats. My first idea for the business’ name was The Cat Lady, but I found that name was already being used. Walking into work one morning, I was listening to the conversation of a couple of women behind me. One of them told about how she and her date had been unable to get a seat in a restaurant the night before until he waved some money around, saying, “You know, it’s all about money”, at which point, I heard in my head, “No, it’s not…it's all about cats”. All About Cats!!!

Mia meditates










That was over sixteen years ago. Norm and the other 3 cats who I had at the time are all long gone now. I share my home with three other cats, Le Mew, Marty and Mia, and my life with hundreds of others. They continue to bliss me out on a daily basis and…is this a great country or what?…they even pay my bills.

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Pam is a friend of Your Critter Sitters who owns All About Cats and pet sits cats in the East End of Pittburgh.


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