Love Cats loves your cats (and other small pets) when you can’t, arranging regular, trustworthy and affordable care for them. Victoria set up the business in 2011 after being made redundant. “I wanted to do something!” she says. 4 years and 4 Christmases on, the team of ‘cat servants’ has grown to 4 people who cover most of South London.
When you’re away for the weekend, on a business trip or on holiday, Victoria, Pamela, Elaine or Jane who still volunteer as cat socialisers at a well-known local cats home as well as being professional pet sitters, will regularly visit your cat in its own home. “We really believe that cats feel much better in their own environment. They need routine, and no matter how friendly catteries might be, there’s always an unfamiliar cage,” says Victoria. Before your holiday, the Love Cats team will take the time to meet you and your cat to understand any particular traits, and then drop in to check on your cat each day for at least 20-30 minutes – enough to feed the cat, refill its water supply, check for any signs of ill health, and if the cat requires it – also cuddles. “Some cats are OK on their own, but some really need cuddles, and we are all dedicated cat lovers so can definitely give them that! We always try to get to know each cat and its individual routine and needs.”
Victoria and her dedicated team members have many years’ experience with hundreds of cats and small animals, have CRB checks and insurance, as well as access to 24/7 veterinary care. “It’s a lot of responsibility – taking care of someone’s cat, but also being a spare key holder! Sometimes people call us because they’ve locked themselves out – it’s an additional service we can provide,” smiles Victoria.
They come highly recommended too. Mark, from Brixton, says:
“The Love Cats came to check on Genghis while I was away and he seemed very happy with the service. They came round to meet him first to check they got on, and it was all very easy to arrange. It’s a great service and also means someone is checking on your home each day while you are away.”
Her and most of her cat staff have other jobs, Love Cats being, as the name indicates, a labour of love. Elaine is an ex-dancer and pilates teacher, Jane an accountant in the City who decided to take it more easy, and Pamela a retired social worker.
Pamela is Love Cats’ Brixton connection. She’s lived in the area for 8 years, and as a gardener and cat sitter had been involved in LETS – Local Economy Trading Scheme, a system of exchange which existed before the Brixton Pound. During Easter 2012 she joined Victoria at Love Cats and though she still does a bit of gardening, taking care of cats actually became her main job. She sometimes sees as many as 10 cats a day! With a minimum of 20 minutes per visit, that’s quite a lot – but Pamela saves a lot of time by cycling everywhere (and only occasionally getting the train uphill to get to Gypsy Hill).
Pamela really likes Brockwell Park, and lives so close she can see it from her neighbour’s window. She likes the fact she can buy groceries and essentials with B£s – she shops at Nour Cash & Carry and Brixton Whole Foods, and has the occasional cupcake from Ms Cupcake as the location is in between two cat sitting appointments. She says: “It’s the perfect job for me – I can do knitting, I can read a book, even have a snooze if I want to – the cats are happy with that! All I need to do is make sure they’re well, feed them, change the litter, and play with them. I absolutely adore old cats, there is just something great about them. My own, Pudding, is 18 now. Love Cats take care of Pudding when I’m away. We look after other small animals, too – I once had a bearded dragon in my care! – but we’re really cat specialists. Cats are a bit hard to read, you have to observe them very carefully. Sometimes you can tell something’s up just by the way they move their tails – you have to understand their behaviour.” In her whole cat sitting career with Love Cats, Pamela has never had to actually take a cat to the vet, only sometimes call to get some advice – which must mean the cats are in very safe and competent hands.
Many requests come around Christmas time, and Love Cats even work on Christmas Day! “We try to never turn anyone down,” assures Victoria, though she admits last minute requests can be more difficult to accommodate. So if you’re planning to leave for the holiday season and have a cat or small pet, get in touch with Love Cats now to make sure they have a wonderful Christmas. Registration is free, and if you’re paying in B£, you’ll get 10% off your first booking!
Photo of Pamela at Rosie’s Deli Cafe by Marta Owczarek
All other photos by Love Cats, starring: Max, Rufus, Max again, Melodie, Chi Chi (Victoria’s cat), Maisy, Gilbert, Merlin, Sonny, and Bramble