FOR A cat owner, going on vacation poses a serious dilemma — who will look after the pets? To answer that question, Yashashree Kale (25) and Mehar Chumble (25) from Andheri, both cat-lovers, decided to start a “cat-sitting” initiative, and named their enterprise the ‘Guardian of the Purr’.
Their business has been operational for the last year and half. Yashashree and Mehar can now be contacted to visit the cat owners’ houses for any period up to a month, spend an hour petting the cat, at a charge of Rs 500 an hour.
“Having worked as a manger at Cat Cafe Studio, where I used to look after rescued cats and manage their adoption process, I learnt a lot about cats and also got acquainted with many cat owners,” says Yashashree.
While working at Cat Cafe Studio in Versova, Andheri, where customers can adopt feline pets or just spend time with them, Yashashree had an occasion to look after more than 100 cats, before she took up another job. But having always loved cats, the idea of a cat-related job profile lingered on in her head.
“Yashashree and I thought about it for a while, after which we decided to take up cat sitting, while continuing our respective jobs,” says Mehar, who has had a cat for 10 years and is a professional sound designer. “While deciding on a name, we wanted it to be something that’s self explanatory. We had watched the film Guardians of the Galaxy, and liked the word ‘Guardian’, and that’s how the name came about,” adds Mehar.
‘Guardian of the Purr’ launched in July 2016 but didn’t get many customers initially, until the Diwali and Christmas holiday seasons led to a spurt in business. When contacted by a cat owner, before the client leaves on vacation, Yashashree and Mehar meet the “cat-parent” and discuss the cat’s preferences, its eating habits, etc. Cat-sitting entails making the cat feel at home, playing with it, giving it toys (such as a stick with a ball of thread), feeding it and cleaning it.
“The first set of cats I sat were Sophie and Orion in Khar, whose owners had gone to Singapore. The cats got along with me quickly, as it always happens,” says Yashashree. Yashashree and Meher are also “cat-parents” to Frida (caliber cat), Xander (black cat) and Reiko (ginger colored cat), all with different personalities. Observing their behavior has helped them further understand cat behavior and personalities.
“Cats are like humans and have mood swings, they are sometimes extremely friendly when guests visit like Reiko, shy like Frida, and jolly and always up to something like Xander,” says Mehar. Having taken care of more than 50 cats from 40 different clients, they hope to expand their service further in the coming months, with plans to employ more sitters to join their mission.