Montreal·Video

Cats, hamsters, chinchillas, oh my: Montrealer in the running for pet sitter of the year

A Montrealer’s skills as a pet sitter to cats and small-caged animals is being recognized by Pet Sitters International, an association for professional pet sitters and dog walkers.

‘I speak cat fluently,’ says Rachel Reisner, nominated by association of pet sitters and dog walkers

Rachel Reisner's skills as a pet sitter to cats and small caged animals are being recognized by Pet Sitters International, an association for professional pet sitters and dog walkers. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

Whether it's a cat, gerbil, hamster or even a chinchilla, Rachel Reisner is ready to take on the challenge of becoming its friend.

Reisner is the woman behind the business Cats and Hamsters, offering help to people who own cats and small caged animals.

"It's so just so rewarding when you really build this relationship with both your animal clients and your people clients," Reisner said.

The Montrealer's skills as a pet sitter are being recognized by Pet Sitters International, an association for professional pet sitters and dog walkers.

Reisner is among the association's top five nominees — and the sole Canadian — for pet sitter of the year.

"When I put in my nomination, I thought I would have a very small chance and it was very unexpected to be named one of the top five," she said.

Reisner specializes in small caged animals, such as Maya, the chinchilla. (Courtesy Rachel Reisner)

'It's quieter than quiet,' Reisner on pandemic business

"When the confinement started in Montreal [in March], my business totally died for about four months. It started to pick up again around July and August when things started to open up again," said Reisner, but she's hit a rough patch again.

"It's quieter than quiet. I just got Thanksgiving cancellations because we are in the red zone."

Reisner says she's diversifying now and offering online instructional videos for pet owners.

"What I'm doing now is, especially with the physical distancing, is concentrating a lot more on social media like YouTube, Instagram and Facebook and engaging with my clients that way so that they know that I'm still around," she said.

"Sometimes people get bad advice or they are not quite sure what they are doing. I see that posting videos like this could help a wider audience."

A word of warning to those getting cuteness overload from chinchillas: Reisner agrees they are adorably soft and fluffy, and they have "huge personalities," but, she warns: "They are expensive, high-maintenance pets."

She's happy to care for cats and animals that live in small cages, like rabbits.

"I speak cat fluently.  I understand them very well and I understand hamsters," Reisner says. 

But, it's a hard no to dogs.

"Unfortunately, despite being very well trained, I just don't understand dogs."

Pet Sitters International will announce the winner of the award in January 2021.

Montrealer in the running for pet sitter of the year

CBC News Montreal

4 months agoVideo
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A Montrealer’s skills as a pet sitter to cats and small-caged animals are being recognized by Pet Sitters International, an association for professional pet sitters and dog walkers. 0:44

With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio

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