For this Client Spotlight, we are excited to feature Kat Van and Kats and K9s in Cabbagetown, Toronto. Kat approaches pet care in a very compassionate way, offering a variety of specialized services like pet nutrition consultations and positive reinforcement dog training. Kats and K9s also provides all the other services a pet parent could ever want, including group walks, doggy daycare, puppy staycations, kitty visits, and the luxurious pawdicure. You can see a complete list of services and a gallery of some delighted pup customers on the Kats and K9s Website.
Kat grew up in rural Ontario on 100 acres, where the presence of various animals was constant. Kat knew from a young age that they absolutely loved being around and caring for animals. Whether it be injured wildlife or abandoned pets, Kat wanted to take in every stray — and had no problem trying to convince their parents to as well! That’s why it was no surprise to Kat’s parents that Kat would end up working with animals and eventually starting their own business providing professional pet care.
Kat’s career in the pet industry started in 2014, managing several pet stores. It soon became clear to Kat that spending time actually working with animals was much more enjoyable than working retail. That’s when Kat decided to make a career pivot and got a job working with an established local pet company. Kat loved everything about pet sitting and dog walking, especially the services that required extra learning like pet nutrition and training. It wasn’t long before Kat was ready to start their own company — Kats and K9s! So, if you are in the Cabbagetown area and looking for exceptional pet care, definitely don’t hesitate to get in touch with Kats and K9s. Also, make sure to check them out on Facebook and Instagram.
Why did you get into pet sitting/dog walking?
Back in 2014, I was managing a few pet stores here in the city. I often had regulars ask me to come and care for their cats while they were away since they trusted me. I had served them every week for a few years now and knew them by name. We had built a trusting relationship on their animal’s care and well-being, so it only made sense for them to ask me!
I began pet sitting for them and realized how much more I enjoyed working hands-on with the animals rather than being treated poorly on the regular while working retail. From there, I sought out jobs in the area, working for already established dog walking companies so I could gain more experience with group walking. My new boss at Liberty Pooch was kind enough to train me exceptionally well and even helped me realize that I wanted to extend my knowledge into the field of positive reinforcement training.
I started officially working full-time for my own company around summer 2019, and finished my dog training course through Karen Pryor Academy in March 2020!
What is the most fulfilling part of owning a pet sitting/dog walking business?
The most fulfilling part of owning a pet care company is knowing that you make a difference in the animals’ lives. I love that my pet guardians are so thankful for me and that they know they can trust and rely on me and my advice, but there’s nothing quite like a smiley puppy greeting me every day or seeing that shy cat warm up to me over time.
What is the most challenging?
The most challenging aspect for me has to be scheduling. Walking 10+ dogs each day at their preferred time slot and accommodating any last-minute requests for boarding or daycare in case of an emergency is always challenging. Time To Pet makes everything so much easier; creating invoices as soon as an appointment is booked and allowing my clients to book themselves takes a huge load off my plate. I’m not just trying to toot your horn, TTP, I genuinely don’t know what I’d do without you!
Where do you see your business in 5 years?
In five years, I would truthfully like to be doing the exact same thing I am now! I have very little interest in expanding my company much more than I already have. There’s a slim chance I might bring on someone to shadow me and learn the ropes like Liberty Pooch did for me, but I don’t see myself getting much bigger than that! I like to be able to see my clients with my own two eyes every day. I like building that intimate bond with the people and pets that I work for. I wouldn’t trade that for all the money in the world!
What has Time To Pet changed the most about how you run your business?
When I first started pet sitting, before I was doing this full-time, I was creating my own invoices in Microsoft Word and emailing them out as PDF’s to my clients. I often forgot to do this and had to be reminded by clients if I had missed one! I’m not the most mathematically-inclined person, so this was actually challenging for me, and I dreaded Friday’s when I sat in front of my computer for a few hours creating them. I’m very lucky that Liberty Pooch introduced me to TTP, so the most I have to do is maybe email one or two of them out to clients who aren’t so tech-savvy. It’s also HUGELY helpful that I can reference my client files when I’m on the go, or easily send them to another walker who may be covering for me while I’m out sick.