Those who have a cat (or two) knows how difficult the task can be of planning holidays, and at the same time make sure your beloved pet will be looked after properly while you’re away. We travel quite a lot during the year so, sooner or later, we were prepared to face this challenge with our Dougal.
As he is not an outdoor cat, we were looking for something that would not put him under stress whatsoever.
Then, we heard about Kitty Angels; a cat-sitting service run by Tony Williams and his partner Jason Ward (and gorgeous Daisy) in Birmingham since 2014. Kitty Angels serve many cities in the UK providing the care your pet needs when you are travelling, working or away for long hours.
The experience was so positive for us that I wanted to share a bit more about this outstanding business that makes the felines so happy and cat owners so pleased.
Midlands Trade: Where and when did the inspiration to start Kitty Angels come from?
Tony Williams: We had the idea for Kitty Angels when we were on holiday on Tenerife.
We were missing our cat Daisy, and talking about how great it would be if there was a company which offered a top-class cat sitting service, sending updates and providing complete peace of mind, so that people could rest assured that their kitties were loved and cared for while they were away.
When we got back from holiday we did a lot of research and decided to set up exactly the kind of company that we would choose to look after our own cat.
MT: What are the services you provide for cats (and cats owners)?
TW: We provide a genuine, reliable and caring service from the very first contact, right through the duration of the customer’s holiday and beyond! First and foremost, we just adore cats and love spending time with them.
Our cat sitting visits last around half an hour, and during this time we refresh food and water, clean out litter trays, and can administer medication if required. Then we spend plenty of quality time with the cats.
Some cats just want to be cuddled, whereas others love to play – we always bring toys like string and laser pens with us! While we’re there, we take pictures and/or videos of the cats and send these to the customers together with daily updates. So, that they can see how happy and loved their cats are!
In addition, we’ll also do basic household chores, such as bringing in the post, watering plants, opening/closing curtains, and generally making sure that all is well in the home.
MT: In how many cities do Kitty Angels provide their services? And how many cats did you look after already?
TW: We were established in Birmingham in 2014. We couldn’t believe how quickly our business idea took off! With hundreds of satisfied customers in Birmingham, we began to explore the idea of setting up Kitty Angels branches in other towns/cities.
We first opened a branch in Milton Keynes, which is a great success. Further branches then followed in Telford, Kidderminster, Warwick and Sheffield. All together we have looked after thousands of gorgeous cats!
MT: How does the cat sitting service work?
TW: Once we receive an enquiry we send the customer a quote.
If they are happy with this, we arrange to come and meet them and the cats, to tell them all about ourselves, show our certificates, (insurance, DBS etc.), and run through a form to obtain all the information we need to ensure that we look after the cats exactly the way the customer wants.
When the booking comes around, we go and spend time with the cats each day and make sure that they are happy and purring, and that all is well in the customer’s home.
We keep in touch with the customer the whole time that they are away so that they know they don’t have to worry about the cats. When they arrive back home, we arrange to bring their keys back and make sure that they are happy with everything.
We have an absolutely fabulous team of cat sitters (our ‘Angels’!). We have a very strict vetting procedure to ensure that only those people who can show that they love cats as much as we do are eligible to join our team.
We also ensure that they are honest and trustworthy – everyone that joins our team must have a clear criminal record check, and they have to come out with us on supervised kitty visits so that we can train them how to uphold our very high standards. We organise team events as often as we can so that the whole team can get together and share kitty stories!
MT: What your kind of clientele?
TW: Our client base is a true cross-section of the population, although they have one thing in common – they love their cats!
We have everyone from lawyers to students to teachers to doctors and even a few vets! It doesn’t matter to us what your background or your home is like – we’re not here to judge, we just want to look after your cats and give you peace of mind while you are away.
MT: What kind of feedback have you received so far?
TW: The feedback we have had from our customers has been absolutely fantastic! The comment we hear time and time again is that when customers come home, their cats are so relaxed and happy.
It was as though the owners had never been away! We have heard stories where customers previously used catteries or other pet sitters and returned home to stressed, unhappy cats, so for us to be able to give customers the reassurance that their cats will be truly loved and cared for while they are away is so rewarding.
We have received hundreds of testimonials on our website and Facebook page, and have a 5-star customer rating which we are extremely proud of!
MT: What are the challenges of a business-like Kitty Angels?
TW: Although we are looking after cats every day of the year, the business has seasonal peaks and troughs – the summer months, Easter and Christmas / New Year is extremely busy for us so it can mean working very long hours.
We inevitably have to postpone our Christmas until the New Year! Similarly, months like February and November can be very quiet. It’s certainly not a job for someone who likes the routine of a 9 – 5 job!
One of the other challenges is to always exceed customer expectations – every customer is different (just as every cat is different), so we have to tailor our service according to their individual needs.
MT: What are the rewards of providing a service like yours?
TW: It is incredibly rewarding to give customers the peace of mind that they can go away without having to worry about their cats – especially for people who have had bad experiences in the past.
As cat owners ourselves, we know how much people love their cats and miss them when they are away; we want people to relax safe in the knowledge that their cats are getting all the love and attention they need.
We’ve had customers who hadn’t gone on holiday for years because they were so worried about leaving their cats, but after using Kitty Angels they felt that they could go away as often as they like!
From our own perspective, we find it incredibly rewarding to spend our time looking after cats – we just adore them all. It’s particularly rewarding if we are looking after a nervous cat, just time and patience can make the cat trust us and be relaxed and happy in our presence.
MT: What are the pros and cons of having an online business?
TW: The main pro is probably that we are able to reach a wide audience – the power of social media is incredible, and our Facebook posts can reach thousands of people.
The main con is probably that sometimes the ‘human connection’ can be lost – e-mails are quite impersonal, which is why we are always keen to speak with our customers on the phone and meet them face to face.
MT: What is unique about Kitty Angels?
TW: We think we are unique because we only look after cats. There are many general pet sitters around, who largely seem to focus on dog walking but will also look after cats, whereas with Kitty Angels, we are purely focused on cats.
Every one of our team members is a true cat lover and is highly experienced in looking after cats. We genuinely care about the gorgeous kitties we look after and go and above and beyond to ensure that the cats (and the owners) are happy. We also demonstrate our love of cats by supporting local rescue centres and charities.
MT: How is internet important to the success of your business?
TW: The internet is incredibly important. Currently, it’s the first port of call for most people looking for a service which caters to their needs, which is why we try to ensure that we do everything possible to reach the right audience. It’s also a great way of helping us source our supplies, recruit team members and conduct our business functions.
MT: What are the new plans for Kitty Angels this year?
TW: There are lots of exciting plans for Kitty Angels. One option we are currently exploring is an online shop, where customers can buy items which have been personalised for them and their cats.
We’re also looking to grow the areas we’ve recently expanded into such as Telford, Kidderminster and Warwick.
Finally, we want to grow our business as much as possible so that we can meet and look after more gorgeous cats than ever before!
More about Kitty Angels: