The pets are always hungry.
Why is this such a problem, I hear you asking. Well, let me put it to you this way:
Sometimes, when it’s very early in the morning, and I am, say, going to the bathroom, I can hear the cats circling outside the bathroom door, meowing piteously as if they haven’t eaten in days, pacing back and forth like very small, yet no less threatening jungle cats, and I think to myself, “If I were dead right now, you’d be eating my corpse, wouldn’t you?”
Yeah. They would be.
Petsitting isn’t all fun and games, dragging a feather around the house for a cat to bat or throwing a stick for a dog to fetch. It means putting an animal’s needs before your own, so that when you wake up in the morning, you drag your bleary-eyed self over to the various cans of cat food sitting on the kitchen counter and mix up a bowl of their diet-specific meal complete with medicine, or slip on farm boots to stomp out to the coop and scoop up some grain to throw in with a handful of chicken treats, all before you sit down to your own breakfast.
These animals are unable to get this food for themselves. They’re dependent upon you for their food and water. It’s really an awesome responsibility, as in the original meaning of the word, awe-inspiring, that you, a third party, has been trusted with the care of another animal which is primarily taken care of by the first party. The trust that person must have in you, and by extension, that animal!
In addition to feeding them first, be aware that pets have their own feeding schedule. Some households are quite lax about this – “We feed them anytime after 7 p.m.” – but some households and animals, whether for medical or emotional reasons – have a strict routine that must be adhered to. No deciding to go out for a drink after work unless you first stop at home to take care of Rover and Daisy. No sleepovers at someone else’s house unless you’ve first checked it’s okay with the owners to either bring Fido along or leave pets at home alone, and don’t forget you need to either bring their things with you or be back at home early in the morning for feeding time.
If you’re not used to considering anyone else’s needs but your own, the time commitment around meals can be a real adjustment, so make sure you understand the owner’s requirements for their pet’s mealtimes before taking on a job that won’t work with your schedule.