Madolline Gourley:  The Traveling Cat-Sitter

Madolline Gourley: The Traveling Cat-Sitter

Posted by F&N Babe Kate Kelly on Aug 6th 2019

I’ve often wondered what it would be like to get paid for travelling the world…but I never imagined what it would be like to travel the world for cats. Cue Madolline Gourley. She’s our new Aussie friend—literally traveling the world for cats.

WHAAAAT?? Yep!

In her words, Madolline is seeing the world one cat at a time. She cat-sits for free accommodation through a site called TrustedHousesitters. She is a writer and editor with a Bachelor in Journalism. Madolline also helps with a rescue organization Best Friends Felines by running the Facebook page each Tuesday when she’s not traveling and collaborating with their Instagram account. She’s hoping to house/cat-sit somewhere other than the US, by the end of the year, so she might head to Barcelona over Christmas.

I was curious about how this all works, so I asked Madolline some questions…

1. In your first blog post on One Cat at a Time, you mention that, after a chat with your coworkers, you learned how to see the world through cat-sitting. What was your job before cat-sitting around the world?

I still have that/a job back in Australia. I’m a contract writer/editor and have mostly only ever worked for Queensland Government departments. When I go back home, I’ll be returning to the same contact role I was in before leaving on this trip. If I had a fulltime permanent position, I wouldn’t be able to come and go as I please.

2. How long have you been on the road for/how long do you plan to be?

I left Australia in mid-June. I’ll be flying back to Brisbane from New Orleans, on August 5th. I’d wanted to get a house and cat sit here, but none of the advertised ones lined up with my schedule. Most of these trips go for about a month. But this one’s been the longest trip yet⁠—just short of two months.

3. What has been the hardest adjustment to life on the road?

Not having a car! And I say this every time.

Most of the places I house and cat-sit in are pretty good for public transport. My last accommodation⁠—in Birmingham, Alabama⁠—the buses there have been a nightmare. Sometimes they won’t show up. And most of the time they’re 20+ minutes late. You don’t know whether the bus is still coming or not running/cancelled. And while stuff in Birmingham’s technically walkable, albeit a bit of a walk, it’s just way too humid to walk. So, I really do miss having a car for simple stuff like going to the supermarket, or to get lunch or a snack.

4. What has been your best home-sitting experience?

There’s been a few. Christmas in Boulder, Colorado. The home was amazing. It was on top of a mountain. I also really loved that couple’s cat, Nika. She is probably my second favorite cat, after my own. Then in Austin, Texas. The couple had never had a live-in sitter before, but they were so kind. They’re just really likeable, relatable people. They gave me a very generous Whole Foods gift card and even brought along a vegetarian breakfast taco for me to try when we met up at the airport. And I really liked their cat, Shady. They left me a lovely review and we’re still talking/messaging so I think they’ll be getting a live-in house and cat-sitter more often.

5. What has been your strangest?

I’m not sure I’ve really had a ‘strange’ experience. But the Birmingham house I was looking after was definitely the most colorful and unique. It belongs to a Belgian artist and her husband, and they’re quite well-known around the area. But before coming to Birmingham, I was sitting in the Seattle area and the homeowners were really particular. Like, really, really particular.

Courtesy of al.com

6. You mention you have a rescue cat, Gracie. Does she travel with you? If not, what’s she up to in Australia?

Gracie’s being looked after by my mum. My mum’s also a cat person. I’ve really missed Gracie on this trip, but there’s not long to go until we’re reunited.

7. What are the top pros and cons of this lifestyle?

The main thing is all the money you save on accommodation. This means you can use that saved money to go to other places on the trip. Having said that, it does get expensive getting from one location to another. While I’ve saved thousands on hotel costs, I’ve probably spent around $1,500 AUD on flights and train travel. Other trips I’ve taken have also included getting a bus from city to city. But I’ve met some great people through house and cat-sitting, and I’ve stayed in contact with about half of the people/couples. I now consider them friends. It’s also nice to stay in a house, not a hotel. Having access to regular household appliances, like a washing machine and dryer, makes this lifestyle a lot easier. Another plus is having a cat to come home to at the end of a long day out sightseeing.

Cons… hmm. I can’t really think of any.

8. What has been your favorite destination so far?

Boston. I’ve done two house and cat-sits there. One was in May 2018 and I went back to sit for a different lady a few months later. It’s just such a beautiful city, with so many doable day trips (Salem is my favorite). And the public transport’s great!! I also liked Cincinnati and San Francisco.

9. How have you used the platform of TrustedHousesitters and/or social media to market yourself?

I think once you get that first five-star review, you seem a lot more credible. Homeowners are then more likely to consider your application. One Cat at a Time is a new and different avenue to get my name out there. The blog’s Facebook page seems to generate quite a bit of engagement when I share photos of the cats I’m looking after. It’s fun seeing what people comment. I think having a website/blog and Facebook page makes it easier for people not using house sitting websites to reach out, or find out more about me. And I’ve asked some of the people I’ve sat for to post their feedback as a review on the One Cat at a Time Facebook page. I feel this aids in painting a good picture of ‘my brand’, and my house and cat-sitting abilities.

I use Instagram, too, to share photos of things I’ve seen on my house and cat-sitting travels. I’ve had the Instagram for about eight years. It’s less cat-focused and I think I’ll keep it that way. But, of course, the account still links back to my house and cat-sitting website.

To follow Madolline on her international cat-sitting adventures, follow @madolline on Instagram!

All images within this blog are property of Madolline Gourley unless otherwise noted. __________________________________________________

Kate Kelly is a Marketing Associate with Freret & Napoleon. She was born and raised in New Orleans and is attending CU Boulder for undergrad. Kate is a travel obsessed foodie with a passion for photography, interior design, and art. Follow her on Instagram @katakel!