Cathy Vaughan: Cathy’s Critter Care and Bluebonnet Bunk’n Biscuit
Cathy Vaughan started pet sitting in 1998, leaving her career in Zoology and her position as Zookeeper, Enrichment Coordinator and pinniped (Seal/Sea Lion) trainer at the San Antonio Zoo. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology/Psychology from Texas State University with an emphasis on animal and wildlife biology.
She opened Cathy’s Critter Care as a way to earn some extra money while she stayed at home with her first human child. During the days her dad helped with childcare, but there were many very early mornings and late evenings for pet visits before and after her husband and biggest supporter, Philip went to work. Cathy’s Critter Care started as a single pet sitter company but over the years grew to the point that Cathy realized she needed to hire to keep going and make this more than a way to make extra money and a real opportunity at a career as a pet entrepreneur. In 2002 Cathy hired her first staff members and since then has employed between 3-17 pet sitters at any given time over the years. Philip left his job in Biotechnology in 2006 to join the Cathy’s Critter Care team and begin the next steps in building their dream. Cathy and Philip opened Bluebonnet Bunk’n Biscuit, a large boarding, doggie daycare, grooming and training facility in November 2010. Both businesses provide valuable resources to the community’s pet parents and families. However, Cathy will always be the first to admit that in-home pet sitting is her first love and where she truly believes pets are happiest – in their own home, following their routine.
Four children (ages 5-22), 2 businesses and 21 years later so much has changed, yet much as stayed the same. As Cathy says, the biggest difference today is the “I want it now” times we are in as a business owner. Everything is an on-demand service now. That makes it difficult for a business owner to ever truly step away. Last minute bookings, clients wanting updates and problems to solve for staff still make for very early mornings and after dinner work on some days.
“I make it my goal to have some down time as often as I can. I wish I could say it was daily, but sometimes there are stretches that I work every single day, most of the day, but then I work in some recharging time off. Sometimes that’s just a movie, a massage, a day with my horses on a trail ride or dinner out with no phones. Sometimes that’s a week long conference trip or two weeks touring California with my friend and co-presenter, Kim Tank. I couldn’t do this without the support of my awesome employees at both businesses providing a great customer experience.”
Cathy is the author of “How to Start a Home-Based Pet Sitting and Dog Walking Business.” She has been recognized as an outstanding business leader and employer in her community and named Pet Sitter International’s Pet Sitter of the Year 2018.
Cathy Vaughan is one of the founding committee members of the Texas Pet Sitters Conference, now in its 5th Conference Year!