International Travel

How a woman's love of cats helped her travel the world

How a woman's love of cats helped her travel the world

A Brisbane woman's love of cats has helped her travel the world almost for free.

Madolline Gourley first applied to house and cat sit for strangers on the other side of the world in 2017 and has not looked back since.

After falling in love with her first stay in San Francisco, she's managed to travel to 20 other places across the United States and Australia - all without having to pay for accommodation by taking care of people's cats in exchange.

Despite still having to fork out money for flights, she said that house and cat sitting saved her a lot of money.

“With the free accommodation, you might also get other stuff for free,” Ms Gourley told NCA NewsWire.

“Some places I’ve stayed, they told me I could help myself to their food, others have given me gift cards for groceries, people have offered to let me use their car.

“Sometimes people will drive you to and from the airport so it’s another saving.”

Ms Gourley said she planned her holidays and house sits between her contractual work in government communications.

“When I first started cat sitting, earlier that same year I paid to go to America with a friend and there were parts of San Francisco I didn’t get to see, so when I saw there was a house sit in San Francisco I thought I’d go back.

“From there I learned about other places and things and added them to a list and kept an eye out for house sits, and if one came up, I applied.

“I think the US is really diverse; there's the deserts, the woods, the beaches, then the snow, so it’s a really interesting landscape.”

Ms Gourley was forced to come home in March last year from the US due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

But while she can't travel internationally, she's set her sights on more local places.

Her most recent cat sit was in Darwin, and she said it wouldn't have been on her radar pre-COVID.

“The little Persian had the cutest face and I said to the owners, ‘If you didn’t have that cat I don’t think I would have applied for this sit’.

“Just looking at the little photo on the ad made me think ‘I have to look after this cat’.”

But it’s not just cats that potential house sitters can look after.

There are options for taking care of other animals, like fish, dogs, snakes or even farm animals, if that is what the applicant is capable and willing to do.

Ms Gourley said she filtered her house-sit searches specifically for cats because she loved the animal and had experience caring for them.

“If I want to go on holidays, I’ll check Trusted House Sitters (online) once or twice a day three months before I go and go through what's available and see how many house and cat sits I can fit into one trip.

“You might have to give or take a few days in between when one sit starts and one ends … but half the trips have been back-to-back house sits.”