After Matt Weatherall left home his only hope of finding shelter when the sun went down was to stay in one of the backpacker hostels dotted across the UK’s capital city. It wasn’t ideal. Although Matt was comfortable with the nomadic existence, he found the company, at the best of times, ‘choice’.
But it was during one of his stays that Matt’s fortunes changed.
‘I’d been living in backpackers hostels,’ Matt told The Metro, ‘because I thought that might be the answer to the housing puzzle (spoiler: it wasn’t). After a sleepless week in my favourite hostel, I met a friend. He took one look at my tired face and invited me to look after his flat while he went on holiday’.
A change of fortune
Matt found himself in a far better place than before and realised cat-sitting was his way out of the cycle of hostelries and shelters. ‘One week I was sharing a bunk bed with boozy backpackers,’ he said, ‘the next I had the keys to a one-bed flat in Putney. I had the space to breathe, to dream, to create…and that gave me an idea.’
Returning to his mother’s house on occasion, Matt was able to create a website advertising his services as a live-in cat-sitter. He has since lodged at over 25 addresses and cared for 30 cats, and has managed to avoid paying the absurd London rent and rates for two years.
‘The simple answer is that I provide a service: I’m a burglar deterrent, I water plants, and I feed cats. I do it for free,’ Matt told The Metro.
Naturally, being a guest in someone else’s house has its downsides. There can be no parties, no visitors and no drinking the host family’s stock of Domaine Leroy Musigny Grand Cru. But from a practical point of view Matt’s set-up is a means of saving money; money that would otherwise have been thrown away.