Giving feedback to a HO

Hi - I am relatively new to THS but I have a question about what to say to a HO when you have bad experiences regarding the unexpected bad behavior of the animal e.g., jumping on the counter while you prepare food, jumping on your lap while you’re working on your computer, jumping on you while you have coffee in your hand. Twice, the jump lead to me dropping the cup of coffee or the food in sudden shock.

Hello, if you are still at the sit I would message the owner and say that a few times the pet has jumped up at you when you’ve had a hot drink in your hand and onto the counter when you’ve been preparing food and ask if there a particular command that they use to stop the jumping up and do they remove the pet from the preparation area when getting food ready. You’ve made it clear what the issue is without coming over angry. Some pets do like to be close to people and having it sit with you whilst on the computer seems reasonable.

If you are looking how to word it in your post sit feedback, I’d write something along the lines of - future sitters should be mindful when walking around with hot drinks or preparing food as X did on occasions jump up which could lead to an injury as it was unexpected and liked to sit with you whilst at the computer.

All the best.

I liked it yesterday when the shy cat after three weeks started to walk over me :slight_smile:

But yes, I agree about the kitchen counter. On a previous sit it was just not possible for me to cook anything with two cats running around the kitchen, even making a breakfast sandwich was difficult. The counter was the place where they were used to being fed! I find that horrifying, and I mentioned it in my review. The dog was almost just as bad - he just waited till I turned my back. I left that between the lines.

Previous sitters had not written anything about this.


Hi, This can be difficult. I went to one sit and discovered the owner always fed their cat on the table whilst they were eating. I was also informed I needed to leave a chair out, for the cat to jump from Chair onto table as now so heacvy could not jump all the way.(he was well overfed) Could not believe my first morning before owner left that I was sat at the table having breakfast with a cats tale swishing in my face. Another sit and just cooked a meal put it on the table turned to fill glass of water and there was the cat tucking into my dinner. Some cat owners seem to let their cats do just as they please. Unfortunately. habits they have been allowed to get into are hard to break.
The only real option is to shut them out of the kitchen, if you can, whilst preparing or eating or having a hot drink. The owner is clearly happy, with their cat being just as it is.
Do mention in review though.


When a dog & cat live together, it’s not unusual for the cat to be fed out of the dog’s reach (such as on a counter) just to stop the dog from scoffing the cat’s food. And sometimes, even when there are no dogs, the pet owner can’t get the food bowl onto the floor for a cat.
So cats do what they are used to doing.
But I do undestand your concern about cooking with animals on the counter. Are you able to shut them out of the kitchen, and disinfect the counter before cooking?

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It’s hard when that’s what the HO lets the animals do on their day to day. You can’t change it to any great extent (even if unhygienic and intrusive), and it’s probably unfair to try. That said, we don’t like cats on table tops or counters or dogs on beds or begging off a table (we grew up with working gun dogs & farmyard cats so it’s very different). The key thing is the chat with the HO before accepting the sit and asking all this stuff. We’re on a sit now where the two huge dogs usually sleep on the beds with the HOs but they’re totally good with that not happening in the 3 months away (in fact they said if we break the habit then that might be fabulous!:rofl:)


We refrain from giving advice to the HOs on how to take care of their pets, unless it concern’s the pets’ health and well being. One thing to also taking into consideration is to look carefully at the listings’ photos. If the cat is napping on the kitchen table, that means the HO has no problem with that, so you will be the one who needs adjust if you accept the sit.

I read this and your other post and I know exactly what do you mean. I have owned and took care of cats for over 40 years but we recently did a sit where we had pretty much the same experience. This male cat had no boundaries and will do all things you mentioned. After he knocked down my first cup of coffee I quickly learned to keep it away in the microwave. After he got inside the dishwasher full of just washed plates I learned to close it and use the dry cycle. Eating or cooking a meal was impossible. He jumped from the top of cabinets and almost knocked the frying pan full of scrambled eggs. We were lucky his fur didn’t catch fire! :grimacing: With other cats if you put some aluminum foil on the counter or sprinkle them with water they will run away but not this cat. He loved water and getting sprinkled with water, so when I will water the garden will get under the hose and get soaking wet. When we take a shower, he will open the door and come in the shower. I did mentioned a few of these incidents to the homeowner, especially jumping on the working gas stove but she dismissed it as a normal cat behavior. Somebody with a vet experience could weigh in but this was not a normal cat behavior. I think the cat (adopted during the pandemic) was not properly trained and this point cat get away with anything. His sister cat on the other hand was a complete opposite and she won’t engage in any of these shenanigans. Both cats were very sweet and cuddly, the male one after doing something naughty will come for cuddles.
We did get a 5 star review for that sit and responded with one mentioning vaguely that one of the cats is hyperactive ( this was before blind reviews). The HO in a private feedback complained that we did not do enough to protect her furniture. We did our best during the day, but how do you protect the furniture at night when you have a mini tiger determine to shred it all? :rofl:

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Regarding dogs: Yes, dogs can be trained to not do certain things. But whether the petowner has trained the dog or cares about those things is something you have to find out about before the sit. As others have said, this is just the way people live and if it is not acceptable to you, don’t do it. You can’t unilaterally decide that the dog can’t sleep on the foot of the bed in the master bedroom if that’s where he always sleeps. You really do have to check with the owner and find out (1) is there another place where you can sleep and (2) if you close the door will the dog stand outside of it and beg to come in. These are questions to ask on video-chats.

Regarding cats. Honestly. You cannot “train” a cat to not do certain things. At most you can train some cats to maybe not do certain things when you are around because there will be consequences. In a kitchen that is open to other rooms where the cats cannot be blocked from the kitchen without blocking them from most of the house, cats will get on the counter. If they know that humans don’t like this, they may get the message to move off quickly if they see you. Most cat people deal with this by frequently wiping down the counter. Cats are going to cat. Particularly indoor cats that don’t have a lot of room. Cats also may start asking for breakfast super early in the morning. Cats may bring in prey if they go out. Cats may drop prey off on your bed if they really like you! And you will politely thank them for being a great hunter, because that’s etiquette.

Owners generally learn to live with their cats and pick their battles. As a cat sitter when I’m told “Big Blue is not allowed on the counter,” I understand that to mean that as soon as the HOs are gone Big Blue will jump on the counter – like he owns it – and I will need to shoo him off so that he understands I have the same weird quirk as his humans. But if I find him sleeping on the counter the next morning and he runs off at the site of me, I’m not going to feel he’s badly trained or spoiled. On the contrary – he knows humans don’t like this. He’s knows I’m a human. He’s a genius.

I have cats and am a HO too. My cats know that I don’t want them on the table when I’m eating. One of them now has a medical condition and takes a medication that makes him hungry and if he catches the scent of a meat or eggs or fish, he can be relentless. Simple solution: He goes into another room – with a small snack --when I’m eating those things.

My preference for sitters is people who love cats and have lived with them. This is also why video chats are so important.


This sounds like it’s actually a less extreme example of a type of dysfunction where pet parents just get used to a some crazy behaviors and adjust around it. To some extent even with “good” cats that know how to read humans, there is still some adjustment. Most catpeople for instance will cover their furniture with ugly but functional covers because they can’t prevent all scratching all the time. But some petowners over time tolerate really dysfunctional behavior – eg anxious cat will pee on bed if humans leave for more than 4 hours. As a sitter, it’s a hard no for me if there is this kind of enabling of craziness.

On the other hand, there is “normal” housecat behavior that can also be dangerous. Stoves that can be turned on by cats are a legit danger. This may not happen a lot, but it might happen more than we think. As much as I would avoid “suggesting” anything to a petparent, in the case you described I would not only let the petparent know, but suggest they get “child-proof” knob covers. These can be purchased for about $12 and can give everyone peace of mind!

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