How well should a pet sitter follow homeowner instructions?

Hello, fellow homeowners!

I’m considering a pet sitter for a 5 week sit in November, so I invited her this past weekend to do a “test” sit. Before the sit, she came over (she lives in the area) and I went through the basic care details without making it too overwhelming. Then I left pretty detailed instructions, but I don’ feel like she bothered to read them or the Welcome Guide that well.

I was left with the impression that she’s not really a cat person and she, also, wasn’t very good about responding to my texts. (And I wasn’t overtexting and being a pest.) She did send a video and one or two pictures.

Should I keep looking for someone that I feel would be more suitable? Or am I expecting too much? (I’ve used a couple of sitters previously that I loved, but unfortunately, they’re not available in November.)


I guess it depends on what aspects of your directions she didn’t follow (were they super important or minor, easily misunderstood or things you were clear on etc). Is it something that a conversation might clear up, or is it s strong gut feeling you’re having?

But overall it sounds to me like you have more than one red flag and you might prefer to chose someone different next time.

Oh, and to answer your main question, we always try to follow all the instructions and if we aren’t sure about something, we ask.


You already know the answer. Trust your instincts.


Nothing was super important, but some feeding instructions and food prep were ignored. Not a big deal for two days, but over a 5-week period it could have consequences.

I wrote on the canned food, “Feed 1/2 can, 2x day”. Would you interpret that as 1 can/2x day?


I think you’d probably be a lot more comfortable with someone different. Most home owners end up with different sitters for every sit anyway. But I get how you wanted to try someone out before a long sit.


On the flip side - test sits are rather unusual. Perhaps she wasn´t very comfortable doing a test sit. Or perhaps your detailed instructions were too detailed for a test sit. :wink:


That’s entirely possible. But I’m sure a few members do a “test” sit before inviting a sitter to a longer term sit; maybe they just don’t call it that. I would think that if someone really likes their pet sitter, they would request them more than once and keep them in mind for future trips. I know one of my friends does.


Yep, although in most cases, they would only be choosing from local sitters then.

OK. That’s what I advertised in my original posting, but I’ll try looking for cat sitters specific to my area.

I’d be looking for someone else. She doesn’t sound all that interested in caring for your kitty specifically and that’s what I’d look for on a longer sit.


I am a HO. I would not write up a routine if I did not want it followed. I have a standing write up I send to the sitter if there is an agreed sit. This way if there is any questions they are welcome to ask. I also like to have them arrive early if I have a late departure or come the night before if I am leaving early in the morning. This way I can go over the routine care of my 2 pups and answer any questions.
In this write up I also include all needed information for the vet, shopping and where the nearest hospital if needed. I include all important phone numbers.

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Yes, I thoroughly filled out the Welcome Guide, printed out additional details, and labeled the food, dishes, treats, etc. so there would be no guess work.

Am I detail-oriented? Yes. Do I expect my pet sitter to follow details? Yes.


@Juno1956 if you have misgivings about this individual, I’d immediately have a conversation about the feeding expectations, and picture/video contact, you felt weren’t met. Instructions are written for the purpose of being followed. Have you written a review after the short sit? Honest and open communication is truly important in these situations. Not sure how far out the 5 week sit is, however your concerns should be addressed sooner rather then later. Is there ample time to relist the sit? Listening to your own intuition about this individual, is also important. Best of luck!

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I’m with @Amparo - you know the answer. As a sitter you should pass a test sit with flying colours if you really want the real one. Find someone who wants to take proper care of your cat & then you can relax and enjoy your trip.


Maybe it’s different in the US. I’ve done 47 sits so far through THS and not done a single ‘test sit’, despite one of those being for 5 weeks. What I did do when I started out was go to meet most of the home owners, as I had the time, before sitting. A couple of them were new to THS also and nervous so meeting reassured them. I was able to meet the animals and the owners could show me the ropes.
I have seen the occasional sit where the owners have asked sitters to arrive 2-3 days before starting the sit so their pets could get to know them (a little late at that stage if they don’t get on) but I steer clear of those sits.
As @amparo has said, you know the answer so go with your gut instinct.


That’s quite clear to me and no doubt you told her also

We’re the same. No test sits but we always spend a night together before they leave. Our sits are all long distance & between 10 days & 2 months in length.


Find someone else unless you want to spend five weeks with anxiety :joy:

We always try and follow any instructions fully.
I think clear instructions are better for both parties as in theory it should take away guesswork and really narrow any margin for error.


On the point.

As a sitter I have to follow instructions. If I do have concerns I need to ask the HO about that upfront.

Of course, in case of an emergency I can’t ask but I will then tell why I did no follow.

And on the other hand I don’t see it as “instructions”. For me it is a contract we do. The HO tells me what he expects and so do I. When we agree on it we do a handshake and both sides know what to expect. This sounds a little formal but it is necessary. You do avoid a lot of uncomfortable situations when both sides know the deal.

And under NO circumstances (except for emergencies) one side breaks the deal without asking the other side. When the HO needs to come home earlier I need to know. If family members come, someone is allowed to use the pool or whatever… I need to know.

If the sitter wants to have a guest he needs to ask before and not simply do it. Or if you want to take the dog on a trip for some days and leave the home alone you need to ask.

So if you feel already not taken serious (and that what it sounds like) simply take someone else before you hand your property and pets in hands you don’t trust.

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Take the dog on a trip & leave the home? I don’t think so. Sitters are there to keep the home secure as well as look after pets but the rest I do and agree with completely