My question is how to handle reviewing the sitter of a sit gone wrong.
As a homeowner, the reviews are a valuable source of information so I feel a duty to be forthright and provide objective information. However, in a climate where many people are reluctant to damage a sitter’s reputation–even a lackluster review can have consequences–I want to tread lightly.
I’m both a homeowner and a sitter so I can see things through both sides. I have two indoor cats. The sitter had some prior experience caring for cats but was only just getting started with THS.
The sit had been going well. The sitter got along well with the cats. He responded promptly to my communications, took in the mail and packages, and left a spotless house.
I came home on a late night flight to find that just a couple hours before my return one of the cats had run out. Although there were mitigating circumstances, the sitter had made a poor decision that opened the door for the cat to escape.
The sitter was upset and we searched the neighborhood, but no luck. It’s been over a week and despite my best efforts (canvassing the neighborhood, posting signs, posting on FB groups, notifying animal control and the chip company, laying out a trap), the cat has not returned.
Given the consequences, I really don’t think he will make that mistake again and as a sitter myself, I don’t want to kill his chances to establish himself. But as a homeowner, I’d want to know this–I’m entrusting my sitter with my cats and my home–I’m relying on his judgement in my absence.
Wow. Sorry to hear of your experience but the way you have posed this question says volumes about you as a wonderful person. In this instance I would give the sitter a very simple review with five stars across the board and see it as paying forward. On another note we have had cats that went AWOL but still came back weeks later. Fingers crossed that yours does the same.
If poor judgment leads to a missing pet, that’s a fail of the highest order in pet sitting. I’d rate low for that objectively. If you don’t think the sitter would repeat the mistake, I’d note that. The thing with poor judgment, though, is whether it might happen with another variation or under different circumstances. Yes, a low rating could create a chilling effect for their future sits, but that would be a result of their actions, not yours.
Sorry your cat is missing and I hope it still shows up. I have 2 cats myself (plus rabbits), and like you, am both a sitter and a HO. I think loosing the pet is about the worst thing a sitter can do, and it indicates the pet was very unhappy.
Its indeed difficult to decide how to review this. In my similar case, My first sitter turned out badly at the end. She lost 2 of my rabbits outside and within 2 litters, 4 babies died. She also got quite nasty to me, had issues with money, supply reimbursement, etc.
Suffice to say that I had a hard time reviewing her, and I tried to make it sound as forgiving as possible, but I could only give 2 stars. She was an established sitter, tho, with only one other negative review. I had been in contact with THS support starting 1/2 way through the sit, when the problems started happening, so I had a formal complaint filed. They emphasized that I should only write facts in the review, which is what I did, and somehow what I wrote became edited so heavily that it now reads like I don’t have a grip on the English language.
The sitter is also able to respond to your review of him/her, and my sitter responded with falsehoods and exaggerations in defense of herself, so that’s something to keep in mind. Fortunately, that response is only viewable on the sitter’s profile, not in your HO listing. But it can be accessed by future sitters with a few clicks. Also I did NOT request feedback from the sitter since I knew she’d be nasty after I only gave her 2 stars.
Sorry I don’t have any specific tips on the writing of the review, but can only relay my similar experience. I’ll try linking my profile and listing here so if you’d like, you can read the review and response for yourself.
First: I am sorry to hear that one of your cats escaped and has not come back yet.
But then, I have also suffered lapses. For example a lapse of attention, when the dog grabbed the chocolate when I turned my back for a second. And also lapses of judgment have occurred in my life. But that is not a very objective and factual term.
So without questioning details, I must wonder if it has happened that cats escaped when you were there? Or has it happened that family members have left doors open? Was this something that could have happened to almost any sitter?
I can’t work out if it’s the sitters fault that he let the cat out or just unfortunate that it happened only two hours before you returned home? If the sitter has done everything to the best of their ability for the full sit and then they are faced with a Last minute “escapee” then it seems harsh to mark them down despite the fact you’re suffering from the loss. It could happen to any of us. A non emotional, factual, fair review is the only way forward and here’s hoping for the return of your cat soon
I’m so sorry about your cat, that has got to be one of the worst things to happen for both an HO and an HS. I assume you have registered the cat with a local lost pet platform and checked neighbouring sheds, garages etc. My understanding is that it can also be worth a shot putting their (used) litterbox outside the door as well as any beeding that might have their scent.
It just has to be said that a cat escaping is not a sign of the cat being unhappy. In the various local FB pages I follow not a day goes by without someone posting about an escaped indoor cat. They aren’t unhappy, they are just cats that, at least for a little while, want to be outside.
Moving out days are stressful and a lapse in concentration, especially if one is moving bags to a car or something by themselves, is so easy. I feel for you and the HS and the choice about the review is super tough. On the one hand how can you not mention it but on the other how can an HS’s profile ever recover unless they are fortunate enough to have a few sits coming up which will drop your review a bit further along.
Best of luck with the decision but fingers crossed that the cat comes back! That has got to be the most important outcome.
Difficult as this could even have happened with you as HO. Cats will try and sneak out so I ‘d say take that into account when writing your review as no one is infallible and these things can always happen. Even had something happen once that I didn’t know had happened until the cat turned up sitting in front of the living room doors which are on the street side of the house. The cats I looked after for about5 years now but one time this happend and scared me to death. The Cats have 24/7 access to communal gardens so are actually vey safe BUT at the end of the garden one house has a gate which leads from the street along their house to the garden. So someone had left the gate open, luckily the cat actually knew it’s front garden although the owner never lets them out on the street side. So the cat could have been lost or worse due someone else but it would have been on my watch and blame would have been put on me so I always try to take unknown circumstances into account. And not judge too harshly.
I really hope your cat turns up - sending lots of good vibes. As a sitter when I look after cats I’m always really worried about them going missing. I dont think it’s a sign that the cat was unhappy with him though. We had indoor cats who would occasionally get out and I don’t think they were unhappy.
If it was me I’d probably give 5 stars but mention the cat was missing and that the sitter was upfront about it and very upset. Having said that, I’m assuming it was one of those “could have happened to anyone” mistakes and not a lack of instruction following e.g if you’d said the cat gets steessed when people are packing/unpacking so shut it in the bedroom.
I hope your cat returns soon.
I’m guessing you are being vague about the nature of the sitter’s “lapse in judgment” for a reason. Otherwise it sounds like the cat snuck out. Some are real escape artists.
@Ellen1 I am hoping that your kitty safely returns soon. Are you absolutely sure that she got out and is not hiding inside? Without knowing the exact circumstances that led to the escape and the mitigating factors, it is hard to make a judgement call on what to do regarding the sitter. That said, has this kitty escaped before and it it an “escape artist”? If so, did you warn the sitters to be extra careful? Did the door blow open or was it negligence? Having a pet escape is my worst nightmare, so we are “Uber careful” to the point of extreme - squeezing inside, securing the pets in a room or screened porch when moving in or out. We have had several indoor cats who were “allowed” by the owners to go outside in the yard or the front porch- but sorry, not on my watch. I love screened porches and catios, which are safe and allow an outdoor experience without the risk. We also ask about hiding places, as we have had several skittish kitties hide in the oddest places. Our next cat sit involves an indoor kitty who has a gps tracker on his collar. Some sitters don’t like this, but I love the idea of having an app where I can track where the kitty is inside the house without having to search. Sending positive thoughts to you, the kitty and the sitter. They are often hiding nearby, so I am hopeful.
I am sorry to hear about your cat escaping. Since it happened during the sitter’s watch you should definitely mention it in the review and knock a few stars down. Their reputation/rating should still be able to recover going forward.
Have you tried Paw Boost already?
All you can do is simply tell the truth and describe events without speculation. No one knows why cats do what they do - they have a will of their own. I have four and they need to know who is boss. That said, they still do exactly what they want so you do need to be aware of the dangers. Hope you are soon reunited with your cat. Mine are all allowed outside and I worry if they are missing for more than one meal.
To give all of you more perspective, the sitter removed a pane of glass protecting the wrought iron security door in order to air out the house when he was unable to open the windows in the room. (The windows in that room are tricky and I rarely open them). The cat was able to escape in between the wrought iron rods.
He stated the cat sprayed inside the house leaving a noxious odor. This cat had been neutered six years ago and I had not seen him spray (although I’ve read it is possible for some neutered cats).
His intentions were good—he wanted to present me with a clean house. I didn’t smell the spraying (and I had a previous cat who sprayed so I know the smell).
Frankly I never contemplated a sitter would consider removing the glass pane. When we talked about it, he understood why that was not a good idea. He felt very bad about it and helped me search.
I think he wanted to learn from this as he is just starting out with THS.
I am sorry this happened and mistakes can happen to anyone. But to remove the window pane, and not close the door-- or not see if the cat was in the room at the time if it happened right when he removed it-- or to do this in a room without a door, is a very poor lapse in judgment indeed. This isn’t like opening the door, and not seeing the cat behind you, or some other ‘could happen to the best of us’ situation.
As a very experienced sitter, I definitely think we become more mindful over time and sitters who have been doing this longer are generally less likely to make various types of mistakes, and can anticipate problems before they arise and act accordingly. But I think the risk of leaving a window completely open with a cat in the house would be a pretty obvious one regardless of experience.
I can’t say for sure what I would do in your situation. If he seems like a good person and really contrite, I am sure this will be a very significant learning experience and he wouldn’t be as careless on future sits. But the nature of how the cat escaped is pretty bad.
I really hope he comes back. I once had a cat missing for a month. She was eventually spotted under my neighbor’s deck across the street and apparently had been there quite some time. The neighbor didn’t have a great memory and I think she had forgotten our cat had been missing so didn’t connect the dots.
Oh man! Difficult one. That is quite a lapse in judgement and maybe shows a lack of experience with indoor cats. If only he’d shut the door to that room because presumably the cat would get out of an open window too. I’d just write exactly what happened (including that you think he learnt from the experience) so that people can make a fair judgement.
Poor sitter got too terrified by the prospect of possibly missing a star for cleanliness.
And underestimated the capability of a cat to get through some mesh of iron rods.
And is now suspected by some in this thread of having poor judgment in general.
A HO warned me that her cat would see me packing to leave and go hide in the inside of the bed. Et voila! That’s where he was.
The iron rods are spaced four inches apart.
@Ellen1 We have cats at home and we would like to know if a prospective sitter lost an indoor cat on his/her watch.
(Outdoor cats are another story!)
Anyway…Just include facts in your review, not guesses as to why it happened. Please do not exclude that info.