Question About Medical Bills from Animal Bite During Sit

Hi All,

I recently did a sit in a rural town in Italy. The home/pet owners had 3 cats, and requested that I come in the night before their departure to meet them, go over the routine, etc. Keeping this short, one of the cats (13 yrs old) bit me while they were still at the home that night. They gave me bandaids and eye drops and left the next morning without looking into a medical facility for me if the bite (very deep, the fang tooth sunk all the way into the lower part of my right thumb) got infected. The next afternoon my hand was swollen to twice its size and I had red streaks extending halfway to my elbow (the infection was in my bloodstream). I could continue with the saga, but now, nearly 2 months later, I’ve been to a hospital and 2 doctors, had 3 rounds of antibiotics and a tetanus shot, and I still have a nasty abscess and limited use of my right hand. Friday I have to go see a hand surgeon because there is probably an infection deep in the tendon that may require surgery. I have great medical insurance personally, but have still racked up nearly $300 in co payments, medication, and supplies for bandaging this wound for the last 2 months, not to mention the inconvenience to my life having limited use of my dominant hand.

Any thoughts on if I should look into getting a reimbursement from the pet owners? They left me KNOWING this cat hunted outside and did not divulge that to me when this happened. The day they left, the cat brought a dead bird into the house. Had I known this, I would have insisted on going to the hospital immediately, while they were still there, instead of waiting until the next day when the infection had taken hold.

Thank you for reading. Advice appreciated!


I do not know anything about the legal situation in Italy, but where I am (Sweden) in a case like this I am pretty convinced that the owners of the pet would be liable. And they would have insurance for this.


@Kimmie welcome to the Forum and I’m really sorry to hear about your suffering.

My mom actually went through the exact same thing, minus the complications: housesitting an old cat that bit her and she had to spend 7 nights in hospital.
We had some co payments, but probably around $100 in total and because she healed, I just paid for it, didn’t really consider asking the owners.

But your case is different, as it’s still ongoing. Are you still in touch with the owners? Are they even aware that you had an incident and that it’s still ongoing? If not, it might come as a surprise to them.

I don’t really have an answer, hopefully other people will have more input. I do know that you can/should report biting/aggressive animals to Membership Services, as these are not allowed.


Hello @Kimmie

I’m so sorry to hear that you got bitten and everything that you have since gone through. As it was a bite I have passed this thread on to the Membership Services team so please look out for their email. You can also chat with them by clicking this link

I can see that you have already received some kind and helpful support from forum members, which is great! I am sure you will get further support as well, so thank you for sharing your experience with the community.

Sending healing vibes for a smooth recovery!



Thank you so much for the reply. I have been so upset about this, in the aftermath and now having time to think through the situation. The owners said that they were “new to the area” but this happened January 17 and they moved into this house in August of last year, by their account. When I left the sit, I had gone to a local hospital and was on antibiotics, and was thinking it would resolve itself in a week or so. However, now that the situation has unfolded as it has, I’m livid that they withheld information from me and didn’t offer to help me seek medical attention that night while they were still present.

1 Like

I would be angry about that too. But for their liability it would not make a difference (in this country) if the owners would have taken you to a doctor or emergency room (which they clearly should have) or whether they were as negligent as they were.

Here, the owner of a dog or a cat has strict liability for damage caused by the pet. And that is normally solved without any acrimony or adversiality, as the claim is then handled by their insurance company according to the rules, in a rather bureaucratic process (sending in all the documentation etc).

Thank you so much for the empathy and advice, and I’m so sorry for your Mom’s ordeal!

1 Like

Hi @Kimmie I am sorry to hear about this and as it is ongoing…the burden and stress surely piles on.

After you were bitten (omg) did you think about leaving the sit by contacting MS?

Are you saying that the cats were outdoor cats but you were not told that? You thought they were indoor cats when you took the sit?

Is this info MS should know as part of the follow up carla is posting about?

Just trying to follow and understand this unbelievable situation…

@Kimmie I understand your angst re this situation. I was bitten and scratched by an indoor only cat on a THS sit in 2023. I immediately got a tetanus and antibiotic double shot (that’s the secret, get it IMMEDIATELY after the bite/scratch) and thought that would be the end of it. A few weeks later I got a large lump on the scratch/bite area and had to have it cut out and stitched. I then got a secondary infection after that! So after two infections and a small surgical procedure, the last lot of antibiotics finally resolved it but it was a traumatic experience. I struggled to go near the cat again but remained at the sit. I told the HO who was surprised it had happened. The cats were not friendly or cuddly cats and I honestly believe they were traumatised by being locked up all day alone and never having much human interaction or knowing what the outside world even was. I was their release at that point in time.

But what do you do :person_shrugging: I just dealt with it, got whatever medical needs and eventually recovered. I’ve been quite wary around cats ever since but have learnt how, when and how much attention they require individually as no two cats are ever the same.

I don’t know about seeking compensation, I’ve had a few injuries at sits. At one I tore all rotator cuffs and dislocated bicep tendon and had to have immediate surgery, in an abduction sling for three months and a year of physio and recovery. We have free hospital and surgical here. Never even told the homeowners. I honestly didn’t want to go through any dramas, the injury was bad enough and I had to take responsibility for the injury, despite the fact that both these injuries were caused through the pets. I always look at things like this as part of sitting though I’m sure many will disagree. I walked away from both situations, but I hate ongoing confrontation so it was easier that way.

Good luck going forward, maybe you won’t need the surgery so stay positive.


So sorry for your troubles! I’ve had cat scratch fever and was lucky it healed after antibiotics. My dad also had a deep puncture from his own indoor cat and got it. I guess I’m just saying indoor or outdoor, I’m pretty sure you can get infected by any cat, so I’m not sure that part is as important as the mere fact their cat bit you (not okay per THS, or in general) and you have suffered health problems since. I would bring it up to the homeowner immediately so they can apply for insurance. Maybe you can get coverage for personal loss of time, but I don’t know. I’m in the US where people sue for everything… I doubt Italy is the same, but you should be covered for something. And always in future you should report bites and injuries to THS immediately. Hope you heal well and soon :two_hearts:

1 Like

First, I should elaborate that I’m an American (who does not speak Italian) and the couple knew English was not widely spoken in the area. They were Belgian (him) and Italian (her). I can elaborate a bit about the cats. There were three, two males (the one that bit me and another) and one female. All three were rescues, and the female had a permanently injured front paw (it was curled under); she was an indoor cat. The owners told me that the two males went outside, one (who bit me) used the cat door and the other would go out the door off of my bedroom when I let him. They NEVER mentioned that the cat who bit me had a history of biting, nor did they mention that he killed and brought dead animals into the house. In my experience, this is serial behavior, not behavior that a 13 year old cat would spontaneously start exhibiting.I had been at their home since 3pm, and shortly after I arrived, the cat that eventually bit me had rubbed up against my leg, allowed me to pick him up, and was generally very friendly.

The last feeding was at 11pm, and they specifically mentioned that this male cat would devour his food hastily and try to mooch food from the other two. They said they actively prevented him from doing so (not mentioning they did this by pushing him away with their feet or just physically intimidating him). They never said “he bites” or “don’t pick him up” even though they were standing in the kitchen with me as I fed them and saw me pick him up to prevent him from trying to eat the female’s food.

I knew that cat bites can easily cause bad infections, but I also knew the odds were dramatically higher if the cat was a hunter. In retrospect, I should have asked more questions, but quite honestly, I have never been bitten by an animal of any kind, ever. It was late, they were supposed to be leaving at 5am the next morning, and I thought surely they would say something if they knew I was in danger. The gravity of the situation really hit me the next afternoon when the cat came through the cat door with a dead bird in his mouth. In the time between this event and the owner responding to my text, my entire hand and all of my fingers had swollen to roughly double in size and the red streaks were becoming visible creeping up my forearms. I would never have applied to a sit with a cat that brought dead animals into the home. I have had several cats of my own who went outdoors and never behaved that way.

I am so grateful for all of the replies, advice, and empathy. I should add that this was only my third sit, and at the time the sit ended and I wrote the review, I was still under the impression that the antibiotic was going to rid my thumb of the infection and that I could put the experience behind me, having learned that any bite should be followed by immediate medical treatment, perhaps especially at 11pm in a foreign country.

One fact I also forgot to add was that the home/pet owners waited until I arrived to tell me a home down the street had been robbed a few nights before, which was also scary for a woman alone (my partner was back in France, and he would have accompanied me if we had known about the nearby theft before I arrived for the sit). So in addition to the bite ordeal, I was also wary about driving back to the remote house alone late at night from the hospital given that recent event. I had to get out of the car (with my dominant hand completely bandaged to my elbow) unlock a gate, drive my car into the yard, and lock the gate before entering the house.

I am typically not a complainer and I’m very self-sufficient, and I think I’m still in shock about the fact that the homeowners had so little regard for my well-being. They actually gave me four stars in their review of me for “happy pets”, I’m assuming because the cat bit me. The rest of the review was glowing (and five-star overall). Thank you once again for giving me an opportunity to discuss this. It helps.


Really hope your medical situation improves, it sounds really nasty.
I think the majority if not all outdoor cats hunt, its their instinct, and it is pretty common for them to bring dead or caught animals or birds back into the house. This shouldn’t have been a surprise for you. I’ve never owned a cat but i know this is normal behaviour.

Really hope your health improves though


Agree, It is very common for outdoor cats to hunt and bring their prey inside. It is unusual that OP’s cats didn’t do that.

@kimmie - Your injuries sound horrendous and I hope you recover soon. If I was the HO in this situation, I would have been sympathetic and offered to pay some of the medical bills regardless of fault. They sound sympathetic in their reply to your review and in their review of you.

You say that “They NEVER mentioned that the cat who bit me had a history of biting”. Do you now know that the cat had a history of biting? Maybe this was the first time.

Cats usually signal when they are unhappy and about to attack, but it can take a very experienced cat person to recognize those subtle signs. People say that “it came out of nowhere” but it rarely does. Sometimes, but not often. I see that the HOs gave you 4 stars for pet care. Was it because of the bite, do you know?

Sorry for the injuries. I’ve had an infected cat bite and it can be very painful.

Dang. Wow @Kimmie. Just wow.
I do hope your follow up with MS to report this listing has an impact for future sitters.

Thank you for the details…it helps us all be better aware sitters…

It is my impression (legal layperson googling web pages) that in Italy fault does not matter. An owner is liable for damages caused by their pet.

I also see that it is common that owners are insured for this: “Many people have third party liability insurance (assicurazione contro terzi).”

Not that it helps Kimmie, but for the sake of future sitters the HO should be made aware that the THS Ts&Cs state that pet parents will

5.2.4. ensure that no pets to be left under the care of a Sitter have ever caused a person or animal any physical harm (no matter how minor the injury);

1 Like

I thank you for your reply and input. However, I disagree that “it’s pretty common for them to bring dead or caught animals or birds back into the house. This shouldn’t have been a surprise for you.” To the contrary, I have seen several HO who specifically mention that their cat does bring “kills” into the home so that a potential sitter is aware and can choose to forego application. As an example that this is not always the case with outdoor cats, my first sit had two cats who spent the majority of their time outside, coming inside only to sleep at night. I was there for a full week and neither brought any dead animals into the house.

If this were my cat and my listing I would certainly warn potential sitters that my cat exhibited this behavior, because I do not believe most cat sitters are ok with disposing of dead animals as a routine part of their sitting duties. I think one fact that none of us would dispute is that as pet owners, we know the behaviors and personalities of our pets, and I believe it is the duty of the HO to present accurate and complete information so that the sitter is not assuming or guessing about what they should expect.

Which brings my to my primary point of this conversation. I am upset with the HO because I think they knew this animal had a predisposition to biting, and failed to adequately warn me, and further, they knew when I was bitten that the cat hunted and therefore it was likely I would get a bad infection. They still did not offer to help me seek medical attention that night, did not text or call me the next day to make sure I was ok, and had to be pushed to help me seek emergency care when things got bad the next day. It was hours before they responded to my initial request for help. Perhaps my expectations are just based on how I would have handled the situation if things were reversed, and maybe that is unfair.


Thank you so much for this; I was hesitant to make an issue of this situation at first. Now that it has ballooned into this extended period of recovery, I am grateful that I have the resources (and insurance) to handle it. However, I do now realize it is my responsibility to help ensure another sitter is not exposed to the potential of a similar outcome.


Way back when I had cats, I was considering joining THS as a HO but one of my cats was vicious (I ended up in A&E 5 times with infected cat bites from her) and so I decided (without knowing his rule) that I couldn’t put a sitter in such a dangerous position so didn’t join at the time. (I don’t have pets at the moment, instead I enjoy those I sit for :smiling_face_with_three_hearts:)