Sitter decline timing/wording

Hi there,

I have just joined and posted a request for a sitter. I have had three applications so far, which is lovely.

Two I feel are unsuitable. Is it ok to decline early on if you are sure about that? Or do I need to wait a bit longer (it’s been a day so far). Torn between wanting to get back to people quickly and that also seeming rude at the same time.

Also, is it ok to be honest about reason when there is a specific one? One sitter has a young child which I partly don’t want to take the risk with in my house (stairs etc), and really don’t want to take the risk both ways for my cat. I did select not suitable for children in the advert, I’m just very conscious these days of seeming discriminatory.

The third person I am interested in but just need time to discuss with my partner, should I reply to say that or just hold off for another day or two when I’m clearer either way?

Sorry for dense questions! Nervous cat mum slightly freaked out by taking the plunge on here!

Thank you.


Hi @theonlyjaneo,

Welcome to the forum! These are really great questions and not dense at all! The first time is nerve racking for most of us. I will try and give you my best advice as a homeowner that has used THS 19 times now to find excellent care for our dog.

First, if you feel a sitter is unsuitable then it is never too early to decline. ALWAYS (pretty please) write a message to the sitter letting them down as kindly as possible. If, like you say, you have an exact reason (the child) then it’s always good to let the sitter know the reason. I suggest letting the sitter down as soon as possible so that they can continue on with applications and moving forward with other homeowners. Many sitters apply to several sits at the same time for the same dates so it’s always best for sitters to know which ones aren’t going to work out so they can continue with their search or travel plans.

If it’s a sitter that you just need more time to discuss with your partner then yes I would also recommend sending a short message for the same reasons above. Who knows, you might send a message saying you need to discuss with your partner when you have more time and they could write back that they were offered another sit in the meantime.


@Kelly_U gives you the advice I would. Regarding the sitter with a child, clearly she hasn’t read your listing properly and, no, it isn’t discrimatory at all when you’re considering safety and concerns for your pets. Good luck! Hope you find the one you like


You sound so kind! Lots of owners don’t reply or just hit the decline button with no message, so it’s great to see how much thought you are putting into this.
If you don’t think that someone is suitable, I would suggest a short noncommittal response like " thank you for your application, we have chosen someone else this time…"
It seems like some applicants can get annoyed and argue back if you give them a reason.
This is just according to what other have said on the forum though, I am a sitter myself, not a home owner.
Best of luck!


Wow, thank you so much all, such lovely helpful replies, I really appreciate it. :slightly_smiling_face:


As a sitter I always appreciate a prompt message acknowledging my application. Even if just to say you need to time to go through applications. If its a decline I find it perfectly adequate to say something like ‘Thanks for taking the time to apply. We’ve gone with someone else this time’ if you really like the sitter you can add ‘However we loved your profile & would be happy if you apply another time’ etc. No need to give reasons unless relevant. E.g a family applying when you specified no kids. Or a couple when you’d prefer a single.
Don’t worry about being specific in your requirements. This is not discriminatory- its just your preference and if it for your cats safety and well being it is also important.


To ask this question shows you’re kind & considerate. As a sitter, I’d always prefer to know asap so i don’t have to wonder about it. Personally, I’d prefer a short reason, worded nicely. But if thats awkward, taking the 'found someone else ’ answer is fine too. As already said, the sooner i know, the sooner i can move on with my plans !

Good luck with your search !


Declining early also makes it possible for more sitters to apply before the listing hits the automatic pause at five applicants.


Hi @theonlyjaneo. Declining early is absolutely fine but as a sitter a message to politely say why is always appreciated.


This really helps us as sitters. We always prefer a written response, however short, but if the owner does not mention that they would like us to apply for them in the future then we remove the listing from our favourites and if future dates pop up we won’t apply.

It’s helpful as we have had a few owners say they found someone locally this time for example but if they post future dates they would definitely consider us so that way we won’t rule out applying again in the future.

We are equally as happy if the owner sends us a note saying they have gone with someone else (with or without reason) as we know we are not the right fit for everyone, we just remove them from our favourite list and think on to the next one. We would never want to apply again in the future if the door was not left open as we don’t want to hassle anyone. But that’s just us!

So it is important if you think they might be great sitters in the future to let them know and keep the connection open. We did not get the first sit once, then went on to do 4 repeat sits for the same owner later on.

Good luck finding your first sitters and it’s lovely to have you here on the forum :grin:


@theonlyjaneo it is absolutely the right thing to do about rejecting unsuitable sitters right away…and sending a short note as to why.

I looked at your profile ad and honestly, I didn’t see where it said not suitable for children, but maybe I missed it as well. Either way, it is fine to state you just don’t feel comfortable with children in the home…whether for the pet’s sake or for your own home furnishings/layout.

Go ahead and send your quick notes back declining the sitters as this will open up space for more to apply.

Good Luck!


Ah that’s helpful, thank you. I did the toggle button for children and thought that meant it showed up somewhere but maybe not, thank you.

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Not wanting a child in your house is perfectly valid, in my opinion.


@theonlyjaneo hi, as a new sitter, its really lovely to hear you want to reply asap and give a reason too. Ive been waiting ages for a response from an application. Just an acknowledgement would be appreciated. :blush:


As a sitter, I would want the decline early so I can plan others. But I also wouldn’t apply for a sit if I didn’t meet the criteria! Not wanting a child is perfectly fine, one of my own cats is very nervous and would hate kids around so I would have this criteria too if I was a HO - so don’t worry about it. It’s nice you care!

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You’re very considerate, and I agree that it’s better to decline right away with a polite explanation. You’d prefer a single sitter, more mature, lives closer, or whatever. This opens the listing for more sitters, as only 5 are allowed at a time.

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Hi - I have read many of the responses to your (completely legit) questions, and I agree that most sitters would like to know as soon as possible, and that most of them would like to know the specifics on why they were not chosen.

As either a homeowner or sitter, you could use a declination as a tool. What I mean by this is if you’re a homeowner and a couple sitters apply that aren’t suitable, decline immediately and politely, and tell them why they are not being chosen. At this point, I’d also suggest immediately editing your listing to state this openly. For example, in your case, in addition to clicking the box saying the sit isn’t suitable for children, you could state that in the introductory text, too. It sounds redundant, but sometimes people miss the boxes, but read the text or vice-versa. You don’t have to go into great detail, but you could say, “My cat is shy of children”, or “my house is not appropriate for young children”, or “my living area is not sufficient for more than one person or a couple”. Put it right out there! It will certainly reduce the number of unsuitable sitters, and if one slips through, you are completely justified in saying, “No, I’m sorry, but as the listing states, the sit is unsuitable for children.”

If you are a sitter who seems to be getting declined frequently, you could use the homeowner’s reason for declining to improve your chances next time. Perhaps your application letter could be changed a little to specify WHY you are the perfect applicant for THIS particular sit. Homeowners like to know you’ve read their listing - not just the first couple of lines of it and the pets’ names. Maybe you could improve your chances by getting a couple more outside referrals from people who know you’re a great person - not just in the pet loving world, but in the reliable, responsible, self-sufficient adult world, too. Mention your special skills or abilities, not just ‘your sit looks perfect for me’. The homeowner is not as concerned about whether their sit is perfect for you, but rather, whether YOU are perfect for their sit! Use any information a homeowner gives you as a tool to make your presentation stronger.

I hope this gives you some ideas!

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I, too have been waiting for more than a week for a reply to a sit in Italy. I would love to know so I can make plans! Can anyone reading this give more insight to how long they have waited, and what if anything in ok to do in regards to another message? I surely do not want to bother the HO, or give an impression of being a pest. But dang! 9 days now and nothing! The ad says reviewing apps, and my message shows as read. I’d love some advice! I’m relatively new and loving all my experiences so far!

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@sitkashel I’ve been waiting 2 weeks now

wow! I’d be interested to know how many of us have waited that long? I’d much prefer a decline at this point, but I guess no news is good (enough) news?

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