This topic has probably been addressed ad nauseam, but my most recent sit has me struggling with how to write the review.
It wasn’t bad, as sits go, but it was more challenging than I had expected from the description. The worst was that one of the three cats was a hunter and insisted on bringing her dead prey into the house, quite literally every day. This totalled two rats, two mice, and two birds (at least the ones she left in the middle of the floor and didn’t eat). I can generally handle it, but the icing on the cake was when I went up to go to bed one night and found (the weak of stomach may wish to scroll past this part) that she had vomited up rat guts in the middle of the white patterned quilt on the bed. I cleaned up the worst of it, removed the quilt, soaked it in OxyClean, and put it in the washing machine the next morning. After hanging it out in the sun all day I was pleased to see that the bloody gut stains had almost completely vanished. I was chuffed.
Another issue was that the listing mentioned that apart from feeding the dog in the morning and evening and taking it for one walk each afternoon, she would be on “my schedule”. I only learned after I got there that I would have to take the dog with me if I were going out for more than 3 hours, which was definitely not in the sit description. That rather precluded going into Paris, one of the supposed benefits of the sit, which was over an hour on the train each way.
So, today I got the owner’s review of my sit, and although it was overall 5 stars, she put only 4 stars for “tidiness”. I asked her about it, as I always pride myself on leaving the homes in which I sit at least as clean as when I arrived, if not cleaner (something other owners have noted), and she said the kitchen counter, cooktop, fridge, and floor were not perfect. They were certainly as clean as when I arrived, and her housecleaner had in fact cleaned the kitchen floor about an hour before she arrived home.
She now expects me to give her a 5-star review, but I’m torn. I’ll have to work on my creative writing, I guess.
I’d suggest you stay neutral in tone in writing your review and share what you’ve posted above about the sit. Then let sitters and HOs judge for themselves. Most of us have experience as consumers reading reviews well before THS and know there are two sides to every story. There also are your previous reviews for HOs to consider (as well as reviews of that HO by other sitters). And if you’re not selected by the obsessive or nervous types, so much the better for you on future sits.
My time at ‘Name’ was enjoyable. The house was comfortable.
It’s worth noting that the house is one hour from Paris by train, and ‘dog name’ is not to be left alone for more than 3 hours, so unless you plan to sightsee Paris with a dog in tow, I’d leave the sightseeing for before or after the sit.
The cats were adorable, especially ‘cat name’ being a real hunter and bringing me half-dead presents each day.
-I would not mention anything of the vomiting on the quilt - this can happen at any sit, it’s just unfortunate.
-I might not mention the cleaning comments either. Yes, it’s a disappointment and I can fully understand that. But if you go into flooring detail, you might sound petty and nitpicky.
-I would also avoid using the words ‘happy to return’ or ‘really recommend this sit’.
-Say less. In this case, less is definitely more. When I read a very short review, I kind of get the feeling there’s not a whole lot to gush about.
-It’s your choice if you want to give 3, 4 or 5 stars.
That’s a tough one @Laurel - two strategies I think. The compliment sandwich as @Colin advises. The good top, the less good filling and the good bottom. Or, a non emotional, factual review that lays out absolutely all the details in a non judgemental way. Both help future sitters and are the truth. If you feel that it’s 4 stars then that’s fine to choose that. You can also add a comment to their review of you if you choose to (which you probably know). Not revealing full responsibilities until you’re on a sit is our pet hate, it’s nearly always a case of suck it up and see. Best of luck
I wouldn’t mention too much about the cat’s hunting, that’s what cats do, but definitely say that you weren’t able to visit Paris, as the dog could only be left 3 hours. That should have been in the description. I would probably give 4 stars, but up to you.
I agree, what @botvot wrote was quite good and provides a truthful yet unemotional review of the place. It wasn’t all terrible, of course, just not what I had expected.
The occasional dead prey would not have been a problem, but it was every.single.day, despite the cat being more than well fed with cat food. I think some sitters might have problems with it. Even the housecleaner mentioned it, relating how she would often find dead animals under the beds, saying “je ne peut pas” [I just can’t]. The cats even have litter boxes (which I kept clean), so it’s not as if they have to go outside and kill the local fauna. I know it’s in their nature, which is why I keep our own cat indoors.
@Laurel I empathise we have had a negative experience on a sit where we struggled with writing a fair review that would warn future sitters , it’s not easy . In our case the sit had a major issue that went against the code of conduct . So your experience as you said yourself wasn’t a bad one but had some unexpected challenges.
This would be definitely useful information for future sitters to know- but if you didn’t actually ask the host how long the dog can be left for before you agreed to the sit then again I don’t think that you should necessarily deduct stars.
Is it a case of deducting stars or a case of next time I apply for a sit with a dog I will ask more questions before committing to the sit .
We had a cat that bought in voles, shrews and mice sometimes 2 a day ( some dead some alive )Whilst we didn’t love it , the hosts had warned us beforehand . We mentioned it the feedback so future sitters would know but didn’t deduct stars as that’s what outdoor cats do .
@Silversitters the reason I didn’t ask the owner about the dog is that the description of the pet respnsibilities literally said that apart from feeding her twice a day, “…she is used to taking a walk (mostly off leash) for 45 minutes around 4 pm. The rest of the day, she’s on your schedule”. Perhaps I should not have assumed she would be ok on her own between about 9 and 4, which I will correct when speaking with future HOs. I would not deduct a star for the dead prey brought into the house every day, but I would definitely mention it in the review. Previous sitters had mentioned the “huntress” cat, but nobody said her spoils would be brought inside. I need to learn to better read between the lines!
"My time at [host]’s was enjoyable. The house was comfortable and the village quiet, which is great for those who like to get away from it all. [The HO] is a great conversationalist and will let you know exactly how she would like things done, and she has lovely neighbors who stop by on occasion to drop off treats for [the dog] and be sure you are doing ok.
It’s worth noting that the house is one hour from Paris by train, and [the dog] is not to be left alone for more than 3 hours, so unless you plan to sightsee Paris with a dog in tow, I’d leave the sightseeing for before or after the sit.
The cats were adorable, particularly[cat 1], the 3-legged cuddle-bug cat; [cat 2] is a real hunter and brought us a different “present” each day; and [cat 3] has a chronic kitty cold, for which she receives daily medication when particularly sneezy. All three cats love to cuddle up on the sofa with you."
Does it provide enough information without sounding too critical?
I think it’s really good. It doesn’t sound critical at all, while still pointing out several things that could be consider negatives by some people but not a problem for others ( ex: neighbors stopping by on multiple occasions I would find instrusive and annoying, others might find that sweet).
@botvot I wasn’t sure about how specific I should get about the dead creatures. At one point it was the whole rat, which was almost as big as she was, that she didn’t attempt to eat, and on another occasion it was just the head (I suppose the rest of which I later found on the quilt). I don’t want to be vulgar, but do want future sitters to be aware of what they might be dealing with. I’ve never had a problem with cats eating small mice/voles, whatever, but this was in another class entirely. The owner said the cat sometimes brought in entire rabbits.
I was never sure whether the owner had asked the neighbours to check in on me because she wanted to be sure I was taking proper care of the house/animals or whether they were genuinely just being nice. Truthfully, it was a little intrusive, as I am someone who likes to know when anyone will be stopping by, even if it’s a friend. These neighbours came by almost every day at some point.
The daily hunting and “presents” you described should’ve been mentioned by the HOs.
I’m about to sit in a London flat that’s old and have been warned about the occasional mouse. That’s OK, because I know that old buildings can be hard to make entirely mouse proof.
I’ve also sat indoor and outdoor cats, cleaned up poo and barf indoors and outdoors, and encountered the occasional dead creatures or their remains in stride and I’d still want to avoid what you described, which sounds atypical. It would be a disservice to not mention that.
My question is did the owner state in her listing the cat was a hunter and likely to bring in “presents”? If so, you really can’t make too much of a fuss or deduct a star, even though it wasn’t pleasant what you had to clean up. If it wasn’t mentioned, then certainly comment but if it was a rural sit, then it really is quite normal behaviour for a cat. @botvot has worded a response very well.