Would you be concerned about someone barely being home?

Hey folks, I’m currently away from town and can see that my sitter is barely home – essentially just popping in to feed the animals for a few minutes and then leaving. Their messages imply to me that they’re staying for long stretches of time and spending time with the cats, which isn’t true.

I interviewed and visited with the person and things seemed okay, but I’m worried my pets aren’t getting the right level of interaction and that, honestly, the person is managing multiple petsits / Rover at the same time…

I’m in a pickle because I’m out of town, they have keys, etc., and I can’t book a few housesitter/petsitter because of the holiday season, and I can’t get home until next Thursday, so I just have anxiety that my pets are getting taken care of.

Note: I can tell this is happening because I have doorbell + driveway cameras (which are clearly marked and described in the welcome guide).

Any thoughts?

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That’s such a tough one, I feel for you. A similar situation was discussed at length here:

Cats are often fine for long periods in their own. (Maybe not yours you say?) Prior to the sit did you specify the amount of time your cats can be left alone?

Ask the sitter to send to pictures and videos every day. Maybe this will put your mind at ease.

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My first food for thought question would be, what does your documentation say? and did you discuss time away explicitly with your sitter?

Second is, how is your pet doing?

Third, how long are you gone?

Fourth, were they aware of the cameras before you left?

Moving forward,

  • I call out explicitly how long my dog can be left, that it’s ok for a couple days here and there to be out for longer periods so long as you do a big walk at start of day and stop by for a check-in to break up his day. If you do this already, then cool, may just be an unlucky sit.

  • discuss this topic explicitly when matching with potential sitters… that you do have cameras and while you absolutely do not monitor them with sitters, if they alert you to something that’s off, of course you notice or are made aware of it. You have found that in the past they have alerted you to when there have been odd occurrences on past sits, i.e. your pets have been left unattended all day, which was a problem.

So long as your pet is ok/happy, you may have to take the L on this sit, but moving forward, you can discuss with future sitters that you talk to that what happened before made you very uncomfortable, hence why you’re doing your due diligence now…you don’t have to make it public or anything, but use it to tighten up your vetting criteria. Usually when you’re honest with people like that, the ones that get it will float to the top and the ones that don’t will self-eliminate.

  • I think what’s unfortunate is that you won’t be able to alert anyone else that this is happening without basically putting yourself in a tricky situation where you were able to monitor the sitter, which would make other sitters potentially uncomfortable. I would be hesitant to post information to this effect in my review for that reason.

There’s extensive discussion about ppl’s thoughts on this in the other thread that @Peonie19 shared…def worth a read.

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Have they been staying overnight? If not then that’s obviously a big issue. If yes, and they are just gone a lot during the day, well I think most pet sitters would think that was ok with a cat, unless you specifically state otherwise


Agreed…I just did a home exchange that had a cat (indoor/outdoor) and I offered to take care of it. That involved making sure food and water were out at start and end of the day, leaving the window open, and giving a few cuddles in the evening before bed.

Different situation but yea, unless the HO explicitly told me the cat could not be left alone or I wasn’t allowed to leave, I would assume so long as needs were met, I didn’t have to be there. If, however, there are others needs stated, I definitely would not blow the instructions off.


May I suggest that you consider the "responsibilities " in your listing…what was discussed and your welcome book.

Are you experiencing those "expectations " in action and you are finding that maybe it’s not what you actually want?

Or is there “breech” of understanding on the TH sitter that needs to be addressed.

If the cameras were disclosed and discussed, I think its ok to check in and ask for clarification/ reassurance.

If they were not…note to self but it is still ok to check in for clarification/ reassurance.

It doesn’t have to be confrontational.

Keep us posted…

Cats are pretty independent creatures, and as long as they are fed, should be ok. The problem is that your sitters are lying to you. As you mentioned the external cameras in your listing, surely they must know, that you know that they are mostly absent.
I wouldn’t confront them about it, as they may leave, just mention it in your review, state the facts, with no emotion.

I am a little confused by your mention of visiting the sitter at her house, and your concern she’s doing housesits for pay elsewhere. This forum is mainly used by members of Trusted Housesitters. Is your sitter through Trusted Housesitters or was she hired through a paid service?

Speak to the sitter. You don’t have to make any accusations, you can simply ask what’s happening and why.

I had an application last week from someone with only a few reviews. One of the reviews said that they hadn’t stayed at the HO’s house as agreed, which feels like such a massive warning sign.

I’ve seen sitter absence mentioned both here and elsewhere recently, so have carefully noted in my listing that the sitter must be staying at my home overnight and not planning weekends away etc. Maybe it would be a good idea to include that on your listing too?

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(UPDATED: This was my initial post in response to the initial opening post. The poster later clarified, and I regret posting so hastily, but for “clarity” I’m leaving this as I wrote it.)

Assuming this is a THS sit, to answr your question: I would NOT be concerned if someone was “barely” home. Barely is a vague word. One person’s “barely” could be another person’s “sufficiently.” My requirements for sitters are that the sleep in the home, feed and give medicine to cats when the sitter wakes up, then again 8-12 hours later, and at night before bed. . Of course there other responsibilites like litter pan, mail, keeping the house clean, etc. That’s enough IMO for the cats and enough to ask a “free” sitter. I used to have a paid sitter who did overnights but went out to petsit during the day, and I didn’t feel the need to keep tabs on her whereabouts. I’ve also used dropin sitters who only come twice a day. This isn’t ideal but my cats survived. I’ve only had good experiences with THS sitters.

It sounds like this sitter is also doing paid sits. If that’s the case, great! It means she probably has experience. Most THS sitters don’t do paid sits as a side gig, but may have other work responsibilities.

I also sit with THS, most cat owners are fine with sitters doing their thing during the day.

In both roles – sitter and homeowner – I discuss stuff before the sit like how much time the sitter is expected to stay in the house.

Outside cameras are permitted with THS. But I’d be cautioius about actually monitoring the sitter’s coming and goings as most sitters would feel they were being micro-managed and wouldn’t be comfortable. And before you have a conversation with the sitter, you might consider the possibility that she’s not lying, and this might be a difference in expectations. That is your “barely” enought time might be her frequent dropins to feed and check in on the cats, and a “long stretch” overnight to play with and hang out with them.

It does sound in this case (and I am assumming the sitter is there overnight and for feedings) your expectations are not being met and you want someone who would be there more time. Next time you should make those expectations clearer in your listing and before you choose the sitter and use exact times. For example: “I don’t want the cats left for more six hours at a time.” However, I will tell you that people are willing to do cat sits for no pay in exchange for lodging because generally you can leave a cat for more than six hours. And the cat will be just fine. So if your preferences are more than what sitters can do – especially sitters who need to work outside the home – you might not find a sitter.

It’s Christmas, and I really hope you don’t confront the sitter about this today. If you are getting daily updates with photos, that should put your mind at ease. If you aren’t, definitely contact the sitter and ask for more communication. Please be tactful and non-accusatory if you want to check in with the sitter about how much time or even if you think she’s not doing overnights. She may not be lying to you. It’s possible your expectations weren’t clear to her, and what she thinks is a long enough stretch of time, you think of as not enough.


@traxorasaurus I think the main question is: what does it say in your listing, for how long can your cats be left alone? It does seem, that most people assume ‘for the whole day’ for cats, if no specific hours have been given.

But if you did discuss about how long the sitter can be away/how much time you want them to be with your cats, and their still gone the whole day, that’s a problem for sure! It’s not up to the sitter to decide ‘they’re just cats, they’ll survive’.

We’ve only used this site for our dog, but if we one day do seek a sitter for our cats it seems we need to be super clear for how long and when can they be left alone. It’s certainly not all day every day!


I’ve sat cats and have figured they could be left for longer than dogs, but the longest I’ve been away is about four hours, and that was on a rare day. That’s because I think many hosts join THS to give their pets human companionship, not just feeding and scooping.

For me, it’s not something that requires clarifying, because I telecommute from all of my sits. That means I automatically spend more time with pets than many sitters. But if I were a host or I needed to know as a sitter, I’d make sure to address specifics. I’ve seen some hosts do that from the start in their listings, which seems best, because it helps sitters who behave in good faith to self-select out if they can’t meet those needs.


I think the big question is, are they spending the night at your house? If they’re not, then that is not on.

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Hello @traxorasaurus - please can you respond to some of the questions and advice on here so we have an update? :+1:t3:

To add some additional context to this, and for other readers, I’m not upset at all by the person not being home during the daytime – I’m happy they’re getting paid work. Good for them! I was asking a question around concern and expectations for THS being a new member.

My assumption would be that the individual would be sleeping at the property. They are often departing at 8am and getting back at 1am-4:30am the following morning, and not setting the alarms. They’re also messaging me implying that they’re at home with the cats when they are not, which is just… bizarre to me.

What I’m hearing is to set that expectation in the future. I switched to THS to get a peace of mind in my travel too that someone would be present at the property in the evening, but they’re only in the property for around 4-5 hours out of every 24 hours. My cats aren’t getting fed their food at the times specific – not even within 8 hours of the evening expected feeding time.

When I’m home, I’ll talk with the sitter and let them know that the expectation is somewhat different to reality.

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Most sitters who do THS are on vacation so as long as they stay overnight I don’t see a problem. They are probably out exploring during the day or evening. So as long as they feed and walk the pets I’m ok with that.


Hi folks, thank you for all the responses. So folks can get answers to their questions, so I’ll bullet out each one. :slight_smile:

  • The welcome guide doesn’t explicitly stay ‘please stay at home during the night time’, but the conversations we had, and the individual I spoke to implied that they would be present during the night time, and would be able to take care of the cats at the right time.
  • I’m aware that cats can be left for long periods of time, but my welcome guide offers guidelines around when cats are supposed to be fed (including medication), times which are not being met.
  • The HS has been sporadically staying at the house, and not switching the alarm on or off.
  • The HS has been getting back home at 1am to 4:30am and departing at 8-9am. Last night (Christmas night), they didn’t even stay at home.
  • I’m not sitting and watching my phone, but I get a notification buzz and a thumbnail on my phone so, unless I turn them off, I’m going to be aware of peoples’ comings and goings. I don’t want to turn them off just in case of illegal activity – we live in a city and I want to make sure my home and my cats are safe.
  • On whether cats are fine for long periods: mine are, but my welcome guide states that I don’t want them to be. My cats are well-cared for, healthy, and have plenty of positive playtime.
  • I have no indication of how my pets are doing, I’ve asked and the responses aren’t particularly clear.
  • I’m gone for about a week, and the HS is aware of my cameras.
  • I state that the cats need to be fed twice daily, with a little play in between, and cat poop to get scooped.
  • Just to be clear, they have not stayed overnight at least once, and at other times have been out from 7am-8am to 1am-4:30am the following day which isn’t what I expected.
  • I don’t expect the HS to be there all day, but my expectation was that they would stay overnight and spend time with the cats, but it seems like they’re just using it as a bed to sleep in and be gone.
  • I asked my HS to let me know if they needed extra feeds on the automatic feeders, and she said she would tell me, she didn’t tell me so I’ve just been having to check in on the camera and give the cats a little food if they need some (one of my cats is sick, so its on a special diet which means the auto-feeding schedule is annoyingly specific).
  • I didn’t visit my catsitters house, they visited me for a key exchange and a meet. They are through THS and have all 5 star reviews.
  • I’m going to make sure to define catsitter absence very clearly in my welcome guide from now on, and leave a review for the HS when the sit is over and I am home with the cats.
  • “Barely” is vague, but I literally mean “barely” here, see above in terms of hours spent at the house. They also aren’t getting my mail etc – I’m going to have to ask nearby friends to go and pick it up for me. This is defined in the welcome guide clearly.
  • I’m glad they’re doing paid sits for others, but if the paid sits interfere with the care for my animals that we agreed upon and is being applied, I’m going to go into papa/mama bear mode.
  • I’m not getting any photos, daily or otherwise.
  • I won’t confront her at all unless she doesn’t show up to feed the cats today, I’m just going to leave it until I get home, get the keys back, and leave a review.
  • I didn’t discuss specifically “please sleep here to make sure the house and cats are okay overnight”, but I believed that was implied with a THS. I guess not. The feeding times are also very clear in the welcome guide, but from day 1 they were ignored.
  • I agreed with @Maggie8K – I was hoping the people who joined THS were like me and would love to care for animals and that spending time with animals are implied. If I didn’t care about my cats, I would just throw the autofeeders on and bounce for a week. That said, her advice is good and I’m going to update my welcome guide.

Thanks for all of your responses, questions, and thoughts. I hope this covers it, and I hope it gets approved by moderators so you can see it!


Thanks for sharing specifics. To me, what you described sounds like the sitter is using your place like a hotel or Airbnb and is shortchanging you and your cats. I’d suggest you stick with the facts (as you have done well above) when you do your review. That way, other hosts can judge for themselves whether they think that the sitter’s behavior meets with what they’d want.

Sure, you could be more specific in a listing, but you’ve already described the sitter not doing what was originally asked, like with the crummy communications and feeding and medication times not being met.

I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, especially while you’re away during the holiday season. When you love your pets and worry whether they’re getting shorted, that’s a crappy feeling. They’re not even my cats and I’m upset for them.


@traxorasaurus a sitter who is not staying the full night on a regular basis is not house-sitting . Also if they are regularly not giving your pets their medication during at the agreed time because they are absent from the property this is not the usual standard of a THS sitter. You may wish to report this to member services .