I'd like to give something to my cat sitter in a horrible situation.
January 8, 2013 4:34 AM   Subscribe

My cat has died, which was horrible. Worse, I wasn't even home. I'd like to send my cat sitter something.

I don't blame the cat sitter at all. She did everything she could, even going above and beyond the call of duty.

My cat was old (I can't post a picture; looking at them breaks my heart. Please believe me that she was beautiful) and unwell, but I didn't realize just how sick. I feel like the worst person in the world. So when I spoke to the cat sitter on the phone after the incident I was in tears and barely coherent. I want her to know that I don't blame her -- in fact, I appreciate deeply that she was there for my cat in her last moments.

I was thinking of sending her a handwritten card, thanking her for all she did. Should I include a cheque? A gift card? For how much? I don't know her, she came from a cat sitting service, but we've used her a few times and she was always excellent (the only cat sitter my cat ever liked).
posted by AmandaA to Pets & Animals (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Send her a hand-written card, no cheque. In it, let her know how much you appreciated that she was there for your cat. Tell her that she was the only sitter your cat ever liked.

Send a copy or something similar to the cat-sitting service so they know what a great employee they have. That is worth more than any check you could include.
posted by canine epigram at 4:41 AM on January 8, 2013 [45 favorites]

Best answer: I'm so very sorry for the loss of your beautiful cat.

Honestly, a heartfelt card is plenty. Just thank her and tell her this:

I don't blame her -- in fact, I appreciate deeply that she was there for my cat in her last moments.
posted by Salamander at 4:42 AM on January 8, 2013 [5 favorites]

Seconding canine epigram's suggestions. I'm sorry for your loss.
posted by Faint of Butt at 4:53 AM on January 8, 2013

She's a pro, and chances are that she's had situations of an emergency and possibly final nature happen on the job before. This is just one of those things that happen as a caregiver of living things. I think that a nice card would be great, and definitely contact the cat sitting service. Tell them how good their employee was at their job, and that if you have friends in the future in need of a cat sitter, you'll be recommending this person.

The only situation where money might get involved in this is if, in the process of "going above and beyond the call of duty", the sitter ended up spending her own money on something large, like a vet bill or medical equipment, in which case she should be reimbursed. But I would work that out via the sitting agency. If your heart insists that gifts should be involved, perhaps a small donation to a local no-kill shelter or other cat charity in the sitter's name?

And, this deserves saying: You are not the worst person in the world. You were a responsible and kind cat owner who made sure your cat had someone they liked nearby at an important time. As a professional I'm sure your sitter appreciates that.
posted by Mizu at 5:02 AM on January 8, 2013 [14 favorites]

One of the reasons I used a cat-sitting service was for this exact reason--to know that a professional would be there in case something unfortunate happened with my senior cat. Know that she probably shares your sorrow (as all of us who love cats do!) but she also has been prepared and trained for this to happen. This is part of the service you paid for.

But, yes, definitely send a card. She'll be happy to know that her presence was a comfort to you. I don't think you should feel obligated to do anything else, though.

(And I'm so sorry for your loss. Your cat was lucky to have someone who clearly loved her very much!)
posted by divka at 5:56 AM on January 8, 2013

So, so sorry to hear this. I often watch my friend's older cats, and I third, fourth canine epigram's suggestion. If you want to do something additional, you could offer to be a reference if she ever needs one.
posted by mrs. taters at 8:24 AM on January 8, 2013

I am so sorry to hear of your cat's passing, especially when you weren't able to be there with her. Please don't blame yourself though. You aren't a bad pet owner at all. Cats are very good at hiding the extent of their illnesses, and you ARE a good pet owner or you wouldn't have hired such a good sitter for her.

I pet-sit for friends and they have pet-sat for me, and our pets are all getting older. This is the kind of situation that I think would be hard to experience on both ends. Even though your pet-sitter is a professional, surely this is not a super-common occurrence and is probably upsetting for her too. You are very kind to think of her in your own grief. Sending a card is a nice gesture on your part.

I really like canine epigram's suggestion to tell her that she was the only sitter your cat liked, and also Salamander's addition that you were glad she was with your cat in her final moments.

Take care and I hope you can be gentle with yourself as well.
posted by hurdy gurdy girl at 2:46 PM on January 8, 2013 [1 favorite]

I am sorry for your loss.

I have an acquaintance who was once the cat sitter in a very similar situation. The devoted owners were an ocean away; it was heartbreaking for all involved. You are not "the worst person in the world," although I understand that grief can feel like that.

I agree that the most important thing you can do is let your cat sitter know that "I appreciate deeply that she was there for my cat in her last moments."

canine epigram's "no cheque" answer has been favorited many times, but it seems to me that a cheque could be a considerate gesture from you if the cat sitter spent an extraordinary amount of time with your cat as she was dying. I normally pay my cat sitter $10/day to come to the house just long enough to feed the cats, scoop their litter, and perhaps play a few minutes of laser pointer. If you have a similar arrangement but your cat sitter spent hours at the vet or staying with your cat at home, it seems to me that it's worth recognizing that the sitter was voluntarily taking many hours out of her own life to respond to an emergent situation. I would probably offer a bonus or tip on the order of $50 along with thanks for her time and extraordinary service. In this case I would send cash or a cheque, not a gift card, because I would intend the money as compensation, not a gift.

If the circumstances were such that the sitter did not spend an unusual amount of time, or if you were already paying her for longer hours, the additional compensation may not be called for. A personal note to the cat sitter and a commendation to her boss would still be very appropriate.
posted by Orinda at 8:00 PM on January 8, 2013

Ah, that happened to me a few years ago. It was awful. I tried to pay the sitter extra for her time, (didn't have her address) but she and her boss refused. However, I had another cat, and the first time she sat for the surviving cat, I tipped the sitter extra (I always tipped her on top of the standard fee). I also thanked her verbally and in email, sent her boss an email, and gave them a good review on Yelp.
posted by pocketfullofrye at 10:48 PM on January 8, 2013

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