How much to pay a cat sitter?
July 1, 2013 12:19 PM   Subscribe

I am going out of town for a few days, and have asked a friend to check in on my cat. How much should I pay her?

Our cat has an automatic feeder and water fountain, so she'll be stopping in for about 15 minutes a day to confirm everything is okay, give the cat a little attention, and to scoop the litter. Friend who will be checking in on the cat lives 5-10 minutes away from us, and we are on her way to/from work. We've set up a vague "We're happy to pay for for your time!" but haven't set any specifics. My feeling is that if we don't offer something (or if we say "What do you want?") she will probably decline any payment, but I would really like to compensate her. However, I have no idea what is fair! What have you paid cat sitters in a similar situation?
posted by rainbowbrite to Human Relations (23 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've paid cat sitters $10 per visit, but as she's a friend, a thoughtful little gift might be nicer. Book, movie passes, souvenir if you can?
posted by kinetic at 12:24 PM on July 1, 2013

I have paid sitters anything from $5 to $25 per day, depending on the amount of work the sitter does, the amount of time the sitter spends with my animals, the distance the sitter has to travel, and my relationship to the sitter. My current sitter is a professional. I pay her $25 per visit. I paid friends $5 - $10 per day.
posted by clarkstonian at 12:25 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'd say somewhere around $50. Maybe a gift card for $25 and a gift from your travels for the other $25.
posted by shortyJBot at 12:27 PM on July 1, 2013

My kitty sitters come to the house and sit with my kitties. We ususally stock the fridge and give them about $100 for a week. They get to watch our extensive cable and they bring their dog.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 12:28 PM on July 1, 2013

As a point of reference, we pay our professional sitter $15 per visit. In a friend situation, some gift that costs $15-$25 seems more appropriate.
posted by ignignokt at 12:28 PM on July 1, 2013

Does she have a pet? Might you trade pet-sitting services in the future? This is what we do with most of our cat-sitting friends, and we usually either leave a small special gift or bring one back from our travels. (Something in the $20-40 range for a few days.) I'd do more for a friend without a pet since it would be farther out of her experience range and because I wouldn't be able to repay in kind.
posted by tchemgrrl at 12:28 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

We pay our "pro" pet sitters $18 per visit (though that involves giving food and medication). Our friends/neighbors get a nice bottle of booze, not cash. Unless your friend is in financial trouble, a gift of food or drink seems more appropriate.
posted by exogenous at 12:30 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

For a friend, rather than an acquaintance or a professional, I'd probably be inclined to pay in-kind through some kind of meaningful thank you gift unless arrangements were set ahead of time or I knew the person really needed the cash more than anything else I could give. A gift related to your trip might make the most sense. It's natural to decline payment (whether you really want to decline it or not), but declining a gift is usually seen as rude. For some strange quirk of social conditioning, this even applies to a gift card; I once went a couple rounds with someone who tried to pay me via check for fixing up his home network before he gave me an Apple Store gift card, which I accepted.
posted by zachlipton at 12:30 PM on July 1, 2013 [3 favorites]

My feeling is that if we don't offer something (or if we say "What do you want?") she will probably decline any payment

Ask twice. Say: "Really, we insist. We WANT to. So we can pay you or bring you something from the trip or bring you wine or..."
posted by mochapickle at 12:30 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

London prices for professionals: $20 per day. But within that price is their insurance and that they'll take the cat to the vet in the event of an emergency, or do things to find the cat if it goes missing.
posted by MuffinMan at 12:31 PM on July 1, 2013

In LA we pay $20 a day for a 30-minute visit by our professional cat sitter when we're out of town. I think for a friend I'd offer $10 a day, and if they refuse to take it, spend that money on something tasty for them. I think a gift would be appreciated even if they insist on not taking payment.
posted by Tequila Mockingbird at 12:35 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I frequently take care of my buddy's cats when he and his wife go out of town. I have to give one of the cats insulin shots and such, and stop by twice a day while they're gone.

They usually leave me a bottle of decent scotch and some goodies in the fridge. It's less awkward than dealing with cash between friends and I love it. I get to sip some Oban and watch their big television.
posted by Lutoslawski at 12:36 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

I have pet-looked-in-on for friends/neighbors before. Payment has generally been between $10-20 plus a neat little gift from wherever they traveled to. I would have been fine with nothing and perfectly happy with a little gift from their travels. (Only ever got cash from neighbors, not friends.)
posted by phunniemee at 12:36 PM on July 1, 2013

We pay around $20 a day, but we need someone to come twice a day. (Two cats and one litterbox gets gross quickly. Yes, I know the conventional wisdom would be three boxes, but we had three boxes for months and they only ever used one of them, so we eventually got rid of the other two. Cats are weird).

Depending on your relationship, I would either just leave her a check (without asking in advance) for around $10-$20 a day or give her a gift, which can be worth less, especially if it's thoughtfu.
posted by insectosaurus at 12:36 PM on July 1, 2013

Does _she_ have a cat? She may prefer to keep you on the hook for future in-kind cat sitting. A big elaborate gift may imply that you won't help her out in the future.
posted by amtho at 12:41 PM on July 1, 2013

Yeah, I'd say an Amazon gift card for say, $10 for every day she comes over (e.g., 4 days = $40), plus a little gift from your trip (booze from the duty-free if you're going internationally, or some cute piece of jewelry by a local artist, or whatever you think she might like.)
posted by decathecting at 12:42 PM on July 1, 2013

If you want to buy a nice friendly gift, a friend once got me a nice bottle of wine, a baguette, and a jar of nutella when I refused payment for babysitting for her. One of the best gifts of that kind I ever received.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 12:51 PM on July 1, 2013

Thanks for all the input, everyone! My friend does not have any pets (and will not be getting any soon, due to restrictions at her current apartment), which is why I especially want to make sure to pay her since we won't be able to repay the favor directly. I think I'll go with $10/day in Amazon gift credit, since I know she will enjoy using that and hopefully will be more likely to accept. :) Our trip will involve mostly being in the middle of nowhere/hiking so it's a little hard for me to think of a good souvenir, but we can always default to 'nice bottle of wine' if all else fails. :)
posted by rainbowbrite at 12:53 PM on July 1, 2013

We pay $40 per day. Two cats, one of whom is special needs.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 1:55 PM on July 1, 2013

When I went on vacation I had someone come check on my cat every other day, $10 a visit. This did not include scooping the litter box or 'playing' with kitty. This person lived in my same complex as well.
posted by hillabeans at 2:48 PM on July 1, 2013

When I dog-sat for a friend a few years ago, she left me $25 for a pizza or takeout, permission to eat anything I found in the house, and two growlers of the best local microbrew I've ever had. I was pleased.

(three dogs, one with serious separation anxiety, a Thursday-Monday long weekend)
posted by easy, lucky, free at 3:30 PM on July 1, 2013 [1 favorite]

easy, lucky, free: "two growlers of the best local microbrew I've ever had. I was pleased." I bet you were!

I pay a professional pet sitter $18 per day, which includes a visit of about 30 minutes to play with my cat, clean the litter box, change the water, and put out her food. She also leaves a note with my cat's activity (e.g. "she was playful today, ate all food" or "a little shy today, didn't each much") and sends a text message or email to let me know approximately when she was by.

Paying friends is tricky though, so things like a microbrew or gift certificate to a favorite restaurant - or a souvenir from your trip - might be better. Or maybe "can we take you to a nice dinner?" when you return might be a good way to thank your friend.

Note: I am a cat person, so if someone has a friendly cat they want looked after for a few days, I consider that its own reward.
posted by jzb at 8:03 PM on July 1, 2013

I'd probably do $50 (cash or a gift card if you know there's a place she likes) and a small gift from your vacation. I recently house/cat-sat for a prof and his partner and they paid me $100 in addition to stocking up the fridge before they left and letting me drink whatever alcohol they had in the house (plenty).
posted by naturalog at 7:36 PM on July 3, 2013

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