Saskatoon, Canada: Rebekah Benoit hired a professional cat sitting business, Prairie Critter Sitters owned and managed by Paula Olfert, to care for her cats from July 10th to August 16th.
Benoit and her husband went away. Fortunately her husband was called back to work on July 15th. He returned to their home to find their cats in a desperate and frantic state.
They had been drinking from a toilet; the bowl was dry. Their water bowls were dry. Their food bowls where empty. The litter tray was unusable and the cats had been going to the toilet on one of the children’s beds.
No one had been looking after their cats. It was purely fortuitous it seems to me that the husband returned home early. But for that the cats could well have died.
After initially being uncommunicative, Paula Olfert was forced under threat of court proceeding to explaine that they had used a third party contractor who had let them down. The woman that they had employed to do the cat sitting failed to turn up and failed to tell Olfert.
Benoit rightly said that she was acting responsibly in arranging for a professional cat sitter to avoid burdening her sister who had plans to be out of the city at the time.
Benoit also rightly says that she wished she had asked the cat sitter to text her daily with photographs and updates. That would be an easy way of monitoring things and it would have avoided this near miss of a fatal end result.
Unsurprisingly the Facebook page of Prairie Critter Sitters is down – no access – possibly deleted. They have been hammered, it seems, getting a one star rating from 13 votes. Obviously their Facebook page is not going to promote their business – quite the opposite.
What’s the moral of the story? I think cat sitters are problematic. You let strangers into your home to care for your cats in a completely autonomous way. No matter how professional they appear I don’t think I’d be completely relaxed about it. It’s too risky. In this case the contract – and there must be a short written contract – should make reference to daily updates with photographs by text message or email. Failure to do do should be a major breach resulting in non-payment.
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