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Does Your Employer Give You Time Off When Your Cat Is Sick?

Some employers treat pet emergencies as less urgent than those involving kids, and that's wrong.

 |  Mar 27th 2014  |   22 Contributions


I'll start out by saying I am a mom to two teenagers and three cats. I've shared my home with cats my entire life, and up until recently, have worked in either an office or customer service -type setting. Because I write about cats, I'm used to reading comments from childless cat owners who feel employers should treat them with the same respect as they treat those with human children. For example, if their cat is ill and needs to go to the vet, or at least needs supervision, they'd like the option to do what they need to do for their kitty ... and without hassle from unsympathetic managers and disapproving looks from co-workers. After all, our cats are living beings and precious family members whom we love ... and for whom we signed on to care for when we chose to bring them into our homes. 

I signed on to care for my human and feline kids.

I've experienced the employee side of asking for time off to care for both kids and cats. I've worked several jobs where the manager was a pet lover and really sympathized with my needing to care for one of my ill cats. This was always a blessing -- I breathed a sigh of relief when this was the setup because I knew I'd be heard and understood. And I knew there was someone with whom I could share all my cat pics. In general, these managers were also compassionate when it came to my leaving to pick up sick kids from school or stay home altogether to care for my son or daughter.

We should not feel stressed-out or guilty about asking to leave work to care for a loved one. Photo: Shutterstock

I've also worked for individuals who were parents of human kids, but did not live with pets of any kind. This is where it got tricky. The concept of caring for sick kids was understood; however, my calling in to work because there was blood in my cat's urine was not so well received. This stressed me out to no end. I've always considered myself a conscientious employee, yet I felt incredible guilt for wanting to make sure my cat, who was in obvious discomfort, got the care she so badly needed. Meetings and deadlines could wait. I can remember a few situations when I lied in order to be there for one of my cats. In my opinion, that's nothing short of ridiculous.

When our cat or human child needs us, we should be there. Photo: Shutterstock

Oh, and then there are the bosses who have no animal or human children, and whose number one priority is work. And they think it should be our priority as well. I've worked for at least one person who had no time or patience for my missing work to take care of anyone ... including myself. Needless to say, I didn't remain in that positions for very long.

These precious beings depend on us. Photo: Shutterstock

Speaking as someone who cares for both humans and cats, I think the whole system is wack in some businesses. The higher-ups forget that employees perform better, are happier and create less turnover when they're treated with respect. Yes, there will always be some that abuse the system; however, most people treat their job responsibly -- you can't cater to the slackers. When we choose to bring a human or animal into our lives, we are agreeing to do what it takes to care for them. End of story. And I feel the same way about those who are taking care of elderly parents or other family members in need as well. 

We are all happier when treated respectfully. Photo: Shutterstock

It saddens me that some human beings seem to have lost the recognition (or maybe never had it) that we are all one -- all living beings who rely on one another. I know some companies are miles ahead in the way of treating employees with kindness when it comes to their need to put work on the back burner and be there for a being who depends on them. I hear about it all the time -- kudos to them! I hope there will be a day when all companies adopt policies that willingly and respectfully allow employees to put their human and animal family ahead of work.   

What are your thoughts? Tell us about it in the comments!

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About the Author: Angie Bailey is an eternal optimist with an adoration of all things silly. Loves pre-adolescent boy humor, puns, making up parody songs, thinking about cats doing people things and The Smiths. Writes Catladyland, a cat humor blog, Texts from Mittens (originated right here on Catster) and authored whiskerslist: the kitty classifieds, a silly book about cats wheeling and dealing online. Partner in a production company and writes and acts in a comedy web series that features sketches and mockumentaries. Mother to two humans and three cats, all of which want her to make them food. 

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