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Let’s Talk: Should You Tip Your Cat Sitter or Groomer?

The ethics of offering gratuity can be vague in these situations. We get tips from some experts.

JaneA Kelley  |  Apr 29th 2016


Editor’s note: This story originally appeared in the May/June issue of Catster print magazine. Click here to subscribe to Catster magazine.

It’s pretty clear that we should tip the people who wait on us in restaurants or deliver food to our doorstep. Yet the ethics of tipping can be vague when it comes to the people who take care of our cats, such as groomers and pet sitters. Here are some questions to ask when deciding whether or not to tip.

Is the person performing a service that I am not willing or able to do? If the answer is yes, a tip is in order.

Not many people want to bathe or shave their cats, so they take their furry friend to the groomer if kitty needs a bath or a haircut. Thus, the groomer should get a tip. According to Angie’s List, the appropriate amount to tip a groomer is 15 percent of the bill.

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Is the person performing a service that requires a degree of trust? If the answer is yes, you should tip.

When I hire a pet sitter to take care of my cats, for example, I factor a tip into my budget for her services. My sitter sends me photos of my cats, provides daily reports, and gives me evidence that she is there every day and taking time to hang out with my cats.

Beth Stultz, director of marketing, communications, and education at Pet Sitters International, said that an informal poll of PSI’s members — all professional pet sitters — revealed that pet sitters’ experiences with clients’ tipping practices vary, including people who provide no tip as well as those who provide gifts or money. For those who do receive tips from clients, the average is between 10 percent and 20 percent.

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Did the person have to handle situations outside the usual scope of his or her work?

Did your pet sitter have to handle an emergency such as tending to a sick cat, dealing with property damage, or providing medication to your cats? Did your groomer have to deal with a severely matted and dirty cat with nasty stuff like feces or motor oil, or did your cat bite or scratch the groomer? If the answer is yes, you should tip extra.

“While almost all pet sitters I’ve spoken with say they do not automatically expect to be tipped,” Stultz said, “tips are always appreciated, particularly in situations where a pet sitter has accommodated a last-minute request, offered additional services, or when the pet may require extra attention, such as geriatric pets, pets with special needs, or pets that need medication.”

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Did your plans change in a way that might have caused inconvenience to the service provider?

Were you going to pick your cat up at the groomer at 3 p.m. but suddenly couldn’t get there until after closing time? Was your flight back home canceled, therefore requiring your pet sitter to add extra appointments to an already full schedule? If the answer is yes, an extra tip is warranted.

Although it’s not necessary to tip your vet or the person at the pet store who carries your bag of kitty litter to your car, I believe groomers and pet sitters definitely should get tips even if they are not expected.

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When it comes to tipping, I think it’s best to err on the side of generosity. Showing your appreciation for the services offered by pet care professionals pays back in good will, which has a great deal more value than money in the long run.

What’s the pet sitters’ perspective?

I asked two pet sitters about their expectations in terms of tipping.

“When I get a tip from a client, I truly appreciate it,” said Jayme Staten of Dizzy Pets Pet Sitting in Hudson Valley, New York. “With that said, I do not expect to receive a tip from our clients nor will it affect the quality of care that is provided to their babies.”

Asked what she has received for a tip, Staten said, “I have gotten all kinds of things from clients, from money to gift cards, wine, or pictures of their pets in a nice frame. Whether big or small, I’ve loved each one.”

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Jamie Cvikota from Simply Waggable in Chicago said, “We never expect a tip, but we accept them as gestures of extra appreciation. Tips can come in all forms — edible, drinkable, wearable, spendable. It’s very much the thought that counts.”

Cvikota said that as sitters get to know their clients’ families and pets, they also get to know the sitters.

“Over time, they gain insight about us to choose a more specific gift as a tip. We have received some very, very thoughtful things over the years. Pet lovers tend to be very caring people, and pet sitters do, too,” Cvikota said.

What’s your experience? Do you tip your cat sitter or groomer? If you work as a sitter or groomer, do you get tips?