how much time can I take off when a pet dies?

A reader writes:

I am a pet lover and pet owner; I have a cat and two dogs who my husband and I love as if they were our own children. We’ve recently had to have a lot of hard discussions due to the fact that our 11-year-old cat is sick and treatments are not improving her condition. It chokes me up to just think of losing her, as our relationship spans over a decade and this is the first time I face the imminent death of a pet. (With the exception of the untimely/mysterious deaths of a hamster and a few goldfish.)

The vet informed us yesterday that there are no further treatment options. She is coming off all medications and we can just hope for the best. The vet warned us to expect her to either have to put her down (or find her dead) within a year. I sobbed last night in a way I have never before experienced, and I can only imagine the mess I will be when the time comes.

My concerns are with the appropriateness of taking time off either when she passes or when we put her down. I’ve read many online forums and the general consensus seems to be that it is extremely inappropriate to take any time off over a pet, almost equating pet death to breaking a lamp.

I have to be with her if we have to put her down. That’s completely non-negotiable for me, and I imagine that’d be a “sick day.” But I also want the day prior (to say goodbye) and the day after (emotional fall-out of myself, husband, and other pets). Ideally it would happen on a Monday or Friday, but this could easily be something we can’t delay and I’d need a few days off of work without notice.

I’ve never heard of someone taking time off of work for a pet death anywhere I have worked, so I am very unsure if it will be held against me for needing the time off so suddenly. Also, in my current workplace I have a coworker who had her HUSBAND die and she only took an hour off for paperwork at the hospital and came straight back to work without any emotional display … so that makes me wonder if I am off-base. Plus my boss has never had a pet in his life, nor is he very sympathetic.

Generally speaking, would needing a few days off suddenly for a pet passing be seen as inappropriate or potentially even not allowed? Is it more appropriate to sit sniffling at my desk hours after I put her down as well as the following day?

In normal offices, it’s not frowned upon to take a day off because your pet is having a medical emergency or is sick enough that she needs to be euthanized. And in many offices, but not all, it would not be frowned upon to take off the day after a pet died. But taking more than one or two days is likely to begin raising eyebrows in a lot of offices.

Whether or not any of this is the case in your office is harder to say, though.

I’m guessing that your coworker who returned to work the same day that her husband died did that because of her own preferences and not because your office pressured her into it. If I’m wrong and they actually pressured her to return to work that day, then you are working at a very sick place — but it’s more likely that this was just what your coworker chose to do.

But if you’re concerned about your boss’s reaction, one option is to simply say that you need time off for a doctor’s appointment and subsequent recovery and leave it at that. You don’t owe anyone the details.

I’m sorry about your cat, and it sounds like she has had a wonderful life with you.

{ 336 comments… read them below }

  1. moss*

    I would tell your boss that you have an upcoming situation that would need you to take 3 days off and to be prepared for that. They don’t need to know details and as long as you’re a good worker you should take the days with no shame.

    1. Jerry Vandesic*

      You should take off as much time as you need. Everyone grieves differently. I assume you will be taking vacation/PTO for this time, so it’s your business as to what the time is for. The only issue might be if it comes up suddenly, and it impacts work deliverables; in that case you will likely need to talk to your boss about why this important to you.

    2. Abby*

      This is as long as she has the vacation/PTO time to use. I assume she isn’t asking to receive time off that she hasn’t earned or to use bereavement leave. Also, I would be very cautious about talking about this at work because some people will form judgements. I am not excusing that but I have seen it happen.

      1. Amber T*

        This. Pet lover, cat owner (or owned by cats, really). It would be inappropriate to ask for bereavement, but use as much PTO as you want (as long as you have it).

        There are definitely two factions of people – pet people and non-pet people. Most of my office consists of pet people. When a coworker had to put her dog down, she got nothing but sympathy and support, and no one batted an eye when she took a day off. If you know your boss and/or coworkers have pets that they love, feel free to share. If not, there’s no reason to. But if you have vacation time, USE IT!

        Sorry about your kitty <3

    3. Elle*

      You could even go so far as to say you are expecting a death in the family, for which you will need three days off. She is your family after all!! I came in late by a few hours once because my dog was in an Addisonian crisis, and I hear rumblings of, “she was LATE because her DOG was sick?” From then on, I just say that *I* had a doctor’s appointment. Some people just don’t get it.

      1. Elle*

        And I meant to add, I am so very sorry about your cat. It’s so incredibly painful when we have to say goodbye to them.

        1. Sans*

          Whoever said that about your dog is an ass. You’re damned right I’d be late if my dog or cat were sick. You’re damned right I’ll be taking time when the time comes for them to leave me.

          I know it isn’t always possible because of a particular office’s culture, but my first instinct would be to look them straight in the eye and say “And why is that ANY of your business?” or “Don’t worry, if you die, I’ll be sure to not miss a minute of work.” Yeah, I know … but I’d be sorely tempted.

      2. H.C.*

        Not sure “death in the family” is the best route – since it invites co-workers to ask or look up who that family member was (not necessarily just for being nosy, maybe they want to send flowers to the funeral or a condolence card), and they’ll still wound making whatever assumption/judgment about time off for pet’s death anyways.

        1. Brandy*

          Ive never went this route, I just say “taking time off” as vacation, but I would say death in the family. They don’t need to know the relation. Could be an aunt, cousin, etc… I wouldn’t name names, don’t know how they could look it up.

      3. JustaTech*

        I have a friend who would take time off to take his cat to the vet, but always phrased it as “I’m going with [female name] to the doctor”. Several of his coworkers commented how nice it was that he would go with his wife to the doctor!
        (My office said I had to take vacation time for my cat, but I could take sick time for my then-boyfriend, because he’s a human and she’s a cat.)

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I can’t imagine how that would have gone over if I said, “I have to take Pig to the doctor” and somebody thought she was an SO or a child! :D

          Luckily, Exjob was reasonable enough to work around the situation–she died on a Thursday and I had to take Friday off because I was in the (people) ER and at the pharmacy until after midnight. They also were fine with me taking Monday off after I spent the weekend in the hospital. If I hadn’t needed medical attention, I would have gone to work on Monday, but I probably still would have taken Friday off. I used that day to get rid of her things (I donated them to the vet’s office). I just used PTO for the time–we had a general bucket.

      4. NotNewtoAdminButConfused*

        Depending on the office and in places where the PTO is strictly ruled by a policy book or a collective agreement, this could be tricky if HR asks for proof.

        If you have PTO or can take a sick day or two without a doctor’s note, do it that way.

        1. Biff*

          Couldn’t you get a death certificate or note from the vet? You could make up a more human-y first name. For example, Yootilla would turn into Yvonne, and then Yvonne Biffsdottir passed away on Thursday afternoon after a short battle with actute poisoning — Dr. Doolittle.

          1. Sarah*

            Um. I’m pretty sure a vet cannot provide a human death certificate so you can defraud your office. I agree the OP should take PTO, but I think going overboard like this is crazy — I would think just telling the truth and taking unpaid time (if that is necessary) is better than lying and possibly getting that found out.

      5. Jady*

        Death in the family may raise issues about bereavement leave and other questions. I would probably say illness or death of a friend out of state.

      6. Kelly*

        As someone who sees their pets as part of the family, I would be pissed if any of my co-workers made those type of comments. Some of us don’t have kids and view our pets as our children.

        I’m sure I’m not the only person here would would be mourning more for the death of a pet than some family. I’m sure that when my parents’ dog is close to the end, I’ll be taking time off to be with him.

        1. Elle*

          I have 2 kids, and I think of my pets as my children; I always say I have 2 human babies, and 3 furbabies. :)

          1. Amber T*

            I am an only child but grew up with cats and dogs. I routinely would get called by any of their names.

            (No, they did not have human names. “Can you set the table, Hobbit? No, Amber.” “Sneakers! No, Boots… Amber! Stop!” Thanks, mom.)

            1. Brandy*

              My mom and my pets are the only family I have, so they are my family. They behave much better then any “real” family I have. I consider my pups growing up as siblings.

            2. Jayn*

              I do that -.- It’s worse if I was just babysitting because names of kids not even in the house get mixed in.

          2. Kelly*

            My late mother liked to say that her favorite children were the cats and the dog. They all mourned in their own ways when she passed this fall. The dog had a grief induced seizure on the night she died and had to be taken to a 24 hour emergency vet clinic. The eldest cat who lost her favorite human is slowly adjusting to having her favorite human servant gone. My father isn’t

        2. yasmara*

          But…your pets *aren’t* children. You may feel that way, but they are not human people related to you by birth or adoption who you are raising to be human adults.

          My company has a very strict bereavement policy where you get X number of bereavement days for immediate family (spouse, child, parent) and 1 day to attend a memorial service for extended family. Anything else is taken as your personal vacation time (we have a separate sick leave bucket). Pets are not included.

          I would not take this as a sick day if you have separate PTO buckets. This would not stand up to an HR investigation if one of your co-workers sees your social media post about the death of your cat. Take time off, absolutely, but it’s not sick leave (again, assuming you have separate buckets), it’s your personal time off. I would also not explain if you feel like your boss is unsympathetic – just take your days off when you need them. “Something has come up and I need to take 2 personal days this week. I have updated my vacation calendar and will be back in the office on Monday.”

          As an aside to the HR/work issues, we went through this last spring with our elderly cat and I learned more than I ever wanted to about the declining health of cats – cats are both prey animals and predators, and as such they don’t show pain in the same way a dog would. So our vet very compassionately recommended scheduling our cat’s end of life when we noticed that she was unable to do her favorite things. If she’s sleeping a lot and doesn’t seem to enjoy the things she used to, she’s probably in a lot of pain. We actually scheduled the appointment, cancelled it when she seemed to rally, and then rescheduled it for a couple of weeks later. This allowed us to take a Friday off work & be home with her in the morning, have the appointment, and then recover in private over the weekend. I hope your vet is as compassionate and understanding as ours was – they made a very emotionally painful experience as gentle as possible for us and our cat.

          1. Lissa*

            Yeah, the thing with bereavement leave and other policies is that they very often are for certain specific relationships, and don’t quantify the emotional part, which I think is sad but also reasonable? I say this as a person who isn’t close with her family and doesn’t have kids. If my best friend died I would be way more devastated than for some family members and I would be incredibly hurt if somebody told me “she’s not related to you so too bad.” But I don’t know what the alternative is really, because people have different emotional reactions for different things..this is why I think it’s better to just take PTO if available. (I am contract so for me it’s no work/no pay no matter what happens so not relevant to me, but..)

            1. Gadafly*

              FMLA is crazy that way too. I could get time for a mother-in-law but not if a sibling was dying?

        3. Relly*

          I just lost a beloved cat, and I’m mourning her more heavily than I have anyone in my entire life. I think I’d have to hit immediate family (sibling, parent) for it to outrank her.

            1. Relly*

              Thank you. *hugs* She was awesome. I’m trying to remember how lucky I am, to have had her in my life.

        1. Brandy*

          Its not dishonest. My pets are the only family I have aside from my mom. They are family. And I would take it like my aunt or cousin died. You don’t “get” bereavement time for extended family, but can take it as PTO.

        2. Jean*

          Yeah, me either. If you don’t want to tell them it’s your cat, then just say it’s for personal reasons.

    4. k*

      Yep. If you have PTO they shouldn’t need to know why you’re taking it. If your office requires an explanation for taking PTO without much notice, “family emergency” is a good way to phrase it. It is true, doesn’t require further details, and is a concept anyone can understand.

      1. littlemoose*

        +1. “I need a few days off for a family/personal emergency” and take non-sick time off. Honest but discreet, shouldn’t run afoul of any office policies re sick or bereavement leave.

    5. TW*

      My 10-year old cat BF died last month unexpectedly. My usually dysfunctional, catty department was amazing. They told me to work from home the rest of the week (aka burrow on my couch) and offered to cover for me. We may have some mean girls in our department leadership but they all have pets.

      1. Elizabeth*

        Clearly I have been spending too much time on mommy boards, because I read this at first as “my 10-year-old breastfed cat.” TMI, yikes!

    6. Erica*

      “Family emergency” is a good all-purpose term for this. Your cat IS your family, so it’s true — it’s also something (most) employers will understand is meant to be maintained in a bubble of privacy that they shouldn’t probe into any further than to ascertain what impact your absence will have so that they can accommodate it.

  2. Program Manager*

    I know in my office it would be totally acceptable and we even send flowers when a pet passes, it is hard on lots of people! My husband’s workplace, they didn’t even let him off when is grandmother dies until it was too late to travel for the funeral. I hope your office is like mine or you can make a fuzzy excuse and I am sorry.

    1. Leatherwings*

      Seconded. This obviously depends on your workplace, but at mine nobody would give you a hard time for this.

    2. Christine*

      Please take sick or vacation time. I thought my former employer wouldn’t accept me taking off, and I took my beloved Siamese in to put to sleep a 7:00 a.m. and was at work at 8:00. I wasn’t worth a ditty that day, my boss sent me home. She got upset that I had not asked off. But she’s an animal over.
      Current boss — I would have to lie like a dog, she wouldn’t understand at all.

  3. Observer*

    OK, I’m not a pet owner and I can’t wrap my head around loving a pet like a child. I say this to heighten the point that even I, with this attitude, find the idea of likening the loss of a pet to something like breaking a lamp, to be utterly callous. So, please ignore advice from anyone who thinks that way. That’s just not human.

    I want to also reinforce what Alllison says about your workplace expectations. What your coworker did was a definite outlier in any reasonable workplace. That’s not a judgement, that’s a comment on how unusual it is. However, if she did do this in response to genuine pressure from your boss or someone higher up, then you need to start looking for a job NOW. Such a thing is a sign of a very sick workplace. Worst boss of the year contender level.

    1. The IT Manager*

      Like observer, I don’t own pets, and I do look a bit askance at people who “love them like a child” as I think it really is a different kind of love not that it isn’t love. Even I think you should take the time off. I don’t think it should be a sick day (in my organization those are very clearly defined as being for your own illness, medical appointment or those of a family member), but I hope no one would begrudge you a day or two o get yourself together.

      It is definitely a question of culture though.

      I desperately hope your co-worker came into the office of her own desire perhaps to be in a place where she didn’t feel free to fall apart at the moment and to try to distract herself from her loss.

      1. JB (not in Houston)*

        It’s good to have this perspective from you and Observer because it should reassure the OP that non-pet people wont’ think it’s weird for her to take some time. But I think we should probably stop here with any discussion here about whether its possible to love a pet like a child. That’s just going to turn into a derail.

        1. Observer*

          I wasn’t trying to get into whether people “should” or “can” love a pet like a child. I only mentioned my perspective precisely to reassure the OP that, yes, even non-pet people get that this is an emotional blow that could need some time off.

          1. Ask a Manager* Post author

            I don’t think that was directed at you at all! Just an attempt to ward off the conversation going in that direction, which is not an uncommon thing to have happen on this topic!

          2. JB (not in Houston)*

            Yes, not directed at you! I said in my comment that I thought your comment was helpful (and it was!) because I didn’t want you or The It Manager to think it was about you. It wasn’t.

      2. Biff*

        I do not have children (can’t have them) but I have several friends with pets and kids. They tell me that pets are the special children of the household and deeply loved, albeit differently. That sounds about right to me. My dog is kind of my life. She is also the only child I will ever know. That’s an important distinction — I have no comparison point, so the loss of my dog is about as deep as it goes for me. And it goes pretty deep.

        1. Rache*

          “She is also the only child I will ever know. That’s an important distinction — I have no comparison point, so the loss of my dog is about as deep as it goes for me. And it goes pretty deep.”

          You stated this so clearly and so well. I do not have biological children and this is very much my point of view about my pets.

    2. Alter_ego*

      When my hedgehog died, my roommate was telling a coworker who had met her about how sad he was. His manager overheard and said “yeah, I killed a spider in my bathtub this morning, and almost took a bereavement day.

      Like what, you can’t be sad about the death of a creature you’ve lived with for 6 years. I get she was “just” a hedgehog, but come on. (Ftr, neither he, nor I, took any time off of work)

      1. Brandy*

        Itd be so hard not to call the manager an ass. It’d be pure instinct out of my mouth before I thought. To be that cold hearted.

        1. Alter_ego*

          Haha, luckily it was a second job he didn’t really need, in a really informal environment. So he *did* call the manager an ass. To no consequence, luckily.

      2. turquoisecow*

        Yeah, that manager is an ass.

        I can understand not understanding why someone would be sad about a hedgehog dying, but to make such a callous remark requires a different sort of coldness.

        1. Lance*

          Basically, yeah. Sure, I can understand people who don’t/wouldn’t develop much attachment… but it’s still a pet. They, as like Observer and IT Manager above, should at least try and understand the attachment people would develop.

          1. Lance*

            Just to correct how it could possibly come off (hours after the fact, but nonetheless); I mean Observer and IT Manager above are showing such understanding.

            1. turquoisecow*

              Oh, agreed. It’s possible to not give a darn about something but recognized that it IS important to someone else, and respect that. Like, I don’t care about sports in general, but if you’re upset over something sports related, I’ll probably not make a remark about how stupid you are that your favorite sports hero died or something. I mean, I might comment about that to my husband (who also doesn’t care) hours later, but I’m not going to say anything that might get back to the original person. It’s just common courtesy.

      3. Lady Julian*

        Wait, you had a *hedgehog*? I did not even realize it was possible to own hedgehogs as pets.

        1. alter_ego*

          Sure! I’m not sure where you live, I think it’s a lot less common outside of the US. We don’t have wild hedgehogs here, so domesticating them doesn’t feel that weird, but I know when I told my British grandma, she reacted as if I had told her I was going to be getting a pet squirrel or something, since there are wild hedgehogs all over England.

          The domesticated ones in the US are typically African Pygmy Hedgehogs, which look a bit different to wild hedgehogs, and need to be kept at warmer temperatures. But they’re a suuuper low maintenance animal, if you’re looking for something small.

          1. Teclatrans*

            Wild hedgehogs all over? I mean, of course there must be, and yet I find it hard to imagine the cuteness just running around willy-nilly.

      4. Renna*

        I adopted a somewhat neglected hedgehog just this past November (owner took fairly good care of her, but he didn’t have time). I thought hedgies were cute, but I wasn’t expecting much out of it – I was thinking back to my prior experience with guinea pigs, and hamsters, that are cute, but also just run away as fast as they can and poop everywhere and bite you with teeth like knives and smell bad.

        First week or so was… okay. Hedgie was cranky and nervous and shy, she huffed and popped and spiked me. But then there was improvement, and then there was a TON of improvement. She still will hiss when you move away her hidey-home, but then I pick her up, turn her on her tummy, and in a matter of seconds she’s sniffing around exploring. I was SO excited the first time I was able to pet her forehead and ears, it felt like a huge accomplishment because it was my love and patience that made her feel safe letting me touch her. And I laughed so hard the first time she climbed up over my shoulder and went down my back like a slide, and the first time she tried burrowing into the crook of my arm (when their spines are relaxed it really tickles!). She’s litter trained. She doesn’t bite. She likes to squeak and chirp and whistle when she’s happy, or curious about something. And I love her to pieces.

        I would have hit this butthole of a manager if I’d heard that comment. He has no idea what he’s saying, about hedgies especially but also about any animal that was loved and cared for by a human, regardless of how much personality it may or may not have. So effing callous.

        I’m sorry about your hedgie, Alter-ego. I’m dreading losing mine. :( 6 years is a good long life for them though, so I’ve no doubt yours had a wonderful home.

    3. Sydney*

      You may not be able to compare it to the love of a child but make no mistake it is a very strong bond and love and to lose it is very hard.

      1. Purest Green*

        Yeah, I get that an actual child would be very different, but I don’t think the comparison is unfair. I personally compare it to loving a child because my pets are creatures I’ve cared for since birth. They fully depend on me to live. I have to show them discipline and teach them certain things. They (seem to) trust me, cuddle with me, play with me, and even get mad at me.

        1. Nobby Nobbs*

          I think you’ve hit the nail on the head here. The responsibility involved in loving a child or a pet, ie a living being that is dependent on you for basic survival, makes it different from other kinds of love in a way that makes it a reasonable comparison in a lot of circumstances.

          Also seconding the thanks to the non pet people for chiming in. It’s nice to get validation from outside of the echo chamber.

    4. SansaStark*

      Was coming down here to say almost the same thing! I am definitely not a pet person, but I wouldn’t think it was weird at all for a co-worker to take off a day or two after the death of a beloved pet…and as long as it’s not affecting me (i.e. I don’t have to do your job while you’re gone), I wouldn’t really care how much time you take off.

    5. MDC*

      I mean, I definitely don’t want to derail the conversation–especially since you were so eloquent and thoughtful in your response–but I work in the Psychology field and there are numerous studies that losing a pet, for some (many, even), can very much feel like grief.

      1. the gold digger*

        It doesn’t feel like grief, it is grief. :)

        At my dad’s going-away party right before he died, we talked about everyone he would see in heaven, including our cat, O’Malley, who died 14 years before my dad did.

    6. Relly*

      Speaking of the co-worker, my dad went to work the day after he lost his brother. His job told him he could take all the time he needed, but he said he couldn’t bear the thought of just sitting around at home thinking about it. I’d lay money the co-worker was doing the same thing.

      1. Lissa*

        Yeah, this is me, too. Having something to do during the worst of it, and keeping to my usual routines, is incredibly good for my mental health compared to taking time off. I don’t expect this to be everyone of course, and it would also depend on the job I imagine.

      2. Lynxa*

        That’s why I went to work the morning I found out that my Stepdad had died. They live a 6 1/2 hour drive away and I would have just sat around the house feeling useless. It made me feel better to go to work and feel a bit normal for a while.

      3. Agile Phalanges*

        Yes, I posted a lengthy comment further down, but this was how I felt when my elderly kitty died. I wanted the time off between the initial vet appointment for bloodwork and the final vet appointment, so I could be with her and snuggle with her and hopefully comfort her. But once she was gone, I did NOT feel the need to hang out around the house and be reminded of my loss. Being distracted with work was just fine with me. I was a little more useless than normal, but not nearly as useless as I would have been if I’d tried to work in the day prior to her passing.

  4. The Cosmic Avenger*

    I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this, OP, and that your workplace is making it more stressful rather than easier. If you are trusted and valued then your boss should not give you grief about taking time off if you say you need it. (Assuming this isn’t akin to the first two weeks in April in a tax office.) If you are not trusted and valued, I hope you can find a job that gives you those things eventually, after you’re done dealing with this.

    1. Helena*

      It surprised me that the original letter nor the original response didn’t address the how critical the OP’s presence is. If the OP were a campaign manager and her cat died three days before the election, I would think the office norm would be to show up to work anyway. If her human child died, the office norm would be to not show up to work.

      For context, we had to put my cat down yesterday, and I’m commenting from work because I do need to be here this particular day.

  5. Marcela*

    I have lost several pets in my adult life, in college and when working. Nobody ever refused to let me take a day to take them to the vet to be euthanized or to barely recover myself. I have always be very, very vocal about my love to my pets, so perhaps that has soften the opposition from people who doesn’t understand.

    I am so very sorry, OP. My nightmares are always about the pets I’ve lost (less than 15 minutes ago I woke up crying in my sleep because of that) and my anxiety is about losing my current cat.

    1. Serenity*

      I was coming to say something similar. Even if your boss is not a “pet person” being vocal beforehand about your pets and your love for animals will help them put it into context when something like this happens. Even if they can’t relate to the feeling they will be able to see how someone who loves their pet as much as you do would be devastated at the loss.

      My previous boss was not an emotional, touchy feely person at all… but when my dog died a bunch of my coworkers knew how devoted I was to her and got together to buy me flowers, then asked my boss to sign the card… she couldn’t help but get on board at that point and gave me no trouble about taking two days off.

  6. Sibley*

    OP, I’ve informed my manager that I’m expecting to have to WFH on short notice due to the fact that my 16.5 year old cat has been exposed to the cat cold my younger cat had – and I think there will be a vet trip at some point. My manager understands. I’d do it even if she didn’t, I’d just give a vague reason.

  7. Corky's wife Bonnie*

    What moss said was exactly right, they don’t need to know why and if you have the personal time off coming to you, go ahead and take it. I recently had to do this myself, but my boss was sympathetic as she had to go through it with a dog a few years back. However, I did find going to the office was a good distraction, because staying home and seeing her empty dish and empty bed was more than I could bear. I am so sorry about your fur baby, I’m sure she gave you much joy and you gave her a wonderful home.

    1. Amadeo*

      I did find going to the office was a good distraction, because staying home and seeing her empty dish and empty bed was more than I could bear

      Yes, I suspect this may also be why your coworker came into the office so quickly after her husband passed – it was a welcome distraction at that point to have something to think about besides the empty house she was going to go home to. It’s probably something I would have done if I hadn’t put my dog down on a Friday afternoon. Staying in the house without her noises so suddenly on a quiet Saturday was almost too much.

      I don’t see a problem in taking a day or two in order to euthanize/grieve for a pet if it happens through the week.

      1. a big fish in a small pond*

        I totally agree. I chose to go to work the day my sister died because I wasn’t ready to face it and I needed the routine and distractions to cope with the reality.

        1. Serin*

          Yes, this was my experience when my father died.

          Just emphasizes how very personal all this is, and how the most helpful thing a company can do is emphasize that employees get to grieve the way they need to, and not the way their managers think they should (or should not).

    2. TR*

      I agree with this (wanting the distraction). I recently had to euthanize my dear old dog of 15 years. It was expected in a general way because of chronic illness, but the specific day came on suddenly (and without any questioning of it being time). So you may not know the day before to be able to take off. The day of was a weekend fortunately, and I could not have gone to work that day. But the next day, I think it helped to have somewhere to go. Prior to that, I think I felt the same way as you that I would need more time.

      Also, an aside that you may not need, please don’t be upset with yourself later if you feel some amount of relief when it’s over. If you’re dealing with illness for a long time, there is some lifting of burden when they finally go. That’s ok and it doesn’t take away from the love you have for your animal. Sorry about your cat.

    3. TC*

      Came here to say something very similar. I had to take my elderly cat to the vet for the last time just recently, and I really did expect to feel the way you’re describing, but it’s amazing how the love and compassion you have for your pet can really drive you. There is a sense of relief as well, especially after the final days (which for us personally were really heartbreaking, it was quite sudden, even though we knew it would come), that contributes, and I believe you’ll be stronger than you’re giving yourself credit for. I was “back at work” (I work from home) quite soon for the distraction and it helped a lot.

      Someone also mentioned to me that losing a pet involves a short, but very intense bout of grief, and my husband and i have found that to be true. I’m still sad (this all happened only weeks ago), but I am not as wrecked as I thought I might be.

      When the time comes, book the vet appointment, and the 3 days PTO you’re thinking of, if your office is flexible enough. Otherwise, call in sick for the day after at least.

    4. BananaPants*

      Our cat’s decline had been sudden and quick; she’d been fine at her vet checkup 3 weeks earlier and was only sick for a week, and the vets all agreed there was absolutely nothing that could be done. We took her home on sub-Q fluids and pain meds that night to say goodbye (it was a Thursday) and brought her in at 9 AM Friday. I was at work by 11; I *really* needed something to distract me or I would have been a very sad pregnant lady sitting at home sobbing into the dog’s fur all day while staring at the cat’s empty bed.

      My boss had recently needed to have his dog put down and he told me to use a paid personal day for the combination of two vet appointments earlier in the week and the morning that I took off, and if I’d wanted another one he said I could have it (our paid personal days don’t come out of vacation or sick time and are solely at manager’s discretion).

  8. Episkey*

    My dog is almost 12 and I’m going to be a heartbroken mess when it is her time. I think I will absolutely need a day or so or else I would just be sitting at my desk sobbing.

    My husband & I lost our first cat a few years ago very unexpectedly. I left work early because my husband called my cell phone hysterical. Our cat had been at the ER vet since the previous evening and they thought she was getting better, but then she suddenly had an episode & her heart stopped. They even tried reviving her to no avail. I did go back to work the next day, but that office was a very inflexible & toxic environment so I felt I didn’t have a choice. I was not working to my best by far that day and was actually reprimanded over it by the business owner. He was an ass.

  9. Bwmn*

    As a non-pet haver, I completely agree with AAM. Whatever kind of emergency illness/sick days/surgery works best in your office, go with that and just spare the details. This conversation may derail into a “what are sick days for” conversation – but I solidly believe that being heart-sick is as much of a reason to be out of work as the flu.

    That all being said, I also believe that for the most part there will 100% be coworkers (like myself) who may just not get the mourning you are going through around your cat. Benefits/PTO/Sick days – they’re all about having a good work/life balance, and for you to be with your cat at this time sounds completely critical. So the fact that those reasons may not make sense to some of your coworkers – don’t let that bother you, but also don’t gamble on them not understanding and then pushing back on you having the time you need.

  10. Just a Thought*

    My mom had an employee who had a 15 year old cat who was sick. Her employee spoke to her ahead of time and explained how emotionally trying it all was and how she would probably need some time when the cat passed. My mom totally understood and I think her employee took 3 days (Wed – Fri). So I think the OP should give her supervisor a heads up and see how she reacts. I think that if an employee is emotionally hurting they should take time regardless of the reason if for no other reason than it is hard to concentrate. I’m really sorry OP.

    1. Basia, also a Fed*

      My husband took three days off of work when we had to put our dog to sleep. He stayed with her Wednesday and Thursday while she was sick, then Friday the vet came to our house to put her to sleep. His boss was very understanding and told him to take all the time he needed. He took annual leave because his employer has pretty clear written rules about for whom you can take sick leave.

  11. Liz*

    I sympathize with the OP. I’m also a pet lover and if/when my dog needed to be put down, I would need at least 2-3 days off work too. And I also get that not everyone has that kind of relationship with their pets, and that everyone handles grief differently.

    With all that in mind, I would tell my boss I needed time off for a “family situation” or “family emergency” and leave it at that. I’m very uncomfortable telling even little white lies (personal hangup) which “doctor’s appointment” feels like to me.

    1. US Government Management and Program Analyst*

      There’s an appointment with a doctor, though! It’s not even a white lie.

      1. Sadsack*

        Eh, there’s no reason to elaborate beyond needing the they me off though. That is, unless IP has no time coming to her and needs special consideration.

        Sorry about your cat, OP.

    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      It’s also just not really any of their business. I need time off to deal with a family crisis, period, the end. I have one direct report in general who seems compelled to make a case about why she needs time off, and I have to tell her every that it’s not my business and she can just request the time off.

      1. the_scientist*

        Agree, so much. if you have the time available to you, it shouldn’t really be anyone’s business why you need that time off- you can say you’re feeling “under the weather” (which is true!) if you take sick time, or you can take PTO and not explain any of it. You truly don’t owe an explanation.

      2. Liz*

        Oh yes, I agree it’s not their business. I was just offering an alternative option that I’ve used in the past incase OP feels “doctor’s appointment” doesn’t really work for them (as it wouldn’t for me).

    3. Sherry*

      Yes, I like “family emergency.” People will understand that you may not want to talk about it, and that you didn’t get much prior notice.

      I once had a coworker called their manager to announce that she was going on vacation for a week, effective that morning. We knew her beloved dog was sick, so we suspected that was the reason. But at our office you *request* vacation time, not demand it, so it didn’t go over well in that sense. If she had just said she had a personal emergency, it would have gone over much better.

  12. AthenaC*

    I agree with Alison’s advice. Say you have a doctor’s appointment, and if pressed for details, say something vague like, “Oh just an outpatient procedure – I don’t want to go into detail.”

    In situations like this, it’s all about the messaging and I wouldn’t let your conscience be troubled with the idea that you’re lying to your boss. This isn’t a situation where they are entitled to the truth; the main concept you need to get across is, “I am unable to work for day X and Y, I will be back on day Z.” That’s what’s relevant to them.

    1. AthenaC*

      One more thing to throw out there – it’s not up to us to say what level of grieving is reasonable or unreasonable for a pet. OP has told us what her level of grief will be, and the only relevant question is the one that was asked – how to navigate her office under the emotional conditions she knows she is / will be in.

      1. Alton*

        Yes, grief is so individual, and not always a perfect measure of what type of relationship you had with the deceased, even. When my dad died, I was pretty numb and even a little relieved–he’d been very sick for a year and it’s been really hard watching him die. I was affected deeply by it, but I wanted to return to a normal routine and have a distraction. That doesn’t mean I didn’t love him or that his death didn’t impact me. I felt more outwardly emotional when one of my cats passed away.

  13. Roscoe*

    I think it depends on how much your absence affects others. I personally don’t care why people take off, because our department works fairly independent of each other. So if no one else is affected, take all the time you want. If it means though that someone else will be picking up a lot of your work, that is when you may want to decide what is appropriate. Personally I think the day you put the cat down and the day after is fair. Anything more seems a bit much to me.

  14. rubyrose*

    I am so sorry.

    My dog started declining over a 2 month period. I started preparing myself for the worst. When I got up on a Friday morning and saw what had happened overnight, I called in immediately, telling them why I would not be in. Took her in that morning and had her put down. Fortunately I had the weekend, because I know I would not have been able to go back the very next day.

  15. Blair*

    Schedule the appointment for a Friday morning, ask for that day off ahead of time, then you’ll have all weekend to grieve, able to return fresh and ready on Monday morning.

    1. Sibley*

      Unfortunately, you don’t necessarily have that option. I’m not going to leave an animal in pain/distress in order to wait until Friday.

      1. fposte*

        A lot of time you do, though, when it’s a slow slide rather than something acute. So I don’t think it’s an unreasonable suggestion.

      2. DCGirl*

        No one is saying you leave the animal in pain or distress. When my cat was clearly declining and the end was in sight, I scheduled the vet appointment for a Saturday morning because I knew I would have difficult taking time off working as a temp at that time. She got the gooshiest, smelliest tuna for dinner on Friday and breakfast on Saturday, lots of pets and love all night, and then I took her in. You might say that I had her put to sleep a week or two before it was actually medically necessary, but those are sometime the hard decisions that you have to make in life during periods of job upheaval and financial stress. Her quality of life was clearly not what it had been, and I have no guilt about handling it that way.

        1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

          I wish we had put our family dog down before it became “medically necessary”. His kidneys and bowels had both failed but he would still get up and greet us very stiffly. No one in my family was willing to make the call because he was primarily my sister’s and she was studying overseas at the time, and once the seizures started I basically pushed my mom into putting him down because it was causing me physical pain to watch him suffer like that. He’d had one massive seizure before my sister left overseas but recovered, and I honestly wish they’d put him down then, to spare him a lot of pain and suffering AND to have given my sister a chance to say goodbye to her “litter-mate”. You did what was absolutely best for your pet companion and I am sure your cat would thank you for your compassion.

        2. BananaPants*

          Yeah. Our cat’s decline was very rapid but I’m so grateful that our vet gave the cat sub-q fluids and a shot of pain meds so we could bring her home that night, feed her what little bit of food she’d eat, and love on her before we had her put to sleep the next morning. She probably could have made it through the weekend but the vets were unanimous that there was nothing that could be done other than keeping her comfortable, and we didn’t see a point in prolonging the inevitable.

          My SIL waited until it was “medically necessary” to put their dog down, when the poor dog’s quality of life was really not good for the last 3-4 months of life – partial paralysis, loss of bladder/bowel control, being awake for maybe an hour a day, and obviously uncomfortable. My husband and I quietly agreed that we would never let that happen to one of our pets, as difficult a decision as it can be.

          1. Agile Phalanges*

            Yes, I’m glad for both my own sake and my kitty’s that I took her in for one last set of bloodwork and a lookover by the vet before making the decision myself. First, having that opinion from the vet sets my mind at ease, but in addition to drawing some blood that gave some pretty definitive answers about the state of her kidneys, they gave her some fluids, which I believe helped make it easier for them to find the vein during the final appointment the next day. The vet explains everything she was doing, and she explained that if she couldn’t find a sufficient vein, they would inject the fluid into the abdominal cavity, but then it could potentially take HOURS for her to pass away, and I was horrified. So glad it didn’t come to that–I don’t think I could take the waiting, even if it was pain-free for the kitty (and how she phrased it sounded like that wasn’t a guarantee, either). And I fully agree on better too soon than too late. Pets don’t see the potential of another day or three like we do–they only know that they’re in pain NOW, and that it sucks.

      3. wrafreru*

        I don’t think that’s being suggested. I’ve had it go both ways where a couple of times it was very obvious the animal was in distress and it would be cruel to not go to the ER immediately and a couple times where it was less obvious that today is the day. In three of the cases, I knew the end was coming, just not precisely when so I was able to give my boss a heads up. The one that came more or less out of the blue was on a weeknight and I did go to work the next day & did have to hurry off to the restroom a couple times to cry & collect myself before returning to my desk.

        I’m so sorry for your loss. As others here have said, everyone grieves differently. Obviously I don’t know you at all, but you may want to consider working from home in order to keep your mind occupied just a bit.

        This ( was sent to us a week after we lost our three year old Lab and it did make me cry and smile.

      4. A Day at the Zoo*

        I am so sorry about your cat. I have had a fair number of animals in my life and felt grief over each of them in their own way. I lost my “soul dog” a few years ago. She was old and I could see the time come. I scheduled a home visit with my vet to put her down so she was on her own blanket in her own place. It was easier for both of us and if you have the option (the cat not in pain and eating) I would recommend this. I worked from home for a day while I arranged it and took off the day of and the day after. No one thought it odd even though my managers at the time were not pet people.

        In my current office, we have had several animals pass away. Generally, the office gives the day of the death and the day after for bereavement. This is becoming far more common in the benefits world, especially in tech and financial services, so you may want to check out your bereavement policy.

        I wish you both a peaceful passing when the time comes (hopefully not soon).

    2. NotAnotherManager!*

      Lost our 13-ish-year-old cat recently under similar circumstances to OP’s, and this is pretty much what we did, except we chose Saturday. I spent most of Saturday and Sunday in tears and went back to work on Monday. My boss and my second-in-command knew what was up and were supportive and sympathetic. Were they not, I’d have just gone with a vague, doctor-related explanation.

      OP, I’ms so sorry about your cat. We had ours longer than we’ve had the kids, and it was so tough knowing there was nothing we could do to make him better. We gave him as long as he still had a good quality of life and then let him go, and we miss him so, so much. I still tear up thinking about him.

  16. Murphy*

    I also had a co-worker who came to work right after her husband died. (She did take extended leave a few weeks later.) When he was terminally sick, she had told me that there wasn’t anything that she could do at home, and she’d rather keep busy, so I imagine that’s what your co-worker was doing.

    I also have an older pet and, while we’re not there yet, I know that I will be a complete wreck when it’s her time. I think it’s perfectly understandable. But if you’re wary, I wouldn’t go into the reasons. Just say that you need a few days off, and not go into it if you don’t have to.

    1. miss_chevious*

      Yeah, I came to work the day after my mother died for similar reasons. I took a week of bereavement about a week later for the service and family gatherings, but there was nothing to do the first week after (all arrangements had already been made) and it was much better for me to be at work than to be at home.

  17. Sydney*

    Trust me when I say you will need at least a day, if not two, to deal with the immediate feelings. Do not go back to work the same day. I put my cat down 3 years ago and it DEVASTATED me. I was barely functioning from the grief and I watched my father die from lung cancer. The grief over losing my cat was the hardest thing I have ever had to deal with and it took me about 10 months before I felt like myself again. And grief never really goes away – it just changes.

    I did it on a Friday and by Monday I was still no doing that well and should have taken more time – even as vacation. It was really, really hard.

    Now everyone may not experience it as badly as I did and that’s ok. Everyone experiences grief differently. But I’m just telling my experience as my experience. The other thing with the loss of a pet is that not many people understand the deep emotions that can come out at this time. Which makes it much harder. It was a very hard time.

    1. Brandy*

      I think its always hardest because we have to make the decision. That’s been my experience. When a person passes, its on their on. I always blame myself and kick myself as to if I made the right choice.

      1. ExceptionToTheRule*

        This is very astute. When you’re euthanizing a pet, YOU are making a decision to end the life of a creature that you love and that has shown you unconditional love. It’s very different from when a pet dies naturally. They’re very different, but I found making the decision to be a much harder situation, even though that particular cat had a terrible, horrible, fatal disease & it really was for the best.

        1. Relly*

          I recently (2 weeks ago) made that decision for the very first time, and I still struggle with it. We both felt it was cruel to ask her to go on like she was — she couldn’t stand unassisted, wouldn’t eat, couldn’t sleep for restless fidgeting — but she was also this feisty, tiny little fighter who didn’t know the meaning of the word “quit.” She’d been living two years with a terminal diagnosis and putting up one hell of a fight. I know it was the right decision, I know her quality of life was completely gone, but I still feel like I “gave up” on her. It’s just hard.

          1. wrafreru*

            Relly, I’m so sorry for your loss, truly. Please don’t torture yourself by second guessing your decision. It’s done and punishing yourself by thinking you “gave up” won’t change that, unfortunately.

            Sometimes, it’s just not obvious that today is the day. You clearly loved your cat and you acted out of love. I hope you’ll let yourself off the hook and take some comfort in the happy years you gave each other as well as how much you helped her to fight the good fight for two years.

            1. Relly*

              I … don’t know how to thank you for this, but I needed to hear this. Today’s been an especially bad day, and losing her has been harder than I ever imagined. Beating myself up about it, though, it won’t bring her back.

              Thank you. I wish I could say it better, but thank you. You’ve helped me a lot.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Yes, in my case, the death was traumatic and awful, though she was already sick. Add the injury she inflicted (which made me feel even worse, since she would not have bitten me so badly if she weren’t VERY ill) and my guilt about not being able to get to her sooner, and I definitely needed the day after. Sometimes you do need a little bit of extra time. Everybody is different, and every circumstance is different.

      **hugs for you and for OP and everybody on this post who has lost a dear pet**

    3. Countess Boochie Flagrante*

      Yeah, this is me. It’s been 9 years since I lost my childhood cat, who was with me through a whole lot of really rough times (I’ve occasionally mentioned those on here… ugh) and I still turn into a puddle of misery when I remember losing him. It never goes away, just gets easier for me to put aside most of the time.

    4. Heather*

      I know this is nearly a year later, but I had to put my cat down last night and came upon this thread while looking up coping strategies and work and whatnot. And thank you so much for sharing your experience… I’m in the same boat. I know some folks are weepy for a couple days and can bounce back, but this grief is hitting me HARD. It’s making me physically unable to function– I’m throwing up everything I eat, I’m having wracking sobbing fits off and on, I can’t think I’m in such a fog… My other cat doesn’t know what to do with me. But I work with children, so I can’t be like this at work. I feel awful for taking tomorrow off when we have a big event, but I just *can’t* right now. Your comment is making me feel less like some maladjusted crybaby.

      So… thank you.

  18. Lucy Honeychurch*

    I’m sorry about your cat, LW.

    My own cat died earlier this month–not euthanized, I came home from work and he was lying there, but he’d been sick for a while. I did go into work the next day, because I felt like staying at home would just make me wallow in my misery more, and at least at work I’d have something to take my mind off things. But I was about an hour late, and my boss told me to just put in for a full day, and offered to let me have the day off if I wanted.

    Of course, your situation is different, but I want to share to say that even if people do come in after a pet’s death, it’s not necessarily a sign that you have to do the same–I had a number of people at work express surprise that I was there, so at least here, the culture was very much that taking a day would have been ok.

    1. myswtghst*

      In the past 1.5 years, I’ve had to have both of my cats (who were both 12+ years old and had been with me since they were kittens) euthanized. When Franzia’s health declined, it was relatively quick (over the course of a weekend, ending with a trip to the emergency vet on Sunday night) and I was a wreck about making the decision, so I was grateful to be able to take Monday off, then work from home for another day or two while I grieved.

      About a year later, when I was on my way home from my first day at my new job, my husband called to warn me that we would be making a trip to the emergency vet with Lily, where we ended up having to make the difficult decision to let her go. Since it was only my second day at my new job, I just sucked it up and went in, and didn’t tell anyone until a few weeks later. My new coworkers all expressed surprise that I did that, but I actually found the distraction of work helpful.

      All that is to say that you should figure out what works best for you, OP, and don’t take anything one coworker did as the absolute requirement for your workplace. It’s obviously helpful to get a feel for the culture, but it’s important to do what’s best for you.

  19. Kathleen Adams*

    I think most workplaces would be pretty understanding of taking a day off, and maybe two, but I think more than that would raise some eyebrows. (I mean, I love my cat – but it would still cause my eyebrows to inch on up if someone took more than a day.) So unless you have a very forgiving workplace, if you need more than a day, I’d recommend using a noncommittal excuse.

    1. mamabear*

      Same here. I’m having a hard time phrasing this in a way that doesn’t sound completely unsympathetic, but taking a three-day leave seems to lack a bit of … perspective, maybe? I love my 14-year-old cat dearly and will grieve him when he’s gone, but I don’t think pet loss rises to the level of needing multiple days off. If this is how you want to spend your PTO, more power to you, but I wouldn’t share the specifics. Not everyone will get the need, even other pet owners.

      1. a big fish in a small pond*

        + 1
        I am a major animal advocate and zealous pet owner, but barring extenuating circumstances / timing I’d never take more than the day of (note: I just went through this and had to put my beloved 13-year old lab to sleep). It’s been a few weeks and we’re still devastated by this loss of our family member, but I’m still responsible for my role at work and only took that afternoon off. I know everyone is different, but I think all parties need to maintain perspective.

      2. paul*

        Yep. I bawled like a baby last year when I euthanized my dog. Took off the following day-it happened after work–but I don’t think I could justify more than that. Bereavement leave is *partly* about the issue of helping handle and coordinate logistics and services and that’s a non issue for a pet. If someone was at work talking about how they had to take 3-4 days off for their dog/cat/bird/exotic animal dying I’d definitely be kind of side eying that. Part of it is that our job sometimes entails working when the SHTF (try to walk someone through a hurricane evacuation over the phone!) and I’d begin to question how emotionally composed they could be during a major event if a pet dying sends them into that type of headspace.

      3. Amadeo*

        I do agree with this. I have a 19 year old cat at the moment who is doing well, but I went into pet ownership knowing how it ends and perspective is a really great word for this.

      4. Elizabeth H.*

        Some of this has to do more with how individuals differ in how they react to emotional blows rather than perspective on how much of an emotional blow something should be. If something really bad happens I will sometimes take the day of off because I feel like everything is so upside down but then I want to be distracted and pretend like nothing happened – I’m very private and I don’t usually tell people things like that.

      5. FDCA In Canada*

        Yeah, I tend to agree. We had to put down our three-year-old kitty at the beginning of the month, and I took off a half day to take her to the vet with my husband, then was back at work the next day. It was awful and I probably wasn’t too terribly productive the following day, and my boss was very understanding of taking the afternoon off on short notice, but I think people would have cast a side-eye at me for taking off much more time. I really do sympathize with pet loss, but I’d keep it to myself rather than saying that’s what the time was for.

      6. BananaPants*

        Yeah, I agree. I’m a lifelong pet owner and animal lover, but I think many people would side-eye taking more than a day or two for the death of a pet. If we’re talking 3+ days out I would recommend being non-committal about the reason.

      7. Agile Phalanges*

        I’m a hard-core pet lover, but agree that three days off work AFTER the death of an animal seems like a bit much (and hard to imagine helping for me, anyway, as work gets me away from the physical space of my cat’s absence as well as provides some much-needed mental distraction), but I can easily see it turning into three days total if you have a day of vet visits, a day of decision making and memory making, and then the day of the final appointment. Or two days prior/of, and one day after, if that works for the person. Not that all workplaces would be sympathetic to that, but I can see it easily becoming necessary…

    2. ReanaZ*

      Yeah. I wouldn’t say anything and it’s your PTO to manage but if I heard “Sally took off 3 days this week because her cat died.” I would roll my eyes to myself pretty hard. It would absolutely impact how I see you as a colleague and a person, and I would have very little sympathy for you if I had to cover any of your work. If I had found out you *lied* about it–said it was a death in a family strongly implying it was a person, indicating that it was your own medical emergency (I think a single day for a “doctors appointment” is different (and fine)), told me a name implying it was a person and not a cat, lied to get bereavement leave, etc. man, I would be pretty pissed and probably would say something. But if you said “appointment” “need some personal leave to deal with a private matter” or something otherwise vague, I would trust you were managing your life as needed and not pry into it.

      I know this is overly harsh and I am not proud of it, but knowing I exist and am presumably there are other people like me who will judge you for this is worth keeping in mind. I support the option of vague excuses and personal –not sick or bereavement–time.

  20. Lass*

    My 19-year-old cat died last summer. He took a turn for the worse over a weekend, and my husband took him to the vet on a Tuesday morning and I went into work. I’d been at work for about 45 minutes when he called me to say that there was nothing they could do and the cat was suffering and needed to be put down.
    I told my managers and they immediately told me to leave and take the rest of the day. I took it as personal time, but they weren’t upset at all about it.
    I got to the vet’s office and they brought my cat in and I could tell he was close to the end. I petted him a few times, he meowed twice and died. I like to tell myself that he waited for me to get there.
    I came back to work the next day, but I cried a couple times and was very down. Everyone was very understanding.

    1. Former Retail Manager*

      Ohhh…I am so sorry for your loss…and I am also now crying at my desk. Your baby totally waited for you. I have no doubt that there is a special bond between pet and owner. No doubt he had a great life. I hope things have gotten better for you since then. It’s definitely a long road back to normal.

  21. Bend & Snap*

    Don’t shortchange yourself the time you need to grieve–although feeling the absence of your pet at home can be tough to handle as well.

    I did go to work the day after my dog died suddenly and had a meeting with a client, and it was very hard to hold it together. My boss was one of those “but it was just a dog” people. I had a job interview 2 weeks later and for some reason blurted out in the interview that my dog had just died. It takes awhile to get over.

    Don’t feel like you need to justify your grief and don’t push yourself. It’s a really hard thing.

  22. Jwal*

    I had a guinea pig who’d had a stroke (we think), and he died in my arms on the way to the vet. I bawled my eyes out, and the fact that he had been ill for a long time and was “only a pet” didn’t make it any better. I think if I’d needed to take time off then talking about it to justify the situation would have made the reaction worse.

    OP obviously it’s completely up to you and how you feel, but if I had been able to plan for his death then that personally would have been a lot better for me. If that’s what you decide to do then it could be taken as holiday leave. People are usually less judgmental as to whether that leave is “legitimate” than they might be with taking sick leave.

    1. (Another) B*

      When my guinea pig died unexpectedly I was hysterical. People didn’t get it but I don’t care. A pet is a pet.

      1. Jwal*

        Exactly. I think that for anything you put love into it should be understandable to feel loss when it’s gone.

  23. Can't Sit Still*

    My manager doesn’t “get” having pets, but she was still sympathetic when I needed time off to put my cat to sleep. She checked in with me afterwards to make sure I was ok and didn’t need more time off. I’ve found it helps me more to come in to work and keep a regular routine.

    Also, shelters often have pet loss support groups if you find you are having a difficult time. You might reach out to your local shelters or rescues now to see if they have a program, or even just a sympathetic ear.

  24. regina phalange*

    OP – I am terribly sorry you are going through this. I 100% agree with Alison’s advice about the doctor’s appointment/subsequent recovery. You certainly don’t owe anyone an explanation. A couple of years ago, I was broken up with over text message and was so upset that I missed two days of work. Actually I came in the second day and my boss sent me home saying I still looked really pale and he wanted to make sure I was no longer sick (I told him I had the flu). The bottom line is that if you’re not going to be productive and need the time to grieve, take it, and don’t worry what anyone else thinks.

  25. Lily Rowan*

    OP, I’m so sorry.

    Reading people’s comments here, I realize how lucky I’ve been in jobs — I think every single place I’ve worked has offered personal days — days you can take on short notice that aren’t sick time. Of course, a reasonable boss would let you take a sick day or short-notice vacation day as well, but I really appreciate when that kind of thing is built into the system.

    1. Mary Soucie*

      OP my sympathies on your situation. It is hard to lose a member of the family, no matter how many legs they have.

      I have to say though that as a manager, this wouldn’t qualify for sick time in my book. PTO or vacation time is absolutely yours to use however you wish to and it’s up to you to give an explanation or not. In my mind, sick days do not apply in the case of pets. No matter how beloved they are. I am a pet owner as well and facing the loss soon of a beloved dog so I can feel empathy. I would certainly approve annual leave or even leave w/o pay if needed but this is not what sick time is intended for.

      Good luck, OP, as you navigate this challenging situation.

  26. vanBOOM*

    Yeah, OP, although it’s possible that your co-worker returned to work due to pressure, it is also possible that he or she preferred to be there at that time. Unless you’ve observed other potential cues indicative of an organizational culture that is hostile towards grieving (yikes!), I wouldn’t read too much into your co-worker’s behavior.

    And in terms of how to manage your own grieving when the time comes, I’m with Alison when she says that you don’t owe the details of this to anyone. Be considerate of your employers and co-workers, sure, but if taking sick days make you feel uncomfortable and are able to get vacation days approved, then….please take care of you.

  27. Soupspoon McGee*

    I’m so sorry! When my first cat had to be put down, I took half a day off work, and I was a useless wreck. It would have been far better to take an extra day or two and claim “family emergency.”

  28. turquoisecow*

    I’m sorry about your cat.

    A few years ago, my cat developed symptoms and was found to have kidney disease. This resulted in not only me feeling horrible about the cat, but also the cat having to spend a night or two in a very expensive animal hospital. My husband, who at the time was a relatively new boyfriend, volunteered to help me pay for the costs (he has two cats of his own and understood completely), but I was so anxious about not only the cat but the new relationship that I couldn’t sleep and, after sleeping a few hours, woke up and threw up. I ended up calling in sick, and I really WAS sick – I felt so awful about it, and I was in a fog for a few days after, but I still felt terrible for using a sick day. However, it was the end of the year, and I hadn’t used any sick days that year prior to this event. I was unemployed a few years later when we finally had to put him down, or I’m sure I would have done the same.

    Anyway, all this to say that you do what you have to do to take care of yourself, and the heck with your boss or your coworkers. If you really think you’ll get some negative blowback for it, just don’t give any details about why you’re taking time off. “Family emergency” works well and signals that you don’t want to discuss it any further. Save the details for people you’re closer to.

    1. LJL*

      I’m so sorry. A few years ago my 17,5-year-old cat died suddenly. Because I was about 2 weeks into a new job, I didn’t take any time off, and I wish I had since i was pretty useless that next day. It’s a favor to the office as well to use the time so that you can be more productive when you are there.

  29. EJ*

    My dog of 14 years just passed away at home this past Friday morning. :(
    I called out of work and everyone understood…. I’m lucky enough to have a boss [and team] who is compassionate towards pets and recognizes them as family members.

    I would suggest telling your boss you have a urgent medical appointment, especially if you aren’t sure how they will react to saying you have a pet emergency.

    1. Venus Supreme*

      I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my family dog of 14 years a few months ago. I still feel the same sadness I felt that day. Same goes for my other family dog- 17 years old. We got her as a puppy when I started pre-school.

      When our 17 year old dog passed away (she was put to sleep) I told my university professors that there was a loss in a family and had some deadlines extended. Vague enough that it was true and they didn’t need to know it was a pet. She was my sister, though.

  30. costume teapot*

    Oh LW, I am so so sorry. This is such a hard time to be in–but give your kitty extra love and affection and take as many pictures as you can. Best of luck with the office as well. I don’t have better advice that has been provided here. <3

  31. Pebbles*

    My heart goes out to you OP.

    This was me about 2.5 years ago when my 11 yr old cat wasn’t eating or able to walk without wobbling and falling. My husband and I took her to the vet, got drugs for her that didn’t seem to help, and moved on to a specialist who diagnosed her with a brain tumor. We opted for the surgery and for a few days she seemed better and happier, but then the downward slide again. Through all this we were giving her subcutaneous fluids, force feedings through a nasal tube and later a stomach tube. In the end we had to make the decision to let her go.

    I went to my manager when things started to really seem serious, and thankfully I have a job where I can work from home. He allowed me to switch off every other day to do just that and watch my kitty so that she didn’t hurt herself, and it made it easier to do the afternoon feedings without having the commute home and back to work again. I kept him and my immediate coworkers informed of everything that was going on and I got a lot of sympathy and understanding in return. When my husband and I took her in to the vet for the final visit, my manager knew and told me to take whatever time I needed (I just opted for the day after). On my return, there was a card for me, signed by my manager and everyone on my team.

    Talk with your manager and any direct coworkers OP. Reasonable people will understand this isn’t an easy time for you and try to help you as much as they can. I am so sorry you are going through this. You have my deepest sympathies.

  32. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

    First off, let me just say how sorry I am that you’re going through this. My dog is going on 5 and I already know I’m going to be a wreck when she passes, hopefully a long time from now.

    But just to make a broader point: when asking for PTO or sick leave, people seem compelled to a) be factually complete and b) treat it like they’re making a Federal case. You don’t need to explain or justify much. “I will be out of the office dealing with a family crisis on Monday and Tuesday of this week, so I’ll put in for time off and make sure my work is either caught up or covered” is all a decent and reasonable employer of adults needs to hear.

    1. yasmara*

      Yes, this is a very good point! It’s your time, just take it, but don’t call it sick/bereavement leave because that confuses the issue.

    2. SL #2*

      Thank god someone’s saying it. I’m just… maybe I’ve been blessed to be in jobs where taking a sick day or vacation day or bereavement leave (for a person or a pet) just isn’t a big deal or questioned. It’s horrifying (and eye-opening!) to me that there are places out there where trying to get a day or two off seems to be more difficult than arguing a Supreme Court case.

  33. Czhorat*

    Most workplaces in which I’ve been only give you three days off if a family member dies. It’s hard to imagine three days for a pet.

    1. fposte*

      That’s bereavement leave, though, which really should be called funeral leave. It doesn’t mean you can’t take more days off if you have the PTO, and it sounds to me like people here are talking about taking PTO, not about calling it bereavement leave.

      1. Biff*

        I don’t get bereavement leave. A few years ago my grandmother had a stroke and I took off to be around her in her last few lucid days. My boss apparently hadn’t realized that she was not properly dead yet. I thought — isn’t it better to see them one last time than see them in the ground? I did get it approved, when I explained that my family doesn’t do funerals. But I find the concept a little weird. It’s better to be there at the end, not after it.

        1. Rusty Shackelford*

          Yeah, but (a) you don’t always know someone’s going to die, and (b) even if you do, you don’t always know when they’re going to die, and do you really want your boss requesting a note from the doctor saying Grandma is terminally ill and expected to die within a month? And then what do they do if Grandma lasts longer than expected – claw it back? Visiting living relatives is what PTO is for.

        2. fposte*

          That’s why it’s a misnomer–it’s not an emotional leave, it’s a practical one for dealing with and getting to funerals and dealing with burial/cremation. That can take a lot of work in a short amount of time.

        3. paul*

          Sometimes there’s significant cleanup after the death though. Setting up services (if your family does them), dealing with the will, all that stuff

    2. Biff*

      Honestly, three days for a family member is not very much time at all. :( Three days for a pet, seeing as they live with you, is just about enough time to figure out arrangements and put some semblence of order back in your house before returning to work.

      1. fposte*

        Nonetheless, pets aren’t included in family members for the purposes of bereavement leave at most workplaces. Keep in mind that many workplaces also give different amounts for nuclear vs. more distant relatives, presumably based on the level of admin you’re going to have to do in the situation.

        That doesn’t mean you can’t take time off, and I think there’s some (understandable) confusion going on in the comments between what an employer allows for bereavement leave, separate from PTO, vs. leave you take when you’ve lost someone you love and you’re grieving.

  34. Mena*

    I’ve been in your shoes, facing the start of a new job knowing that my dog was facing the end of his life (he was euthanized 10 weeks into my new job). I was very stressed, thinking about how to make this as easy as possible for him, AND to appear professional and committed to my new job. It became very apparent that we had to act on a FRIDAY and he was euthanized on a SATURDAY, which gave me time to re-group for the following week; unfortunately, you can’t assume you’ll have control over timing (and weekend time to digest).

    So, my suggestion is to privately keep all work very up-to-date, with accompanying notes, so when the time comes, something important isn’t left hanging horribly or at best, can be transitioned to someone else. I also suggest NOT telling people in the office what is coming for fear that others may not interpret this very sad family event as being as important as it is to you; keep it to yourself. And when the time comes, well people do suddenly get the flu (or a nasty stomach bug) and it can take a day or three to recover (and return to the office looking shaky and tired but back in the saddle nonetheless).

    And if you’re a committed employee with a strong track record, the sudden absence will not be of note. My suggestion of being sick isn’t to cheat your employer and not use vacation time – rather, it is a decision to limit other people’s judgment of you and control how you are perceived in the office (and you’ll certainly make it up to your employer by preparing before and catching up after).

    I’m very sorry – it is very hard to say ‘good-by’ – I remind myself to be grateful for the time that we had. And we think we rescue them – hah!

  35. Former Retail Manager*

    I am sooooo sorry. My fur baby (cat) has a long life ahead of her, I hope, but I’ve already told my boss that I’ll be off for a week whenever she someday passes and he is fine with that, but I have the time, he’s also an animal lover, and no one else needs me to be present to do their own job. In addition to a dog and cat, we also have rats as pets. When my favorite rat passed away a little over a year ago, I took the day off. Some of my co-workers mocked me….I had unnice words for them. Pets can be just as much a part of your family as humans and people who don’t understand that are defective in my opinion.

    As so many others have said, if you have the time, take it. They don’t need details, especially if you think that it will be viewed unfavorably.

    1. Biff*


      That’s right mature of you. If someone mocked me about my pet who I had JUST lost I’d unleash a canon of crazy they’d NEVER forget.

    2. Venus Supreme*

      Rats are so sweet though!! I got some raised eyebrows when I used to take my hamster to the vet. Animals are animals. Not all people are monsters, but all monsters are people. I’m so sorry for your loss.

      1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

        I’ve taken my snake to the vet. He wasn’t eating and had a dark spot that we were concerned about (worried it was a bad shed). He was fine, but I’d rather take him and have people find it weird than not and have him suffer. I made a 15 year (or more, though that’s the average life span) commitment when I got him just like I did with my cats, and he’s my responsibility to provide for and care for just like they are.

      2. Former Retail Manager*

        You’re too kind…thanks. And yes, rats are great pets. I never intended to have them. My husband had a snake that he used to feed live, but the snake wouldn’t eat so rather than allow him to “dispose” of the rat, I kept him and told him he’d love the rat if he gave it a chance. Of course he did, and as a result of having them as pets, my husband now refuses to feed live. Our brood has expanded over the years and we’ve had 7 total, of which 3 are still living. I do wish their life span were longer… only about 2 years, it’s not long enough for me. We have taken multiple rats to the vet and spent gobs of money on surgery for 2 of them, but that’s okay. We love them and believe there is value in allowing them to live their best life possible, however short it may be.

  36. Lord of the Ringbinders*

    I don’t think it’s just like breaking a lamp. I’m a cat owner/lover and am so sorry you are going through this.

    Everyone grieves differently.

    When I was in my early 20s I said I needed to go home from work as my partner had called to say that my elderly chinchilla had just died and I was a wreck. My manager said: “if you feel you must.” I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven him.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      I don’t know that I necessarily read callousness into those words alone – if you were in a public-facing job, your unexpected absence was leaving him short-handed. I can see him being willing to let you go if it was necessary, but wanting you to consider if it was in fact necessary.

      Now, of course, his delivery could have been callous as all get out, and I have no idea how he said it, but just another take.

      1. Sympathy*

        No, that’s callous. The only appropriate response to someone saying they’ve lost a family member is “I’m so sorry. Take all the time you need.”

        1. BananaPants*

          That’s the thing, businesses CAN’T let employees take all the time they need. Bereavement leave for humans isn’t intended to encompass the entire period of grief; it’s meant to allow the employee to handle logistics and perhaps attend a funeral/memorial. With a pet, those factors are minimal or non-existent.

        2. Am I Falling For A Troll?*

          You really think someone’s boss, in response to their elderly chinchilla dying, should say “Take all the time you need.”? Really? I think that’s an outrageous expectation.

          It’s not like people aren’t allowed to have feelings of grief, and the boss isn’t the grief police. But the idea that you would specifically need special, UNLIMITED time off from work is way off base, in my opinion. If you have personal days, then sure, take them, for whatever reason you wish. But you can’t expect unlimited time off after the death of a pet… it’s just not reasonable.

  37. Barney Barnaby*

    I’m team “I need time off for a personal situation/family situation/doctor’s appointments/whatever.”

    People will question your professionalism when you leave the door open for them to do so. Some of being professional is just not giving details that don’t need to be given out.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      Exactly this. I don’t know whether it’s a high school leftover, or whether some bosses demand it, but there’s a compulsion to overexplain and overshare regarding an absence that I really don’t understand. And you’re correct that it’s unprofessional.

  38. Lord of the Ringbinders*

    Not that he’s still my manager (I’m 36 and this was two careers ago) but I’ve never forgotten the callousness of it.

  39. Cucumberzucchini*

    When my family dog died I was a bank teller. I got the call from my mom when I was in the middle of work. I took my cash drawer, put it in the safe deposit box we used to store the drawers, did not balance it at all and told the Head Teller I was leaving. I did not care. (I didn’t get reprimanded about it or anything which is strange in retrospect because it was a bank.) I balanced the drawer the next day back at work and everyone was very understanding about my loss.

    With some things, if they’re important to you, just do what is right for you and other people can think whatever they like. I wasn’t going to wait around for permission to get the vet as quick as I could. You have some advance warning so you can make a plan which makes it easier (I think it makes it easier, so it’s not a shock? It’s probably different person to person).

    So who cares what other people think, take the the three days you need. It’s not like you’re planning a week off or something and just tell them it’s for a family emergency then don’t go into details. I’m sorry about your kitty. When my horse goes I will be unconsolable. You will have to spatula me off the floor. I totally understand needing the time.

  40. The_artist_formerly_known_as_Anon-2*

    I’ve faced this four times in the last 25 years.

    Fortunately – the two were sudden were on weekends – one cat had a “swelling” in the shoulder, turned out to be bone cancer – the cat was 17 years old – we made the humane decision on the spot.

    Another one – severe weight loss – huge tumor – likewise.

    The two in between those two – one was 20 – had recently suffered a stroke – apparently deaf and blind – no life quality – that was a Friday morning.

    One DID affect us – a little male cat we had for 14 years who had a gradual decline in the last month of his life – his departure was expected – we did take him to the vet – that one overwhelmed us. I took 2 hours off-work and we handled it that way… over mid-day. He had the most personality and that’s why we were very sad.

  41. memoryisram*

    We had to put down our beloved springier spaniel when she was 14 1/2 and it was the worst day. I was surprised at how unbelievably understanding everyone was – I had went to HR since my boss was out to ask if I could take a half day so I could be there when my dad took her to the vet (We got her when I was 13, so I was 27 at the time). I was really quiet all day and just kind of left – I returned to such sweet messages, and it really made me feel less silly mourning over “just” a dog. I hope your office is like mine was at the time.

  42. Nan*

    I had this happen about 8 years ago. We had scheduled to put my dog down. I cried when we made the appointment. I bawled when my husband called to say my pup didn’t make it to the appointment. I got sent home. I called off the next day and they didn’t say a word. I would have been useless. I did go to work the next day, sitting in an dog-less house by myself would have been unbearable.

    Not too long after that, but at a different job, I had to take our cat to be PTS before work. Bawled all the way to the office. Couldn’t be on the phones (I was a phone rep in a call center at the time), sat in a corner, did paperwork, and sniffled til the boss sent me home.

    In my experience, employers are understanding. If it’s something you can schedule, then schedule the time off ahead of time, and it’s not your employers business as to why you want/need the day off. If you unfortunately find kitty deceased one day and call in for a day or two for a mental health/sick day, and they have a beef with it, they suck. Pets are family. There are family members I wouldn’t take a day off for, my for my critters – damn skippy I’m taking the time.

  43. Ashley the Nonprofit Exec*

    I am so sorry about your kitty. It’s hard to lose a friend, and hard to anticipate the loss. I’m with all the commenters who suggest that you just give a different reason if you don’t think that your boss will get it.

    In my mind (and in my office), if a staff members is – for whatever reason – in a state for a few days where they are incessantly crying, distraught, or otherwise very upset, that person is sick and may stay home. Obviously the amount of time they can take off is limited by how much sick time they have (so if someone is feeling this way three days a week year round, that’s a different issue). Because that’s understood, people are usually upfront about their pets’ illnesses and deaths (and it doesn’t hurt that I, their boss, took three days off when my cat died).

    But you are right – there are people who don’t get it, and when you are grieving, the last thing you need is for someone to minimize your loss. Just know that lots of people do get it and you are fully entitled to feel just as sad as you feel.

  44. Michelle*

    I am so sorry about your cat.

    We had 2 pets we had to have put down (a couple of years apart). It was very traumatic and I took time off. The day of and the day after. Coworkers and boss know why but I never got any judgement or whispers or complaints. My advice would be if you decide to have the cat put to sleep, try to schedule it for a Thursday or Friday so that you have a few days to cry/grieve/deal.

  45. AndersonDarling*

    So sorry for you, OP.
    As long as you take a block of time, everything will be fine and no one will think anything of you being out of the office. I think things get tense when someone takes 2 days off to be with the pet, then another 2 days off to travel with the pet, and then another day off for a full day at the vet, and then … I don’t want to sound unsympathetic, but many absences is what makes co-workers irritated.
    Take the time you need, and come back to work when you are ready. I’m sure some of your co-workers have needed time for the loss of a pet and you just never knew.

  46. Celiathe*

    My org pays poorly even for the industry, offers minimal PTO and encourages a “live to work” culture. I’m expected to collect doctor notes & cynically question even brief illnesses. And yet–we provide three paid days for pet bereavement allowed once per calendar year, separately coded from family bereavement. OP, you choose as a responsible working adult when you can or cannot work and use your PTO accordingly. This is no different. And a coworker who wouldn’t resent covering for you for the flu but would resent covering for you for a personal loss is not a coworker that needs to know enough to have the opportunity to judge your use of PTO. Your time, your business. Don’t even worry or care what another person thinks is reasonable or acceptable based solely on their own personal opinions of pet ownership or professional “norms.” Take the time as per your org’s policies and don’t feel the need to explain it to anyone, any more than you’d ask a coworker how many times a day they vomited when they were out with the flu. It’s a life event, that’s what time off is for.

  47. Venus Supreme*

    I’m so incredibly sorry for your loss, OP. I’m a huge pet lover like yourself and cried when my hamster died! We also had to say goodbye to our family dog of 14 years a few months ago. She was considerate enough (I combat grief with humor, forgive me) to pass away on her own on a Friday afternoon and so I left work as soon as I got the call. My office/boss were understanding and kind, and I didn’t keep it a secret that she had passed away. It took an emotional toll on me as well.

    Another employee’s mother recently passed away and chose to return to work the day between services. This was her own decision and nobody forced her to come in. People grieve in different ways. I am one of those who needs time away from work; some choose to keep themselves busy at work.

    I think you should take off as much (or as little) bereavement time as you think you need. Your cat is your child, she is certainly not “just a pet” to you, and no one can change the way you feel. I agree with Alison’s advice to let your boss know you have a doctor’s appointment and will need time away, if you think they’ll think less of the situation if you tell them it’s about your cat.

    Again, I am so so sorry for your loss.

  48. Karyn*

    One of my former coworkers had a house fire in which all 13 of her cats died. It was absolutely horrific, and she was devastated. Our HR manager only wanted to give her one day. Keep in mind that it wasn’t just about the cats – she lost EVERYTHING – but the animals were what she was most upset about.

    Her manager gave her a week of paid time. It was really wonderful of the company and engendered a lot of goodwill overall.

    Then again, that same HR was the person who wasn’t going to allow me ANY bereavement to attend my father-in-law’s wake/funeral because my fiance and I hadn’t yet gotten married, even though I had been engaged for over a year and been at the man’s bedside when he died. My manager overruled her. I got the full bereavement.

    1. Pearl*

      I’m totally flabbergasted by your story. One day! If I lost everything and my pet, I’d probably be in a daze and barely able to call into work. If someone told me I only got one day to deal with it, I would be unbelievably tempted to bring a box of ash to the person and say, “Here’s everything I own now. How do you suggest I decorate?” I’m very glad the other manager took care of it instead.

        1. Pearl*

          Ha, well, I would (almost certainly) not actually do it, but I would be sorely tempted. I have never gone through something like that and can only imagine the sheer amount of work necessary after, let alone the emotional fallout. The idea of someone not comprehending that just broke something in my brain.

    2. Observer*

      Your HR manager is a class her own. Really!

      Why in heaven’s name did they keep her on? It’s not like people didn’t realize that she was awful.

    3. BananaPants*

      HR said I couldn’t use bereavement leave when my de facto mother-in-law died, because she and my father-in-law were not legally married. Never mind that they’d been together for over a decade, was the only paternal grandmother our child had ever known, and that my FIL and his children/children-in-law/grandchildren were named in the obituary as her survivors!

      My manager said to code it as paid personal time (we can have up to 5 days a year with a manager’s permission, not counting against vacation or sick leave) – so I still got paid time off. He arranged for our admin assistant to send a floral arrangement on the company dime, too.

  49. Red Stapler Lady*

    I am so sorry about your kitty!

    Alison sums it up perfectly with this sentence: “You don’t owe anyone the details.” Everyone handles grief in very individual and different ways, and no way is right or wrong. My cat of over 16 years died a little over a year ago and I took over a week off work .

    Do what feels right to you and take as much (or as little) time off that you need and don’t worry about having to justify your actions to anyone!

  50. Rache*

    I do not have biological children, and my pets fill that space for me. A few years ago one of our dogs fell/jumped out of our van window in a very busy intersection (picture 6 lanes both directions). Needless to say we were distraught and spent the entire night looking and contacting agencies, posting on FB, etc. I notified my boss by email that night and was told to take as much time as I needed and he completely understood what my boy meant to me. Thankfully we found him about 18 hours later, but it was the trust in me and understanding that my boss showed that meant the world. I would risk losing my job to do the same thing – or take the grieving time when I lost one – because quality of life means more to me. I’m not saying that it’s the right thing to do for everyone, but I’d take a couple of personal/sick days and never think twice about doing it again.

  51. LawPancake*

    When my dog had to be put down last year, I let my (very much not a pet person) boss know what was going on and took the day off as PTO. I don’t know that he would have said anything but I think he would have side-eyed my request had I taken it as sick time instead of PTO.

    On the other hand, my wife took two weeks unpaid so that she could be with him (it was bone cancer so we knew it was coming). She’s in restaurants and can get another job in about 10 minutes so she decided that spending time with him was more important than any hit she’d take at work. She did actually end up getting pushed out of that place shortly after that too.

    I’m so sorry about your cat. I lost both my dog and my beloved cat last year (2016 was the worst) and, if you’re able to, absolutely recommend having a vet come do the euthanasia at home. We had enough notice for the dog to do it at home and it was obviously a terrible experience but so much easier than having to do it at the vet. He wasn’t stressed and we didn’t have to face that horrible car ride home alone. Also, if you have other pets it can be a lot easier on them to know what happened.

    1. Candace and Toni*

      I had a make a similar decision as your wife when my pet died last year. I was such a wreck when I found out my pet had an aggressive form of cancer and not much time to live. I’d go into work and break out in tears. My boss wasn’t very sympathetic and her callousness made everything I was feeling a thousand times worse. In the end, I didn’t want to regret missing out on his final days and I concluded that my job wasn’t worth dragging myself in just to be completely non-functional and resentful. I took a week off to cover the period between his final days and to give me a few days to grieve. Luckily, I still have my job and I switched over to a new boss that’s also an animal lover. Sometimes things work out and I’d like to think my little guy helped from his side of the Rainbow Bridge.

      1. LawPancake*

        I’m glad you got to spend the time with your pet! And that you have a better boss now! I can say with absolute certainty that my wife doesn’t regret a single moment of those last weeks they had together.

  52. Rusty Shackelford*

    I’m so sorry for your situation, LW. I was in a similar situation recently with a pet who had a terminal diagnosis but was, for the time being, happy and free of pain, so there was a lot of anxious waiting.

    Honestly, I’d be uncomfortable saying I had a doctor appointment as Alison suggests. (And at my job, since we have separate sick and vacation time, it would be considered inappropriate use of sick time). If you decide to tell the truth, I suggest you tell them you need time off not because you’re grieving (since that’s when you get flack about it’s just an animal) but because you’re not able to concentrate on work right now. It may not seem like much of a difference, but it is. A lot of people don’t understand “I’m too sad to work because my cat died.” They do understand “I’m too distracted by something bad that happened to do my job effectively.”

  53. Merci Dee*

    I am so, so sorry that you’re going through this difficult time with your cat.

    I have a daughter, and I have a son. My daughter is 12, has my curly hair and sassy attitude, and her father’s brown eyes. My son is 6, has gorgeous gray fur and bewitching green eyes, and more nosiness than any cat should be allowed to have. I would walk through fire to keep either one of them safe, and I would rain hell’s fury on the head of anyone who ever hurt either of them.

    I know that some people don’t have pets, so they might not understand how pet owners can feel such a deep love and connection with their animals. But it’s not so hard to imagine. Everyone hopes to find unconditional love and acceptance in their lives, and pets provide those things. A cat will love you unconditionally, and all it will ask for in exchange is a kind word and a scratch under the chin . . . and food in its bowl . . . and extra treats throughout the day . . . and a good brushing every now and again . . . and the nicest chair in the house . . . and the most comfortable place on the bed . . . and all the love and adoration from the two-legged house servant that is due its master/mistress. I’m kidding, I’m kidding . . . kinda.

    An interesting pet fact: Every year, the church I attend (a United Methodist congregation) joins with the Episcopal church across the street to hold a blessing-of-the-pets service. Doctrine for both of those denominations teaches that pets are given into our lives as a direct manifestation of the selfless and unconditional love that God has for each of us. It is our duty, in return, to care for that pet to the best of our ability as stewards of the gift that we have been given.

      1. FDCA In Canada*

        My parents’ Catholic church does a pet blessing annually! It’s not a full mass, because I don’t think many of the critters could put up with an hour, but it’s about 15-20 minutes and talks about the importance of caring for pets as an expression of God’s love and stewardship over the earth. It’s extremely well-attended, not because everyone is very passionate about the sermon, but because everyone loves to see everyone else’s pets and show theirs off! Dogs, cats (usually very mad cats), bunnies and other small caged animals, birds, and even some reptiles have all made appearances at some point.

        1. AthenaC*

          It’s an annual staple in quite a few Catholic churches! Usually on or around the feast day of St. Francis of Assisi. Extra fun because some priests are animal-lovers and have a blast petting the dogs, cats, horses, turtles, etc. that show up.

    1. SimonTheGreyWarden*

      The Franciscan Spirituality Center not far from us has a pet blessing event on the Feast Day of St. Francis of Assisi and for the first time I have a pet that I think could behave himself in a cat sling long enough to go.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Any time that my cat leaves the house, he’s in his heavy-duty cat carrier. Otherwise, he’s running buck wild to see how much stuff he can nose his way into before mama stops him cold.

        Then again, this is the cat who ate his way out of a cardboard carrier when we were on the way home from adopting him from the shelter. I hear a noise and look over, and I see a bottom jaw with a row of needle sharp teeth protruding from an air hole in the carrier, and I think, “oh, how cute.” The next noise I hear is a prolonged rip, and when I look over . . . there’s his head poking through a massive hole because he managed to get some good leverage with his jaw and his paws. He delicately stepped out of the hole, artfully climbed over the gear shift, and laid in my lap for the rest of the drive home.

        And this is also the cat who busted a hole in my bedroom window at 11:45 one night so that he could chase away a neighbor’s cat who was trespassing through our yard. As you might expect, the interloper never crossed our lawn again.

        But both of these incidents were when he was still pretty young — not quite a year old. I just chalked it up to the fact that he had kitten craziness boiling over and that he needed some kind of outlet, since he’d been . . . well . . . you know . . . ~scissor-snips her fingers together once or twice~ . . . altered.

    2. mamabear*

      Yes! A Presbyterian church in my city does this, and I think it’s wonderful.

      As a side note, my boss used to live in that church neighborhood. Her cat was known for escaping the house on Sundays to attend church services. Literally, he’d find an open door and walk down the center aisle. Everybody in that ‘hood was on a first-name basis with that very gregarious cat.

  54. Pearl*

    I’m so sorry about your cat.

    I would save 3 days off for the process in case it does not happen on a weekend. Then if necessary you can call in with a family emergency.

    I would suggest mentioning that your cat is sick at some point so you can get a feeling of what people’s attitude toward this is, just in case it is not good. I was totally blindsided last year when a manager was very, very upset that someone called in – from the vet’s office! – to say that they were putting their dog down and couldn’t come in that day. The manager called them back and left a voicemail telling them to come in immediately. When the manager told me the story, she said she told them, “It’s no excuse!” We do NOT work in any kind of emergency services. She was totally shocked I not only didn’t agree but would have started job hunting if I got a voicemail like that.

  55. Kate*

    OP, I’m so sorry about your cat. I lost my dog 2 weeks ago, so I know what you are going through. I was also nervous about how people would react to me taking time off to grieve, but I knew that I would need it (She was my best friend for 10 and a half years). Like, AAM said, every office will be different, but I wanted to give you reassurance that people DO understand. I sent an email out to various people that I was supposed to have meetings with to explain what had happened, and everyone sent back their heartfelt condolences. Even my grand-boss wrote back telling me he completely understood as he’s been through this with his family pets, and they are members of the family.

    I did only end taking the one day off, plus some time the day she passed for vet appointments before I realized she wasn’t getting better. So, on a nonwork-related note, my anticipation of how upset I’d be has not matched the reality. Like your pets, my dog was SO much more than a pet to me, but seeing how sick she was that night and knowing that I had done everything I could to give her the longest and happiest life while she was with me has made it just a little bit easier to deal with. It sounds like you’ve done the same for your kitty. *Hugs to you*

  56. Nat*

    I do wonder if the employer has two different PTO buckets: one for sick and one for vacation/personal time. I think it is imperative that OP use the appropriate vacation bucket if this is the case. I only say this as an employer has the right to request MD notes etc. for sick time if their policy allows (like in case of excessive call-ins, etc.). If there are 2 buckets, there are usually rules as to when to use what bucket.

    If there is only one PTO bucket then just schedule the days that you need to take care of your dear pet.

  57. Chickaletta*

    I’m so sorry about your cat.

    I think how you should handle time off depends a lot on how your workplace feels about pets. If you think they’re going to raise eyebrows or demand you come in on the day your cat passes, it might be best for you and everyone if you find another convenient excuse to not come in. This is where the benefit of planning a day to put down your cat comes in, but that’s a decision only you and your husband can make. Hugs.

  58. A.C. Stefano*

    Oh, god, this is well-timed. I was actually going to write in with the same question, because I’ve had my cat for 11 years this year. I got her right after my dad died, and the thought of losing her…yeah. I’m with you, OP. I’m so sorry for your kitty, and I hope things go as well as they can.

  59. Ask a Manager* Post author

    So, a few years ago when the question of whether or not it’s okay to use sick leave to care for pets came up, it ended up being much more controversial than this question today:

    I think the difference is probably that in this case, the leave is being used for the human (and her grief) rather than for the pet — is that right? It’s interesting that people make that distinction.

    1. Government worker*

      We have a very specific policy that says sick leave is to be used when you or a family member is sick and/or has a medical appointment. I think the taxpayers would be up in arms if they found we were letting people use sick leave to care for sick pets (possibly excluding the animal loving taxpayers).

      1. AnonAnalyst*

        Yeah, for me the difference is sick leave vs. vacation days. My previous employer had a policy about being able to use sick leave to care for family members or other people close to you, but I think they would have balked if someone tried to use sick leave to care for a pet. Using a vacation day would have been totally fine, though, and while I worked there several coworkers took vacation days or worked from home so they could care for their pet.

        This was at a nonprofit, so it may have been a similar dynamic (except with respect to donors as opposed to taxpayers).

        My current (private) company frowns on working from home and taking time off so if I would just tell my manager I was taking some vacation time to deal with a family emergency if I had a situation like the OP’s.

      2. Pebbles*

        I’m an animal loving taxpayer so I’m biased, but I have no problems with my taxes covering sick leave to be used on pets.

        1. Alton*

          Me neither. Also, pet illnesses/injuries are legitimate concerns that have to be taken care of. It’s not like you can just choose not to take a sick animal to the vet because it isn’t convenient. Also, human family members may or may not require your presence depending the circumstances, but animals always have to be taken to the vet by a human. No one criticized me for taking time off when my mom was in the hospital for surgery, even if I spent most of that time waiting she could have made do without me. When my cat was sick, I had to be there because I was his owner and I was the one paying for his treatment.

          1. Lass*

            “It’s not like you can just choose not to take a sick animal to the vet because it isn’t convenient.”

            Well, if you’re like my father, and it seems like it’s going to be an expensive vet visit, you just shoot the pet. “You can always get another one.” Yes, I did lose several pet cats to his shotgun over the years. One of the many reasons I’ve spent thousands of dollars in vet bills on the two cats and one dog I’ve had since I moved out on my own.

          2. Rusty Shackelford*

            Yes, but there are lots of legitimate concerns that have to be taken care of that we don’t get to use sick leave for. The fact that something is urgent doesn’t mean it requires sick leave. Not everyone considers pets to be family, and for them, it would be like taking sick leave for a plumbing emergency – it still has to be done, but you have to use vacation or personal time, not sick time. So I can see employers balking at “animal = family member who makes you eligible to use sick leave.” I mean, if I ran the world it wouldn’t be an issue, but sadly, I don’t.

    2. Mabel*

      Wow, I certainly wouldn’t make that distinction. But I am the “mom” of two dogs, and I have had to take time off work to take one or the other of them to the vet. My manager trusts me to manage my time, but even if that weren’t the case, I would tell them I had a family emergency and needed time off – period. There was one time when I was out of PTO, and I took the time as unpaid. For people with more strict schedules, taking unplanned time off can be difficult, but the boss doesn’t need any details about what the emergency is or what you’re doing.

    3. fposte*

      I’m also not reading today’s question as taxonomical. The OP is just asking about time off, not what category to put it in. If she’d asked about sick leave, that might have gotten some more polarized discussion; I assumed she was taking personal/vacation leave myself. (If she were in the red already, that could also ramp the discussion up, but it doesn’t sound like she is.)

      I don’t personally care a ton what category gets used, but sick leave and vacation leave are treated differently enough at my employer as far as expiry and payouts that I can see it might in some situations matter.

  60. MoinMoin*

    I worked in a department that recorded attendance for the site and someone called out because his cat died. For the next couple years, whenever the guy would call out my boss would send himself into fits of giggles imitating the guy sobbing about his cat.
    I now work in a non-insanely dysfunctional place and people are very understanding that sick/personal time is used at your discretion. My coworker is very active in animal rescue and no one bats an eye when she’s called out due to a death or took off time to schedule a vet appointment.
    So I guess what I would say is know your office but ultimately don’t feel like you need to explain your reasons. Just manage your time like anything else. The offices that don’t mind won’t and the offices that would mind don’t need to know. Sorry about your floofy furbaby.

  61. Arjay*

    Back in the day when we had separate vacation and sick banks, I called out when my dog died at 5am.

    When I went back to work the following day, I got called into my boss’s office and was told that since I was such a great employee, blah blah, they’d make an exception for me and allow me to take that day as vacation time, since it didn’t meet their random criteria for a sick day.

    I honestly didn’t care if it was sick time, vacation time, or if they made me take it unpaid. But I will never forget their complete lack of compassion. I couldn’t have driven to the office, I couldn’t have accomplished anything productive while I was there, but that didn’t count to them.

    Do what you need to do, and if you need to withhold the details, that’s ok. I wish I had.

  62. The Other Dawn*

    I feel like this is a know-your-manager thing. My workplace would be totally fine with me taking the time off and knowing exactly why, and it’s happened; however, my former manager at Old Job would have really thought it was inappropriate. Since OP said her boss doesn’t have a pet and really isn’t sympathetic, just say you need some time off and wait to see if the boss asks why. If she does, I’d give a vague reason or if a detailed reason is necessary (some bosses Have to Know!), mention a doctor’s appointment that requires some recovery time.

    I’m so sorry for your impending loss. I’m totally a cat person and they’re the only kids I know, so I know how hard it is.

  63. Mabel*

    I’m so sorry about your cat. When my childhood dog passed away (she lived 18 years, so I was an adult when she died), I told my boss, and she said I should take as much time as I needed. She was an animal lover and completely understood. I don’t know how that would have played out if my manager was someone who didn’t live with animals or have any experience of the grief that happens when they are gone. I agree that in the worst case scenario you can give a different, vague reason for needing time off. I wish you the best of luck with this situation, and I hope your kitty lives as long as possible without any pain or suffering.

  64. ilikeaskamanager*

    if you take your own PTO/Vacation it is your business what you do with it. Just don’t lie and try to take time that isn’t intended for this purpose. For example, taking sick time or bereavement time isn’t allowed for pets in most organizations. (Yours might be different).

    As for the woman who came back to work after her husband died–everybody is different. As long as she wasn’t pressured to do so, don’t think it means anything more than it was just her way. When my mom died I didn’t take much time off because being at work was a comfort to me. It gave me something else to think about except how sad I was.

  65. kristinyc*

    So sorry you’re going through this. I just went through the same thing with my 15 year old dog in September. I told my boss what was going on, and she said to take whatever time I needed. I worked from home on a Thursday morning (with my dog on my lap), and took Thursday afternoon off (my husband and I took him to his favorite park and took pictures together), and our appointment was the last of the day at our vet Thursday night. We both took Friday off as vacation days (and pretty much spent the day in our pajamas being bummed out), and then we had the rest of the weekend to be mopey.

    There’s a really great lifehacker article about making the decision to let go of a pet, and it has great advice (but might make you cry – the author is sharing his experience with it).

  66. MCL*

    I think you can take off time for whatever you want. It’s nobody’s business but yours if you need personal time to deal with something in your life, whatever that might be.

    I’m sorry about your cat. We lost our two beloved cats recently. This isn’t work-related advice, but if you have the financial means and the willingness to do it this way (and if this is a service available in your area), you may want to look into at-home euthanasia. My greatest source of distress when our cats were nearing the ends of their lives was the thought of taking a scared and sick cat to the vet for the last time. We used a vet that only provides in-home end of life services, and it was a huge relief not to have to take our cat anywhere, and to just be home afterwards with no travel involved. Our cats both passed peacefully in their home. The vet made all the cremation arrangements and took care of it, and she was empathetic, reassuring, and kind. This might not apply to your situation, but it helped my spouse and I immensely. I’m not sure what the cost comparison is, but for us it was really worth it.

  67. Mananana*

    Virtual hugs, OP. I pray that you’re able to remember her with smiles, not tears, in the years to come.

  68. overcaffeinatedandqueer*

    My family’s dog they had had for 12 years from when I was 12-24, died when I was in law school over Christmas break. It was sudden, pancreatitis.

    When I was in middle school and bullied, she was my only friend. And even when I hit high school and met my best childhood friend, I was still fairly isolated, because I was more often than not punished by cutting phone/computer access, or my mom, who usually traveled with my brother as a top tennis player, was not there to take me places.

    This also left me with the bulk of dog-related and other chores, so I was puppy’s main caretaker and had no social outlet. I loved that dog. I would tell her all about my day, let her sleep in my bed, and throw her kernels of popcorn when I made that as a snack.

    I cried for about a week. She was my best friend during such formative years. And I definitely would have taken off work if I was working, even though she was put down in another state and I couldn’t get there.

  69. AnotherHRPro*

    I am a pet lover and because I purposefully adopt older animals with health issues (i.e., the un-adoptable) I have dealt with several deaths. I say this because I do have great sympathy for someone who loses an pet. They have a special place in our heart. And I have personally found the grief to be very significant.

    That said, three days off for the passing of a pet seems a little much. Our company only gives 3 days off for a local death in the immediate family (and as someone else pointed out, much of that time is for attending services and dealing with paperwork, planning, etc.).

    I can completely understand a day off (and have personally done this myself) but I would raise an eyebrow at more than that. Yes, I cried for days after each death. But I pulled it together for work.

    I’m not saying the OP should not take 3 days off. After all, if she won’t be emotionally able to work, then she should not come in. But I think most people will will think 3 days for the death of a pet/fur-baby is odd.

    And please don’t lie about it by saying you have a death in the family or a medical procedure. Instead, be vague. Say that you have some personal issues that you need to deal with and plan on using PTO/vacation.

    1. Relly*

      I purposefully adopt older animals with health issues (i.e., the un-adoptable)

      You are a good person. I just want to say that.

  70. Tuesday*

    I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I wouldn’t worry about taking a day out of the office. You’re not going to be focused on work that day whether you show up in the office or not.

    If you’re concerned about how your supervisor or coworkers will react to taking time off for a pet, I don’t think you have to tell them the details. You could use a vacation day if you’re scheduling a vet appointment. If anyone asks what you’re doing with your day off, something vague like, “I have some household business I want to take care of” should suffice. If it happens suddenly, I don’t think it would be dishonest to call in and say, “I’m not feeling well today.”

    A friend of mine went to work the day after her father passed away, thinking that she would be better off keeping her mind occupied with work than sitting at home. Maybe that’s what your coworker’s mindset was when she came back after her husband died. Everyone grieves differently, so I wouldn’t necessarily take that person’s actions as indicative of what’s acceptable, unless you have other reasons to believe that’s what the company would expect.

  71. GrammarGirl*

    I recently had to put down my 17-year-old dog which basically wrecked me. I left work early on Thursday to say goodbye and take her to the vet, worked from home on Friday (although I sobbed the entire day), and then had Saturday and Sunday to myself. This was a month ago and I’m still feeling emotionally fragile but planning those days did help be able to return to work with composure.

    Some years ago, I had to unexpectedly put down my cat and couldn’t take any time off because I had just started a new job. My new boss found me crying at my desk. She was sympathetic but didn’t send me home.

    I highly recommend taking time off and keep the reasons to yourself. That said, I’m SO sorry.

  72. Seles*

    I’m so sorry, OP. It’s an awful thing to go through no matter how prepared you think you are.

    I lost both of my 16 year old cats last year. They were sisters from the same litter, and one was expected; the other was not. I was at two different jobs but thankfully everyone was understanding at both. I was at work when my cat passed unexpectedly – my better half called the school I worked at to tell me. My outburst of grief was less than professional, but thankfully we had a counselor who had free time and just sat with me until he could come get me to take me home. Nobody judged me for breaking into tears in the front office (I wish I had been able to hold it together), and even my students – who sometimes liked to give me more than a bit of pushback – somehow found out what was going on and didn’t give me any flak for it.

    Months later, her sister took a sharp downhill decline after a year-long struggle with weight problems. She seemed fine one day, so we went about our business – came home that evening and she could no longer walk. We spent all night in the ER with her only for them to have us bring her back in the following morning. She likely had a brain tumor that got really bad and couldn’t see us, and I didn’t want her to suffer anymore. I feel like she waited until we left because she didn’t want us to be sad and see how sick she was. The vet gave me her stethoscope so I could hear her gently purring and I knew it was time to say goodbye. (That vet was amazing and I am so thankful she was there.)

    Thankfully that job was understanding as well. I worked from home, so getting back into the routine was hard with an empty house. But my manager would have understood if I needed the time off and expressed his condolences.

    Our pets really are our family, and everyone grieves differently. I welcomed the return to routine until I was ready to face my empty house, but if you need the time then absolutely take what you can. I’m so sorry, OP. Your cat has had an amazing life with you and your empathy and compassion show how much love you can give.

    1. Observer*

      Kids can be very compassionate. And, unless you are dealing with very mean kids, typically even a teacher who is disliked will get some sympathy from kids who hear that “Teacher cried when she found out that her pet died.”

      1. Seles*

        They were pretty cool kids, we just had rough days. Without getting too specific I’ll just say I wasn’t a “real” teacher so that made the pushback more prevalent. But they were great about me being out.

  73. bohtie*

    I have a very old dog and sometime in the next few years am going to be going through this process, so as hard as this post is to read, I’m grateful to have it as a reference.

    I’m also grateful that my boss is definitely a pet person – he’s cats and I’m dogs, but he even buys my dog a Christmas present every year and has cut me slack in the past for, as one example, being late because my dog fell off the bed and sprained her leg!

  74. Katie the Fed*

    I just said goodbye to my cat of 16 years. We had it done on a Friday – took the day off to spoil him, and then had it done. We had the weekend to recoup.

  75. Amber Rose*

    When my mom put down our dog, her boss actually sent her a big bouquet of flowers. And honestly, her boss was otherwise a huge weed. Just, super unpleasant to deal with. Even harsh people can surprise you.

    Regarding your coworker: as someone who went through a traumatic loss and spent most of the first couple of days organizing everything and selling stuff and making phone calls, sometimes work is how people grieve. Or how they distract themselves from facing an otherwise overwhelming situation. You shouldn’t take that as an indicator for how you should be.

  76. Formica Dinette*

    I am so sorry about your kitty. I have lost three cats to long-term illness (shortest was six weeks, longest was six months) and I took two or three days off work each time. When one of my kitties died on a Sunday, I came into work the next day and they sent me home as soon as they heard what happened. However, my bosses and coworkers were sympathetic animal lovers.

    Again, I am so sorry. I hope the rest of your girl’s life is happy and that she passes easily.

  77. Retail HR Guy*

    At my previous position I cleared all attendance occurrences for the whole company (basically scanning them all–about a hundred a day–to see if any should be protected under the various state and federal laws). So every single absence passed through my desk, from a lot of different employees under a lot of different managers in a lot of different work environments.

    I mention all of the above so that you can believe me when I tell you that a LOT of people need time off when a pet dies. It is very, very normal. People who otherwise had a stellar attendance record would still be unable to work after a pet died, which tells me it isn’t an issue about professionalism or employee maturity level. For the curious, of those that missed any time off from work the majority missed a single day (though a “dog/cat is sick” absence followed by a “dog/cat had to be put down” absence was common, too).

  78. Relly*

    Oh, this hits close to home — we just lost our 17-year-old cat two weeks ago. We made the heartbreaking decision to let her go on a Sunday evening, and I had to be at work at 9 am Monday morning. I decided to go, because my job is shift work that involves working with clients 1-on-1, which means me cancelling at the very last minute leaves everyone in the lurch and my coworkers scrambling for coverage. I wouldn’t say it was a mistake to go in — I’d probably make the same decision — but it was horrible and painful. It felt like I was walking around with an open wound, bleeding, and trying not to let on. If you can take off easily, do it.

    One note of caution, though. If you’re planning on taking the day before so you can spoil her, give her one last Good Day before the end, I’d say just go ahead and do that now. When the time comes, she may not be in a position where that’s feasible. For some pets and some illnesses it probably is, but our kitty’s last day, she couldn’t stand unsupported, refused food, couldn’t even settle in comfortably to sleep. All that we could give her was a peaceful exit.

    (If your cat is aware enough to appreciate a last day, go ahead and do it, obviously — I just wanted to warn you that it’s not always possible to do, so you might as well get in all the spoiling you can while you have the chance.)

    My condolences.

  79. Elizabeth*

    I recently and unexpectedly had to put a pet down. It happened on a weekend so no problem there, but I took the Monday following as a sick day and not vacation time. Much like when you feel lousy and could *probably* make it at work, but you wouldn’t be productive at all and might make yourself worse — I was so emotionally sick and drained, I felt physically affected and knew that I couldn’t work that day. Took it as sick time with no shame. Had I needed more, I would have asked for a personal day (and I’m sure my boss would have given it to me, unless there was a deadline), but I think that you should feel fine taking a sick day the day afterwards — you will feel sick.

    I am so, so sorry about your cat. It is a devastating loss — hoping that you find peace during this time.

  80. seejay*

    On a Thursday afternoon, our family dog had a seizure and my mom rushed her into the vet. She had tried to call me when I was walking back to my dorm apartment after class and couldn’t reach me, so she called my department secretary (she felt like it was an emergency) and told her that our dog was dying and she was going to the vet with her and could she find me. I got back to my apartment to a message on my answering machine from both my mom and the secretary and was able to rush to the vet’s in time to meet my mom and our dog there, where I was able to be there with her while the vet helped her pass.

    I was supposed to be studying that evening for a final exam the next day. Suffice to say, I wasn’t able to study. I was an absolute wreck. I called in the next day and said I couldn’t make it to the exam because there was a death in the family. My dean and secretary passed it on to my prof and said I could make it up on Monday, and I studied later that weekend even though I wasn’t in the right state of mind even several days later.

    The funny thing was, I knew damn well that the prof for the course that I’d missed the exam for wouldn’t accept that it was a pet, so I had white lied that it was a “death in the family”, and I was kind of white lying it up when I’d called it in to the secretary and dean (I hadn’t realized yet that my mom had told the secretary that it was the dog when she’d called). I found out a week later that both the secretary and dean knew *exactly* that the death in the family was our dog and I blew off a final exam for it, but they were both super understanding and ok with it and covered for me with the prof. I still remember it and appreciate it to this day.

    1. Nan*

      I had a RELIGION professor once give me crap about rescheduling a final because my mother was dying and I had to hightail it home. I called the man in tears and he refused to do anything until I contact the dean of the college. What’s with unfeeling professors?

      1. seejay*

        Oh man, I can totally get a prof being not understanding for a pet, but for a family member? That’s harsh! :(

      2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        Honestly? It’s because we (speaking past tense, personally) got about five claims of dead family members a semester, and we get cynical.

  81. Anon-na-na*

    Having been through this 2 years ago with a beloved dog, my heart is broken for you, OP. Everything happened fast, and we had to take her to the vet on a Monday evening to say goodbye. I was an utter wreck. I had no idea it was going to be our “last day”. I did go to work on Tuesday, but I stayed in my office and called it an “email day” (I know not everyone can do this, but it did help me to be able to cry with the door shut). I think in hindsight I should have absolutely taken it off as a sick day. The healing for me came SO SLOWLY. I cried every night for weeks. My best advice is to take whatever time you can/need, recognize that you will need a lot of Kleenex and comfort food/tv/yoga/sleep/whatever works for you. Be gentle with yourself and know that it is entirely common for this mourning process to be different from others you’ve experienced before. Sending sympathy.

  82. CMF*

    We count pets as family – sometimes more so – at my office. Granted, we’re a small family owned business but give our staff up to a week and send them a tree to plant in their pet’s honor. It’s hard – many people don’t understand the place pets have in our hearts. We start at a week for immediate human family members (mom, dad, sibling), more for spouses – we’re lucky to never have lost a human child, thank goodness because…

    I wish you well in the difficult times to come, and remind you that someday, when you’re ready, the greatest honor you can give your pet is to give another needy pet a good, loving home.

    1. Rater Z*

      I wound up doing that. Jenny, my 14 year old cat had to be put down the Monday before Thanksgiving, 1990. We had to board her over the holiday weekend, so when I called to cancel the boarding, I asked if they knew an older cat which needed a new home. An hour later, I got the phone call from a woman whose daughter had to get rid of her two year old cat. Seems the daughter had found an apartment she fell in love with and, after she moved in, discovered that no pets allowed meant not even a fish tank. She boarded her cat at her expense until I got back from my Dad’s. That was in 1990 so you never forget. We lost that cat in early 2002.

      I like to think we will see our pets again in the life to come and I sometimes joke that Snoopy, Jenny, Gretchen and Misty are somewhere comparing notes about my wife and I. Snoopy was the only one who didn’t meet my wife so he may be paying closer attention to the other’s gossip about her. Calico is now 14 years old and sleeping on the bed behind me so I’ve kept turning around and looking at her while reading my way thru these comments and wondering how much time is left for her.

  83. Notorious MCG*

    I just had a job interview last week, which was going extremely well and they got to the portion where they said, “What do you like to do outside of work?” and my knee-jerk response was, “Well, I’m pretty obsessed with my dog.”

    So on that note, I fully understand your thoughts about needing a morning/day for goodbyes, and a day (or two) for just losing it. My girl is only 2, so I have a long way to go before I ever have to face anything like this, but I feel for you 100%. I will be a wreck when the time comes. To that end, you do have the ability to pre-plan this to an extent. At the point where it becomes obvious that her quality of life has deteriorated significantly, you can surely plan the vet appointment to put her down (and many vets come to your home so they can be especially comfortable) for a Friday or Saturday (my vet is open 7 days a week, but I know that’s not always an option) and then just taking off one day if needed and either calling in sick (emotional distress is being ‘under the weather’ per Alison) or saying you have an appointment.

    Love to your cat.

    1. Notorious MCG*

      Also, if it’s an option, someone above mentioned an ‘e-mail day’ where you go into work, but let people know you’d like to not interact/be bothered. I did this last year when my cousin died extremely suddenly and I had only been in my job for three months and had just come back from a week off for my wedding. I took off the day after I found out, but my boss encouraged me to come back in the following day (I was a graphic designer and had deadlines) and just put my cubicle sliding door (thank god for those) most of the way closed. It was rough, but I got to keep that sick day to use for the following week when I had to travel for the funeral.

  84. AKJ*

    I’m so sorry, OP! It’s so hard to lose a pet.
    I had four cats for a long time, all around the same age, and they all seemed to go downhill at once – between April of one year and November of the following year, I lost all four of them. I still miss them terribly, too – it was hard.
    Only one of the four deaths caused me to lose a day of work – I was at a temp job at the time, too, so I was certain they were going to just end my assignment because I called in that day. I told them the reason – I had to take the cat to the ER vet because I’d found her limp, barely moving and meowing in pain that morning. They were very understanding, as it turned out.
    When one of the aforementioned four cats was about a year old, she swallowed a piece of plastic that ended up requiring emergency surgery to remove, and it was touch and go for a while. I had to go to work, and I was an absolute wreck the entire time. I also found out what my coworkers thought about cats – I had at least two people tell me I should let her die because it was too expensive, and one coworker took the opportunity to lecture me on how cats are not people and therefore not important.
    The cat pulled through and ended up being the longest lived of the four, she was fifteen when she passed. That surgery was worth every penny and then some.

    1. Pebbles*

      Those coworkers are horrible people and I pray that no animal ever has to depend on them for anything. I would have been less than professional in response and not give one whit afterwards.

      And kudos to you for being a good human. I’m sorry you had such a bad stretch there losing your fur babies.

  85. Nobody Here By That Name*

    Sending my sympathy and virtual support to OP. When my cat died I was a mess for days. Had to let him go on a Friday and thought I could work on Monday. I was so wrong.

    My only advice for OP is that whatever you feel is valid. There can be a lot of pressure to think we should feel a certain way when dealing with the grief of the loss of a pet. There is no “should.” You feel what you feel. Some people need a few days to get their feet under them again, some may need years. Whatever you need is what you need.

  86. President of the Lutheran Sisterhood Gun Club*

    One of my two pet guinea pigs died last year at age 3 after a brief illness, and I came in to work the morning after it happened, but my supervisor could see I was upset and asked me what was wrong, so I told him. He was like, “Why didn’t take the day off? You can go home. You need to take the day off.” He was pretty shocked that I came to work after losing a pet. I hadn’t been sure if it would be ok to take the day off or not, so I just came in, hoping I would be ok to get through the day. But it was good that I got to take the day off, because I needed. OP, I’m sorry for what you’re going through right now.

  87. Adlib*

    I have 2 cats that are fine, but I know the day will come when they won’t be, and I totally plan on taking at least a day for all that. My boss is pretty understanding of that kind of thing, but I agree with many posters, just be vague in taking PTO, no need to give details if you don’t feel comfortable doing so. I’m sorry to hear about your cat too.

    (Many of these stories made me tear up. My heart goes out to all of you.)

  88. Ellie*

    I’m so terribly sorry to read about your situation and that your feline family member is unwell. I hope that you get to spend as much time with them as possible and it sounds like they have a fantastic family with you.
    I don’t have too much experience in the working field but I ran into this situation during my first year at my first right job out of college.
    I had planned to have my dog brought to my vet for euthanasia on a Saturday, as he was in the end stage of lymphoma and was rapidly declining, and had scheduled to take that Friday off on a personal vacation day. Out policy just asks that you request the day off at least ten days in advance and understand that it is subject to change depending upon the schedule. I had requested the day from my supervisor and she fortunately did not request a reason why but approved it. That was the plan, but unfortunately my dog began to show signs of distress on the Monday evening before my scheduled day off and I was able to reach my supervisor by telephone that evening and explain that I would need to take that Tuesday off instead. My supervisor questioned why and I explained the situation and that given my location (way out in the country) there was no means to bring him to an emergency vet. She allowed me to change the vacation day and I was able to bring my dog in on the next day.
    I apologize for the lengthy story but I just wanted to use that as a frame by which you might be able to request time off. Our policy doesn’t demand that we give a reason for the requested time off, subject to the supervisor in question (some question why, some don’t), and luckily the office I worked at is very pet-friendly. I would just suggest that if it is a route you are interested in that you schedule for a Friday to take your pet to the vet for the procedure. Of course, that may fall through. I think that would allow you the day with your cat, a day for the procedure, and then a day after to grieve however you see fit. Though I don’t mean to imply that you can only grieve for one day.

    I hope everything goes well and that you get to have a lot more time with your pet. I’m sorry you’re going through this.

  89. RB*

    So, these stories are just too sad to read them all. It sounds like you haven’t received a definitive diagnosis, despite your vet saying there’s nothing else that can be done. Vet specialists have done wonders for my aging cats, extending their lives by several months for one cat and 1.5 years for another cat. Have you contacted a specialist, assuming there’s one in your area? Your vet would know who they are.

  90. I love dogs*

    I’m a little surprised AAM is apparently advocating lying to OP’s boss.
    “you need time off for a doctor’s appointment and subsequent recovery and leave it at that.”

    If she has vacation time, or that company buckets all time in PTO, it doesn’t matter how she uses it. But to call that sick time? Come on. And I love my dog and cried when we had to put down our 13 yr old dog.

    1. vanBOOM*

      I can see where you may be coming from RE: the doctor’s appointment, but the recovery part is the larger issue and using sick time for being mentally/emotionally unwell isn’t lying.

  91. Allie*

    I’m so sorry. My lovely kitty just passed away at the age of 13. Though she had been dealing with cancer for the past 8 months, she’d generally been in good spirits and felt okay – her recent decline was very quick. I am lucky to have a very understanding boss and coworkers. I worked at home as much as I could, knowing that it would be uncomfortable for me to be at the office bawling. I hope your boss will surprise you by being understanding, and I hope that you have some PTO that you can take to help in your healing. <3

  92. Dog Lover*

    Oh, I’m so sorry! I’d let you take the three days, i get it! It’s not even my cat and i’m crying!

    (I am the person who spent half a day crying at her desk because the foster dog of <24 hours had to be given to a different home due to issues with my other dog)

  93. Cynicaal Lackey*

    “”I have a cat and two dogs who my husband and I love as if they were our own children””

    as someone who has suffered the loss of my daughter, as well as the death of a couple of pets. I strongly disagree with the letter-writer that there is any sort of similarity whatsoever.

    I strongly urge the letter-writer not to compare the two when she asks her boss for time off. I would have a lot more to add, but instead I will respect Allison’s rule that we remain civil.

    1. Yeah*

      Thanks for speaking up. I really do get the pet love; have had it myself; but reading this thread with the nausea of bereavement remembrance…I don’t know how to say, without getting piled on, please people, please don’t imply that your pet is a human or lie about the situation or equate its death to the loss of a child in the company of anyone who has suffered that hell. I loved my dog and years later tear up thinking about his death, but the comparisons here feel like a punch in the stomach.

    2. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      As someone who has recently experienced a late-term miscarriage, nicely said, and completely agreed.

  94. EW*

    My boss gave me the morning off one time after I realized my cat got out! Found him about two hours later. I would not bat an eye at a co-worker taking three days off for the death of a pet.

  95. Agile Phalanges*

    Oh, I’m so sorry OP. This is a hart time, but it’s also a special time, because at least you have warning and can soak up all the kitty snuggles you can. I recently lost an elderly kitty whose kidneys were failing. And unfortunately, my boss was really weird about a co-worker who had taken time of when HIS pet was ill and ultimately was put down, but I took some mental notes, and what bothered my boss was the co-worker framing his time off as a fait accompli and not that he was asking permission. Boss also was already irritated with that co-worker for other reasons prior to the pet’s illness, and rather liked me, so I hoped it would be okay.

    But I talked a lot about my kitty and how special our relationship was (and talked about how I had other kitties I didn’t feel as close to, not that I didn’t like them) throughout my time of employment, which I think helped him understand that as she got sicker, this was rather rough on me, and she wasn’t just “any” pet to me. (Like your kitty, I had mine well over a decade (she was 17-ish when she passed), and she was older than my son, saw me through one divorce and a few other subsequent long-ish-term relationships as they blossomed and faded, and slept in my bed with me every night. She was my “heart kitty.”

    When I noticed her definitely failing, my voice broke as I was telling my boss I needed to schedule a vet appointment, so again, I think he could tell how much she meant to me. Not that I’m recommending this as a strategy, but I do think it reinforced that we were heading into a dim time. Then the next day I needed to get the lab results, and the vet was going to call in the morning, so I asked (not told!) if I could just stay home in the morning to take the call at home, and that if it was bad news, I would want the rest of the day off as well to be with her. He agreed, and the labwork was, indeed, bad. I’d already had the chance to ask my son if he’d want to be there, too, if we had to euthanize her, so scheduled it for later that evening (at home, canNOT recommend at-home euthanasia enough, if you’re having to make that decision). So I did have all day to be with her, which was good for me. I mean, she’s a cat, and not all that food-oriented, and was in pretty bad shape by this point, so I didn’t really get to lavish her with treats or anything, but we snuggled a LOT. And I went to Michaels for supplies to take paw prints with, which was a weird experience. Luckily no one asked what fun project I was working on, because I was totally prepared to say “well, I’m going to have my cat killed in about three hours, so I needed these for her paw prints.” Yeah. Anyway, it was nice to get that day off work to spend with her, and I would’ve been useless at work anyway.

    In my case, once she was gone, I didn’t want to just wallow at home when she was conspicuously NOT there, and was fine with getting back to work the next day. I did take off an hour early the next day to pick her body up from home and take it to the humane society to be cremated (I volunteer with them so wanted to take it in directly rather than having the vet handle it, but of course they would have). My boss was actually fine with all of that and didn’t give me a hard time (maybe he was snarky behind my back to my other co-worker, I guess I’ll never know). I don’t know how he would’ve reacted if I’d asked for another day off, but all told, I missed a day and a half of work and he didn’t seem to bat an eye, and if you haven’t gathered, my boss is really old-school.

    So basically I just rambled about my own experience without much helpful advice. It totally depends on the personalities involved, of course, but I’d say if you’re comfortable being a little vulnerable, you could start making remarks as the context comes up about how much you love your kitty and how much you’re dreading the end, if you think it will help reinforce that this isn’t an everyday sort of situation. And then take the time you need, following whatever spoken and unspoken protocols exist in your workplace. And completely non-workplace related, I do recommend being there, and highly recommend at-home euthanasia if/when that sad time comes. My kitty actually liked riding in the car, but she HATED the vet office, so even though she was pretty out of it by the end, this seemed like the most peaceful and dignified way to handle it, and it really was. My vet and her tech who came along were both very kind. And everyone is different, of course, but after the prior couple of days of worry and dread, when she was gone, it felt like a huge weight lifted off me. I was still sad, of course, but with the tragic event over, and not looming in my future, it was actually somewhat of a relief.

    Hugs to you and scritches to your kitty.

  96. Kms1025*

    I am so very sorry for your impending loss. I am facing this with my 17 year old kitty girl. She’s been with me thru a ton of life stuff and I am going to miss her terribly. Again, I am just so sorry for what you’re facing.

  97. Mrs. Fenris*

    Aw, sweetie, your post made me cry. :-( I’m so sorry. I work at an animal hospital so grieving for a pet is supported by our work culture…I had a coworker who took 3 days off when his dog died. I missed another coworker’s wedding because I had euthanized my heart dog the night before, I had been up very late, and the last people I wanted to face were my sympathetic coworkers. Anyway…I hope your workplace can be supportive as well. Hugs.

  98. Bluebell*

    I’m so sorry to hear this OP. It sounds like your kitty has had a wonderful life with you, and when it comes time for the rainbow bridge that you are supported by friends and coworkers. When my 15 year old dog passed away, it happened as a medical emergency and we had him PTS mid afternoon and I took the next day off as vacation. My boss at the time wasn’t a pet person but my entire work team was, so that was great. 18 months later I took a week vacation as my “puppymoon” and my team made me a special new puppy card. I’ve moved on from that job but still stay in touch with almost all of them.

  99. Drink the Juice Shelby*

    I take care some stray cats that showed up at my house. A year or so ago, maybe two, one cat had hurt his foot. I took him to the emergency room and found out he had broken his leg. Unfortunately he would have needed to have it amputated and become an inside cat and needed a lot of medication post surgery. Sadly, the vet and I agreed that putting Gray Cat to sleep was the best option. I stayed with him and pet him and cried and it makes me tear up even now thinking about it.

    I took off early the next day at work. I was doing fine until the afternoon and I didn’t want to start bawling in front of coworkers.

    I have pet cats too – 15 and 14 and will definitely need time off when they pass away.

  100. Unpopular opinion*

    At my last job, a coworker took a whole week of unplanned time off because her dog was sick. It was more time than I’d been granted as bereavement leave when my Dad died. Don’t do that, OP. 1-2 days is appropriate. 3 if you have the kind of job where people can still function in your absence. It’s way better if you can plan your leave slightly in advance too.

    1. Brandy*

      I see you name and all but would you be resentful if it was her parent, spouse, kid??? Im one of the animals are better then people persons also and don’t know why it isn’t ok for a pet but is ok for a person. Maybe you would still be upset because it was a week, but in the long run, looking back that week meant maybe a little more work for you. It meant the world to your co-worker. Youll forget it in a years time. She wont.

      1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

        I’m sorry, but while you may not see it, you have to recognize that you’re a minority view on the topic. Most of the culture holds the entirely valid and reasonable view that a pet is not equivalent to a parent, spouse, or kid, and professional norms reflect that. Dumping a week worth of work on your coworkers when nobody died is ridiculous and unfair.

        1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

          Also, on a personal level, I find your equivalence false and insulting. Having lost several beloved dogs, and having recently experienced the death of several family members and experienced a late-pregnancy miscarriage, the suggestion that the loss of a dog approaches the loss of a child or parent is ridiculous and suggests a lack of emotional intelligence.

          1. Brandy*

            Your mad because a co-worker took time off to be with her sick dog. In reality its none of your business why shes off. Shes off. Its insulting to her that you feel the need to validate her reason. The bosses let her off. Its done.

          2. A-Grey*

            I’ve also miscarried. The first at 3 months and the second at 2 1/2 months. I can’t have biological children. Although now I’ve come to realize that I don’t want them I used to very very badly. My health issues and genetic illnesses were a big part in changing my mind as I don’t want to pass them on. I’m also far too sick to ever adopt and care for a child. So I have my kitties. They are the only children I have ever known and the only children I ever will know. Understand, I’ve been through many terrible things in my life. But nothing has ever come close to the acne I felt when I lost my 19 year old baby to liver cancer. It was worse than the death of my grandparents (who raised me until I was 10 since my mother was so ill) worse than the horrible abuse I went through from my stepfather as a teenager and even worse then being sexually assaulted and kidnapped 10 years ago. My cats are my children. Period. End of story. There is nothing in this world that I love more than them and it is every bit the same as I would feel if I had a human child. Just because that’s not how you personally feel does not mean that it applies to everyone. Some of us really do love our furbabies just as much as we would a human child that we adopted or gave birth to.

            That doesn’t make me ridiculous, nor doesn’t make me emotionally stupid. It just makes me different from you. There is no need to insult people because they have different feelings and opinions then you. As far as I am concerned I have five children, two of whom have left this world. Now I have two beautiful daughters and the sweetest new baby son. There isn’t a single thing I would not do for them. You don’t have to agree and you don’t have to like it but you don’t get to be a jerk about it and insult me because I feel differently than you do.

  101. Freya UK*

    I’m so, so sorry OP. I was born an ‘animals are better than people’ person, and my cat is definitely my baby. I will defend to the death that my cat is my child and therefore will treat any medical situation relating to her as such. Quite frankly, if anything happened to her (can’t accept a ‘when’) I think I would die of heartbreak and so taking time off work wouldn’t be an issue – unless they want to prop my corpse up at my desk (I wouldn’t put it past them tbh…).

    Anyway, others have given good advice on the technicalities – do whatever you must to take whatever time off you need.

    1. The Not Mad But Occasionally Irritable Scientist*

      As I said above, having lost a baby in a late-term miscarriage, do not imagine that what you will feel when your cat passes plumbs the depth of what someone feels when they lose a child. And do not continue to insist that it will, because that is an argument you will lose even if you’re determined to “defend it to the death.”

  102. Jill*

    If it’s clear that Cat’s time is drawing to a close or that Cat is really starting to suffer, I agree with the suggestion to schedule putting her to sleep on a Friday or Saturday so OP has that day or two extra to prepare/mourn without as much time off.

    If that’s not necessary or even possible, and assuming the paid time off is available, I would give a vague reason for the time off to Boss or co-workers. If only to avoid people like me who would have the “oh buh-ruther!!” reaction to needing more than a day or two off for a loss like this. I’m a jerk, I fully admit it. But my point is, OP doesn’t need the judgement at work if she needs more than a day or two to mourn/prepare. So be vague. You don’t owe anyone the whole story.

  103. lauraxe*

    Pets are family members, take the time off. You’ll probably be too upset that day / the next day to actually be productive at work.

    Unfortunately I’ve dealt with this a couple times over the past few years. When I was working on the East Coast and my childhood dog (on the West Coast) got super sick I flew home to be with him when he was put down. My boss at the time also wasn’t very understanding or a pet lover, so I just said it was a family emergency and I’ll be back on Monday (fortunately I had the vacation time to take).

    Last year the dog I adopted after that was diagnosed with an inoperable, incurable heart tumor. My current work place was amazingly generous and understanding and let me bring her to work every day, since the tumor meant her heart could stop at any time. When the time came I was able to work from home in the days leading up to her being put to sleep, and I took 2 days (1 sick, 1 vacation) off after. That was in September, and I’m still crying as I write this.

    Bottom line, I think you’ll get more looks if you’re crying at work than if you take a day off. If you’re worried people won’t be understanding do as Allison suggested and just say it’s a medical appointment or something. I’m so sorry about your cat.

  104. HKS*

    I totally took the day off when my dog died. I called in sick that day but then told a few sympathetic coworkers the next day when they asked me if I was feeling ok.
    I think you would be justified in taking off the time you need – if it’s scheduled, ask for vacation days or personal days or whatever your company has.

  105. Jono*

    Pets are like close family to many people. That said, one-three days off sounds about fair. But don’t use it as an excuse to take off for an entire week. As far as the woman who returned to work within hours of her husband dying, perhaps there was something deeper going on there. Maybe he was abusive and on some level she was relieved and happy to be rid of him as awful as that may sound. You really don’t know what was going on there so to assume someone is “insensitive” or “consumed” by grief and not thinking clearly because they “threw themselves into work.” May not be the right call.

  106. MommyMD*

    Be careful using the “doctor’s appointment” excuse as some employers will ask for verification.

  107. Janelle*

    Who the HECK takes an hour off work when their husband dies ? This strikes me as sheer, utter, insanity!

  108. Phoenix*

    When is a mental health issue going to carry the same weight as a physical health issue? Why are we discussing how to get time off for a life changing event?
    Pet people or non pet people the loss of a member of your household will negatively affect you and the quality of your work. That is how this whole issue should be viewed.

  109. Joe*

    I understand that a pet can be part of the family, but as the law states regarding time off for a sick member of the family. A pet or any animal does not fall under the banner of immediate family to take time off. If you are so heart broken and it is going to make you emotional and stop you from working then a discussion needs to be done with the manager. Expect the employee to have time off without pay to which the employee will get upset.

    The issue I have with these types of days off, is when is the line drawn? A week off for a goldfish dying? Is that justified?

    Whos to say that this goldfish made such an impact on your life you considered it family? The problem is that these arguments can open a can of worms that will never stop evolving into what is acceptable and what is not.

    As a manager, I am going through this currently. I own a pet but wouldn’t consider myself a pet-lover. I have an employee who has taken a week off for her puppy dying. It was never communicated correctly either. I would get a text of ‘Cannot come in, I am an emotional wreck and cannot speak without crying. Wont be much use at work’.

    To me, this is ridiculous. Yet, the store/office needs to move on and pay extra wages to cover these days off.

  110. Coach Chrispect*

    I just got this text today from my employee. “Sorry for the early text. I am not going to make it into work today. We just got called from Danielle’s mom. Danielle’s family dog (His girlfriends, mother’s dog) passed away overnight. We are on the way to Surrey now to be with her mom.

    I feel for any pet owner, I feel for the mom and the family. What’s everyone’s opinion on this. I am curious because I understand everyone reacts differently to different levels or closeness level of bereavement. How would you respond to this employee. My only concern is that something like this can hinder his chances for advancement because of perception. Personally I have no control over his advancement. I am ok if he takes a day off for fun. But I see this as being a thorn unfortunately for him becuase there are so many others who want to advance passed him.

    Firstly Everyone’s thoughts on taking time off based on the degrees of separation in this case?
    Secondly, Thoughts on if this is today’s norm. He’s a 24 year old male.



  111. Hendrix*

    As I was getting ready for work, my friend who was dying somehow stumbled. From where he was the greet me going morning as he had done for the last 7 years. I swooped him up in my arms and he looked at me… So afraid. I knew I could not leave him that day and explained to my boss by text. The boss then rang me telling that I should have organised my friends death better. I became so upset and insisted that I would not be going to work. And he had no choice. He did not loose any money because he covered for me and made extra money since I did not get paid. I am not allowed PTO. However since then he has sacked me because he says he did not like my tone of voice. I said that I don’t remember my tone of voice. I just remember my friend crying in pain and then hearing his heart slow down then gradually stop. A breaking heart makes no sound. Next time I will write. It into my contract that I will be allowed time in such a devastating situation.

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