update: can I offer to pay a coworker’s vet bill?

Remember the letter-writer wondering if they could offer to pay a coworker’s vet bill (#2 at the link)? Here’s the update.

I reached out to my coworker the evening that the letter was published. I texted him and made the offer to cover the testing for a diagnosis, up to a certain amount of money, and that if he was uncomfortable with it, he was free to ignore the text completely. He responded back and was very grateful for the offer! He said that he had just been telling his partner that he wished someone would offer to help him. I told him he could just call me from the vet’s office and I would give them my card information.

Neither of us brought it up at work. We both acted like our normal, friendly selves, as if the conversation had never happened. I didn’t hear any updates on the cat for over a week, and I didn’t want to ask, afraid I would make him feel pressured. So I waited. On Friday, about a week and a half after I made the offer, he texted me that he was on the phone with the vet and they just had something open up and could squeeze him in that day, and was I still willing to help? I told him yes.

He took the cat to the vet and was very sure they were going to find something terrible and that he would have to have the cat put down. Fortunately, it was only a (very severe) infection! The vet called me and I paid for the testing and the antibiotics, which only added up to about half of what I had offered.

That was Friday, and today is Monday, and he told me that the cat has improved drastically already! It sounds like most of the symptoms have cleared up after some aggressive antibiotics. There’s still a little ways to go before the cat is 100% better, but it sounds much less miserable now.

I’m glad to have a happy ending for you! My relationship with my coworker doesn’t feel awkward at all, and we are still just as friendly as always. Thanks again so much to you and your readers for advice!

{ 182 comments… read them below }

        1. Freelance Historian*

          Must be a spontaneous group of us making French onion soup. It’s so nice to hear about someone being lovely, someone accepting help, and a kitty getting much-needed and successful treatment.

    1. HailRobonia*

      This is why I can’t watch those veterinarian shows on TV. I’m either sad sobbing because an animal need to be euthanized or I am happy sobbing because an animal was rescued.

      1. Rainbow*

        Can I be weird and recommend children’s vet shows? They’re exactly the right amount of showing you the sad and happy parts but with age-appropriate emotional management…… for me in my mid-30’s.

    1. SheLooksFamiliar*

      I was hoping to hear back on this. OP, thank you for helping your colleague take care of his kitty, you are an angel!

  1. Enough*

    Too bad that is not how all people act after possibly awkward interactions. Everything at face value, no expectations, no baseless assumptions. And a true kindness.

    1. Double A*

      I think this is probably what does happen most of the time, but because it’s drama free it doesn’t make it onto the internet.

  2. tinaturner*

    Great! There’s nothng wrong w/making sure you have all this in writing, too. Maybe w/a line about “paying back at a rate of at least $5 a paycheck” or something.

      1. Chairman of the Bored*

        IMO this is the way to be if you can swing it. Loans just complicate things.

        I *never* loan anybody money, ever.

        I will happily just *give* money to somebody in need, though.

        1. ThursdaysGeek*

          Yes, it is always better to give than to loan. Then if they want to pay it back, it’s a happy surprise, and if they don’t, then it’s what you had planned anyway. And never give or loan what you can’t afford to lose. With a loan, you can also lose a friendship, not just money.

        2. Jen*

          My mom always says not to lend anyone money that you can’t afford to just give away. Just expect that it will never get paid back. My husband and I are now in a good financial place and so we sometimes cover dinner or movie tickets for friends and don’t worry if they don’t pay us back. It is probably why we will never be rich. ;)

          I’m so glad the kitty got the vet care it needed. It is great when people can help others!

        3. Lucien Nova*

          I’m the same, generally. I will loan money to all of three people and that’s because we’ve known each other for decades, trust each other implicitly, and I don’t have to worry about never getting paid back. Everyone else? Eh. Have a present. No strings attached. Much less fuss!

        4. sb51*

          And if they really feel bad and go on about not being able to pay it back, I’ve told people that someday they’ll be in the position to help—and that’s how they can repay me; pay it forward. Which generally helps get past any awkwardness.

        5. Caro*

          totally agree. With one or two very, very narrow exceptions, I prefer to give. I generally ask whoever I’m giving to, to give what they comfortably can to either someone who really needs it or to a local animal shelter, but not to tell me if / when they have.

          Basically, pay it forward if and when you can.

    1. Cat and dog fosterer*

      The offer was to help an employee who had rescued a cat, so definitely meant as a gift for someone who had already spent a lot of their own money to help an animal in big need.

      I’m so happy to hear that the OP decided on a max amount of money that was workable for them, so that there wouldn’t be an awkward situation if the treatment was too expensive. The fact that the tests and treatment ended up being half of what was offered… really made my day!

      I hope that their cat continues to improve and lives a long and healthy life. Thank you so much for the update OP!!

      1. JustaTech*

        Yes, this is a great template for how to approach this kind of thing, it might feel hard/mean, but set that dollar amount up front – it will save a lot of confusion and possible heartache in the long run.

    2. Anon for this*

      As everyone noted, the LW gave this as a gift and not a loan, so no need for any documentation. But also, I once loaned a coworker $5k and didn’t get her to sign anything. It was a really specific situation. She was a single mom who had just been given notice by her landlord in late October that she’d need to vacate her rental home by the end of the year. And I knew we were getting our regular (substantial) bonuses in February. And I could afford to lose $5k, but it would have been terrible for our relationship. Anyway, she was telling me that she didn’t know how she was going to get through the holidays with her kids and I asked her if $5k until bonus time would get her through the rough patch. It would, and it did. And I came in to find a cashiers check for the full amount on my desk the day that bonuses were paid out. I thanked her for the timely payback, she thanked me for the loan, and we never discussed it outside of those two conversations, and her thank you when I handed her the check.

      The thing is, if I’d needed to use a written agreement to go after the money, the damage to our relationship would have been done. And one should never lend more than they can afford to lose (I mean, it was a lot of money to me, and would have sucked, but I had enough savings and could still pay my bills). So the agreement wouldn’t have really helped. The biggest risk I felt like I was taking at that time was the risk to our relationship, and that was scary. But I knew that loan would truly help her in an unusual situation, and I believed I could trust her to pay me back on a date certain, when the money was coming. I’m happy I was right about that. If I wasn’t, all of the documentation in the world wouldn’t have fixed the problem.

      1. Boof*

        really wonderful stories here!
        And yes, never loan or gift more than you can afford to lose; gift when possible, loans in specific situations may be worth the risk; I’m glad it worked out for you and your coworker (and for LW and their cokitty)

      2. CM*

        Yes! I’m a lawyer and I think too often people think, “well, I can sue if it doesn’t work out,” without thinking about what that will entail. Money, time, energy, ill will, damage to relationships. Lawsuits are hard on everyone involved and should be seen as a last resort, not a good alternative.

    3. JSPA*

      Nah, at most this is a “pay it forward in some way” if you’re ever in the position. And people indeed seem to do that, in my experience.

    4. Non non non all the way home*

      Goodness, no! It was a gift. I donate to a local charity that pays vet bills for people in need, and can’t imagine expecting someone to pay me back if I gave them money to pay their vet bills. In my experience people who can’t pay vet bills tend to need money for many other things as well, such as food and rent.

  3. Ladybug*

    I rarely comment on anything here, but as an animal lover (cats in particular!) this update gives me faith that there are still good people in the world. Thank you for your generosity and compassion – as well as providing this update!

  4. Kyrielle*

    LOVE this update! The fact that the cat is improving and it was something so easily treated makes this even more heartwarming. Your offer and help would be wonderful regardless, but I’m so glad that it resulted in finding something that could be easily treated!

  5. old curmudgeon*

    What a happy update to find! Thank you, OP, both for caring about your colleague’s cat and for sharing the outcome with us – you are a real mensch!

  6. Falling Diphthong*


    I’m really glad you avoided the anonymous route. Context matters: when we accept help it really makes a difference that we know this offer comes from reasonable person to whom we wouldn’t mind owing a favor.

  7. Respectfully, Pumat Sol*

    This is so lovely. Thank you for making the offer sincerely. I am happy your coworker was able to emotionally receive the kind offer with grace and that the two of you are able to proceed in your relationship without negative impact.

  8. Harper*

    This is awesome! There have been times in my life that I’ve wished for someone to just offer to help too. It’s beautiful when someone does.

  9. WonderEA*

    I love this so much. Sharing our work lives with each other can be so challenging at times — as this site will attest — but it can also be really special when we can share a little of our humanity with each other. Kudos, OP, for that little extra effort to support and connect with your coworker. So glad to hear the kitty is doing better, too.

  10. Anonychick*

    I needed this today. Thank you, OP, for helping so many people: the cat (obviously) and your coworker (and presumably his partner), of course, but also all the folks at the vet’s office (who so hate seeing animals suffer due to finances), and all of us here (who could really use some good news sometimes). Sending good thoughts for the cat, and good feelings to you.

    1. borealis*

      I agree so much with all of this. Thank you for this update, OP!

      I’m pretty sure I’ve read about a study on experiences that lift people’s moods, which indicated that witnessing / hearing about someone helping somebody else can act as a mood booster on par with helping someone else yourself.

    2. ThatOtherClare*

      I needed this too. I’m having a truly awful day. Hey! Who’s stuck into my office and started chopping onions‽

  11. Sloanicota*

    Yay!! Antibiotics can be suuuch game-changes when they work. Glad it is going well for kitty so far, and hope it continues!

    1. Double A*

      It’s amazing how often I’ve thought, “This is the end” with a cat and the answer was antibiotics and they’ve been fine.

  12. Christina*

    As someone who does cat rescue work in addition to my real job that pays the bill, let me just say what a wonderful person you are, and thank you so much for posting the update. I’ve been feeling so much despair on the state of the world in general, and the state of animal rescue in my town specifically too, and I really needed to be reminded that people can be kind and generous and helpful as well as all the other things that they can be.

    1. Cat and dog fosterer*

      I know, it’s a real struggle everywhere these days. Remember that while we can’t change the world, we change the world of each animal we rescue. Big positive thoughts to you, and I hope your next year is a better one.

    2. Snarl Trolley*

      There’s a comment a bit above from Double A that mentioned a true thing: that these types of situations, where real compassion and humanity shine, are likely far more frequent than we ever really see recorded here on the internet, since the positive stuff rarely gets the attention the wilder stuff does. Stuff like this does happen all the time – little smaller-scale human-to-human life changing actions. Which was a really timely hopeful reminder for me; maybe it’ll help offset some of the despair for you, too. <3

  13. aubrey*

    What a wonderful update! Thank you OP. I’m so glad that you offered, that he was willing to accept help, and that the cat is feeling better.

  14. eternalfiresong*

    This story made me cry in the best way possible. As someone that is in a dire money situation due to my own health reasons, and has had someone step up to help me with a beloved animal, letter writer, you are the best. You changed your coworker’s (and their cat’s) life for the better, and even potentially set it up so they can pay it forward themselves in the future. Thank you so much for sharing, and for the awesome update. Sometimes a bit of good news is the best medicine for all of us, from pet owners to internet peoples.

  15. Emoo*

    tearing up at the office over kitty kindness. I’m glad you wanted to help, I’m glad your coworker took you up on it, and I’m glad the kitty is okay!!

    1. Judge Judy and Executioner*

      I agree, I think this might be one of my favorite updates of all time here. Thank you for taking care of your colleague’s cat. I think I may even like this one better than the one where the OP recommended to a retiree that he volunteer at her aunt’s non profit, and then now the retiree and the aunt are a happy couple.

      Yay for good news and a kitty on the mend.

    2. MtnLaurel*

      You know, I was just thinking…how about a new AAM award for best manager, similar to the ones we have yearly for worst manager? I know I would enjoy re-reading the positive stories like this one.

  16. LisaD*

    May this person be blessed with a rodent-free home and frequent warm kittens for all their days. Good deed well done!

  17. Portia*

    I was in that position when I was younger, of not being able to afford needed care for my elderly cat, and I find this really touching. So glad you were able to reach out, LW, and that co-worker graciously accepted. And kitty is on the mend!

    1. House On The Rock*

      Many moons ago, my spouse and I took on a special needs pet without really grokking what that entailed. Luckily we had some support from family, but it was stressful and heartbreaking all the same (and I wouldn’t trade the time we had with our pet for the world). This letter and the update touched me deeply. OP is good people!

      1. Leenie*

        Thank you for making your pet’s life a happy one, and taking on that extra responsibility. One of the rescues near me adopts out elderly and special needs pets as permanent fosters. The rescue maintains the financial obligations for the medical care, any ongoing meds, etc. But it frees up space for them, and gets these pets into loving, permanent homes, where people may have just hesitated because they weren’t sure if they could afford the care. I think it’s a truly wonderful solution for all involved. And I’m sorry that it’s not standard.

        And yes, bless the LW for doing this. She made a real difference.

      2. Lucien Nova*

        Thank you so much for taking that pet in and giving them happiness for the time they spent with you.

        My family will only take the older or special needs pets – no one else wants them or wants to care for them, and we have both the ability and the means. It’s a special kind of hell for sure, but one that’s extremely rewarding and full of companionship!

  18. Non-profit drone*

    You are a kind person. I’m happy to read that kitty is on its way to being healthy and happy again.

  19. BellyButton*

    Awwww this made me cry! Thank you for being so kind and helping this cat owner and cat. Not only did you help them, you have made all of us feel warm and fuzzy and reminded us that good people are out there.

  20. SarahKay*

    What a lovely update. OP, you are a hero.
    Also, I’m really glad that your co-worker was just grateful and accepted the offer; hopefully kitty will be fully recovered soon.

  21. HonorBox*

    I’m crying. This is awesome. Thanks so much for the positive update and for helping your coworker out!

  22. House On The Rock*

    Thank you for the update, this is heartwarming. I’m so glad you could help and that your coworker was able to accept without awkwardness. And, most importantly, that the kitty is on the mend!

  23. pally*

    Wonderful outcome! So glad the cat got help and the situation wasn’t as dire as thought.

    Maybe we can have a “Coolest Coworker” category for end of year awards? Cuz you’d ace that one!

  24. GreyjoyGardens*

    This is the best update! My resident tabster and I are doing the happy dance! Bastet bless you, OP, and may kitty recover their good health ASAP!

  25. Dasein9 (he/him)*

    Thank you for doing this. And also for telling us. I think when people have a model for how to be kind, they may be quicker to take the chance to be kind. You may have given people a script for future kindness.

  26. MicroManagered*

    What a wonderful update OP!

    There was a time in my life that I had a cat but couldn’t always afford vet care, so I relate to this story personally.

  27. BellyButton*

    The related link of animals taking over home offices is amazing! I somehow missed it when it was originally posted in 2018. I think we need to have another round of submissions!

  28. Lily Rowan*

    Such a great update! The way you handled it sounds exactly right — the text the coworker could ignore is perfection.

  29. Jenna Webster*

    You did a most excellent thing, for the cat and its human!! Thank you – what a great update!

  30. Scott*

    As a parent to Four Furry Felines I applaud you. This is the kind of update we need to see more often.

  31. North Wind*

    Oh my god, nearly in tears here. Sometimes things just go right. Thanks for taking care of that little being <3.

  32. higheredadmin*

    My much loved 20-year old cat passed a year ago today after a long, healthy life. Thank you for sharing this lovely, happy kitty story.

    1. Lucien Nova*

      Despite it not being new, I’m so sorry for your loss.

      Thank you for giving your cat so much happiness and companionship.

  33. Trillian*

    Gracefully done on both sides, and I’m so glad it turned out to be treatable.

    Let this be 2024’s Wednesday trend! As opposed to Wednesday weirdness.

  34. Jaydee*

    What a wonderful update! May your coworker’s cat have a long and healthy life and may you be repaid a thousand times over in cat pictures, cat videos, and funny/cute/annoying/destructive cat stories.

  35. Karma is My Boyfriend and so is Travis Kelce*

    Crying! This is so amazing and I’m so glad it was well-received and that kitty is on the mend!!!

  36. Allison*

    Love that this worked out. Another option could be saying (whether or not true) that you typically set aside X amount a year to donate to a pet rescue, and you would love to help directly instead.

  37. 3DogNight*

    OP–I hope you’re reading all of the comments. This made me actually, for real, cry. I am so, so happy that kitty is better, and I love that you did this! My faith in humanity took a bit of an upswing! You don’t know me from Adam, but take my figurative hug, high five and “Nice job!”

  38. The OG Sleepless*

    How wonderful! There really are good people in this world, and LW, you are definitely one of them.

  39. tinyhipsterboy*

    Oh my god, thank god everything turned out okay. Seconding other people – I cried a little, too. Pet stuff is so freaking hard even before money enters the equation. Thank you for helping your coworker and his cat. It’s so so so good to hear that people can still be good.

  40. Ex-prof*

    That’s great! OP, you are a mensch.

    Money at its best is a convenient way of getting things done, not a means of dividing us into haves and have-nots.

  41. Forrest Rhodes*

    Well done, OP. You did a kind thing, in a generous and thoughtful manner, and everybody—cat, cat owner, and you—benefited. Good on ya!

  42. Boof*

    Aww LW, I’m glad you thought to ask; I’m glad you took the advise; I’m glad it worked out so well; i’m glad you updated us! Thank you and cheers all around!

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Give them another hug from me because I’m currently between cats and miss having my Poppet sulking with her back to me!

  43. Cats Are Really Fuzzy*

    OP you are a great purrson and I’m so thankful you helped the cat get the help he needed

  44. Petra*

    I love this update!

    Has there been a thread on here before about acts of kindness (appropriate ones) at work? I once had a coworker surprise me by directly covering the costs of fixing my bike, which was my only mode of transit at the time, and it made a huge difference for me. I’m sure lots of other people have stories like that- love to read. them.

  45. Melody Powers*

    It was wonderful of you to offer, and I think that was a great way to go, to put it out there and say they could ignore it if they weren’t comfortable with it. I’ve been in that position before of desperately hoping that someone would offer help because I needed it but couldn’t ask. It’s a miserable place to be and I appreciate you making the offer here.

    1. rebelwithmouseyhair*

      Telling someone they’re free to ignore you is a great way to go. I say it when I write to someone to express sympathy or condolences.
      A not very close friend recently lost her husband in a terrible way and I wanted to launch a fund for her, knowing that she was a SAHM and would not be able to walk straight into a job (she would need a refresher course before going back to her teaching job). But I didn’t want to advertise the way her husband had died, and people would wonder why do it for her when I hadn’t done it for another recent widow in the same friend circle. So I just sent some money and told her I didn’t need acknowledgement or anything. She did write back immediately to thank me.
      I first got the idea when I bumped into someone who’d been going through a hard time. I felt bad because I had meant to write to her and didn’t. She said not to worry, the well-meaning friend who’d asked everyone to send her a message to let her know she was not alone hadn’t realised that it was actually an extra burden to have to write back and thank everyone. So we hugged and I was able to say what I had meant to say in person and she could see it was heartfelt.

  46. Roo*

    What a lovely update. In a world that currently seems so very antagonistic and selfish, it really does the heart good to read about such kindness and decency of spirit.
    Best wishes to all. x

  47. The answer is (probably) 42*

    OP, one of my lifelong dreams has been to one day get to a point financially where I can help the people I care about when they’re in a similarly tight spot. You’re literally who I want to be when I grow up!

  48. StillMissingHer*

    I had to crowdfund money to have my best-beloved little cat put to sleep and I will never forget the generosity and warmth of those people.

  49. GythaOgden*

    You’re a kind, sweet person. The world could do with more people like you.

    I’m sure Pussums is also grateful to be out of any suffering s/he was going through due to the infection. I’m not a cat (last time I checked, anyway), but I’m the recipient of similar assistance and it’s a game changer. My mum pays for my dentist treatment because her private hygienist is an amazing coach who really helped me get my teeth in order, but whose costs are (still) way out of my league. I could afford treatment from a cheaper person (I’m not on a dental plan) or on the NHS (people in work pay a set fee depending on the severity of what they need, and out of pocket for hygienist work) but not from such an amazing person who took the time to show me what I needed to do to repair the damage from neglect during my rather unfocused twenties.

    So I’m on Team Pusscat here — grateful for your generosity and applauding you for your response.

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