Pet-Friendly Workplace

It’s 8:15 am on a sunny Monday; time to head to work.

Got my work bag? Check. Keys? Check. Purse? Check. Sunglasses? Check. Waste-free, organic lunch? Check.

Cat Carrier? Check.

I gather my 6 month-old cats, Bear and Elphia, and off I go.


I first brought them to work as tiny kittens out of necessity. I rescued them at a music festival at a mountain ranch when they were too young to be left alone. Fortunately, I had a nice boss and an open-minded, animal-loving staff and was able to bring them in to work with me. With them at the office, I could monitor their well-being, take needed cuddle and scratch breaks and not worry about rushing home.

As fall unfolded into winter and the cats grew up, they came to love their office time. They gladly jump in their carrier in the morning and upon release in the office, they happily saunter about visiting their adopted aunts and uncles. They can be found snoozing on laps, squished behind employees on their chairs, lounging in baskets or on shelves, sprawled on keyboards, chasing laser lights piloted by staff down the hallway or mischievously exploring our bio-fact bin (snake sheds, feathers, etc.).

The staff enjoys the exotic-looking Elphia and her climbing antics, as well as the big, soft and seemingly boneless Bear and his infamous, floppy bear-hugs. Even zoo keepers come around for some feline therapy. The cats have made me feel popular.

Bear and Elphia are joined by staff canines, as well. Trinity brings Mae, claiming that her border-collie mix makes work less stressful. Jamie brings Haley, stating that her Cavelier King Charles Spaniel brightens her day and keeps her chair warm. The office pets do indeed bring laughs to a sometimes stressful day, connect our staff to each other, relax us and give us perspective, and basically make us happier people.

Our office does have protocols around pets: Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays are designated pet days; no pets in the library (for those who are allergic); and staff takes full responsibility for accidents.

The San Francisco SPCA claims that offices that allow pets experience increased productivity and employee satisfaction, and decreased absenteeism. Is this not a win-win-win practice?

Jessica, who does not have a pet of her own, likes that there are animals at work for her to connect with, though she admits they can be slightly distracting. I don’t know what she is talking about.

What? Bear is drinking water from the toilet again? I had better go………..

Care to share the pros and cons of pets in the office? Please do!

Amy Gotliffe is Conservation Manager at The Oakland Zoo.

latitude: 37.7502, longitude: -122.148