Boss Demanding Worker to Hide Her Cat While on Zoom Sparks Debate

A boss' request that an employee stop allowing her cat in the background of Zoom calls has split opinions online after being shared to Reddit.

The post was shared in popular Subreddit "Anti Work" where employees reveal frustrations and ideas about employment and its issues.

In this case, the employee's partner shared the story, claiming their girlfriend's boss stopped a Zoom meeting to "freak out" over a cat being in the shot. After, she directed another member of staff to speak to the employee and request that it not happen again.

"My girlfriend works for a county, not the one we live in but one nearby," they explained in the post, adding that she started just a month ago and for the most part is enjoying it, despite the low salary.

"They had a zoom meeting today where upper management was on the Zoom call," they wrote. "Our cat briefly stepped in frame behind her and the most senior person on the call stopped the whole meeting to freak out.

"Apparently she's afraid of animals. My girlfriend laughed it off because she's a normal human and assumes it's not a big deal.

"After the meeting, her boss calls her and instructs her to put the cat away before meetings so the big boss doesn't have to see the cat."

The poster asked if people agreed that this behavior was "totally insane," reasoning that the cat is "obviously unable to harm the person over zoom."

"Accommodating this persons childish behavior seems unreasonable at this level of professional establishment," they wrote.

Responses varied from those in agreement that the request was out of line, while others justified that serious phobias are beyond reason, meaning it wouldn't matter if the cat was a legitimate threat.

Zoophobia is the phobia of animals and is relatively common. Some research estimates say it could affect up to 6 percent of people in their lives.

Cat phobias specifically are one of the lesser found animal phobias. Psychologists at the National Institute of Mental Health in the Czech Republic surveyed around 1,800 people and asked them to rate various animals on a scale of 1 to 5 on how frightening or disgusting they found each to be.

Snakes and spiders ranked highly in both, unsurprisingly, but cats actually ranked the lowest in both categories.

Cat on zoom call
Stock image of a cat on a call. A popular Reddit post discussed a boss requesting cats not be shown during calls. Getty Images

It makes sense that such an uncommon fear would be met with the reactions it has garnered online. Many users rushed to agree with the post, claiming the boss' behavior was in the wrong.

"It's insane and as adults we shouldn't have to bend to the irrational fears of other adults," commented one user.

Another user agreed, writing: "This is the funniest thing I've ever read in here, boss needs to go to therapy for their cat phobia if it's that severe. Definitely not your girlfriend's problem."

Others found the issue simply to be in the way it was handled, with one user writing: "ts not a big deal if it would of been approached in a civilized respectful manner. Like sorry cats make me uncomfortable is it ok if? This kind of backhanded way to make another manager berate an employee instead of talking with her herself is gross."

On the other end of the spectrum, some were left defending the boss and her actions, arguing that a phobia is unable to be helped and should be taken seriously. "Phobias are a legitimate disability and reasonable accommodations should be made as a non-s***ty person," commented one individual. "The GF was not aware, but now she is. The cat doesn't need to be in the Zoom during meetings. It's a simple request."

"Phobias are phobias," added another. "One person's spider or clown is another person's cat. I agree it sounds strange someone would be afraid of a cat but would we be talking about this if the ask had been to take a clown photo off the wall in view of the camera (or point the camera elsewhere)?"

Others balanced between both sides, with one user sharing: "that's messed up. I mean if it's a legit phobia then I guess you have to comply. It seems excessive to me.

"My wife works for the government and has the opposite problem. At the end of the meeting everyone shows off their pets and has to give an update! Our cat would lose his mind if he couldn't be part of the meetings."