What If Your Cat Outlives You?

Learn how to have your cat cared for in a retirement home after you're gone.

By Sandy Robins | Updated: December 21, 2012, 12 p.m. EST

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Cat It's very important to plan for your cat's future should you die or be unable to provide daily love and care.

Never assume that relatives or friends want the responsibility of your pet, so be sure to check. If no one is willing to become your pet's caretaker, consider a retirement home.

Fortunately, there are many wonderful retirement homes around the country that offer a permanent, happy and loving environment for cats that have lost their owners.

Animal-law attorneys across the United States are establishing new guidelines to ensure that should cat owners want their pets to go to retirement homes, their wishes will be legally recognized.

According to Sandra Toye, a Los Angeles animal-law attorney, one way to ensure the best transition possible for a cat that has lost its owner is to draw up legal documentation that specifically states the late owner's intentions in great detail. "You must specify whether you want your pet to go to a retirement home permanently, or whether you want it to go there initially and then be re-adopted," Toye explains. "If the latter is your intention, you must also state whether you want the new owner to be an elderly person or a family with young children."

"The transition must be done as quickly as possible to reduce the stress involved in moving twice after the trauma of losing its original family surroundings," Toye adds.

Toye also advises to ensure the retirement home you select allows for re-adoption. "Many of them don't because often it is difficult to screen people to ensure they have the best interest of the cat at heart. Once a cat leaves a retirement home, it's hard to ensure the caregiver's wishes since there is now one more person in the chain."

"It may be possible to bind that person to the trust that has been created to take care of the pet. However, it is costly and untested in court," Toye says.

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Reader Comments

Norma    Boynton Beach, FL

11/11/2014 7:35:10 PM

This is our deep concern for our three kitties---How do you find a retirement home we can trust??

Norma Van Buskirk

Galadriel    Lothlorien, ME

12/3/2013 11:50:12 PM

Very important.

janet    bethlehem, PA

6/23/2009 4:35:48 AM

good article thank you

Philip    Durango, CO

5/13/2008 8:27:22 PM

First of all, put everything in writing. Everyone who is in my will gets copies of how I expect them to care for my "baby". i have provisions for evry dime tied to the GOOD CARE and quality of life my cat will & MUST receive. No body gets a "lump" sum when I die...they get regular payments over the years the cat is alive. the cat dies, any and all remaining funds go to ANIMAL CHARITIES. This way EVERYBODY in will will is responsable or the QUALITY CARE OF MY CAT. no matter who takes the cat into their home, everyone else in my will has a financial interest in the cat.

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