It is important to consider what will happen to your cat if you are involved in an accident, become ill or injured, need to go into care, or in the event of your death. It’s not a pleasant thing to think about, but planning ahead could be the difference between life and death for your cat(s), and knowing that they will be taken care of will give you peace of mind.
Identify guardians / emergency caregivers
Talk to your friends and family and decide on who will become the guardian of your cat(s) in the event that you cannot care for them. It is best to allocate more than one person, in case anyone’s circumstances change. Share the contact details of your emergency caregivers with your other friends, family, neighbours etc so that people know who to contact to take care of your cat(s) should something happen to you.
Alert others to the fact that you have a cat that needs care
In the case of an emergency, eg, if you are involved in an accident, you may not be able to contact your emergency caregivers yourself, or even be able to tell someone that you have a cat(s) at home needing care. This is where a ‘cat at home’ wallet card comes in. This card informs the reader that you have a cat(s) at home, and lists your emergency caregivers’ contact details. International Cat Care has created its own ‘cat at home’ card. Print this out (double-sided), fill in your emergency caregivers’ details and pop it in your wallet. You can download this card for free by clicking on the image below:
Write up care instructions for your cat(s)
Write down your vet’s details, details of any medication, where the food is kept, feeding instructions, daily routine etc and keep this somewhere obvious, eg, on the fridge or a notice board, so that your caregiver(s) know how to properly care for your cat(s).
Make it legal
You should get at least a written agreement from your caregiver(s) that they will take care of your cat in the event of your death, but it is best to draw up a legal document to ensure that your cat(s) will be cared for. Talk to a lawyer about making legal arrangements for your pet(s).
Organisations that can help
It may not be possible to find friends or family to become guardians for your cat. In this case, there are organisations that may be able to care for your cat when you no longer can, ie, if you become injured, unwell, or need to go into care. Some will find your cat a new home in the event of your death. You need to register for these services before you find yourself in a situation where you cannot care for your cat. Here are some examples:
Cats Protection’s ‘Cat Guardian’ in the UK: http://www.cats.org.uk/get-involved/support-us/cat-guardians
RSPCA’s ‘Home for Life’, UK: https://www.rspca.org.uk/whatwedo/care/homeforlife
The Cinnamon Trust, UK: http://www.cinnamon.org.uk
2nd Chance for Pets, USA: http://www.2ndchance4pets.org
Cat Haven ‘Cat Custodian Service’, Australia: http://www.cathaven.com.au/support/bequests/cat-custodian-service-we-will-look-after-your-cat-if-you-pass-away/