Asking a relative to look after your cat on your death

You should make sure that the relative that you ask to look after your cat on your death is both suitable and committed to the task. Common sense says that you have to discuss the matter in some depth with them beforehand. Suitability concerns the lifestyle of the individual, their attitude towards cats and their accommodation. Other factors might include whether the person they live with is also suited. When you think about it it can be quite complicated.

Dying elderly woman says goodbye to her cat Oliver
Dying elderly woman says goodbye to her cat Oliver who buries his head into her arm.
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Of course, you want certainty for your cat on your passing but I don’t think you can achieve certainty. What you can achieve is the best possible outcome based upon the information that you have at the time.

It seems that there is a risk that your cat might be euthanised at a shelter which is why asking a relative to take over is theoretically better. This possibility arises because it is perhaps likely that an elderly person will be living with an elderly cat. Elderly cats are not favourites for adoption at shelters. Depending upon the ethos of the shelter concern, elderly cats might be euthanised if no adopters come forward.

There is little story in the news media which sort of highlights the kind of problem that might transpire. It concerns one of three sisters who moved in with her sick father when she was 28.

Her father had a dying wish for her: he asked her to take care of his to cats. She felt honoured to take on the task and so she agreed. He died in March and she brought his to cats to her London flat.

She found the task of looking after his cats difficult. She said, “But it’s been a struggle. They wrecked my furniture and regularly go missing for days.”

Her two sisters, when they visit her, tell her how badly she is caring for their father’s cats. Her sisters see a connection with their deceased father in his cats and it upsets them if they believe that they are not being cared for properly. There may be some friction between the sisters as a result.

Elderly person and cat
Elderly person and cat. Photo in public domain.

The woman was keen to help her father but has discovered that she is not quite suited to the task and neither, I will presume, is her lifestyle or property. It does not surprise me that the cats go missing. They have been relocated to a strange place. I suspect that they lived in a house when they lived with her father. They would have been well settled and now they are in an apartment. You feel that they are at risk of, for example, being run over by a vehicle bearing in mind the heavy traffic in London. It didn’t work out which is disappointing. I wonder what she will do?

Perhaps she should seek the involvement of her two sisters who are criticising her? Perhaps they can help tangibly rather than simply passing judgement. A lot of elderly people who have lived with a cat all their lives decide to cease this human-to-cat relationship well before their predicted death (a difficult task) in order to avoid the above.

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