Cat retirement communities are a good choice for your cat when you’re no longer able to provide care. While the up-front cost may seem a bit high, there are several options available if you plan carefully before the need arises.
First, let’s look at what can happen if you don’t plan for your cats. This information on the option your family may take if you’re no longer able to care for your cat is taken from a VERY informative article on cat retirement communities by the Zimmer Foundation and is worth the read.
- Keep the cats themselves. This is a good option — if they are cat lovers and if they’ll do it. If this is what you’re assuming will happen, make sure you discuss it with them to confirm they are both willing and able to carry out your wishes.
- Try to adopt out the cats directly. This too is a good option — if the cats are adoptable and if they’re willing to take on the time and work involved in placing them in caring homes.
- Take the cats to an animal control shelter. If the cats are over 5 years old, they will probably be put down — most shelters have many more cats coming in than they can adopt out. The older the cat, the more difficult to adopt and so the less likely they will give it cage space in the shelter.
- Take the cats to a no-kill shelter. If they accept the cats, they will not be put down — but may well live the rest of their lives confined in cages. And, since their capacity is limited too, they are frequently full and closed to new admissions entirely.
Fees range from $3,000 to $25,000 per cat to have your cat live out the rest of her life being cared for, which is a lot if you don’t carefully plan for it. One way is to take out a separate life insurance policy and have the place where your cat will go made beneficiary. Be sure to stay up to date with the community so you can change the beneficiary if the place of your choice ceases operation.
A charitable remainder trust could be established with the organization paid annually for the cost of your cat. Upon the death of your cat, the organization could receive the balance of the trust as a tax-deductible contribution.
You can also leave instructions in your will (be sure family knows this is your wish because things happen quickly with pets once the caregiver dies and the will may not be read until weeks or months after your death). You can word it as: “I give $________ to the [cat retirement organization] to provide life care for my cat, [name], if she is alive when I die.”
This is a good option if you think your cat would adjust to a new home. Surprisingly, a lot of cat owners have elected to have their cat(s) euthanized when they pass away rather than risk stress to their cat and because they want their cat to be buried with them. Click here for a good discussion article on that topic.
There’s a list of cat retirement communities on the Zimmer Foundation article but it hasn’t been updated in a very long time. If you Google “cat retirement communities” there are several choices that pull up. Or ask your friends who operate cat rescues if they can guide you in the right direction.
Regardless of what you plan to do, please put your wishes in writing and have them notarized. Making arrangements for your cat should be done before the needs arise.
The Zimmer Feline Foundation (ZFF) is a 501(c)3 private operating foundation providing cat welfare services in New Mexico since 2010 and since 2000 in Michigan under their predecessor Zimmer Foundation organization.
If any of you can recommend a cat retirement community or have any additional information on this topic, feel free to post in the comment section below.