Categories: cat charities

Cat retirement communities: A good choice for your cat when you’re no longer able to provide care

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.

You’ll be cared for if I’m unable to (American Humane)

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.

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Elisa Black-Taylor

Elisa is an experienced cat caretaker and rescuer. She lives in the US. As well as being a professional photographer, Elisa has been a regular contributor to PoC for nine years. See her Facebook page.

View Comments

  • Let's set the record straight: Intentionally killing a cat is a criminal offense in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, regardless of ownership. Anti-cruelty laws apply to all cats—companion, abandoned, lost, and feral—and there is no such thing as a “piping plover defense.”
    All cats – domestic and feral – are protected by the Animal Welfare Act of 2006 and it is an offence to trap or intentionally kill or harm them in any way. ... Also, because the cat is considered property, the act of taking a cat and dropping it off somewhere is theft in the eyes of the law so do not do it.

  • I can vouch for a legitimate cat retirement sanctuary in Laguna Beach, CA, Blue Bell Cat Sanctuary. The cats live in a really beautiful large home that has open spaces (no kennel cages), window perches, and in a beautiful canyon setting with lovely gardens that attract birds for viewing. There are enclosed patio spaces that allow the cats to be outside but protected as in a large catio. They provide lifetime care including managing any current medical conditions and any that occur like cancer during their time at Blue Bell. The current tax deductible donation is $7500.00 payable from someone's estate as specified in their will. The house and grounds were paid for and donated by a cat lover to stay as a cat sanctuary when she passed so there are no worries about the house being sold or foreclosed on and the cats being thrown out or abandoned by a greedy or shady person.

  • Ethically set up and run, cat retirement communities seem like a wonderful solution for cats that outlive their guardian.

    In the UK, a couple of the larger animal charities run schemes where one must leave the charity a sizeable donation via a will, then the charity states they "will do all they can to rehome your cat"

    There is a lot of leeway in that statement. Personally, given the euth' happy nature of both organisations, I would not trust them to keep their word, especially if the cats were older or healthy fiv+.

  • Be sure the "cat retirement community" that gets your cat keeps all the cats confined to their own property. Someone in my area was running such a scam--collecting money and doing nothing for the safety of the cats. It was to the benefit of the "cat retirement" scammer that all the cats died quicker so she had room for more cats and their owners to con out of thousands of dollars. This way she also didn't have to feed nor vet that many at any one time. With the original and often single cat-owner with no family to check on the well-being of their cat, who was to know. Even if a lawyer was hired to check from time to time, we all know about how lawyers do nothing more after they get your money. There's nobody to monitor them doing what you paid for either after you are dead and gone. About 800 of those "retirement community" cats, if not ran over by cars or torn in half by coyotes, were eventually shot to death by neighbors that got fed up with all the cat shit everywhere. Word spread slowly about how all her cats were dying and nobody would take cats to her anymore, her scam business finally shut down from lack of conned customers. Though it did take half a year and 800 shot-dead cats to accomplish this.

    A clue to look for: If this "cat retirement community" is being ran on a hobby-farm of about 5-10 acres in a rural or semi-rural area and there are no cat-proof fences surrounding that land, those cats will eventually be legally shot to death. By neighboring land owners taking matters into their own hands and enacting their land owners' legal rights.

    • Thanks for your comment. Do you have the name of this cat retirement community? I'd like to do a follow up on this using your comment as a source.

      • Yes, I do have their names. But I have no intentions of letting you know so you and Elisa can promote it as yet another of your many cyberbully campaigns to try to destroy the lives of humans. You know, since you care more about cats' lives than any human life on earth.

        • Although your comments suggest that you dislike cats, it is very commendable that you are willing to give cat owners the heads-up about shady scammers. Thank you!

          What is truly a shame that you seem to condone the behavior of this "cat retirement" home. Wouldn't it be better for all involved, except the shady scammers of course, to share the names of the scammers so that 1) people won't waste their money on scams, 2) scammers won't be encouraged, and 3) cats will be confined indoors in some place away from yours?

          I don't think Michael and Elisa embark on "cyberbully campaigns" as you say, they are just concerned for the welfare of cats and want to keep cat owners up-to-date on things/people that can cause mischief or harm to the cats and/or their owners.

          • Cyberbullying for this person is a term meaning we have a credible source to back up writing about a truthful event or story. Yet we're accused of cyberbullying.

            I do agree to check out a place very very thoroughly because there are bound to be scammers out there and a pretty website doesn't mean a cat retirement community is as good as it's made out to be.

            I don't even help rescues anymore because of all the fighting. I do put in a link in case anyone wishes to donate like for the California fires. I imagine there are scammers involved with them as well.

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