By Jennifer Copley (Last Updated 1 September 2011)
Most Pets That Lose Their Human Guardians Are Euthanized
Just one-third of cats that lose their human companions find good homes, and most of these are under five years of age. Dogs don’t fare much better. Often, well-meaning relatives or friends initially adopt the pets of their loved ones who have passed away, but then find that lifestyle issues, conflicts with existing pets, or allergies make the arrangement unfeasible. As a result, the animal is surrendered to a shelter. If the pet is over five years old, she will very likely be put down, and even younger animals may be euthanized if homes cannot be found for them
Pets that are taken to no-kill shelters usually spend the rest of their lives in cages, and no-kill shelters are often not an option because they are already overcrowded and not taking any new animals. Many pets have been surrendered to shelters as a result of the sagging economy, and so a lot of shelters are now full.
The Advantages of Pet Retirement Homes
Good pet retirement homes offer cage-free living, opportunities for play and exercise, toys, climbing furniture, scratch posts, natural light, fresh air, comprehensive veterinary care, full-time caring staff, nutritious meals, and specialized diets if needed. Many pet retirement organizations accept out-of-state placements.
A lot of pet retirement homes only take cats, but there are some that take dogs and other animals as well. Your local animal shelter or rescue organization may be able to recommend retirement sanctuaries in your area.
Selecting a Good Pet Retirement Home
Owners should contact as many pet retirement homes as they can, gather information about their programs, and visit their facilities. Having an attorney review any contracts and financing options and checking the organization’s finances and long-term plans is also recommended. Non-profit organizations can be checked at GuideStar, a watchdog organization. Checking retirement home names with the Better Business Bureau is also a good idea.
Once a pet retirement home has been selected, owners should tell friends, neighbours, and relatives where the pet is to be placed in the event of their deaths. Simply providing instructions in a will does not guarantee that these wishes will be granted, as wills may not be read for weeks after death, and the pet may have been sent elsewhere by then.
Developing a Payment Plan
Cat retirement home fees can be anywhere from $3,000 to $25,000 U.S. depending on the retirement home and whether the fees are set or based on a cat’s life expectancy. Dog retirement fees are even more variable. There are several ways to pay for lifelong lodging at pet retirement homes. These include:
- Writing a one-time cheque to pay in full
- Setting up a life insurance policy to cover the fees
- Establishing a charitable remainder trust to make annual payments
- Making a will bequest
Pets provide their owners with unconditional love, affection, and even health benefits. Planning ahead for pet retirement ensures that if tragedy strikes, it will not be compounded by the unnecessary suffering of a beloved pet. Owners who make arrangements for the care of their companion animals in the event of death or serious illness will have the security of knowing that their pets will live out the rest of their lives in a good home.
- Diabella. (2008). “Retirement Homes for Cats.” DiabellaLovesCats.com.
- Rainbolt, D. (2008). Cat Wrangling Made Easy: Maintaining Peace & Sanity in Your Multicat Home. Guilford, Connecticut: The Lyons Press.
- TLC – For the Love of Cats. (n.d.). “Cat Retirement Communities.” TLCOnline.org.