Who Will Care for Your Cats if You Can’t Get Home in an Emergency?

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In the aftermath of the horrific shooting in Orlando, the lives of the families of the 49 victims who were killed, and the more than 50 who were injured, will never be the same. But there’s another set of lives that was also affected by this tragedy: the lives of the pets whose humans will either never come home, or won’t come home for a very long time.

It made me think once again about just how important it is to have a plan in place to provide for our cats’ care during unexpected emergencies.

Designate emergency caregivers

Find one or two responsible friends or relatives who will agree to take care of your cat if something unexpected happens to you. Ideally, these will be people who know your cat, and who your cat is familiar with. Provide them with keys to your home, and make sure they know your cat’s basic routine when it comes to feeding and care. Make sure they have your veterinarian’s contact information.

Emergency contact information

Have a wallet alert card with contact information for your emergency care givers. Make sure that any emergency care givers know how to contact each other. Post emergency contact notices inside your front door. Include favorite hiding places for your cats on this listing – depending on your cat’s temperament, he may be scared when a stranger enters your house.

Plan ahead

Once you have designated emergency care givers, thoroughly discuss your expectations with them. Remember that this person will have complete control over your cat’s care, including making decisions about veterinary care, so make sure that you choose someone you trust to make the same or similar decisions to what you would choose. Always have an alternate caregiver, and stay in touch with both the primary and alternate caregiver periodically to ensure that the arrangements you made are still valid. Peoples’ lives change, and while someone may have been the ideal caregiver at one point, circumstances may prohibit them from being available if and when the time comes.

Legalize arrangements

There are a number of options when it comes to legalizing care arrangements, including wills and trusts, and which is right for you will depend on your situation. Requirements will vary by state. Trusts are  becoming more popular because they allow you more control over how your pet will be cared for. The goal is to end up with a legal document that provides for continued care for your cat either on a temporary or permanent basis or until a new home is found for him. Your best bet is to consult with an attorney about the legal aspects of the arrangement.

Do you have an emergency plan in place for your cats?

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9 Comments on Who Will Care for Your Cats if You Can’t Get Home in an Emergency?

  1. mehitabel
    March 1, 2017 at 8:06 pm (6 months ago)

    social isolation is a pisser. What if you don’t have a single friend, or near and trustworthy relative? I have neighbor lady who’s my emergency cat person…. but she’s gone half the year. I get panicky about this… don’t take highway trips. A cat buddy website would be nice…. but mostly impossible. Trust is kind of a high bar.

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  2. Tammy @ CatFoodDB.com
    June 18, 2016 at 11:35 pm (1 year ago)

    This is something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, especially when all those people were evacuated during the Fort McMurray fires, and again now with the situation in Orlando. I’ve been meaning to legalize something for my 3 cats for a while; thanks for the reminder.

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  3. Alison
    June 17, 2016 at 10:33 am (1 year ago)

    Our vet has been given a letter with the details of our two alternate pet guardians. It contains the guardians names and contact information, as well as some information about our wishes for the care of our pets in our absence. Our intent in providing this letter was to provide our vet with information should there be either an emergency that involved ourselves or the cat or dog (who might need veterinary attention in our absence). Our pet guardians were also provided with this letter and copy is left in our pet’s file at home (the location is known to the care givers).

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  4. Anita Schnee
    June 17, 2016 at 8:34 am (1 year ago)

    A durable power of attorney is better than a Will. POAs are effective on signing. Wills need to be put through court and that is expensive and time-consuming. Trusts are great *if* you have money. But everybody, please, get POAs in place. Simple ones are available on-line. Attorneys can do much better ones for you at reasonable cost. Check financial and health-care POAs for your state. They can cover care for your animals — and your health-care, and your money. They are essential.

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  5. Sue Brandes
    June 17, 2016 at 7:45 am (1 year ago)

    Very good information to have. We all need to be prepared.

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  6. Janine
    June 17, 2016 at 7:36 am (1 year ago)

    I really don’t even want to think of this. But I know it is important to be prepared. I need to get one of those wallet cards. I would hate for something to happen to my cats. My neighbor has the key to our house and she could stop in to feed them. but I know my best friend would be there to help too. The first thing she thought about when my husband lost his job was if I had enough food and litter for the cats. She doesn’t have much money, but she was willing to help buy the supplies if we needed them. I know she would take my cats if they needed a place to go, but I know they wouldn’t be happy with all of the cats she already has (she does rescue).

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  7. Margaret
    June 17, 2016 at 3:37 am (1 year ago)

    Very sensible article and information…. impressed by the two reviews before me who has such things in place. We have very good neighbours who I know would immedately think of our four cats – and take care of them, also the local cat shelter would step in I know – but…. I do realise that I should have it all in writing and better organised than I am. Thank you for bringing this important notice to everyon’es attention. More and more in this world do we newed to think of our very vulnerable domsstic animals

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  8. Monica Ackerman
    June 17, 2016 at 3:29 am (1 year ago)

    Many years ago I typed up an addendum to my will outlining the care for my cats. My daughter is the first responder, she will designate one of my emergency care givers, and my daughter in law who is a vet tech will take charge of re-homing them. I gave strict instructions to place them together as a bonded pair. They also should be placed in a home with elderly caretakers and no children or loud environments. I am trusting that this will be carried out promptly so they won’t have to be traumatized in any way. Am I overprotective? You bet.

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  9. Maria
    June 17, 2016 at 3:10 am (1 year ago)

    My best friend, and one of my cousins – both single – have a written card/note in their wallets that states my name and phonenumber. In case anything happens to them, I could take care of their cats for a while, and make proper arrangement if needed. I guess I should do the same, but I do rely on my husband first. Yes, I do #prayfororlando

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