I’ve written about emergency preparedness for cats and the importance of having a plan in the past, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d be writing an article about  how to prepare during a pandemic.

You should have a plan in place for someone to care for your cats when  you can’t at any time, especially if you live alone. The COVID-19 pandemic has lent a new urgency to a topic that few of us like to think about, but as responsible cat parents, we owe it to our cats to think ahead and make arrangements for their care in the event of illness, death or any other emergency. Making arrangements before they’re needed means peace of mind not just for you, but for family and friends who may not know what to.

Cats do not appear to be easily infected with SARS-CoV-2

According to the American Veterinary Association (AVMA,) fewer than 20 pets have tested positive, with confirmation, for SARS-CoV-2 globally during the period of January 1 through June 8. This despite the fact that as of June 8, the number of people confirmed with COVID-19 exceeded 7 million globally and 1.9 million in the United States. There have been fewer than 25 reports from around the world of pets (dogs and cats) being infected with SARS-CoV-2; however, none of these reports suggest that pets are a source of infection for people. Like everything else with this virus, this is an evolving situation, but for now, we can all breathe a little easier.

If you are ill with COVID-19

If you are sick (either suspected or confirmed by a test,) the AVMA recommends that you restrict contact with your cats, just like you would with other people. If possible,  have another member of your household care for your cats. Avoid close contact, including petting, snuggling, being kissed or licked, and sharing food or bedding. If you must care for your cats while you are sick, wear a face mask and wash your hands before and after you interact with them.

Choose a caregiver

Find one or two responsible friends or relatives who will agree to take care of your cat if you have to be hospitalized. 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.

Discuss details with your caregivers

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 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 cats’ temperament, they may be scared when a stranger enters your house.

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.

Even though nobody wants to think about the worst case scenario, once you’ve put these arrangements in place, you won’t have to worry about your cats ending up at a shelter, or worse, euthanized, because there were no other options.

9 Comments on COVID-19 Preparedness: Who Will Care For Your Cat if You Can’t?

  1. That’s the sad part, what happens if no one wants them. I honestly don’t even want to think about that. Pele came from a bad situation. She was barely two months old when we got her. She was thrown out of a car windows onto a busy street where my husband ran out to save her from getting hit by a car. No telling what she had been through prior to that. So, she is scared of all people except us. If anyone comes over, she is hiding up under the bed.

  2. This is difficult to think about BUT so important! Illness can move quickly, so, I agree, one needs plan for the worse.I made arrangements for backup cat care in case both my husband and I are not able to care for our six cats. I also purchased several large dry food feeders, several extra large water bowls and extra litter boxes. My cats eat mostly canned food, but I thought that these dry feeders would be better than nothing–especially if our backup cat sitter is unable to get to the cats every day. We have also arranged for our cats to go to our adult children should we not survive–or the cat sitter isn’t able to care for them long term.

  3. I don’t really have anybody, and I think soon I will have to go to the ER. Can you help me? None of the Vets around me are doing boarding. All I can do is leave her a bunch of food in case the ER makes me stay longer.

  4. I do have a provision for any cat I may have when I become too ill to care for a cat or deceased. This arrangement is totally spelled out in my trust. I do feel at ease knowing this has been taken care of.

  5. I can relate to what Janine just said. I have 7 cats and although I do have a pet trust and already made arrangements to have 4 of them adopted by people I trust in case of my passing, I cannot find anyone who would be willing to take care of them while the adopters can come to my house to take care of them. It is very difficult to find cat-sitters when you have so many kitties and so I will never again have so many cats at once in the future. I don’t have that many friends who love cats and my entire family is in France. This has been a major worry for me lately esp. with this virus going around.

  6. I would not trust anybody with anything if they could make a buck by doing something else or if something became a problem ( such as an ill cat ) to get rid of the problem. To ” trust anyone to do the right thing is mostly wishful thinking.

  7. All of the talk about being prepared if something happened prompted a conversation between me and my husband. We have decided having to worry about the lives of three cats, we may not get anymore once the ones we have pass on. If we do get one, it will be one only because having to worry about three cats is just too much. We don’t have family or friend that would be willing to take them. I know Lulu can go back to the rescue where we got her. She is very sociable and loving and will get adopted again. The rescue contract says if anything happens, they would want them back. Pele is scared of all people so she wouldn’t do well with anyone but us, and Kiki is too spoiled and a bully, so I would worry about her being with anyone but us too.

    • Same with us. We have six cats (we wanted two and one stray had kittens that we did not find until they were about 8 weeks old. At that point that do not become sociable no matter what we did). Of our cats really only 2 are adoptable. And no one I know of wants cats. What do you do if no one wants them?

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