Published by: Ingrid King. Last Updated on: February 1, 2023 by Crystal Uys


Nobody wants to think about the unthinkable: something happens to us, and our cat won’t be taken care of. As responsible cat parents, we owe it to our cats to think ahead and make arrangments for our cats care in case of an emergency or death.

I am currently going through the process of updating my will, which includes a pet trust. A pet trust allows you to control how your cat will be cared for in the event of your death. You can name a guardian for your cat so she won’t end up at a shelter, and leave money for her care. Laws for pet trusts vary from state to state. As of 2012, 46 states have enacted pet trust laws. Be sure to consult with an attorney in your state once you’ve finalized arrangements.

In a recent article on Vetstreet, attorney Rachel Hirschfeld, a pet trust expert and author of Petriarch: The Complete Guide to Financial and Legal Planning for a Pet’s Continued Care, suggests thinking of the trust as a docment of affection and protection. “You’re really writing a love letter to your animal,” she emphasizes.

Unless your designated guardian already knows your cat’s routine extremely well, consider putting details such as your cat’s daily routine, specific foods and treats, and your expectations for medical care into the trust. Spell out even mundane details. For more suggestions, please read Five Innovative Ideas for Owners Who Want to Set Up Pet Trusts.

I am fortunate that my designated guardian knows my girls really well. My pet trust has provisions that won’t allow my house to be sold until my guardian has found a new home for my cats. Ideally, I’d like my guardian to move into my home during the transition period, but that may not be practical.

This is the kind of thing that none of us want to deal with, but the discomfort of dealing with putting these legal arrangements into place is outweighed by the peace of mind of knowing that you won’t have to worry about your cats ending up at a shelter, or worse, euthanized, because there were no other options.

Have you made arrangements for someone to care for your cat if you can’t?

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7 Comments on Pet Trusts: A Love Letter to Your Cat

  1. Best, most loving thing you can do for your pet and people in your life. How many times daily do we see pleas to find a home for someones beloved pets for any number of reasons that will happen to all of us at some point. The worst thing you can do is be lulled into thinking your family/friends will step in and care for them! Usually that doesn’t happen! They may not even be in a position to do it. Truthfully, many don’t care after you’re gone, or they’re so stressed themselves. Picture your pet sitting in a shelter or given away to strangers or any other bad situation. Don’t assume all sanctuaries or rescues are good. Make WRITTEN plans now. Lots are free or inexpensive online. Google ongoing pet care, my pet directive, 2nd chance 4 pets, etc. DO IT NOW, please!

  2. I am actually the guardian for two other households of cats, named in others’ trusts and wills. Right now, I have an organization rather than an individual named as guardian of my cats, but that is in part because I know all the individuals in this small cat rescue organization and the foster home where my cats would likely go.

    Nice to see Sophie first thing in the morning, somehow she is very fitting here; I’m just catching up yesterday’s reading!

  3. any suggestions for a husband and wife who run a shelter? the husband just asked me to look into starting a trust to take care of the cats if he dies and his wife doesn’t have time to fundraise, but they have no savings. i’m thinking they don’t need a trust so much as some kind of savings account or life insurance. if anyone if knowledgable on this subject, please respond. thanks.

    • Catherine, I think you’re right, they need to start building up some savings now. Life insurance raises an interesting question: I never thought of that with regards to pet trusts. I wonder whether you can designate pets as the beneficiaries of a life insurance policy!

    • I am so glad to read your article. I have been so worried that I would pass and my daughter would not be taken care of that in the last few years I have made pet trust and had to update 3 times. It’s amazing how people you name as trustee for kitty die or something. Now my kitty has terrible cancer.

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